Are Eco-Resorts safe? An update on the pandemic

People are asking are eco-resorts safe? The Pandemics Impact on some of our EcoLodges has varied. Tourists are planning travel again, and I thought people might be interested in how the Lodges are doing. Some of the lodges are closed, though hopefully they will re-open once tourism gets going again. But some of the EcoLodges have been forced to shut their doors for good.

Below are a few of the Lodges that have updated us about “are eco-resorts safe?”. As I hear from more of them, I will add their responses.

North America – Mexico

Playa Viva is located in Juluchuca, Mexico

Playa Viva is located 45 minutes south of the Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa international airport. Here’s what they had to say:

“At Playa Viva we have been very lucky. We were closed April 1 – July 1, 2020. We opened July 1 with COVID protocols and soon had a steady stream of guests looking for a safer vacation option that allowed them to enjoy being outdoors (only one space at Playa Viva has A/C and is indoors, our boutique) as guests were seeking the luxury of being outdoors and emerged in nature. Playa Viva has a great video on YouTube that explains their vision. The video is about 4 1/2 minutes long with stunning scenery and tree houses.

Playa Viva
Playa Viva in Mexico

We took this slight lull in travel to expand Playa Viva adding 6 new amazing treehouses. These have been very popular and Playa Viva counties to offer a safer and regenerative travel experience.”
To see their listing: Eco Tropical Resorts Playa Viva or to go directly to their website: Playa Viva.

Hotel Akumal Caribe in Akumal, Mexico.

The hotel is an hours drive south of the Cancun International Airport. The report below is taken from an email with the owner, Laura Bush Wolfe.

Hotel Akumal was forced to shut down in April 2020 because of Covid-19. With new protocols established by the Mexican government, the hotel was able to partially open in June 2020.

Furthermore “It’s now been 2 years that we are operating on a light system depending on Covid cases in the area. We are now at green, meaning fully open, but use of masks in enclosed areas still enforced and our staff always wears theirs. We sanitize each room on check out, we provide the amenities that the government requires, and we still follow temperature checks on entry.”

Hotel Akumal Caribe in Mexico
Hotel Akumal Caribe in Mexico

“During these 2 years we took on a challenge that the Government invited us to participate in. The first Green Certification given by the State Government to hotels who qualify! We were asked to be one of the first hotels due to the work we had already started in recycling, composting and energy saving. It has been a very hard task for everyone; we have an outside consultant that has been our mentor and supervisor throughout this time, and we should be getting our certification very soon! The work does not stop, and we will continue to do all that we can to maintain this certification.”

Things are almost back to pre-pandemic times at the Hotel. To see their listing on our site: Hotel Akumal Caribe on Eco Tropical Resorts. To go directly to their website: Hotel Akumal Caribe.

North America – USA

Maui Eco Retreat is located in Hawaii. Quotes from Kutira, one of the owners:

“We used the time to upgrade our place. We have offer 3 rooms and 2 cottage. Each room with its own bathroom embedded in a very luxurious house. We added a spacious solarium where our guest can sit and dine.

Our motto is ‘space is luxury – luxury is space’  and of course ‘where your vacation becomes a transformation. 

We have been blessed by many visitors since Covid. Our place is surrounded by nature pure, organic practices, waterfalls, hiking trails. Perfect to heal body and mind.  We offer Yoga classes and other teachings and we preform micro weddings.

Relax at Maui Eco Retreat
Maui Eco Retreat

Right now we are focusing creating more food forests – We are teaching young and old how to live regenerative.

Personally, we are now at the age in our life where we want to enjoy our land and have more creative time.

We are the care taker of the land since we bought it in 1988. Now we get to enjoy the beauty and share our magnificent paradise for those few who find the Shangrila… the lost paradise and like to be inspired to live in harmony with nature.”

To see their listing: Maui Eco Retreat on Eco Tropical Resorts. To go directly to their lodging: Maui Eco Retreat.

Europe – United Kingdom

Bryn Elltyd Eco Guesthouse is located in Snowdonia, North Wales.

John Whitehead, the owner, had this to say:

“Here at Bryn Elltyd, a carbon neutral guesthouse, the dreaded covid has forced us, like many to look again at life choices.  We have converted our end of 6 bed guesthouse to a flat and the business has become a very green holiday let.  The Good to Go   government covid safety  certificate help a little but  bookings are slow. It has given us time to do hospital covid volunteering, slow down  and enjoy our stunning Snowdonia landscapes.    As a engineer it also has given time to increase Electric car capacity. We  have had points since 2013, 100% successful charges all on green electric.  Free time also  allows work on   refining the insulation. Always a challenge 700ft up mountain in 1883 slate mine managers house.  

