Latvia is one of those rare treasures that seems to have it all: an impressive ecosystem, captivating culture, dedication to ecotourism, and the air of being unspoiled, yet ideally poised for ecotourists. The country, with its small population and well-developed infrastructure, has flown under the radar since its behind-the-Iron-Curtain days, despite having more than enough diversity to satisfy any type of tourist. Furthermore, the country's government and some of its tour operators are steadfastly dedicated to the sustainable development and promotion of ecotourism in Latvia.
The Latvian Institute
The Latvian Institute, developed by the state to provide public information about Latvia, includes nature and ecotourism amongst its priorities. According to LI, Latvia had a long history of attracting foreign travellers and adventurers, at least, before the country was badly bruised by the two world wars and the Soviet occupation that dominated Latvia's 20th century existence.
Post-Iron Curtain, Latvia was, in essence, forced to start again; to re-attract travellers, and to re-gain that notoriety for being a largely under-discovered land where "nature and tradition have coexisted in harmony from time immemorial". According to the LI, not only does Latvia boast a wonderfully diverse natural landscape, largely untouched by the urbanisation characteristic of most of modern Europe, but its cultural traditions are rich and inviting, something the country and its tour operators are anxious to share.
In recent years, rural country homes, farms, and lodges have become the standard for ecotourism in Latvia. Many of these organic farms and eco-lodges have gained eco-certification, and offer rural experiences characteristic of Latvian charm, culture, and tradition.
For instance, the horse ranch Klajumi, in southeast Latvia, is one of the most friendly tourism farms in the country, hosting visitors in sustainably constructed facilities, and promoting tradition and culture through their meals and horseback riding activities. Klajumi's trails lead adventurers of all levels through the peaceful, harmonious landscape, and even offer glimpses into neighbouring Belarus.
Latvia's tourism portal, which posits that the country is "best enjoyed slowly", provides support to the many accommodations that have gained some kind of green or eco-friendly acknowledgements, so if you're looking for a variety of green accommodation options in Latvia, best start there.
Responsible Corporate Travel
Blueberry Travel is one of Latvia's industry leaders in responsible local travel opportunities. Blueberry Travel specialises in off-the-beaten-track, local, sustainable tourism in Latvia, and is dedicated to providing visitors to Latvia with excellent responsible local travel options.
Aside from their excellent leisure tourism offerings, Blueberry Travel offers responsible corporate travel solutions for conferences, meeting, and even incentive programs. Blueberry Travel's professionalism, attention to detail, hard work, and dedication to ecotourism in Latvia ensure that even corporate travellers are able to travel consciously and responsibly, something that sets both Blueberry Travel and Latvia apart.
Cultural Urban Adventures
Riga, Latvia's capital city, is where ecotourists will find most of their cultural enrichment, specifically with regards to food and architecture, and who better to enchant visitors than Riga Urban Adventures? Operated locally by the eco-savvy team at Blueberry Travel, Riga Urban Adventures has a couple day tours that give travellers great insight into the culture and traditions of urban life in Latvia.
For those with a passion for food, the Taste Riga tour will take you, and your taste buds, on a delightful and delicious adventure, exploring the city's history and culture through its traditional flavours. Local markets and cafes are one of the best ways to experience the real essence of a city's food culture, and Riga is no different.
Ecotourists with an eye for architecture and a craving for history won't want to miss the Riga Discovery Tour, which hits all the sights of the capital, while providing insight into local histories, including pre- and post-Soviet architecture and cultural tales. You'll also get a feel for local traditions white visiting a factory that produces 'pastalas', traditional Latvian farmers' shoes.
Ecotourism in Latvia
Just because Latvia has managed to fly under the radar for so long, doesn't mean it isn't a worthwhile destination to visit. In fact, there are some pretty impressive ecotourism opportunities hidden in this Baltic nation, which certainly deserve some attention for a change. Ecotourism in Latvia is exciting, diverse, and culturally rich, and it appears as though the country and its people are welcoming responsible travellers with open arms. Just don't forget to enjoy Latvia slowly.
Photo Credit: guigo.eu