Costa Rica Retreats at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge

Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge

Upcoming Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge

January 23 – 30, 2016 – 7 nights – Yoga Adventure – Led by Basia Going
Enjoy yoga in the morning on our newly constructed yoga deck under the palm trees overlooking the ocean. Another session for breathing and meditation is held in the evening. Spend the rest of the time surfing, hiking, riding horses, or just chilling in the hammock doing absolutely nothing.

Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge

January 31 – 8, 2016 – 8 nights – Advanced Therapeutic Thai Massage – Led by Christopher Ray and Kate Lewandowski
This is an intensive workshop for bodyworkers that includes training in That massage in the incredible environment of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. The Thai massage training is 45 hours. This leaves lots of time for other natural pleasures including yoga.

February 8 – 14, 2016 – 6 nights – Wild Yoga Journey – Led by Rebecca Wildbear
This is a daily yoga journey that is playful, gentle and invigorating. It is a daily morning asana practice. Open to all levels of physical ability.

February 13 – 20, 2016 – 8 nights – Goddess Within – Led by Sara Hilgendorf and Stacie Finucan
This is a woman only yoga and massage therapy retreat. Enjoy something special and spiritual as you journey towards better self awareness.

April 9 – 16, 2016 – 7 nights – Two Feet One Word Yoga – Led by Tami Ellis
Begin the day with meditation and Vinyasa Flow Yoga and every evening with Yin Yoga.

April 16 – 23, 2016 – 7 nights – Yoga Retreat – Led by Ame Wren
We will begin each morning with a rockin’, sweat-inducing and muscle-loosening Vinyasa yoga class. The evening practice will serve to cool you down (think yin, restorative, meditation) and prepare you for the best sleep you’ll ever have.

All retreats include food and lodging and the amenities offered by Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge. For more information on any of the retreats please go here: Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge. Information about each of the teachers is also available through that link.

Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge

Our online eco rating exam explained

What difference does an Online Eco Rating Exam make?

In this day and age every time you turn around there is another “eco” lodge popping up. As “ecotourism” is moving more mainstream, more hotels will try to ride on the sustainable bandwagon. In some ways this is wonderful. It’s really good that hotels are wising up and trying to improve their best practices. I applaud that and it’s good for business.

But what about those places that will pretend they are “eco” when really they are doing the minimum. We have even created a word for this problem that is cropping up: “Greenwashing”. It seems clear that we need some way to differentiate between hotels that are committed to sustainability and those that just use if for publicity purposes.

Our online eco rating exam explained

One way to insure that a place really is sustainable is to get certified by someplace like Green Globe, http://greenglobe.com/. They send someone out to do a hands on rating. The only problem with their rating is that it is expensive to have someone travel out to a lodge, etc. and personally evaluate them. Last time I checked it cost the lodges around $1000 (US) to become certified. For many lodges, this keeps them from joining. By definition, it’s the smaller lodges that are more “eco”. Should they be penalized because they can’t afford the fee?

The next best alternative is to have some kind of check and answer system that doesn’t need a hands on visit. I’ve tried to develop just that with the “Online Eco Rating Exam”, http://www.eco-tropicalresorts.com/ecorating/. It’s a way for lodges to respond to a series of questions and come up with a score that shows exactly how “eco” they are based out of a total of 5. In order for a lodge to get a perfect score, they have to have Policies and Procedures as well as a way of monitoring their consumption of water and energy and send it for authentication. The online rating covers energy, water, recycling and waste, community, and land and nature conservation.

There is no charge to members to take the Online Eco Rating Exam and it is a way for them to prove that they are not “greenwashing”. The Exam is always being improved on as new things come to light or as many people express their opinion.

Right now I’m grappling with water issues. Should lodging that is in a wet area of the world be penalized for not using water saving techniques? I’m leaning towards yes because water is a global issue and I see “eco” lodges as ways to open up people’s eyes to conservation in all its aspects. Please feel free to share your opinion by answering here or contacting me directly at lise @ eco-tropicalresorts.com.

In summary, an Online Eco Rating can make a big difference, especially for small establishments. It helps add credibility to hotels.

Tembo Ki9jani and Ecotourism

Tembo Kijani and Ecotourism

Tembo Kijani and Ecotourism in Tanzania

Tembo Kijani sits right on the coast of Tanzania in Africa. Here you will find secluded, white sandy beaches. The owners are passionate about ecotourism and their philosophy is to take what nature gives and to give back to nature. This post is about Tembo Kijani and Ecotourism in Tanzania.

