The 10 best ethical holidays

They may be worthy, but there's nothing dull about these vacations - whether you want to go lion-watching or stay with a Transylvanian count. As chosen by the responsible-travel expert Justin Francis


Kapawi eco lodge Ecuador

Kapawi eco lodge Ecuador

Kapawi offers a wealth of wildlife, hiking trails, river-canoeing, bird-watching and the chance to be guided by the Achuar people who were unknown to the world until 30 years ago. Tourism now accounts for up to 45 per cent of the Achuar's income and the beautiful lodge was built respecting local traditions - without a single metal nail.

A four-night visit to Kapawi costs £790 including return flight from Quito. (Tribes Travel: 01728 685971; e-mail: Indie@tribes.co.uk; www.tribes.co.uk)

Walking in Andalucia Spain

Explore the rugged hills, picturesque white villages and tranquil olive groves of Andalucia with a small group of like-minded walkers. Your stay in the tiny village of Algamitas will provide you with a real insight into traditional local lifestyles, and help support the rural economy in Spain's poorest region.

Eight days costs £575 including flights, plus local payment of €130. (Exodus: 020-8675 5550; www.exodus.co.uk/holidays/dsa)

Volunteer for turtle conservation Turkey

Mugla, off the south-western coast of Turkey, is the perfect tourist resort, but the visitors flocking to this area are already placing particular pressure on the turtle population. Undertake vital conservation research with members of Pamukkale University's team and enjoy swimming, snorkelling, trekking and rafting.

Two weeks, £485 exc flights. Departing 21 July or 4 Aug. (BTCV International: 01302 572244; www.btcv.org.uk)

Historic coaching inn on the River Dart Devon

Rooms in the Royal Castle Hotel are furnished with fine antiques, and many enjoy delightful views of the river and quay. The hotel is winner of a Gold Award for environmental excellence from the South Hams Green Tourism Business Scheme.

From £59.95 per person, bed and breakfast. (Royal Castle Hotel: 01803 833033; www.royalcastle.co.uk)

Vietnam

This tour of Vietnam takes in a kaleidoscope of landscapes, from the dramatic karst formations of Halong Bay to the lush green rice bowl of the Mekong Delta, where the group stays overnight with a local family. A unique trip, which also provides real benefits to ordinary Vietnamese.

Two weeks from £955 per person, exc flights. (Intrepid Travel: 020-8960 6662; www.intrepidtravel.com, enter the code VPT)

Eco-chic luxury hideaway The Bahamas

South Andros Island has the third-largest barrier reef in the world and miles of shallows teeming with fish. Enjoy outstanding snorkelling, fishing and nature trails. Tiamo Resort is solar-powered and is setting new environmental standards - right down to the biodegradable soaps.

$245 (£146) per night including all meals and activities. (Tiamo Resorts: 001 242 357 2489; www.tiamoresorts.com)

Stay with a count Transylvania, Romania

In a remote village in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, Count Kalnoky's guesthouses date back to the 1800s. After 50 years of exile, the count returned to restore them. Visitors may track bears and wolves, or take guided tours to discover local medieval cities.

€550 per week full board, including activities, excluding flights. (0040-745-921891; www.transylvaniancastle.com)

Family holiday Sri Lanka

Explore ancient cities, cycle through traditional villages and see elephants close-up. Travelbag Adventures employs a local group leader; you stay in charming family-run hotels and use locally-hired transport, so ordinary people benefit from your visit.

16 days: adults £1,249, children £1,044 - inc flights. (Travelbag Adventures: 01420 541007; www.travelbag-adventures.com)

Corsican pathways France

Corsica is a walker's paradise, with breathtaking scenery and tight-knit village communities. Tour components - accommodation, vehicles and guides - are locally owned/employed, and visitor numbers are limited.

One week, £655 exc flights; 30 per cent discount on second booking. (Guerba: 01373 826611; www.guerba.com)

Lion research The Okavango Delta, Botswana

Join lion researchers for nine days or more and help them study lions, by day and at night, in Africa's unique wetlands. No experience is necessary, just a willingness to participate. This trip directly funds lion-monitoring in the delta.

12 days from £2,600 per person. (Discovery Initiatives: 01285 643333; www.discoveryinitiatives.com)

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