Top ethical birding tours 2018: 45 reasons to travel for good this year

From Bhutan to Brazil, discover 45 birding tours that support conservation, local communities and education, from Terra Incognita – a new social enterprise focused on promoting ethical ecotourism.

With worldwide tourism growth surpassing predictions, businesses and travellers can help make it a positive force for people and planet.

The number of international overnight visitors hit an estimated 1,322 million in 2017, and grew 6% in the first four months of 2018, well exceeding predictions by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Ecotourism is a fast-growing tourism sector, already worth USD 100 billion annually. According to The International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is responsible tourism to natural areas that conserves the environment, supports the well-being of local people and educates visitors and hosts.

Done right, ecotourism can be a force for good, channelling resources to protect the places and species people seek to experience; creating employment opportunities for local people who need them most; and valuing and preserving local culture.

Done poorly, ecotourism can put unsustainable pressure on wildlife and habitats, distort the local economy and change local customs and cultures irrevocably.

To help travellers make informed choices promote great business practices, new social enterprise Terra Incognita creates community-generated lists of amazing tours that conserve the environment, support local people and educate guests and hosts – including the Ethical Birding Tours 2018 list.

The unique list has been generated by a global community of travellers, bloggers, conservationists, tours guides, birders and ecotourism operators. Curated by Terra Incognita – a social enterprise seeking to promote the best examples of ethical ecotourism worldwide – it includes 45 incredible birding tours from across the globe.

“Operators on the Ethical Bird Tours 2018 list are working hard to make a real positive impact on the planet through tourism”, said Dr Nick Askew – from Terra Incognita.

“They are contributing through everything from partnerships with local conservation and community groups, reforestation projects, wildlife reintroductions and research efforts, to capacity building and environmental education for local communities. Some have donated hundreds of thousands of pounds directly to conservation charities”.

The list includes a transparent explanation of how all tours contribute to conservation, local communities and education. There are also independent reviews by people who have been on the tours about their experiences. 

“We really wanted to find incredible tour providers who are doing great work and deserve more promotion”, said Kristi Foster, from of Terra Incognita. “Our aim is to create a community of passionate people who help make a difference through ecotourism, and to share life-changing experiences rather than tourism products.”

The list was launched during the British Birdfair 2018 – an annual event for birdwatchers that supports BirdLife International.

Bird species highlighted range from the Guinean cock-of-the-rock and Mongolian ground jay, to the Endangered Abbott’s booby in Australia and the Endangered Oriental stork in Japan.

You can view the Ethical Bird Tours 2018 list at and be a part of a movement that creates positive change for people and planet through travel.

Image Credit – Noel Pennington / Flickr.