Travel Team | Feb 21, 2023
Traditional hotels and hostels tend to have a large environmental footprint. Meaning, their operations create a lot of waste and pollution that damages our planet. The good news is, the rise of ecolodges has given travelers an opportunity to visit new places in a more sustainable way. Keep reading to learn all about why you should stay at an ecolodge — and to discover the best eco hotels all around the world.
An ecolodge is a type of accommodation that has the least possible impact on the environment where it’s located. Most of the time, an ecolodge is built in a remote destination far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. To be recognized as an ecolodge, these facilities must check off all 3 boxes: (1) be based in a natural environment, (2) benefit the local people, and (3) provide awareness or educational programs for all their guests.
The modern ecolodge originated in Africa — though it was referred to as a safari lodge at that time. These accommodations were made out of wood or canvas and set in the middle of a natural park or animal reserve. While safari camps were popping up throughout the 1950s, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the term ‘ecolodge’ was first used. This newly coined term described a habitat built in a natural or rural area that protects the environment from pollution, degradation, and excessive energy consumption.
These days, the ecolodge industry is gaining in popularity as travelers become more thoughtful about their environmental impact (and likewise their carbon footprint). By booking with an ecolodge rather than a conventional hotel, travelers can contribute to local economies while doing their part to protect the planet and indigenous populations.
Bambu Indah is an ecologically-mindful jungle retreat in beautiful Ubud, Bali. This super stylish, yet sustainable lodge is situated in the vortex of one of the most healing places on the planet — with an energy that attracts healers from far and wide. Bambu Indah offers bespoke treatments and experiences like traditional Balinese massage, morning yoga sessions, and guided tours of the surrounding area. If you do end up visiting, just be prepared to not want to leave.
Price: starting at $175 per night
Finca Luna Nueva invites guests to reconnect with nature by living simply and in harmony with the world around them. This Costa Rican paradise serves as a living classroom — they offer a delicious ‘farm to table’ experience (thanks to their regenerative agriculture), and provide miles and miles of hiking trails through rainforest, farmland, and herbal gardens. Plus, you can take advantage of the ozonated pool, solar-heated hot tub, and daily outdoor yoga classes.
Price: starting at $118 per night
Kura Boutique Hotel is a luxurious, 8-room ecolodge located in the hills of Uvita, Costa Rica. This sustainably built space uses photovoltaic solar panels for electricity (and heating water), while their L-shaped infinity pool is filled with saline water — which requires a lot less maintenance than traditional chlorinated pools. On top of that, this boutique escape offers breathtaking panoramic views that deliver “ultra-personalized luxury, relaxation, and privacy.”
Price: starting at $598 per night
Secret Bay is a 5-star eco-resort located on the Caribbean island of Dominica. Guests at Secret Bay can enjoy the sustainable, luxury villas that offer complete privacy and relaxation while surrounded by lush and tropical gardens. In addition to all that, there’s amenities like hidden beaches, private plunge pools, chefs and guides, and transformative experiences curated on an individual level. It’s safe to say this ecolodge has prioritized guests’ total health and wellbeing.
Price: starting at $987 per night
Ecuador’s Mashpi Lodge is a nature lover’s dream. At this one-of-a-kind forest experience, guests can get in touch with their senses and meet all kinds of endemic species (think exotic birds, frogs, etc). In Mashpi’s words, this is a “steaming, breathing, and living place” that invites you to rediscover the hidden wonders of life itself. But the highlight of this lodge? Each room has floor-to-ceiling windows so you feel totally immersed in the surrounding flora and fauna.
Price: starting at $726 per night
EcoCamp Patagonia is an award-winning hotel in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Their unique, geodesic dome suites are designed in a traditional dwelling style of the region — and they make a great place to enjoy a delicious meal or strike up a conversation with people from all over the world. In terms of sustainability, EcoCamp Patagonia composts and recycles nearly all of their waste, and they use micro-hydro turbines to power all their electricity on-site.
Price: contact EcoCamp Patagonia for current pricing
Garonga Safari Camp takes guests on a luxury safari experience to replenish the mind, body, and soul. This incredible ecolodge is located in South Africa’s Makalali Game Reserve, just west of Kruger National Park. Simply put, this is the ideal place to spot the Big 5: leopard, lion, elephant, rhino, and African buffalo. Better yet, Garonga reduces their carbon footprint by way of solar panels, and they have a heat pump system that lowers electrical consumption by 80%.
Price: starting at ~$900 per night
Topas Ecolodge is located in the remote Hoang Lien National Park in northern Vietnam. This destination is so off the grid, in fact, that it doesn’t provide guests with any technology or Wi-Fi services. For that reason, Topas Ecolodge is the perfect place to unplug and reconnect with the natural world. But more than that, this lodge provides a gorgeous setting to indulge in guilt-free modern convenience while protecting the surrounding environment and local cultures.
Price: starting at $234 per night
Campi ya Kanzi is situated at the foot of Kenya's legendary Chyulu Hills and is renowned for its amazing biodiversity — grasslands, bush, savannas, and abundant wildlife as far as the eye can see. This luxury camp offers first-class wilderness adventures as well as an authentic immersion into Maasai culture. More specifically, Campi ya Kanzi is owned and operated by the Maasai people, meaning you’re sure to have an authentic experience while staying at this lodge.
Price: starting at $1,100 per night
Rewa Ecolodge is a peak example of grassroots tourism, seeing as it’s fully run by the local Amerindian people of Guyana. Located in one of the most pristine ecosystems on the planet, Rewa Ecolodge allows guests to explore all that nature has to offer — including an abundance of wildlife and ecological diversity. All in all, this lodge is one of the best models of a self-help initiative, where the community comes together to build something for the greater good.
Price: contact Rewa Lodge for current pricing
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*Prices as of January 2023
Kelsey Reaves has nearly 10 years of experience in the digital media space, helping startups and private enterprises communicate their vision and develop deeper relationships with their clients. In 2020, Kelsey launched SiteSee, an online community that provides advice and insight for female travelers and digital nomads. At her core, Kelsey believes travel can heal the world — which is why she’s always working to make travel accessible (and sustainable) for everyone.
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