Bryn Elltyd Eco Guesthouse
Bryn Elltyd Eco Guesthouse

We have done better than most and are fortunate to have endured lockdown in a stunning area with open access to mountains.  Looking forward to greeting guests and  if asked, sharing  our sustainable story of how  a two person business can / has used only renewable energy since 2013.”
To see their listing: Eco Tropical Resorts Bryn Elltyd Eco Guesthouse, or go directly to their website: Bryn Elltyd Eco Guesthouse.

Africa – Tanzania

Mambo ViewPoint Eco Lodge in Tanzania.

Dagmara had this to share:

“We are open and operating, we actually never stopped, we did a tremendous effort to keep our doors open, not without many sacrifices, including from our amazing staff!

We have never had any Covid cases reported in the area, as you might know we are very remotely located.

Mambo ViewPoint Eco Lodge
Mambo ViewPoint Eco Lodge

Our restaurant and all rooms are daily cleaned, using antibacterial products, we can serve private meals on request in the cottages if people don’t want to share a meal with others. But it has never been requested by anyone till now ?”.

To see their listing: Mambo ViewPoint Eco Lodge on Eco Tropical Resorts. Or go directly to their website: Mambo ViewPoint Eco Lodge.

Sustainable and Renewable Energy

What’s the Difference between Sustainable and Renewable Energy?

Some people use sustainable and renewable Energy interchangeably. But there’s actually a difference. Sustainable energy comes from sources that don’t need to be renewed. Think solar and wind, which are 2 sources that are endless. Renewable Energy isn’t endless but can be renewed with certain actions. Think of crops or biomatter. Below I will try to inform you about these types of energy. And why it’s so important they replace traditional energy sources like petroleum and coal for the future of our planet.

Sustainable and Renewable Energy Pros and Cons

I was researching the positives and negatives of both sustainable and renewable energy. The problem is that many places, from local governments to private companies don’t see the difference between the two. In their discussions they lump them together. As I mentioned above, sustainable energy is one that can keep going indefinitely on its own. Whereas renewable energy needs to be created on an ongoing basis. In the pros and cons of sustainable and renewable energy I am talking about both.
Pros
1. Don’t produce fossil fuel greenhouse emissions.
2. Cleaner air and water.
3. Reduces dependence on imported fuels for most countries.
4. Diversifies our energy supply.
5. Creates economic development and jobs.
6. This type of energy will never run out (as opposed to fossil fuels, etc.).
7. Zero carbon emissions.
8. Conserves natural resources.
9. Don’t contribute to global warming.
10. This type of energy is generally less expensive.
11. Give us a way forward from polluting non renewable energies.
Cons
1. Higher capital costs/up front costs.
2. Can be unreliable (for example: solar panels won’t produce energy on cloudy days and wind energy falls on calm days).
3. Energy storage can be a challenge and expensive. Thankfully, future technology may/can change this.
4. It is impacted by environmental conditions. Wind turbines work best in large open areas with consistent wind.
5. Manufacturing, transport and installation can create a carbon footprint.
6. Wind energy can be dangerous to some wildlife, especially birds and bats.
7. Mining has to occur to generate the metals and other products, such as batteries, needed to build wind and solar farms. This often occurs in developing countries without strong environmental standards.
7. Geographic limitations. As an example, a desert would have difficulty using hydropower.

Petroleum and Coal as Sources of Energy

The main reason that I view old energy sources such as oil, gas, coal, etc. as negative is that they are polluting our planet. Another thing they do is contribute to global warming. Gas as a form of energy is finite, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Oil takes at least 50 million years to form and is not sustainable or renewable. Another thing to take into consideration is that it pollutes. It also contributes to global warming. When gasoline evaporates it gives off carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and unburned hydrocarbons. And when gas burns it produces carbon monoxide. These are bad for the environment.

And whether we want to admit it or not, petroleum contributes to wars and nasty politics. Power is a heady thing and those who want or have these negative sources of energy will fight for it. In the immortal words of John Lennon in Imagine: “Nothing to kill or die for.. Imagine all the people living life in peace”.

In Conclusion

We need to use sustainable and renewable energy for the health of our planet and future generations. Global warming is already a big problem. I’m seeing the effects in the small town I live in outside of Tucson, Arizona. Things like colder winters and hotter summers. Also the monsoon season that used to be regular as clockwork, according to old timers, is no longer dependable. I hope you will join me in promoting sustainability via sustainable and renewable energy use.

What makes a Sustainable Ecolodge?

What makes a Sustainable Ecolodge

There are 5 Parts of what makes a Sustainable Ecolodge, as there are 5 parts to our Online Eco Rating. The parts include energy, water, recycling and waste, land and nature conservation, and community. These 5 areas are able to be measured, that adds credibility and verification for a lodge.

