Are you an adventure enthusiast looking for unique and eco-friendly accommodations? Look no further than these five best eco lodges for adventure travel. From treehouses in the Peruvian Amazon to wilderness retreats in the Vietnamese mountains, these lodges offer more than just a place to rest your head.
What Are Eco Lodges?
An eco lodge is an accommodation constructed with sustainable materials and practices, promoting responsible travel and minimizing environmental harm. Often, such lodges rely on renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines. They’re designed to blend in with the natural surroundings and are typically situated in remote locations such as forests, mountains, or near bodies of water. The main objective of eco lodges is to provide guests with a unique, comfortable, and enjoyable experience unlike traditional hotels and B&Bs.
Are Eco Lodges and Econo-Lodges the Same Thing?
It's important to note that eco lodges and econo-lodges are not the same thing. An eco lodge is a type of accommodation that is specifically designed to have minimal impact on the environment. On the other hand, an econo-lodge is typically a budget hotel chain that provides affordable accommodation. The two terms shouldn't be used interchangeably.
Are Eco Lodges Expensive?
The cost of eco lodges can vary depending on the location, amenities, and level of luxury offered. Generally, eco lodge rates tend to be on par with traditional hotels due to their focus on quality, sustainability, environmental responsibility, and unique experiences. However, some eco lodges offer affordable options for budget-conscious travelers, so it's best to research and compare prices before booking.
Where Are the Best Eco Lodges in the World?
To create our list of eco lodges, we’ve selected affordable, mid-range, and luxury options that are sustainably authentic, environmentally responsible, and overall exceptional.
But be warned — venturing to these locations requires a willingness to travel long distances, participate in eco-friendly practices, and respect the local environment. In return, you'll have a unique and unforgettable travel experience that also helps to protect the planet.
1. Treehouse Lodge, Peru
From $695 for two guests, two nights, all-inclusive
Treehouse Lodge is a one-of-a-kind eco-friendly experience situated in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. Built on stilts, the eco resort is perched high above the forest floor, providing a stunning view of the lush canopy below. The treehouses are spacious, comfortable, and come equipped with essential amenities such as hot water and electricity. It's important to note that while there is solar-powered electricity available for most of the day, there is no Wi-Fi or cell service in the eco resort. Guests should be mentally prepared for this and embrace the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of the Amazon forest. The lodge offers guided jungle hikes, the chance to swim in the Amazon River, and the opportunity to visit an Amazon community of Peruvian natives. Additionally, the lodge provides three delicious meals per day that are made using locally sourced ingredients.
Firstly, take a flight to Lima, the Peruvian capital, and then catch a flight to Iquitos, which is the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon. Once you arrive in Iquitos, the lodge can arrange transportation for you from the airport or any commercial address. The journey to the treehouses takes about 2.5 hours. You'll be traveling first by car and then by boat along the Marañón and Amazon rivers.
2. Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Costa Rica
"Sunrise from the Porch at Lapa Rios" (2017) by Matthew Paulson, licensed under Flickr
From $550/night for a deluxe bungalow, all-inclusive
Located in the heart of the Osa Peninsula, Lapa Rios Eco Lodge is one of the best-known luxury eco resorts in the world. It's perfect for travelers who want to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Costa Rica while enjoying top-notch amenities. The accommodations are rustic yet exquisite, and though nightly rates can be high, the value is well worth it. Complimentary excursions, fine dining, and more are included with your stay. Wildlife enthusiasts will find plenty to be excited about, as the lodge is situated within a 1,000-acre private reserve that is home to over 300 bird species and diverse wildlife, including howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, and yellow-throated toucans. What's more, Lapa Rios offers a range of activities such as guided nature walks, birdwatching, and waterfall hikes, so you can return home with unforgettable memories of your time spent at this unique and breathtaking eco lodge.
