Our Favorite Eco Lodges and Why They Matter
“It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves.”—Alain de Botton
With new technologies and discount travel sites, globe trotting continues to become more accessible as each year passes. The joys of exploring uncharted territories and discovering new people, cultures, and places are unlimited. Cultivating a deep sense of renewal and perspective, traveling off the beaten path is illuminating, if not life-changing.
Alongside the incredible benefits we receive from our adventures comes a cost: environmental degradation, global climate change, and cultural identity loss. Does that mean we need to quell our travel bug and focus on staycations? Sometimes, maybe. When we are ready to adventure out in the great world, however, there are ways we can bring awareness to our actions and offset the impact we are making. Alongside offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions from your airplane trip by investing in organizations working to offset carbon emissions such as My Climate, you can stay in eco-lodges.
Eco-lodges have emerged from the growing awareness of locals and travelers alike, increasing the demand for ecotourism. The goals of eco-lodges, as well as ecotourism, are twofold: 1) engage travelers in environmental conservation and 2) improve the welfare of local people. Beyond investing in green products and using renewable energy sources, many of these eco lodges and resorts are actively conserving the land that surrounds their establishment, creating habitat for animals. Plus they are developing projects to ensure that some of their profits return to the local community.
Discover three of our most affordable favorites:
SOUTH AFRICA: BULUNGULA LODGE
“The Bulungula Lodge is the realisation of a dream dreamt during years of travels through the most remote parts of Africa, China and South America: to create an eco-friendly backpackers lodge in the most beautiful place in South Africa, owned and managed by a vibrant, traditional community.”
According to Lonely Planet, Bulungula Lodge is one of the best eco-lodges in the world, overlooking one of the most spectacular beaches on the Wild Coast of South Africa. We think so too. After driving down a long dirt road, you will find this eco-friendly backpackers lodge, owned and managed by a vibrant, traditional community. Run on solar power, featuring beautiful (non-stinky) composting toilets, and offering an abundance of local excursions guided by local people, this incredible establishment is committed to community. Over the years, they have helped locals start businesses and invested in health, education and infrastructure projects to ensure a thriving community. Huts start at just $39.
CHINA: YANGSHUO MOUNTAIN RETREAT
“Our work results in the prosperity of Yangshuo by creating opportunities for local people, and a deeper appreciation for their culture and history for all who visit us.”
Escape the crowded, polluted cities of China and adventure to the picturesque mountains of Yangshuo. Located an hour from the bustling metropolis of Guilin, The Yangshuo Mountain Retreat combines breathtaking views of the Yulong River with affordable luxury (30 rooms; from $60). This incredible eco-lodge employs only locals and gives back to the community. They donate to organizations helping ensure children with disabilities have access to education.
SRI LANKA: JETWING VIL UYANA
“Our harmonious dedication to sustainable tourism is stronger than ever—be it through our natural habitats, environmentally-responsible architecture, flora, fauna and many more treasured elements that make Jetwing Vil Uyana the icon of sustainability that it has grown into today.”
Located near several of UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the island—the closest of which is the legendary Sigiriya Rock Fortress—this luxurious, affordable eco-lodge (27 rooms; from $150, including breakfast) has all angles of sustainability covered, focusing on Energy and Carbon, Water and Waste, Biodiversity, and Community and Culture. According to their leadership team, “Before Jetwing Vil Uyana, the agrarian lands of our home were an abandoned slash and burn (chena) cultivation area. Today, majority of the land area is dominated by a man-made wetland habitat, which has resulted in a significant increase of diverse flora and fauna.” Beyond environmental restoration, Jetwing Vil Uyana has trained and employed disadvantaged youth from the local farming communities, ensuring that their profits improve the lives of local people.
<< For more ways to support local communities around the world, read Global Service Projects We Love >>
- Indigenous Medicine & Culture,
- Nature Conservation,
- Self Cultivation,