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Sustainable tourism is not just for hostels and backpackers. Eco-tourism is being practiced by some of the most luxurious hotels and resorts around the world. So, what exactly is Eco-tourism? It’s when a hotel actively aims to reduce its impact on the earth, as well as benefit the area and community around its location. From remote beaches, rainforest exploration, dream-worthy safaris, and natural wonders, these five luxury eco-resorts, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, Longitude 131, Awasi Iguazú, Pacuare Lodge and Nihi Sumba, will have you packing your bags in no time.
1. Kwandwe Private Game Reserve in South Africa
As part of their conservation efforts, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve has reclaimed 22,000 hectare (54,000 acres) of farmland for wildlife conservation. More than 7,000 wild animals have been reintroduced to the land, including the endangered black rhinoceros.
In addition to being a refuge for wild animals, Kwandwe can accommodate up to 52 guests in 26 rooms in five lodges and villas. Wrap around decks, plunge pools, and outdoor showers are just some of the features of the spacious lodges and villas. Activities include game drives, nature walks and walking safaris with specialist rangers and tracker teams. Spa treatments and dining under the stars are also on the menu.
The reserve also has several community-based initiatives, which employ over 200 people from rural communities. The work carried out by the employees go on to provide housing and services for over 400 local people, with dedicated wellness programs, pre-schools and professional development training.
2. Longitude 131 in Australia
Longitude 131 provides accommodations in the style of a luxury desert camp. Located next to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia, the tents provide amazing views of the Uluru (Ayers Rock), a natural wonder. There are several options for activities including tours of all kinds: camels, cycling, Segway, motorbiking, helicopter, plane or 4WD (four-wheel drive) tours.
Each of the 16 luxury tents at Longitude 131 pays homage to indigenous artists through artworks and artifacts commissioned from local indigenous artists.
The tents were built with minimal impact on the natural environment and are fitted with solar panels that provide hot water for the kitchen and guest tents.
Guests can also expect floor to ceiling windows, signature spa treatments and dining on local-inspired dishes under the stars.
3. Awasi Iguazú in Argentina
Awasi Iguazú, located on the banks of the River Iguazú in Argentina, is only 15 minutes away from the world’s largest waterfalls, surrounded by the Atlantic Rainforest, which has thousands of native plants and animals.
The eco-luxury resort’s 14 private villas are built on stilts to reduce the impact on its surroundings and comes equipped with their very own tour guide (and 4WD vehicle) for the utmost schedule flexibility. Each villa also has a private terrace and a plunge pool.
Meals are inspired by local, seasonal produce, including vegetables from the garden. The manager of Awasi Iguazú says he is “living, breathing and sharing the ecosystems of Iguazú Falls.”
4. Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica
The Pacuare Lodge, situated in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest, was built with minimal impact on the land and river. Despite the luxurious bungalows made out of wood, no trees were cut down to build them. Instead, they worked with lumber from reforestation projects with small farmers.
Over the years they have purchased 340 hectares (840 acres) of rainforest in order to protect the local ecosystem and offset the emissions from the vehicles they have to use. Everything down to the state-of-the-art septic systems are designed to conserve the area and reduce pollution.
All Pacuare Lodge staff are from nearby communities. The resort also regularly donates to local schools and provides environmental education programs.
During your stay, you can experience a variety of activities like a canopy tour, canyoning tour, bird watching, waterfall hiking and more! You even get the option to arrive at the lodge by white water rafting.
On top of all that, you can enjoy relaxing rainforest spa treatments and meals that are all farm-to-table fresh.
5. Nihi Sumba in Indonesia
Nihi Sumba, located on the island of Sumba in Indonesia, has 27 thatched-roof villas made from sustainable materials, all with private plunge pools. It has 1.5 miles (2.5 km) of private beach, surrounded by a lush, natural landscape.
Guests can participate in a variety of activities, which include, free diving, wake boarding, mountain biking and open-air Land Rover safaris. Of course, for those looking for a bit more relaxation there is a spa with a full range of spa treatments available at the Boat House or in your own room. A health studio and complimentary yoga sessions are also available.
As for food, fresh produce is sourced from local suppliers or the resort’s onsite organic garden with its own composting and water-recycling system.
In addition to making a difference in the environment the Sumba Foundation also provides humanitarian aid through village-based projects, including health clinics, water stations, education supplies and scholarships. ■