our mission

Dr. Nicole Apelian's research has clearly demonstrated that ecotourism done in a restorative manner can perpetuate and even increase intergenerational transmission of indigenous knowledge. Restorative ecotourism provides economic support, and can cause a re-shifting of cultural identity due to an increase in pride, value, and self-determination. Tourism without thought about the history of colonization or contextualizing where the local people are now in their cultural identity can cause further marginalization.

public Speaking

Dr. Apelian is also available for speaking engagements on a variety of topics. She is an engaging and dynamic speaker who brings energy and inspiration to her audience. She has keynoted at commencements, academic conferences, fundraisers, workshops and more. 
Contact Dr. Nicole Apelian »

It is inspiring great hope for me to work closely with Dr. Nicole Apelian. Nicole’s closeness to the Indigenous people she supports, and the projects that promote their pride and culture are a worthy role-model for communities world-wide. Her understanding of San Culture and the positive impact of her approach to cultural tourism is causing measurable positive change for the Indigenous people involved while providing a life-changing and memorable experience for participants on her expeditions.
— Jon Young, Author and Founder of the 8-Shields Institute

Restorative ecotourism

Given that tourism is likely to increase and put more pressure on people and land, it is important that tourism is done in a restorative fashion. Nicole's work shows that using restorative ecotourism to set up indigenous-based ecotourism ventures will ensure the sustainability of the people, the land, the culture, and the tourism itself. She is available for international consulting to assist government agencies, NGOs, indigenous communities, landholders, and lodge owners to maximize benefits for all involved.

Restorative ecotourism is more than sustainable ecotourism. Indigenous-based restorative ecotourism promotes empowerment and local engagement, is responsive to local value systems, and aims to halt marginalization in communities.

Dr. Apelian's goal for application is to find ways that indigenous community-based tourism can be improved for indigenous communities and the individuals within those communities for local people who want tourism. She works with lodge owners and safari companies to find and implement strategies that put both them and the local communities in a win-win situation. "Looky-look" tourism is discouraged and authenticity is encouraged.

Communities are the ones who know the answers to their own problems, although their ideas tend to be dismissed when suggested to various agencies and governments. Visits to communities which have developed their own programmes demonstrate both the creativity alive and well at the community level and the strength of commitment shown when the programme is owned by the community
— Linda Tuhiwai Smith, 1999


A little more about Nicole Apelian, Ph.D.

  • Works with Indigenous communities and lodges to discuss and implement positive change for all involved
  • Currently working on an ethnobotany book with Bushmen elders (at their request) to document edible, medicinal, and traditional plant uses in the Kalahari Desert
  • Doctoral dissertation on the value of restorative ecotourism and its positive impact on indigenous knowledge transfer
  • Traditional Skills Instructor
  • Challenger on the TV series "Alone" on the History Channel
  • MSc in Ecology and Evolution
  • Lion researcher - lion population studies - ecological, genetic, and disease research
  • Winner, Journal of Sustainability Education SNAP Award, RECHARGE Category: A Visit to Ancestral Lands for a Community of San Bushmen
  • 20 years experience in Botswana as a researcher and guide
  • Instructor and Graduate Advisor in Adventure Education, Indigenous Studies, Research Methodologies, Sustainability Education and Environmental Education at Prescott College
  • Published many articles ranging from academic research articles to publications for general audiences
  • Trained in the Art of Mentoring and Leadership
  • Available for personal wellness coaching
  • Professional keynote speaker and presenter
  • Returned Peace Corps Volunteer