The buildings at Tembo Kijani are made from local materials and designed to blend into the surrounding nature. They use Makuti roofs on all their buildings. This type of roof can be seen throughout Tanzania and is accomplished by using coconut leaves. What’s great about these roofs is that they help with constant air flow, thereby keeping the heat from building up. Below is an image of these roofs.

Tembo Kijani in Tanzania

Being far off in the bush, Tembo Kijani uses only solar and wind power to generate their electricity. Each bungalow has it’s own controller and guests can see exactly how much electricity they are using.

Waste management is done with the goal of zero waste. Water is filtered instead of purchased in plastic containers. All kitchen waste is composted. Waste water is reused to water the bush.

Ecotourism is at the heart of Tembo Kijani and Ecotourism in Tanzania.

Eco Lodge for sale on the Caribbean in Mexico

Eco Lodge for sale on the Costa Maya in Mexico
Maya Luna is located on beach front property on The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, a world class coral reef. The hotel offers diving, snorkeling, fly-fishing, trawling and bird watching. It is a small boutique type Eco Lodge on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. This is known as the Costa Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula, known as a desirable place to travel. The beachfront restaurant offers a daily variety of Mexican, Oriental and European flavors with staff well trained and willing to stay on.

Maya Luna is located near the small town of Mahahual. This is one of the most relaxing places and nature abounds. Tranquility is there in abundance in the unspoiled environment.

Hotel Maya Luna is located two miles south of the important Mexican-Caribbean cruise ship port and little fisherman’s town MAHAHUAL, known as Puerto Costa Maya. It is a 4.5 hours drive from the international airport of Cancun, at 360 km (219 miles). Chetumal, at 140 km (89 miles) and 1.5 hours, has a national airport with flights from Mexico City. There are daily bus services from Costa Maya to Cancun and Chetumal. Most tourists arrive in rental cars.

Maya Luna is owned by a Dutch couple. They built the resort in 2003. Their mission-statement: Maya Luna must be an eco-resort where the guests feel at ease, the Mexican employees gain a rewarding living and the owners make a fair profit.

The resort facilities include four spacious beach front bungalows that all have a beach terrace downstairs and a private roof deck upstairs, a king size bed or individual beds, bathroom, closet, hot and cold water, drinking water, beach chairs, and hammocks. One of the bungalows is fully equipped for wheel-chair travelers.
The two floor main building: Downstairs consists of a beach front restaurant, fully equipped kitchen, reception, palapa-covered patios, public toilets, and storage. Upstairs has two rooms, storage and a huge ocean view terrace.
All the buildings and parking places are situated in beautiful, tropical gardens.
The eco-resort runs 24 hours on a solar panel system with back-up generator, rainwater with big cisterns and septic tanks for the dirty water. Wireless and cellular telephone are available.
All the permits, land titles, environmental impact study and all business permits are in order. Tax and social security payments are up to date. Maya Luna has a permit to build 2 more bungalows. If you are interested, please contact the owners at info@hotelmyaluna.com.

Golfo Dulce and Earthwatch in the OSA peninsula in Costa Rica.

The owners of Saladaro Lodge participated in an Earthwatch sponsored program recently.   They shared some of their thoughts and are taking an active role in a new study which will take place next year.

Centro de Investigación de Cetáceos CEIC – Costa Rica (http://cetaceansgolfodulce.blogspot.com/) is a non profit working to help preserve Golfo Dulce. They have been studying the whales, dolphins and the supporting habitat of the Golfo Dulce since 2005 with the intent of collecting more knowledge and monitoring impacts. Some of the dolphins they have known during this time have an advanced fungus derived from chemicals used on the palm plantations. These groups help with collecting data on species, time, temperature, actions as well as identifying individual animals and comparing to previous photos. They also monitor people’s impact on the beaches surrounding it.

As a part of the program they also study poison dart frogs on the Osa peninsula and will be starting a new study of the Aguja (needlefish) at Saladero Lodge this coming July, 2014. Our location is one of the few critical areas for the aguja spawning on the west coast of Central America. The type of rocky beach and temperature is very important for the eggs to hatch. They are a primary food source for the dolphins.  

