#MexicoToday: Mexico was recently featured as one of the world’s top five destinations for family eco-travel in a recent article from the Kansas City Star. The article showcases only Playa Viva, an all-inclusive coastal eco-lodge near the Pacific paradise of Ixtapa, yet due to the country’s abundance of natural phenomena, Mexico is home to endless opportunities for families to enrich their knowledge of the way the Earth, its animals, and its people are interconnected.
Focusing on “preserving the cultures, traditions, communities, species and habitats that make this planet worth exploring,” Playa Viva offers a sustainable boutique hotel for families interested in enjoying “Guilt-Free Luxury” while exploring the hotel’s Sea Turtle Sanctuary, where thousands of endangered sea turtles come to lay their eggs each year.
Like Playa Viva, many local initiatives in Mexico have joined together with international non-profits like SEE Turtles and Earth Watch as well as with operators like Journey Mexico to offer travel enthusiasts an opportunity to enhance their holidays with hands-on interaction with many of the Mexico’s ecosystems and their wildlife.
The goals of these trips include:
- To Educate travelers about the fragility of the natural ecosystems of the world and about what we as individuals can do to build positive relationships with these ecosystems
- To get travelers physically involved in the solution through volun-tourism activities like helping aggregate sea turtle census data and monitoring endangered animal populations
- To expose children to new cultures and languages in order to facilitate cultural understanding
- To inspire a lifelong desire to travel and learn about the cultures and ecosystems of the world
Another benefit of eco-travel is that it can often be incorporated with a child’s science, social studies, foreign language, even art and music lesson plans. The Rainforest Alliance, of which Journey Mexico is a member, offers curriculum guides for kindergarten through eighth grade students, which parents can use to enrich the life-learning experiences of their children.
We all know that Disney World is a blast (and I hear the butter beer at The Wizardry World of Harry Potter is awesome) but how much of a real benefit are these mass-market attractions for children? If you’re thinking, “Not much,” I agree. But imagine your children actually petting a Gray Whale in the Sea of Cortez; running, arms raised, through a blizzard of Monarch Butterflies that have migrated thousands of miles to the Mexican countryside; or exploring a Mayan pyramid built hundreds of years before the Common Era. Now those are experiences that change lives for the better. And in Mexico, they happen every day.