What is an Ecolodge?
An ecolodge is a facility which is designed to accommodate ecotourists, people who are interested in traveling in a ecologically-friendly way. Ecotourism is also referred to as “sustainable tourism” and “green tourism." At an ecolodge, accommodation of tourists is important, but so is benefiting the environment and the local community. The facilities at an ecolodge can be quite varied, from simple tents to luxurious spa retreats.
Several characteristics differentiate an ecolodge from other types of hotels. Typically, an ecolodge employs local people, and it is often owned locally as well. The facility is built with local labor, using materials found in the region, and it is usually built in an environmentally-friendly way. Building materials may be recycled, for example, and the facility may be powered with alternative energy. Graywater recycling systems water the gardens, the kitchen composts its waste, and guests are encouraged to take small steps for the environment like reusing towels and sheets.
Ideally, an ecolodge has a positive environmental impact, in contrast with conventional hotels, inns, spas, and so forth, which often come with a high environmental price tag. A variety of innovative techniques might be used to make the space environmentally friendly, and profits from the ecolodge tend to benefit the environment and the local community. For example, an ecolodge might be used to fund a community school.
Being environmentally-friendly doesn't make an ecolodge spartan, and many are quite comfortable. The lodge may also have features like a welcoming common area to encourage the guests to interact with each other and with members of the community. It may also be linked with an adventure, nature, or educational tourism country, allowing guests to engage in a variety of activities with local guides.
Some ecolodges are linked with community service projects, encouraging their guests to volunteer in the local community for a few hours during their stay. Guests might assist in a school, help to build homes, or work for a few hours in a community garden, contributing positive benefits to the communities they visit.
Ecological tourism attracts a great deal of interest, and some unscrupulous companies have established ecolodges which diverge far from the spirit of responsible tourism, making only a few token efforts to lead guests into believing that they have chosen an environmentally sound vacationing spot. People who want to take ecotourism trips should read reviews of ecolodges carefully, and they may want to consider staying with an ecolodge which has been accredited by an ecotourism organization.
Ecolodges and eco resorts are usually more affordable than regular ones because the employees are local people and volunteers. Of course, they also save a lot of money by conserving resources at the lodges. So you might end up having a much cheaper vacation at an ecolodge than you expected.
I'm not sure about all, but I think some ecolodges might have discounts or lower rates in return for volunteer time or help around the facilities. I don't know how many people would prefer to do that but there are really many options out there. So if you don't mind volunteering a few hours to get a cheaper stay, you can do that. If you prefer to pay full rates and really feel like a guest there, you can do that as well. Either way, I'm sure that it's going to be a fun and enjoyable time.
My relatives went to stay at an ecolodge last summer and they were very pleased with it. They told me that the lodges were very comfortable and they had everything they needed. The only difference from a regular lodge/hotel was that everything was produced in an environmentally friendly way.
For example, they saved rainwater, filtered it and used it for some of their water needs. The lodges had hot water all the time using solar energy. The daily sun was so strong that there was hot water available even at midnight, hours after the sun set. They also had something called composting toilets which apparently treat toilet waste and turn it into fertilizer for the soil.
They were also very pleased with the people who worked there, who were all very educated and knowledgeable people who had a passion for protecting the environment. My aunt and uncle talked so much about these lodges that my parents are also planning to go this year. I can't wait to see some of the cool ecological technologies they use there.
I think ecolodges can be used to bring attention to a particular environment and the endangered animals in it. There are some ecolodges which do this. They are set up on the coastal areas where there is very valuable marine life like coral reefs and rare fish species. When people come to stay there, they are not just vacationing and supporting the local economy with the money they spend, but they are also learning about what nature has to offer there and why it should be protected.
Considering the number of plants and animals that are endangered and at risk of becoming extinct, we need new ways of informing the public and policy makers about it. The more people know and experience it first hand, the more likely they will be to do something to protect it. That's why I promote ecolodges. I think they provide a win-win situation for everyone. Not only do environmentalists find opportunities to be heard and to take action, but it also brings new finances into an area and supports the economy there.
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