Their primary goal is to prove that the Golfo Dulce is a unique marine area that needs to be protected and to influence the government into making all of it a Protected Marine Area.

For more information click here: http://www.saladerolodge.com/

Luxury and Eco on Holiday – Getting the Balance Right

Holidays are precious and let’s face it, we all fancy a bit of luxury to indulge our senses in.  But for the eco-conscious traveller, the challenge is to find a destination that achieves the balance between luxury and environmentally friendly.  The ‘green’ part really needs to be seamlessly integrated into the experience.

It’s not hard.  Guests can be traveling ‘green’ without really knowing it at some resorts.  Take Eco Beach for example, on Western Australia’s remote Kimberley coast.  This eco wilderness retreat boasts the 2 key ingredients of 1.Location and 2.Experience. The green part of the recipe can then be very simply integrated and just like a green smoothie, you don’t even know you’re drinking kale or spinach!

Passive solar architecture is a subtle, effective way to increase guest comfort without detracting from luxury and decreases the need for power hungry air-conditioning: elevated villas and tents that facilitate cooling airflow; long eaves for shade; reflective rooves ; higher angled roof pitch that decreases the surface area exposed to the midday sun; lightweight building materials that drop heat quickly; double glazed windows and orientation of buildings to capture the sea breezes. These clever initiatives are like a dash of spinach in amongst the raspberries and bananas – hidden wonders.

The top of the list green feature is the resort’s computerised hybrid renewable power system. Every villa and tent is equipped with solar arrays that gather energy from the Sun to store in a large battery bank. The grid-based solar system allows excess power generated to be diverted to areas requiring power or to be stored in the batteries.  So, energy is used on a ‘needs only’ basis.

Other green initiatives include:  a unique energy-monitoring system that enables both management and guests to check energy usage; circuit breakers to restrict the use of large power-drawing electronic devices; LED lights; louver windows to maximise the airflow; thermostatically controlled Chromogen hot water systems; multi-head split system air conditioners in the villas; sustainable bamboo floor boards; eco-decking – a composite, renewable material that combines polyethylene and organic rice husks and reduces the need for deforestation; recycling in the office and around the resort; low flow taps, toilets and showerheads; biological micro-organism sewerage treatment plant and bio-degradable cleaning and bathroom products.

In the garden: grey-water is used to water the gardens; 5,000 native plants reduce irrigation needs; over 1km of elevated boardwalks protect the natural bush floor and an organic vegetable patch in season supplies 70% of the resort kitchen’s fresh produce needs – from edible marigolds, to beans that rival those of any fairy-tale.  Kitchen scraps are composted and fed to the chickens that kindly lay some 20 eggs a day – a poignant example of the ‘great circle of life’, and a reminder that we are all interdependent.

Going green actually creates more guest comfort and more delicious meals! And guests can sleep soundly in their premium King Beds (minus the peas under the mattresses!) under a million stars, knowing that they are supporting the sustainability of the planet.  It’s surely a win, win situation.

Find out more about Eco Beach Resort Broome and book online.

Alternative Electricity Generation – Photovoltaic Solar Panels and Sustainable Water usage

Finca Rosa Blanca is a model of Sustainable Tourism, which has at its core not only sustainable good practices in terms of  conservation but also in terms of generating financial stability (ie; sustainability) so that the company can continue to innovate and create newer and more solutions to the issues of win/win situations for its bottom line. After 24 years of being pioneers in this kind of green innovation, and in regard to your observations about solar or alternative energy sources we have grave misgivings about requiring photovoltaic solar panels as preferred means for generating electricity, as they are not actually sustainable at this point in time.

This is an issue that we believe is misunderstood and is a very complex and evolving topic, and one in which we have been very involved. The advantages to solar energy are on the surface very obvious; the major benefit being the mitigation of greenhouse gases that fossil fuels produce. In the case of Costa Rica, 92% of the electricity generated is from hydroelectric, Eolic (kinetic wind energy) or geothermal sources; none of which emits fossil fuels. The company that sells this electricity is a nationally owned cooperative, called Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz, from which we buy this clean power as a cooperative member (consumer). In the case of other countries or places where the “grids” mean that the electricity is created through fossil fuels, the transportation of these materials and their subsequent waste is also of concern, along with the financial impact, transportation wear and tear etc.