Fly into San Jose's Juan Santamaria International Airport, then take a domestic flight to Puerto Jimenez Airport. From there, take a taxi or arrange for a shuttle service to Lapa Rios Eco Lodge.
3. Chumbe Island Coral Park, Tanzania
From $280/night for a garden bungalow, all-inclusive
Chumbe Island Coral Park is a little-known paradise situated in the Indian Ocean, between Zanzibar and Tanzania in East Africa. It has become increasingly popular among adventure-seeking travelers who value responsible eco-tourism, particularly those who love water activities. Chumbe Island offers one of the best coral reef diving experiences in the world, as it is located within a marine protected area that houses over 400 fish and 200 coral species. The lodge provides snorkeling and guided walks for visitors to explore the coral reef and the island's forest. The conservation efforts to protect the coral reef, eco-friendly accommodations, and educational activities make for a fulfilling experience, and the eco lodge's seven bungalows off the coast of Tanzania provide a unique opportunity to connect with nature.
Fly to Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, then take a domestic flight to Zanzibar and a boat to Chumbe Island. If you find yourself with spare time, take the opportunity to explore Stone Town in Zanzibar. The town is rich in history, boasting unique architecture and tasty local cuisine.
4. Playa Viva, Mexico
"Eco Casita Bed & Beach" (2015) by David Leventhal, licensed under Flickr
From $290/night for a studio and $425/night for an eco-casita, two guests, all-inclusive
Playa Viva is an eco lodge situated on a pristine beach in Mexico's Guerrero region. The lodge has 12 casitas (or 19 rooms) built from sustainable materials and powered by solar energy. The casitas boast striking architectural styles such as log cabins clad in bamboo and winged treehouses draped in white linen. Playa Viva is renowned for its diverse range of activities, including yoga, surfing, and turtle conservation, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a relaxing and eco-friendly getaway. The lodge also offers an organic farm-to-table experience, featuring healthy local cuisine.
It takes approximately 3.5 hours by car to reach the lodge from Acapulco. Alternatively, travelers can fly to Zihuatanejo Ixtapa International Airport, which is about an hour's drive away.
5. Topas Ecolodge, Vietnam
"View from Topas Ecolodge" (2015) by David McKelvey, licensed under Flickr
From $240/night for a cliffside bungalow and $450/night for a villa with a private pool, two guests, all-inclusive
Topas Ecolodge is a sustainable eco retreat in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range near Sapa, Vietnam. Each of the 49 bungalows features a rustic design, with stone walls and thatched roofs for an authentic mountain chalet experience. The views are unparalleled, with guests able to see the surrounding valleys and peaks from the privacy of their balcony or terrace. The lodge also offers a variety of eco-friendly activities, including hiking, cycling, and visiting nearby villages to learn about the local Red Dao and H'Mong cultures. It's the perfect destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Vietnam's striking mountainscapes.
Take a flight from Hanoi to Lao Cai. Then, take a taxi or shuttle bus to Sapa town. From there, Topas Ecolodge offers a shuttle service twice a day. Alternatively, you can arrange a private car transfer from Lao Cai to the lodge, which takes about 45 minutes and offers beautiful views of the verdant mountains and valleys.
It's a Wrap
These are just a few examples of eco lodges that offer affordable and unforgettable experiences for nature lovers. By choosing to stay at an eco lodge, you not only help support sustainable tourism but also get to experience the beauty of nature in a responsible and ethical way.
If you need travel gear to make your trip more comfortable, check out our online shop for travel essentials. We have plenty of thoughtfully designed products to streamline your travels, from toiletry bags that keep your items organized to travel blankets that pack down to the size of a grapefruit.
For more travel tips and ideas, visit our Gravel Travels blog.
P.S. If you'd like to learn more about responsible travel and how to contribute, visit the Center for Responsible Travel online and browse their resources and recommendations on sustainable tourism practices. They offer valuable insights and tips on how to minimize the negative impact of travel on the environment and local communities.