The UN’s newly crowned environmental Champion of the Earth offers sumptuous, sustainable wilderness stays in a string of extraordinary eco-lodges. We reveal the best of the best...
Lapa Rios lodge sits on the edge of Corcovado National Park – the largest tract of primary tropical forest on the Pacific coast of Central America.
There’s nowhere you’re more likely to see jaguars, or find jungle suites with better from-the-bed views: over rolling, rainforest-swathed hills to the shimmering blue Golfo Dulce.
The lodge generates its own natural gas (from kitchen-scrap-fed pigs), has a solar heating system, grows its own fruit and vegetables and has been supporting local schools for over 25 years.
Booking info: Bungalow doubles from £675 per night, full board with transfers.
Set on a lush tropical fjord between rainforest ridges and ribbons of black sand beach – and reachable only by boat – Playa Nicuesa is Eden-like.
Rooms are gathered in a tranquil tropical garden fragrant with mangoes and brilliant with scarlet heliconia, and it’s easy to do nothing but swim in the deep blue Pacific or watch the horizon meditatively from the shoreside yoga deck.
But there is plenty to do – kayaking through the mangroves, fishing for skipjack tuna or canyoning up mountain streams to icy waterfalls.
Booking info: Cabins from £390 per night per room (two nights required) full board with transfers.
Getting to this rainforest retreat, lost in rugged hills near the tiny town of Turrialba, is an adventure in itself: the only way in is by whitewater raft – on a rushing, rapid-run river.
Despite the remoteness, suites are fitted with honey-coloured hardwoods and have balcony terraces with private plunge pools. All is sustainable – from the on-site generated electricity and the construction materials, to the support for local indigenous communities.
Booking info: Double rooms from £815 per night (two nights required), full board with transfers and tours.
La Tortuga lodge sits in the heart of wild Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s jungle-carpeted Caribbean coast: arguably the best location in the Americas to see hatchling turtles.
Come in early autumn when thousands wriggle free of the sand on the reserve’s sweeping two-mile-long beaches and head for the gently lapping waves.
You can also take a boat ride on the crocodile-filled rivers, walk the birdwatching trails or simply relax and watch toucans flap across the sky above the infinity pool, or capuchin monkeys picking palm nuts.
Booking info: Double rooms from £180 per night, including breakfast.
With reggae music, jerk chicken and Bounty-Bar-white beaches, Costa Rica’s north-eastern coast may feel like the Caribbean, but it’s continentally wild.
Fan-cooled rooms in Ache’s rustic wooden huts are simple, but sloths snooze in the trees, and palm-sized butterflies kiss the creamy orchids in the flower-filled garden.
Mornings start with the raucous calls of howler monkeys in the adjacent national park, where ocelot still pad through the trees at night – and the reef-sheltered Playa Blanca beach is literally on the doorstep.
Booking info: Twin cabins start from £40 per night.
Costa Rica is not all rainforest. The dry south-west is cactus-sprinkled dry forest, which bursts into bloom after the first rains of spring.
Rio Perdido is one of the few lodges lying here – in a private reserve under the shadow of the hulking Miravalles volcano. Hot rivers ooze from the mountain, through steaming canyons that cut through the trees and flow into natural bathing pools.
Stilted rooms perch pod-like in glades, while the main building sits on a ridge, its vast balcony perfectly positioned for a bird’s eye view of twittering tanagers.
Booking info: Bungalow doubles from £180 per night, room only.
Costa Rica’s northern cattle pastures are regrowing as forest, thanks to the efforts of farmers-turned-wildlife keepers like the Jenkins family of La Quinta.
For over 30 years they have been at the cutting edge of Costa Rican conservational tourism and their ranch-turned-wildlife lodge has a maximum five CST leaves – the highest ranking in the stringent national eco- tourism scheme.
Alongside rainforest excursions (in Braulio Carrillo National Park), guests can participate in community activities such as tree planting (o setting that flight carbon) and cocoa roasting.
Booking info: Double rooms start from £84 per night.
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