Basically, going off grid is a huge advantage for those in isolated areas where they cannot get access to the cooperative electricity generated through a nonpolluting or fossil fuel depleting grid.

The disadvantages, which for us in Costa Rica outweigh the advantages, are the following; solar energy is not viable at night and for a tourism business that relies on services that require electricity (ours is a luxury accommodation which requires 24 hour services to our guests) nor is it constant. Furthermore, it is drastically reduced during our rainy season where many hours of the day are spent in overcast or stormy conditions.  Beyond daily inconsistency, solar production decreases over winter months when there are fewer hours of sunlight and sun radiation is less powerful.

But more important to us, as a business (and sustainability also includes first and foremost, financial sustainability) is that solar energy production is relatively inefficient. At best it is efficient at 25% and this is not sustainable on a viable level for those businesses that have healthy alternatives to this kind of electricity. Furthermore, because of this inefficiency for converting solar power to electricity, it requires a tremendous amount of coverage in order for it to be useful. This then as a result requires us to cover a large area of land that could be used for other good practices, like reforestation, propagation of endemic species and erosion protection. Our abundance of foliage and trees does not allow much of our roofing area to be used, and what is available for sunlight is being utilized by solar panels for heating water, which is a very efficient and viable energy use. (100% of our energy for heating water is through solar panels)

Additionally, there is great polemic about the storage and inversion of solar photovoltaic cells to A/C current which for the time being in any achievable or viable financially option, requires lead based batteries. In other words, solar electricity storage technology has not reached its potential yet.  These batteries have a short life of a year or two and then need to be discarded; posing a new and more worrisome issue of what the lead and acid detritus does to the places it is discarded. They are very bulky, VERY expensive and not a good option for a business that needs to have reliability and recyclability in mind.

So in conclusion, we believe that the assumed benefits and “green” stamp that photovoltaic solar panels imply can be misleading and in our case, we are actually being much more sustainable using the system we have in place for generating electricity.

In the case of heating water, then there are no real arguments, as this is a 100% viable and efficient method for heating water and as a result, 100% of all of our hot water comes from this technology. 

Water:

All of our water comes from a well which is pumped to a holding tank and delivered via gravity to most of the hotel. We have several water saving methods which we use to monitor our water usage, including flow meters on every outlet of water which are checked daily and logged into a monitoring logbook. Not only does this allow us to keep tabs on our water use and spikes in its consumption, but also allows us find leaks quickly and efficiently.

All of our faucets, shower heads and water outlets have water saving devices and our water is checked every 3 months for contamination of any kind through a licensed and official professional laboratory approved by the Ministry of Health. Additionally all of our toilets are 3.8 liter flushes (1 gallon) and we have literature in the rooms and bathrooms asking our guests to conserve water.

Additionally, our pool water is sanitized and cleaned through copper/silver ionization which has a 100% avoidance of harmful chemicals such as chlorine, acids or other damaging materials. Finca Rosa Blanca uses all of this water from the rinsing during the pool cleaning (chemical free water) for irrigating the Coffee plants that are in the green area below the hotel.

As per the CST, there is a large portion of the biological category (25%) which is dedicated to water consumption and its monitoring.

For instance in many parts of the CST one can find norms such as the following

  • Design a plan whereby the principle norms of practice and operation of the company in environmental concerns would permit the best water quality
  • The company creates an integral operation for the use of its water taking into account the following aspects;
    • Better use of water through a monitoring system and optimization for reaching the goal of reducing its use.
    • Reusing residual water for the irrigation of its green areas
    • Guaranteeing the use of such water at its most efficient methodology
    • Utilizing any irrigation with the most efficient technology possible to minimize its use.
    • To maintain a monitoring and establish standards (benchmarks) for the utilization of water
    • Select grass species (and the species of all plants) that would best adapt to the climatic characteristics of the soil in its area
    • Establish areas of priority for irrigation, identifying those that require no or little irrigation
    • Ensure regular comparisons of the irrigation system with the intent of premature leakage, inundations form defective irrigation systems or that do not cover the area adequately,  bad pumping systems among others
    • Avoid irrigating in windy conditions or during the day
    • Follow a regular monitoring of the soil humidity levels
    • Use hydro-receptors for accumulating  ground water

We have scored 100% on the CST inspections which include all and more of these norms.  To go to their site: Finca Rosa Blanca Plantation

Finca Rosa Blanca recently updated their Eco Rating for Eco-TropicalResorts.com.  In part, the above was a response to the Eco Rating and it started a conversation.  The Eco Rating will be updated to reflect some of the views held here.  When I first started Eco Tropical Resorts there was no country getting 92% of their energy from renewable resources.  

