The World’s Top 10 Ecolodges

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Seven years ago, Florida resident Hitesh Mehta embarked on a journey that took him through 46 countries in six continents. The purpose of his trek? To find the world's greatest ecolodges–places where tourism and sustainablility combine to create one-of-a-kind, environmentally friendly vacations. The result? Authentic Ecolodges, a beautiful coffee-table book replete with photos of far-away bungalows sure to inspire your next vacation. The book comes out today.

Here, Mehta shares his top ten ecolodges in their respective categories:

1. Sustainable Building Materials: Crosswaters Ecolodge (pictured above)
Location: Nankunshan Reserve, Guangdong, China
Date Completed: 2007
Built on fundamental feng shui principles and featuring bamboo, Crosswaters is the first master-planned ecolodge in China.

2.Creative Design: Chumbe Island Ecolodge

Location: Chumbe Island, Tanzania
Date Completed: 1998
Chumbe Island has one of the world's most diverse reefs. The Architectural team has created the ultimate eco-architecture guest villa.

3.Community Owned and Operated: Il Ngwesi Lodge

Location: Laikipia, Kenya
Date Completed: 1996
Owned by the Il Ngwesi community, the Lodge is the world’s  first community owned and operated ecolodge. It provides jobs to the locals and helps them become financially self-sufficient.

4. Holistic Wellness Programs: Ranweli Holiday Village

Location: Waikkal, Sri Lanka
Date Remodeled: 1996
Bordered by a sandy beach on one side and mangroves on the other, the Holiday Village was once a traditional hotel built in 1975. Ayurvedic doctors advise guests on the most holistic mind-body-soul treatments.

5.Indigenous Construction Techniques: Adrère Amellal

Location: Siwa Oasis, Egypt
Date Completed: 2000
Located near the Libyan border, Amellal seems to emerge from the sand itself. Traditional ‘kershef’ rock-salt construction techniques were used extensively to create this unique desert architecture.

6. Biodiversity Conservation: Campi ya Kanzi

Location: Chyulu Hills, Kenya
Date Completed: 1998
Located on the Kuku Group Ranch, Campi ya Kanzi is owned by 6,000 Maasai members of the ranch. The ecolodge helps protect lions and elephant migratory routes.

7. Culinary Experiences: Lapa Rios Ecolodge

Location: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Date Completed: 1993
Serving mainly local foods, the Brisa Azul restaurant overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Dine on coconut curry or fresh heart of palm salad. Buy the restaurant's cookbook to take the recipes home with you.

8. Innovative Technology: Guludo Beach Lodge

Location: Quirimbas National Park, Mozambique
Date Completed: 2005
With shower fittings made of bamboo and a dry composting toilet system, this Lodge is truly innovative. Relax while taking in views of the Indian Ocean.

9. Art as Architecture: Las Torres EcoCamp

Location: Patagonia, Chile
Date Completed: 2000
Each dome-shaped cabin resembles the traditional hut of native Patagonian tribe, the Kawesquar.A local artist painted murals depicting local culture and nature on each canvas-walled tent

10. Interpretation Programs: Basecamp Maasai Mara

Location: Koyiaki Group Ranch, Kenya
Date Completed: 1998
Guided tours of  traditional Maasai medicine plants, Maasai villages and wildlife safaris by local Maasai are part of the fun at Basecamp Maasai Mara.

-Hitesh Mehta

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