Seven sustainable destinations for 2022

1. Chimanimani National Park, Mozambique
Support conservation efforts in a biodiversity wonderland

Located on Mozambique’s mountainous border with Zimbabwe, Chimanimani National Park, established in October 2020, is home to Mozambique’s tallest peak, 7,992-foot Mount Binga. It was once filled with elephants and lions, the images of which appear in ancient rock art created by the ancestral San people.

Decades of poaching and civil unrest have decimated wildlife populations, but elephants remain small, as do at least 42 other mammal species and a dazzling array of plants and birds. In two recent biodiversity surveys, 475 species of plants and 260 species of birds were identified, as well as 67 species of amphibians and reptiles, including a frog and a lizard considered new to science.

From National Geographic Travel US (Maryellen Kennedy Duckett)

2. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon / Washington
Mindful Wine and Dine in America’s Largest National Scenic Area

The largest National Scenic Area in the United States is probably not where you think it is: it straddles the Oregon-Washington border and includes 293,000 acres of public and private land along the Columbia River Gorge. With Mount Hood nearby, the area attracts over two million visitors a year. To help reduce the impact of tourism on local nature and culture, a nonprofit alliance has launched a collaborative movement that has evolved into a model of best practice for building a sustainable tourism economy.

Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance initiatives include the Ready, Set, Gorge and East Gorge Food Trail Visitor Education Program, a network of farms, historic hotels, wineries, and other local experiences.

From National Geographic Travel US (Maryellen Kennedy Duckett)

3. Ruhr Valley, Germany
Be amazed by art and nature in a former industrial area

Mining and steel production once dominated the densely populated Ruhr Valley in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Today, the region is converting old slag heaps and industrial sites with a post-apocalyptic appearance into open-air parks and cultural spaces. The most famous is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Zeche Zollverein (Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex), which has an outdoor swimming pool, ice rink and hiking trails.

Zollverein is part of Emscher’s larger landscape park, an east-west system of green spaces and corridors spanning nearly 175 square miles. Rent a bike in Essen for a car-free trip through the Ruhr Valley along the cycle paths, many of which follow old train tracks, or explore on foot via the 96-mile Hohe Mark Steig, a hiking trail opened in 2021.

From National Geographic Traveler Germany (Franziska Haack)

4. Yasuní National Park, Ecuador
Learn what’s at stake in an endangered, biodiversity-rich paradise

Recognizing the global importance of the Amazon, France is leading the fight against deforestation in Yasuní National Park in eastern Ecuador, which was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1989. guabas, anthuriums, palm trees and mesmerizing green ferns – is the first of five pilot sites of the TerrAmaz program, funded by France. This four-year initiative, launched at the end of 2020, supports sustainable development and biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Considered one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, Yasuní is home to an astonishing array of creatures, such as anteaters, capybaras, sloths, spider monkeys and around 600 species of birds.

From National Geographic Traveler Latin America (Karen Alfaro)

5. Łódź, Poland
Focus on a factory-city that has become a leader in sustainable lifestyles

Named UNESCO City of Cinema in 2017 for its rich film culture, Łódź, a city of about 700,000 inhabitants in central Poland, was an important center of textile manufacturing in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, Hollywood in Poland turns the script on its industrial past to create a greener future.

Łódź is a leader in sustainable living, embracing innovative green solutions, such as the use of pre-RDF (waste fuel) and biomass to heat homes. In 2021, the city joined forces with the European e-commerce delivery platform InPost to significantly reduce CO₂ emissions and traffic in the city center by installing 70 left-luggage facilities and charging stations for electric cars.

From National Geographic Traveler Poland (Martyna Szczepanik)

6. Adelaide, Australia
On track to become the next national park city in the world

After London, which became the world’s first national park city in 2019, the metropolis of Adelaide, Australia aims to become the second. Already named the third most livable city on the planet in the Global Livability Index 2021, the cosmopolitan coastal capital of South Australia is striving to become fresher, greener, wilder and more climate resilient through projects of rewilding, such as creating more butterfly habitats (the city has around 30 endangered butterfly species), investigating the possibility of bringing the platypus back to the Torrens River after a 140-year hiatus, and providing community grants to plant tens of thousands of trees across South Australia.

From National Geographic Travel US (Maryellen Kennedy Duckett)

7. Grenoble, France
Green capital of Europe for 2022

With two rivers running through it and magnificent mountain ranges just a stone’s throw away, Grenoble – Europe’s Green Capital for 2022 – is a great attraction for outdoor enthusiasts concerned about the environment. If canyoning and paragliding are your thing, you’ll fit in perfectly. But the capital of the Alps also has a cultural depth, embodied in the Grenoble Museum, teeming with works by masters such as Monet, Canaletto and Klee, as well as a vibrant contemporary art scene.

Thanks to its university, the third in France, renowned for its excellence in microelectronics, nuclear physics and political studies, Grenoble nurtures lucid problem solvers. Crammed in a valley, the city would suffer from overcrowding and pollution without its sustainable urban plan, combining cycle paths, pedestrian streets, speed limits and efficient public transport.

From National Geographic Traveler UK (Emma Gregg)

Travel with Nat Geo: Discover these unique destinations and more by traveling with Nat Geo Expeditions. Consult all our itineraries.

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