Anthropological research at Mambo View Point in Tanzania

Research implemented @ www.MamboViewPoint.org

          A couple of days after the start of the year 2013, I arrived at Mambo to do a research for MamboViewPoint in combination with my study. At this moment, I am a master’s student in Social & Cultural Anthropology at the Free University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. My aim for this research was to find out more about the perceptions of the people in Mambo village towards the development projects facilitated, and how this would influence their behavior. The contribution I would make to MamboViewPoint with this research was that they could improve their communication with the villagers. My duration of stay was almost three months. If I did not had to return to finish writing a thesis, I would have definitely stayed longer at this amazing place… 

Interview tree nursery group ‘Jipe Moyo’

The arrival

At the moment I arrived, I experienced a beautiful place in the Usambara Mountains: A stunning view over Tanzania and Kenya while I sometimes could catch a glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro. Before this time, I have been in Tanzania three times for holidays and an internship, but that I missed this place felt as a missing for my previous trips to Tanzania.

Before I arrived at this place, I had some serious doubts about how I would experience these three months. First of all, I am really a person who loves cities and busyness around himself: My internship for my former study was mainly in Arusha. During this internship, I went for a program towards a very remote area for one week, and at the end of that week I really felt ‘homesick’ to the big city. Now I was going to stay at a remote area for three months, which is way longer than this one week during my former internship.

Another point which I was a bit worried about was my level of Kiswahili. Before arrival, I spoke a bit of Kiswahili, but this was on such a level that it was not really useful to work with. Despite of these worries, I also looked forward to this adventure: This would become a personal challenge for me, and I would try as much as possible to contribute useful anthropological knowledge to MamboViewPoint.

The worries I had at the beginning quickly disappeared after my arrival. I noticed that Mambo and MamboViewPoint is a nice place with a friendliness of people, which I did not experience that much as during my travels around the world. Herman, Marion, and the rest of the staff gave me a very warm welcome, and because of them, I knew I arrived at a good place.

The start

Footballmatch with ‘Dogodogo Stars’

Since almost one year before my departure to Tanzania, I have already started reading literature and scientific articles about this topic. At the moment I arrived, it was time to assess all this knowledge in ‘the field’. I started with just observing what was going on. Luckily for me, shortly after my arrival I was brought by one of the staff members, Kipimo, to a general village meeting. He really took care of me, and could explain me good what was going on. Together with Ndege, the local manager, I discussed in the first week how to come in contact with the people. He had some very good ideas which helped me to present myself more to the people of Mambo. Another staff member, Amiri, brought me into contact with the younger generation of the village. He is one of the members of the local football team ‘Dogodogo Stars’, and since the first week I also became a member of this football team. Also Herman and Marion helped me a lot during some brainstorms about what is going on in the area, and provided me a clear picture of Mambo by telling about important and less important happenings.

The process

Like always, the start is the most difficult part of a research, and in the beginning I was worried about how to start. In the first two weeks, I conducted interviews with only two villagers. These two were staff members of MamboViewPoint, so I could not be satisfied. However, I also put a lot of effort in the beginning by just talking with people, participating in development projects or social activities. It turned out that by doing this, I built the foundation for a large numbers of interviews in a later phase of the research.

In the beginning I was struggling with finding translators. The guides of MamboViewPoint were did a good job, but they were very busy with trips for tourists which made it difficult to make appointments with people. I was very lucky that I met Hoza, who became my research assistant. I already knew him, because he was participating in a tree nursery project. It turned out that his level of English was satisfying to me, and he had good ideas on how he could help me. After his first time translating for me, I was convinced that he was the right person who was going to help me making this research a success. Thanks to him, I adjusted my goal of 25 interviews towards 30 interviews, which became in the end 33 interviews!

During my talks with the people in Mambo village and surroundings, I realized that people really enjoyed my visit. Most people experienced the interviews not only as being a passive research subject, but also as sharing knowledge in two directions. Just visiting people at their home and listen to what they think made people very happy, which get symbolized by the disappointed reactions by some people if I did not interviewed them yet. Additionally, of all the people whom I have interviewed, there was only one person who was not willing to be interviewed.

