Sitting under an umbrella on a beach resort is no longer enough – these days, people want a vacation that brings them closer to nature without overstepping their carbon footprint. That’s why sustainable tourism is booming right now. Here’s our list of ten nature hotels and eco-stays from around the world. 1. Whitepod, Switzerland
The Swiss Alps is known for its authentic charm, but it doesn’t get much more cozy than Whitepod’s eco-luxury hotel. You can tackle the slopes or in the summer, go mountain biking and hiking in this region completely isolated from urban pollution.
Your childhood dreams of living in a treehouse are about to come true. In Qualicum Beach, BC, Free Spirit Spheres offers the epitome of trendy “glamping”with sphere-shaped treehouses suspended by ropes and rigging. This is quite a step up from the one you built as a kid though – there are double beds, kitchen cupboards and even a microwave and refrigerator.
Set against South Africa’s Wild Coast, this lodge boasts an up close and personal experience with the indigenous Nqileni community. The Nqileni own 40 per cent of the resort’s property, so the villagers are deeply involved in enriching visitors’ stays by sharing the local culture. You can learn to brew beer with the Nqileni women and even take in some storytelling from the elders.
This slice of paradise is only one of 105 islands in Australia’s Recherche Archipelago, a destination rich with maritime history. Woody Island is an ace destination for anyone looking for a fishing expedition or sea cruises that reveal fur seals, sea lions and maybe even a dolphin or two.
Go completely off the radar with these fully furnished, sustainable houses outside of Taos, New Mexico. These are the ultimate, hippie “new age” homes designed entirely from recycled materials and powered by solar panels. But Earthship Rentals still has all the modern perks, including WiFi and Netflix on smart TVs.
Recently featured in Travel and Leisure and The Guardian, this guesthouse on the edge of a traditional stone village is delightfully in the middle of nowhere. The rooms are pretty bare, including camp beds and straw ceilings, but it’s an opportunity to explore the Middle East in a special, surreal way. Only 10 people are allowed on the hiking trails everyday, so chances are it’ll just be you, your guide and the wildlife up on the cliffs.
Orient owns three camps in Botswana (Khwai River Lodge, Eagle Island Camp, Savute Elephant Camp) allowing guests to build their own perfect jungle adventure. Botswana’s Chobe National Park is the best for seeing big game, including herds of elephants and zebras.
This mini-hostel in Siberia only has two wooden houses and a sauna, and is completely off the grid. Many people choose to come to Baikaler as a pit stop while traveling the Trans Siberian. It’s Russia’s most eco-friendly spot by far, with solar-heated water, triple insulation and energy-saving lights.
EcoCamp Patagonia is the world’s first geodesic sustainable hotel, an idea that came from the domed shape of ancient Kaweskar tribe huts. It uses 100% renewable energy generated by solar and hydro, and the toilets even compost using a sophisticated recycling system. Dreamed up by two Chilean university friends who loved the outdoors, we’d say they’ve outdone themselves here.
For around $400 a night, escaping into the desert is entirely possible in this eco-lodge in Egypt. Each of the rooms is hand-built with no electricity, lit only by beeswax candles and the desert sky at night. You won’t find much wildlife on these rolling sand dunes and salt lakes, but it’s the perfect atmosphere for serene inner reflection.