Your pick of the best ‘nestled in nature’ destination receives a defeating blow when the concrete jungle comes haunting through processed food on the menu, soda cans in the mini-bar and plummeting stocks on TV. Fret not; here are some green ghettos that redefine being one with nature.
MASHPI LODGE, ECUADOR
Described as a cocoon in the clouds, this ecological getaway has been voted one of the best in the world. Forbes magazine calls it ‘the most luxurious new jungle retreat’.
Its enormous windows make you feel like you’re suspended mid-air with a dreamy mist punctuating the deep woods. A little over two hours northwest of Quito, the lodge is situated at 3,116 feet on the western slope of the Andes.
Mashpi hosts a profusion of flora and fauna, which includes an estimated 500 species of birds, 36 of which can only be found here. The structure rests on recycled, long, steel legs with just enough wood to hold it all together.
The lodge provides an exciting setting for photography with a number of nature trails, waterfalls and an observation tower. If luck is on your side, you could even spot an ocelot, puma or a rare cuckoo.
Mashpi lodge sources its fruits, vegetables and herbs from local farms and will soon run on hydropower. An important job provider in the region, it aims at hiring 80 percent of its employees from surrounding communities. Mashpi helps support 3,200 acres of primary forest area in one of the most understudied cloud forests in the world.
Best time to visit
With year long temperatures averaging 15 degrees Celsius, there’s no bad time of the year to visit. However months of winter (June, July and August) are particularly pleasant with less rain and sunny afternoons.
CHUMBE ISLAND CORAL PARK, TANZANIA
Allow this award-winning private nature reserve to envelop you in its pristine landscape, balmy beaches and crude architectural beauty. The resort was developed for the conservation and sustainable management of the uninhabited Chumbe Island, one of the last untouched coral islands in the region.
Located just south of Zanzibar, the park is Tanzania’s first marine-protected area and one of the world’s most diverse reefs. The fully protected coral reef sanctuary and forest reserve harbours rare and endangered species of animals and plants. It supports the local community by using their produce and providing jobs.
The picturesque venue has a complete set of activities like snorkelling, trekking and a lighthouse. Your stay on this island paradise is as low an impact on the environment as it is unforgettable.
Reduce your own carbon footprint at the resort’s seven self-sustaining bungalows that use solar energy for lighting. The natural passive cooling technique is employed to keep the temperatures in check along with grey water recycling, composting toilets and ‘eco-showers’ of the harvested rainwater.
Best time to visit
June to October is considered the best time to visit Chumbe Island. As the days are dry with ample sun, animals are easier to spot. The waters are crystal clear during this time, which makes it perfect for snorkelling. There are far less mosquitoes due to the lack of rain.
CREE VILLAGE ECO LODGE, NORTHERN ONTARIO
One of the first eco lodges in the northern hemisphere, Cree Village in Northern Ontario promises a unique experience of the native culture and the beauty of its craggy terrain. Situated on Moose Factory Island, it is the first aboriginal owned and operated eco lodge in the USA or Canada.
Adhering to its principles of ‘living lightly’ on the earth and sharing profits with the local community, the resort possesses an ingenious architecture and energy-efficient design. This is particularly important in the cold climate.
The place might look calm and tranquil, but there’s no dearth of activity here. One can kayak along the picturesque Moose River or even hunt for fossils. If the season allows, one can snowshoe or cross-country ski. There are beluga whale and seal-watching tours. You even have a possibility to end each day under the breathtaking Northern Lights.
Based on a traditional blue print, the lodge is built using natural and non-toxic materials with a number of energy-efficient and water-saving features. It maximises natural wind flow with low noise ceiling fans and north-facing windows.
Best time to visit
This trip to the Arctic can be taken for most part of the year, albeit for different reasons. To experience the crisp air and myriad colours of the Canadian summer, visit between June and September. If you are game to brave the mighty tundra experience, arrive during winter to be part of one of the toughest ecosystems on the planet.