Northeast India is home to some of the best ecotourism destinations in India because of its stunning beauty and tranquil settings. Learn how to make conscious choices and support local communities while engaging in sustainable tourism activities that preserve the cultural and natural heritage of Northeast India.
The Northeast region of India is a beautiful and diverse area that is rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. The region comprises eight states, including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. Northeast India is a destination that offers something for every traveler, from stunning mountain landscapes to wildlife sanctuaries, tea plantations, and cultural heritage sites.
However, with the rise of tourism in the region, there has been an increase in negative impacts on the environment and local communities. Unsustainable tourism practices, such as overcrowding, pollution, and exploitation of natural resources, have taken a toll on the region’s delicate ecosystems and local communities. Therefore, it is essential to start traveling more sustainably in Northeast India to ensure the preservation of its unique cultural and natural heritage.
What is Sustainable Travel?
Sustainable travel or sustainable tourism refers to a way of traveling that has a minimal impact on the environment and local communities while providing economic benefits to the host region. Sustainable tourism aims to support the local economy, culture, and environment by promoting responsible travel practices. Sustainable travel involves making conscious choices that reduce your impact on the environment and support the local communities.
Tips on how to start traveling sustainably in Northeast India:
Choose Eco-friendly Accommodations
Choosing eco-friendly accommodations is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint and support sustainable tourism. Eco-friendly accommodations are those that operate on environmentally responsible practices such as recycling, reducing water consumption and using renewable energy sources. There are various eco-friendly accommodations in Northeast India, such as eco-lodges, homestays, and sustainable hotels. These accommodations offer a unique and authentic experience to travelers while supporting the local communities and preserving the environment.
Support Local Businesses
Supporting local businesses is a crucial aspect of sustainable travel. When you support local businesses, you are contributing to the local economy and helping to preserve the local culture. Northeast India has a vibrant local culture and economy, and there are numerous opportunities to support local businesses, such as buying locally-made handicrafts, eating at local restaurants, and shopping at local markets. By supporting local businesses, you can have a positive impact on the local economy and contribute to sustainable tourism.
Travel in a Sustainable Manner
Traveling in a sustainable manner involves making conscious choices that reduce your impact on the environment. You can travel sustainably in Northeast India by choosing eco-friendly modes of transportation such as bicycles, electric vehicles, or public transportation. These modes of transportation emit fewer carbon emissions and reduce air pollution. Additionally, when you travel sustainably, you can contribute to the local economy by hiring local guides and using local transport services.
Respect the Local Culture and Environment
Respecting the local culture and environment is a fundamental aspect of sustainable travel. When you travel to Northeast India, it is essential to respect the local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, ask for permission before taking photographs, and avoid littering in public places. Additionally, when you visit natural sites, such as wildlife sanctuaries or national parks, follow the rules and regulations and do not disturb the wildlife or natural habitat.
Engage in Responsible Tourism Activities
Engaging in responsible tourism activities is a great way to support sustainable tourism in Northeast India. Responsible tourism activities involve participating in activities that promote sustainable tourism, such as volunteering for community projects or supporting conservation efforts. You can also choose to participate in eco-tourism activities, such as trekking, bird watching, or visiting tea plantations. These activities allow you to experience the local culture and environment while supporting sustainable tourism.
Ecotourism is a type of sustainable tourism that involves visiting natural sites, such as wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, and other natural areas while minimizing the impact on the environment and supporting the local communities. Northeast India is a region that offers a unique and diverse range of ecotourism activities. Here are some of the best ecotourism destinations in Northeast India:
Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Kaziranga National Park is one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries in India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses and other endangered species such as tigers, elephants, and swamp deer. The park offers a range of activities such as jungle safaris, bird watching, and elephant rides.
Nameri National Park, Assam
Nameri National Park is a biodiversity hotspot and a bird watcher’s paradise. The park is home to a wide range of bird species such as the Great Indian Hornbill, White-winged Duck, and Wreathed Hornbill. The park also offers activities such as river rafting, fishing, and trekking.
Dzukou Valley, Nagaland
Dzukou Valley is a picturesque valley located on the border of Nagaland and Manipur. The valley is known for its scenic beauty, trekking trails, and diverse flora and fauna. The valley is home to the Dzukou Lily, which is found only in this region. The valley is also home to several endangered bird species.
Majuli Island, Assam
Majuli Island is the largest river island in the world and is located on the Brahmaputra River in Assam. The island is known for its unique culture, heritage, and natural beauty. The island is home to several tribal communities and is known for its traditional art forms such as mask-making, pottery, and weaving. The island also offers activities such as cycling, kayaking, and bird watching.
Mawlynnong is a village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. It is notable for its cleanliness and was named Asia’s cleanest village by Discover India magazine. Along with cleanliness, the village has also accomplished a great milestone, such as a 100% literacy rate or a women empowerment scenario that the rest of the world can only dream of. Although the weather is pleasant and beautiful throughout the year, the monsoon season is particularly appealing. Rains bring out the lush greens of trees and forests.
Khonoma is an Angami Naga village in Nagaland, India, about 20 kilometres west of the state capital, Kohima. Khonoma is the country’s first green village. Its journey to earn the Green Village tag was not an easy one, as hunting is ingrained in the people here. The Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS) was established in 1998 as the first step in this direction. This resulted in a hunting ban in Khonoma after the village council designated a 20-square-kilometer area as the KNTCS. However, almost everyone has now switched to farming. Although there have been reports of hunting continuing, Khonoma is committed to conservation on a much smaller scale.
Loktak Lake, Manipur
Loktak Lake, in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, is India’s largest freshwater lake. The pristine Loktak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India, is one of Manipur’s most popular tourist attractions. Due to its ethereal beauty and floating circular swamps known as phumdis in the local language, the lake attracts tourists from all over the world. Aside from being a beautiful sight, the lake absorbs floodwater during the monsoon season and supports the livelihoods of over three lakh people in Manipur all year.
Sustainable travel is essential for preserving the cultural and natural heritage of Northeast India. By making conscious choices such as choosing eco-friendly accommodations, supporting local businesses, traveling in a sustainable manner, respecting the local culture and environment, and engaging in responsible tourism activities, travelers can contribute to sustainable tourism in the region.
Moreover, ecotourism activities such as visiting wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, and other natural areas offer a unique and authentic experience while supporting the local communities and preserving the environment. By traveling sustainably, travelers can have a positive impact on the environment, local communities, and the tourism industry as a whole.