Central and South America’s diversity of wildlife is simply breathtaking, as is the natural beauty of its landscapes and the warmth of its people. If you are looking for sustainable luxury travel, then here are 5 of the best environmentally friendly and responsible ways to enjoy these magical lands in style.
UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa, Brazil
In the historic centre of Trancoso, a small fishing village on the southern Bahian coast lies the charming UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa. This 5-star boutique hotel opened in 2009 with 6 casas hidden in a lush garden, one of which is a treehouse, and a further 4 that are restored fishermen’s cottages facing the 16th-century town green.
The casas combine rustic charm with contemporary comfort. They were designed by Wilbert Das (former long-time creative director for the Italian fashion line Diesel) working with local artisans using traditional building methods, reclaimed materials and furnished with Brazilian antiques and art. With two restaurants serving traditional cuisine, a spa and gym, a unique swimming pool of healing aventurine crystals (which are said to amplify energy as well as having healing properties) and a spectacular beach lounge.
From its conception, UXUA has aimed to assist in the preservation of the beauty and traditions of Trancoso, including maintaining the beaches, subsidising traditional fishing and farming. In 2010, UXUA launched Despertar, an educational NGO dedicated to teaching sustainable tourism and language courses as well as to provide hospitality training to ensure opportunities for the local community. The hotel also supports a local cooking school and capoeira academy as well as local festivals. The staff receive a fair wage, have full healthcare, sponsored education, and other benefits unique in the region.
Check out the latest reviews, prices and availability, UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa.
Inketerra Reserva Amazonica, Peru
On the banks of the Madre de Dios River, in the heart of the Peruvian rainforest, Reserva Amazonica is an award-winning all-inclusive rainforest lodge run by Inkaterra, the pioneers of sustainable tourism in Peru. For over 30 years, they have developed and promoted sustainable tourism, introducing many thousands of people to the natural wonders and the indigenous cultures of Peru as well as supporting important scientific research.
Above images courtesy of Inkaterra
Up in the forest canopy, where hanging walkways offer treetop viewing, you’ll see some of the 480 plus bird species and more than 1,266 plant species found here. Explore nearby waterways by canoe and cross the flooded Aguajales swamp via a wooden boardwalk and observe a plethora of tropical amphibians.
After spending your day exploring, listen to the sounds of the forest while you dine by lantern light, before retiring to sleep in one of 35 wood-and-thatch cabanas. If you’re happy to pay a little extra, you can spend the night in their canopy treehouse!
Check out the latest reviews, Inkaterra.
Cristalino Jungle Lodge, Brazil
Discover the forest and its abundance of wildlife with the expert guides of Cristalino Jungle Lodge. From one of two observation towers, that take you above the canopy, enjoy views of the immense jungle below and look out for more than 550 bird species found here. Built in harmony and with respect for their surroundings, the lodges 16 eco-friendly bungalow, all adhere to sustainable practices. The lodge supports education, preservation and research projects through the Cristalino Ecological Foundation in partnership with Fauna & Flora International.
Bird-watching, canoeing, hiking, swimming, and boat trips are just some of the activities on offer. Specialist itineraries are also available for those interested in photography, butterflies or ecotourism.
Check out the latest reviews, prices and availability, Cristalino Lodge.
Laguna Lodge, Guatemala
On the shores of Lake Atitlán with views across the water to a trio of volcanoes, the Laguna Lodge 5 star boutique hotel lies at the foot of a mountainous, high-altitude, tropical dry forest. With just 6 lakeside suites made from volcanic stone, adobe and palm, the lodge is a high end, low volume, eco-lodge maintaining sustainable and socially responsible practices throughout.
Old Mayan trails are well maintained to offer walking routes suitable for all fitness levels interspersed with palm-thatched resting pavilions and panoramic views over the lake.
The lodge grows and roasts its own coffee and serves organic, meat-free cuisine in its award-winning restaurant.
As well as discovering nature and Mayan heritage, visitors can enjoy a fantastic range of activities on offer in the area including rock climbing, mountain biking, zip-lining, rappelling, high altitude scuba diving to name but a few.
Check out the latest reviews, prices and availability, Laguna Lodge.
Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica
In the beautiful Pacuare Protected Zone, the spectacular Pacuare Lodge sits on the banks of the Pacuare River which flows through primordial forests and steep gorges in an area of abundant wildlife and extraordinary scenic beauty. Nestled in the jungle that is home to jaguars, ocelots, tropical birds and butterflies, the lodge consists of 15 comfortable rooms and 4 elegant suites (including the Canopy Villa treehouse picture below). The Costa Rican hospitality will make you feel immediately welcome.
The lodge was built and is run so that it has a minimum impact on the forest and the river. It supports several environmental projects including the reintroduction howler monkeys, which were wiped out in the area by indigenous hunters years ago, to their forest reserve.
Optional tours include white water rafting, canyoning, canopy adventures and a trek to a Cabecar Indian community.
Check out the latest reviews, prices and availability, Pacuare Lodge.
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