Interview with one of the villagers

The interviews and participating in meetings and social activities resulted that it was for me not possible anymore to walk in the village without meeting people. While I left for walking to the village, I heard my nickname ‘Maliki’ called by many people shouted. In the beginning of my stay I was always 10 minutes too early for an appointment, while at the end I was always 5 minutes too late for an appointment. This was because I had to greet so many people on my way.

The importance of anthropology is that the researcher is his own research tool. This means that I had to come closer to my research subjects by talking and participating in their lives. This will open doors to achieve more results by making use of my senses. I feel like I really achieved this in more ways. People opened themselves a lot to me. First of all, the people in this area are very open and friendly by themselves, and show a lot of hospitality. However, I think I increased their openness by really showing interest towards their lives. I talked with them, stopped for a greeting while walking in the village, hang out with the people in the village center, and participated a few times in voluntary village works. Also my Kiswahili at the end of my stay really improved. Whereas I could only say ‘Hello, how are you?’ at the beginning, at the end I could introduce myself and present the aim of my interview fully by myself. This was partly because I have spent many hours sitting with the MamboViewPoint staff and just talking in Kiswahili.

The end

I already knew it a bit, but after this research I discovered I am studying the best study there is: doing research by communicating with as much as possible with people. Fortunately, the people I researched in this case also turned out to be amazing friendly people. This also resulted to me that I felt very sad in the days before my departure. Despite of this, because I was almost leaving, I knew I had to enjoy every moment of being here even more.

But with the coming of the end of this research, it is also time to analyze my findings of this research:

First of all, anthropologists always have the tendency to argue the good things bad, and the bad things good. However, Herman and Marion made it very difficult for me to criticize their projects they are implementing. The reactions of the people in the village made me realize how much the people appreciate MamboViewPoint. During my conversations, it turned out that many people saw MamboViewPoint as a new alternative to bring more development in this area. This is because the ones who are supposed to facilitate development, the local leaders, are experienced as being not reliable. The people in the village experience MamboViewPoint as much more reliable in facilitating development, so people depend more on them. However, this could be a disadvantage, because in the end it are the people themselves who should develop the area. Still, people are very happy with certain developments on which they had to wait for many years, but are brought by MamboViewPoint very fast.

Another very important thing I found out during my stay here is that the willingness of people to participate in development project is very high. However, they put some restrictions on their participation: As long as the project is transparent and the facilitators can show what the benefits are, the people in Mambo are very willing to contribute their efforts to a development project.

These are some of the main findings during my stay here. But at the moment I arrive back in The Netherlands, I have to analyze all my collected data and start writing my thesis. This means that I am going to spend my time for three months in the university library. While analyzing and writing, I will constantly think back of this great time here: In this period, I noticed how much I love this country and its people, and how much I want to come back to the place where I had one of the best periods of my life!

By Mark de Waard friend from Mambo

5 leaves for Bosque del Cabo in Costa Rica

Over many long years of dedicated and diligent hard work carried out by Phil and Kim Spier, Bosque has become internationally renowned as one of Costa Rica’s premier rain forest lodges. The meticulous attention to detail has ensured that the guests receive the ultimate in friendly service, delicious food and comfortable lodging. But that is only part of what makes Bosque so special. The lodge has now become a concentrated oasis of wildlife diversity that brings so many people who want to enjoy and experience the fauna and flora held within its 800 acres of diverse habitat. Many of those visitors return time and time again. A number one priority of Phil and Kim was that the lodge should be run in a sustainable way that caused both minimal impact on the environment and also benefited the local community.

This year all those years of painstaking and conscientious efforts have been recognized and have seen Bosque del Cabo honored by two major organizations. Earlier in 2012 Bosque was awarded the highest achievement possible with a Certificate of Sustainable Tourism of 5 LEAVES. This ultimate level of certification is reward for all the research, planning and implementation of a sustainability plan developed over a long period of time. Phil and Kim would like to thank Kalinga Rodriquez, Katiana Beccerra and Karen Rojas Cuadras for their hard work in helping to collate, process and present those plans to the C.S.T. board.

