You Should Know… Ami Greener

Photo by David Stuck
Photo by David Stuck

If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Costa Rica, you might want to book one with Ami Greener. The founder of Greener Travel and an environmental entrepreneur, the 40-year-old Adams Morgan resident founded the eco-tourism company four years ago after visiting the Finca Rio Perla on the Caribbean side of the country. Originally from Israel, Greener talked to WJW about his background in environmental travel, sustainable tourism and more.

Tell us about the travel company you founded.
Greener Travel is an eco-tour company. We offer unique Jewish group tours to Costa Rica and to other parts of the world including Alaska, Trinidad and Tobago, Baja California Sur and Maine, where we’ll have a dog-sledding trip next year. We plan amazing adventures. We not only do group tours, but we also plan honeymoons and vacations, specializing in Costa Rica.

What were you doing before this?
Greener Travel has been around since 2010. Before that I was working with  [the American Jewish Committee] in legislative on energy issues. Before that I was working in environmental nonprofits. I moved here from Israel in 2007.

What has been one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had on one of your Costa Rica trips?
The most memorable thing on these trips is bringing together an interesting group of people. Although it’s only for nine days, a lot of the friendships last much longer. It’s creating this community of people who were total strangers. One of my favorite moments in every trip is when we go to the rain forest. For many, it’s their first time in a tropical rain forest in Costa Rica. It’s beautiful. We’re hosted in a chef’s house for a cooking class in Costa Rica, so we connect our love of food, learning about the local culture and sustainable tourism.

Why should young Jewish professionals consider booking a trip?
They’re going to have an amazing time with lifelong memories, make interesting friends and experience a place they haven’t experienced before. Our trips were chosen for unique experiences and itineraries you can’t really get on your own. For example we’re going to Baja California Sur and spending four nights on an island in middle of Sea of Cortez, with sea lions and big fish.

Tell us about the environmental awareness aspect of these trips.
What started me in the direction of ecotourism was my environmental background, my passion for travel and my Judaism, which come together in our trips. Sustainable tourism is all about being a visitor and being educated about the local community, but also about the way we travel. Often, travel leaves a negative impact. Think overcrowded resorts and cruise ships. Ecotourism is all about empowering the local communities through their work.

The money from our trip is going to those locals. The locals are the ones that know best about the need to protect their environment. A lot of the money we bring into the local communities funds environmental protection. We stay in small, family-run hotels and they care about the environment. A lot of  hotels I work with are involved with the local community. One example is the Fina Luna Nueva Lodge. With the revenues from our hospitality, they can buy pieces of rain forest land and protect them. And guests of this hotel can explore this protected rainforest.

There’s a Jewish trip to Alaska planned for the summer of 2015. Why Alaska?
Well, we’re not going to the big, overcrowded parts in Alaska. We’re visiting the nation’s largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias, staying in log cabins and camping out in the wilderness.

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  1. Hello, I was on the pilot trip for this program. Ami’s group delivered on every penny: this unique kind of trip blends Jewish values with those from other cultures, and I and many others had a wonderful time–made new friends, explored pristine nature and learned how to keep it that way.


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