Eco Tourism and Conservation in Vietnam

A 13 day hiking and biking field adventure to Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve in Southern Vietnam. February 22 to March 9, 2018.


Conservation and Tourism in Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve,
Feb 22 to March 9, 2018

Tour leaders, Marilyn Marler and Carla Abrams

For more information, including how to register, contact

Required reading:

When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, Le Ly Hayslip

Catfish and Mandala, Andrew X. Pham


Can educational nature tourism be a positive force for conservation? If so, under what circumstances? That’s what we consider in detail during this intensive two-week field course to the Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve in Vietnam. The Biosphere encompasses jungles, wetlands, war sites, and busy farming communities. Bike and hike through this fascinating landscape and learn about the war history, current lifestyles, conservation issues, and the unique plants and animals. We will support three community based eco-tourism adventures, and help staff develop low impact hiking/biking tours for future visitors. Along the way, we visit museums and war relics, talk with local residents and scientists, and observe wildlife in the field. We will do all of this in the context of post “American War” Vietnam: pressing conservation issues, real lives of people, modern and traditional culture. The final 3 days of the class we visit the beautiful Con Dao Islands National Park, a stunningly archipelago with a tragic history and uncertain future.           

This field based experiential adventure is not a typical tourist trip. Accommodations are basic, there is physical exertion, adventurous food, and we are spending time with professional staff in the Biosphere Reserve and two national parks. We will be witnessing and discussing pressing issues/conflicts between poverty and conservation.

Participants must be able to:

  • Hike and/or bike 10k (6 miles) a day for a few days. There is one 14km hike (flat terrain) and one 30k bike ride (mostly downhill).

  • Sleep in a hammock

  • Contend with insects including but not limited to leeches and mosquitos

  • Get  recommended immunizations before departure

  • Eat unusual foods and tolerate sleeping in close quarters (accommodations include jungle camping, homestays with farmers and lodging with Forest Rangers)

Activity, reading and discussion topics:

  • Vietnam-American War History (Dong Nai War significance, war impacts to forests and wildlife)

  • Biosphere and UNESCO designation (management zones, implications for people, wildlife, economy)

  • Pros and cons of “Eco-Tourism”. Greenwashing versus working for conservation

  • Plants: Medicinal plants, forest types, epiphytes, recovery of forests since the war

  • Small nature: butterflies, insects, birds

  • Rare vertebrates: elephants, primates, pangolins and more

  • Ethnic groups in Vietnam:

  • Wildlife threats/challenges: traditional medicine, pet trade, lack of regulation, encroachment, habitat loss

Feb 22 starts the trip with an international flight from Seattle to Ho Chi Minh city. March 11 ends the trip in Ho Chi Minh City.  


If 6 participants, $3,850 each
if 7 participants, $3,585 each
if 8 participants, $3,300 each

This trip is can be paid via Americorps Education Award. It is approved for 2 credits at the University of Montana School of Education and Lifelong Learning (SELL), as Environmental Studies 491: Ecotourism and Conservation in Vietnam.   

The initial cost, $3,850, will be adjusted down (and the difference refunded)  if the full number of paticipants (8) is reached.  There is a minimum of 6 to guarantee the course. 

February 22nd, 2018 8:00 AM   through   March 9th, 2018 8:00 AM
Vietnam: Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve, Cat Tien NP, Con Dao NP
United States
Phone: 406 549-7189
Course Fee, Includes all lodging, guide fees, in-country travel and most meals, does not include international airfare $ 3,850.00

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