The second award was one given on behalf of all of those guests who have visited Bosque over the previous year and felt so moved as to write and submit a review of the lodge to the online Travel Forum TripAdvisor. Almost every one of those reviews gave the lodge a 5 star rating, one of the few hotels around the world to have achieved such stellar results. This in turn was recognized by TripAdvisor who award Bosque del Cabo with its ‘TRIPADVISOR CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE”.

Phil and Kim, as well as all of the staff, were so proud to have received such a high accolade as it speaks volumes about how the people who are so important to the lodge, you the guests, view everything that we do. We hope that situation continues well into the future. Many of our guests return so many times that they become almost like family. We hope you find the same level of welcome on your first visit and you may not be too surprised to find that once you do then you will become one of those regular returnees.

Philip Davison, Tropical Ecologist, Bosque del Cabo, 2012 Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica Website: Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Being Green in Africa – a bit different than in the Western World

People are asking us how we are eco and sometimes I don’t even know where to start or what to tell – there are many aspects to it, some a bit contradictory and others that go for me without saying.

Our main focus is our environment – the nature around us – and to leave it as untouched as possible.

This meant for us from the beginning the use of renewable energy with the aim to use less than 5% of the time fossil fuel and ONLY to retreat to it as an emergency backup (either for very bad weather or problems with the regular system). Wind and solar are a great combination for electricity right at the coast only 5 degrees south of the equator – 12 hours of sun each day and most of the year also some hours of good wind in the evenings – which also makes great weather for visiting by the way.

Responsible use of water and re-use of waste water is something deeply ingrained in our behavior, having lived in Israel for a long time. Our grey water goes for watering the bush on the plot, the black water is recycled in regular septic tanks and after that filtered through sand and going back to nature as well. Saving water goes for us without saying since the only source of water at Tembo Kijani is the rainwater that is trapped in the ground around 4m below ground level. Years without good rain are hard and responsible use of the water that we have is more important than ever.

The third big aspect of our ecolodge is the way we built it. The plot is a bit more than 6 acres big and most of it is thick bush, even though it is located right at the beach of the Indian Ocean. The first half year we were busy cleaning up dead trees and crawling through the woods to find spots without trees and big enough for our guest units – but they were not the same size, so we designed all of the bandas slightly different so that they would blend in with the nature around.

But how to build? Which materials to use? Where to get them from? These were the real challenges. Our two big guidelines were to use materials that are natural and easily available and secondly to use as little cement as possible. Besides this we had to take into consideration that the materials should fit into the environment of bush and beach, not rust or rot and being more or less immune against all the insects and termites around here – so for example we ruled out gypsum board in the beginning since first of all its production produces too much CO2, it is not water proof, not easily available and believe it or not, the local ants here are able to eat it.

The first order of wooden poles that we wanted to use for the restaurant was ordered just before the rainy season – a big mistake as we later figured out. The truck that was supposed to deliver them, got stuck where they were cut. They sent a heavy duty 4WD tractor in to pull it out, but then this one got stuck as well. So – no more heavy duty vehicles around the area and the only solution was to wait until the rain was over. After two months of waiting, the poles arrived at our plot and construction began.

What we figured out from living in Tanzania for 2 years by now and establishing something eco, is that being “green” is not as easy as in the Western world, where it is possible to recycle bottles, buy products that are “green”, just change your electricity provider to get renewable energy or buy a hybrid car. There are certain things that are almost impossible: living in the middle of the bush and driving a hybrid car – even the regular 4×4 cars are falling to pieces and spare parts are hard to get; using imported biodegradable soap (and being responsible for high CO2 emissions from the transport) or using local soap with lots of phosphates; what to do with garbage that you cannot recycle or compost, there is no other way than to burn it, because there are no trash collection services.

But being eco is not only how we do things here and what we use or even to choose between the lesser of two evils, but of course also what we convey to our guests.
So we installed a charge controller for the solar island system in each guest unit with smiley faces and a display so that our guests can see in their bandas and bungalows how much electricity is produced by the solar panel on their roof and how much they already used. Aluflasks are given to each guest to refill for free with filtered water and so to avoid the plastic from bottled water. The food, that we use in our lodge, is bought from the local markets and sometimes you are lucky to see the fishermen in the morning who bring the fish for the evening.

We don’t only want your stay as a guest at Tembo Kijani being “greener” than at other places, but we want to leave you with a different understanding of “being green” and a Green Africa.
For more information about this unique lodge in Tanzania:
Tembo Kijani – Pangani EcoLodge