This study examines ecotourism as a form of sustainable development in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Tourism is one of the world's largest industries, with ecotourism being one of the fastest growing sectors. Ecotourism can provide a superior and sustainable alternative to traditional, resource dependent industries that are prevalent in developing countries. This research offers a multi-disciplinary perspective incorporating economic, environmental and social issues surrounding the implementation of an ecotourism industry. A framework for sustainable ecotourism development is created using indicators developed by the World Tourism Organization. This framework is applied to three case studies within the Eastern Cape. The case studies demonstrate both common and unique opportunities and challenges for ecotourism development throughout the Eastern Cape. The end result of this project is to create a better understanding of the tourism-environment relationship, and to explore how ecotourism, and more specifically backpacking, can contribute to sustainable development. This study contributes to the literature on the use of indicators in ecotourism. A framework of indicators for sustainable ecotourism represents the final product of this research. This framework can be used by local governments and organizations to aid in the planning and management of ecotourism both in South Africa and other developing nations, and lead to improvements in both the physical and social environments.