During the four months I spent backpacking through South America, I found that there was a huge community of backpackers, and therefore finding a good hostel or hotel was painless.
With all of the options for lodging, being mindful and supporting hostels and hotels that are ecologically and socially responsible is a good way to make a positive impact on the planet.
I believe that supporting eco-lodges is a way to help shift the world toward a more sustainable future.
In order for a hotel or hostel to be eco-certified, the establishment needs to follow strict green guidelines. Green hotels generally have certain attributes, including the utilization of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, energy efficient lighting, the service of organic and locally grown food, non-toxic cleaning supplies, linens and mattresses that are made out of 100% organic cotton, the infrastructure for recycling and on-site transportation with green vehicles.
Eco-lodges range from cheap, fun and backpacker-style, to stylish and luxurious resorts. A traveler of any age can choose sustainability without compromising their idea of a vacation.
Whether you venture deep into the forests, explore high up in the mountains or roam around a stunning city, there are a range of sustainable lodges in South America to choose from. For me, being mindful while traveling is important. In order for Earth to survive, I believe there must be a shift in the way things are done. When you travel in a sustainable fashion, you are helping to make that shift toward a greener future.
I have compiled a list of seven awesome eco-lodges in South America. I was lucky enough to stay at some of them, while others I have added to my list of places to visit!
1. La Serrana (Salento, Colombia)
Located in the Los Nevados mountain range, La Serrana provides coffee tours, mountain biking, rock climbing, and a free gourmet breakfast. Their restaurant serves fresh veggies from the on-site organic garden. La Serrana “offers the ultimate affordable and authentic Colombian hacienda experience.” I personally think La Serrana is one of the nicest, coziest hostels I have ever stayed at. The rooms are clean and comfortable, the food is amazing and there are bonfires outside at night!
Find out more about La Serrana here.
2. Black Sheep Inn (Chucchilan, Ecuador)
Black Sheep Inn is 100% community operated. Their ecological conservation projects have won tons of awards, including World’s Best Hotels by National Geographic Traveler in 2011. Located high in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, this ecologically friendly lodge is the ideal spot for day hikers to come explore the various ecosystems and centuries-old culture. The Black Sheep Inn offers gourmet vegetarian food and organic produce from their gardens.
Read more about Black Sheep Inn.
3. Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve (Amazon, Ecuador)
Rooted far in the Achuar territory, the Kapawi Lodge is one of the most remote lodges. It is located far from any kind of civilization and it is one of the most culturally sensible and ecologically responsible eco-lodges in the world. Your stay at the lodge helps protect the extraordinary natural environment.
Learn more here.
4. Paraiso Lodge (Colca Canyon, Peru)
Paraiso Lodge is located in the middle of Colca Canyon near Arequipa, Peru. The hot water comes from solar-heated tanks and all the tables and chairs are made from recycled wood. The owners of Paraiso Lodge believe in combatting climate change through sustainable living. I spent three days hiking through Colca Canyon and Paraiso Lodge was an unbelievable place. I spent an afternoon swimming in the pool, relaxing in a hammock, exploring the garden and preparing for the extremely difficult hike I would be embarking on in the canyon.
Check out the website for more info.
5. Chalalán Ecolodge (Madidi National Park, Bolivia)
Chalalán Ecolodge is located on the shore of the Chalalán Lagoon. The cabins are are surrounded by virgin forest and can house up to 30 people. This luxurious eco-lodge respects the traditional building styles of the San José de Uchupiamonas community through the use of local materials. “The lodge is found in one of the richest and most protected areas of the planet, known by scientists as a Biodiversity Hotspot.”
Find out more here.
6. Eco Pampa Palermo (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Eco Pampa Palermo is a hostel located in the heart of Palermo Soho surrounded by art galleries, bars, green spaces, design shops and restaurants. The hostel collaborates with the environment, making the best use of the vital natural resources, without compromising guest service or care of the facility. The area is extremely safe, even in the late hours of the night.
Read more about Eco Pampa Palermo.
7. Caiman Ecolodge Refuge (Miranda, Brazil)
The Caiman Lodge is a part of the Caiman Ecological Refuge, located on a 53,000 hectare ranch. It was the first ecotourism operation in the Southern Pantanal of Mato Grosso du Sul, established in 1985. “Since then, it has aimed at creating and offering visitors a means of getting close to the Pantanal’s nature and culture, while pursuing excellence in hospitality services and gastronomy.” In addition, the Caiman Ecological Refuge operates a renowned Nature Conservation Program. Visitors can bird watch, go on a biking tour, enjoy a photographic safari, go on a canoe tour and more.
Check out the website for details.
There are tons of sustainable hostels and hotels around the world. When traveling to a new location, do some research and find the ones that best match what you are looking for! Check out The Mindful Explorer for more eco-lodges around the world.
Originally published on elephant journal here.