New ecofriendly experiences offer some deeper dives on land and sea

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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

Building the tourism industry back more sustainably has been a key focus during the pandemic travel shutdown.

And as luxury travel resumes, we are seeing more partnerships formed to build two key pillars of that movement: supporting local communities and offering guests deeper dives into the wildlife and the ecosystems of far-flung locales.

In Africa, Exodus Travels recently launched a series of curated adventures with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) that will give travelers the chance to go behind the scenes of regular safaris and learn from wildlife experts about gorilla conservation in Uganda, conserving elephants and their habitat in Zimbabwe and protecting a fragile population of wolves in the highlands of Ethiopia.

The new Exodus safaris begin departing this September.

"During these times, supporting like-minded organizations such as the African Wildlife Foundation is more important than ever before," said Robin Brooks, marketing director for Exodus Travels. "We are honored to join forces with such an incredible group of people and their efforts through this partnership, and as with all Exodus adventures across the globe are dedicated to ensuring tourism dollars are used responsibly to support regenerative and sustainable initiatives and organizations that benefit destinations and the communities within."

Each itinerary will be led by one of AWF's conservationists, Carter Smith and Craig Sholley. Smith worked with Iain Douglas-Hamilton at Save the Elephants, spent years rehabilitating birds of prey in the bush and owned her own safari company. Sholley studied mountain gorillas with Dian Fossey at Rwanda's celebrated Karisoke Research Centre, was a scientific advisor for the award-winning IMAX film "Mountain Gorilla" and currently serves as the senior vice president of AWF.

Meanwhile, in the Maldives, the just-opened Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands includes a partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment Program as well as a collaboration with Paul Heidinger, a longtime Parley for the Oceans member and founder of the Halevai preservation group, to bring environmental awareness to guest programs at the resort.

Under the Cousteau program, the group's naturalists join guests on dives to explore reefs and a shipwreck or to swim with the archipelago's famed manta rays, turtles, whale sharks and barracudas.

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