What exactly is an ecolodge? A few weeks ago, André Franchini of Hotel Link Solutions explored answers to the question in his Five Ecolodges to Plan Your Trip Around. He confirmed that, while there are many interpretations of the ‘ecolodge’ concept, most of the structures share some special traits.
• They’re low-impact buildings that use materials repurposed or found locally, and adhere to sustainable-water and -power practices.
• They’re immersed in beautiful natural areas, which they’re committed to helping preserve, blending in to the surrounding environment, rather than interrupting it.
• They amaze guests with their comfort and elegance, even in the midst of rugged nature.
Inspired, we decided to identify five more great examples of ecolodges all from within the whl.travel network. More than just places to stay, all of these lodges are worth the extra mile it takes to reach them. They just may inspire you to plan a few days of your trip around a memorable ecolodge experience.
Barry’s Place on Atauro Island in East Timor
Atauro is a tiny island in East Timor, located where the East Indian Ocean meets the Arafura Sea. Here, you can plan great Atauro Island adventures like snorkelling the eye-popping coral reef just offshore, renting a bike to cycle around the island, touring by boat to nearby Baucau and even going on guided hiking excursions. For such a small island, options for fun in nature are vast.
We suggest framing your trip to the island around a stay at Barry’s Place. This special lodge boasts an attractive collection of thatch-roofed gazebos and accommodations, all constructed using local materials and labour. You’ll have a choice between sun-drenched cabins right on the beach, bungalows and tent camping.
The #1 reason to stay at Barry’s Place: you can see permaculture in practice, like the re-vegetation of plant species that are endemic to the island.
Monkey Lodge in Panama
The whimsical Monkey Lodge sits just outside of Panama City, Panama, near Soberania National Park and Gamboa Lake. It is very reachable from the city, yet far enough away to feel fully immersed in its tropical setting.
The family that operates Monkey Lodge can help you plan awesome ecotours. Join them for a trek on the Camino de Cruces, learn the basics of jungle survival or take a boat trip to nearby Monkey Island, where furry primates are sure to be spotted.
The #1 reason to stay at Monkey Lodge: in-house monkeys Lula, Papaye, and Tita will help host your stay.
Zen Namkhan Boutique Resort in Luang Prabang, Laos
An eco-chic addition to the Luang Prabang hotel scene, Zan Namkhan is a fusion of deep nature and lush indulgence. Set in the verdant landscape of northern Laos, it is near one all-star attraction: Elephant Village, an ecotourism initiative where visitors can bond with a group of gentle giants who have been saved from the logging industry.
Zen Namkhan itself is stacked with amenities that will make you wish to stay all day and just enjoy. Dine on meals that use ingredients from the organic garden, get a massage or take a yoga or Lao cooking class – all on-site at Zen Namkhan.
The #1 reason to stay at Zen Namkhan: the lagoon-like swimming pool is one of the first eco-friendly pools in Southeast Asia.
Murera Springs Eco Lodge in Kenya
In Kenya, a newcomer to the ecolodge scene is Murera Springs Eco Lodge, which opened its doors in 2010. Now you can be one of the first to wander around the paths connecting the 15 colourful raised cabins, nestled under a thick tree canopy near Meru National Park.
In an ambiance of thick nature and deep relaxation, many guests opt for a lazy day at the pool and bar, topped off with a cosy campfire at night. Or, they visit a local farm or embark on some prime birdwatching.
The #1 reason to stay at Murera Springs Eco Lodge: they run on 100-percent solar power.
Treetop Hotel near Champasak, Laos
Brace yourself for the ultimate forest canopy adventure. To reach the Treetop Hotel, you need at least three days just for the journey in Champasak province, where you traverse coffee plantations and wild semi-evergreen forests before reaching the staggering canopy walkway, which passes over a roaring waterfall.
Only then do you harness up for a flight on the zip-line. Because, the private tree houses of Treetop Hotel can only be reached by a short zip-line ride. After a day of thrills and a scrumptious meal of local food at Treetop Hotel’s camp restaurant, you’ll find yourself lulled to sleep by an orchestra of crickets.
The #1 reason to stay at Treetop Hotel: the tree houses have been built with local materials at a lofty 10 metres above the ground.