Traveling opens a portal to another world. Although I was off to see the fabled city of Machu Picchu, it was the experience of traveling, and opening myself to new ways of seeing the world, which brought the most fulfillment. Everyone should be allowed to do what makes them happy, as this will only make our planet a better place. But my roundtrip flight from LA to Cuzco created 3,492 lbs of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The TerraPass website helps you to calculate your flight, home, and auto transport carbon emissions. You can then purchase a TerraPass to offset your carbon emissions, and those funds support clean energy projects. My roundtrip flight TerraPass from LA to Cuzco would have cost me $36.95, but I chose instead to donate those funds to a local organization working on recycling projects. I’m waiting for Scotty to just beam me up!
My son and I ate many of our meals at Aldea Yapay. This wonderful little restaurant uses all of its profits to sustain their social projects in the surrounding communities. On the left is Crema Andina, a creamed soup of olluco (native tuber), milk, cheese and muna (wild mountain mint). On the right are Andean Yuquitas, yuccas stuffed with vegetables and a cilantro and muna dipping sauce. All the foods we brought home with us (coca leaves, cacao bars, red quinoa, wild khayas roots, 2 varieties of corn, freeze-dried andean potatoes, etc.) were purchased at the Casa Ecologica Cusco. Their products are fair trade from local indigenous communities.
For me, eco-tourism has become the venue in which I feel I can support programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Click here to visit the International Ecotourism Society. This website can help you identify tour operators and organizations around the globe who are dedicated to ecotourism.