In 2015 a branch of the United Nations: The Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development came up with 17 sustainable goals. Their mission statement is: “A blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all people and the world by 2030”. Because the UN’s goals are all encompassing, it would be impossible to include them all in what makes a sustainable lodge. Therefore, I’ve narrowed it down to the 5 areas in the online eco rating that I think are most important to what makes a sustainable ecolodge. Therefore I will wrote about each of these next.

This sign shows the basics of Sustainability

Energy and it’s Conservation

Energy uses up resources. Conservation of energy involves using renewable energy that doesn’t use up resources. Sustainable energy includes but is not limited to solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and biomass. When an ecolodge uses one of these renewable energies, that helps them rate as sustainable. Most of the eco lodges on our Directory use one or more of these. In fact, many lodges are located where there is no power grid, so must use alternative energy. Preserving energy helps us from polluting the earth

Water

Clean water is a limited resource for our planet. Lodges can conserve water several different ways: Harvested rain water from roofs or stormwater, reclaimed wastewater, and graywater. Parts of the world have an over-abundance of water, whereas other areas have a lack. Therefore, careful use of water is important. Many ecolodges use reclaimed graywater to water their plants. If an ecolodge is in an area of water abundance, then educational items should be made available for guests. We are part of the whole.

Recycling and Waste

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. This catch phrase is important to help us keep this in mind when getting rid of waste. Recycling and disposing of waste responsibly helps us keep from polluting the environment. It is an important part of what makes a sustainable lodge. Recycling is using waste materials and converting them into usable new materials. Where I live in the U.S., in Arizona, we have recycle and waste bins. So that makes it convenient and easy. In 3rd world countries recycling may not be available. During my time in Mexico, recycling was not available. But I noticed that people were very good at re-using things and adapting other things for use. An example of this was my van. The latch had broken on one of my windows and we were far away from a dealership to get spare parts. The person who fixed it used different screws and waste metal to create something that worked. It may not have looked great, but it worked and kept the waste metal out of the trash.

Most of the sustainable lodges on this directory are not close to recycling facilities. As an alternative, lodges can leave information out for guests about re-using items. Some examples of immediate recycling are having guests refill water bottles and putting food waste into a compost bin for the garden. Another is recycling of graywater. Many of our lodges have recycle bins available for use by guests. And some of them have helped local villages to recycle and reduce waste.

Lodges can separate waste into usable materials such as food waste and yard clippings for use in compost.

Land and Nature Conservation

An ecolodge should have little to no impact on the environment, unless it’s positive. That’s a big part of what makes an Ecolodge Sustainable. Some lodges make sure that part of the land remains in its natural state. This natural state insures the local fauna and flora can thrive, as well as letting guests enjoy the natural landscape.

Community

Hiring people in the local community helps lodges benefit the local people. Information and training in sustainable ways also benefits the communities. Some lodges sell local handicrafts to visitors as another means of helping locals gain by the presence of a lodge. By involving nearby communities it helps them understand and participate in preservation of natural and cultural resources. When someone is living at a subsistence level, there’s not much room to think about conservation when taking care of basic needs is so difficult. When lodges or people offer alternatives, then change is possible.

Years ago, I was lucky enough to visit Jem Winston in Dominica. He runs 3 Rivers Dominica and Rosalie Forest Eco Lodge. I saw first hand the dedication and work it takes to create and run an eco-lodge. His 2 lodges are fine examples of what makes a sustainable ecolodge.

In conclusion, maybe the most important part of what makes a sustainable ecolodge is the warm and caring people that own, create and run them. It takes a special kind of person to go to the extremes it takes to make an eco lodge. My hat is off to them.

Ecohelpline

Ecohelpline is celebrating it’s 5th year this month. It has been a lot of fun for me working with Jem Winston of 3 Rivers Dominica and Rosalie Forest Eco Lodge who I had the pleasure of spending 2 weeks with in Dominica at his eco lodge. This really helped me see first hand all the fun and difficulties of running an eco lodge. My other partner is Hemant Thite of Biogas Helpline and it was actually his idea to begin with. Thank you, Hemant! It was a great idea and the 3 of us from such different backgrounds have found a common focus that pleases us all.

The website Ecohelpline is no longer live. You can contact jem(@)rosalieforest for more information about it. On this site we offer an Online Eco Rating here .

Eco and Community Tourism in a Post Coronavirus World

With the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic in our lives, the concept of tourism is changing. Therefore we need to address tourism in a post Coronavirus World.
Most countries still have some form of travel restrictions in place. And it seems that at least some of those restrictions, and probably some new ones, may be with us for a very long time to come. 
Humans have an instinctive desire to travel and take holidays. But with long distance travel becoming more and more complicated and expensive, tourism is bound to change. Community tourism and Staycation breaks are set to become the face of tourism in the future. People will look to more local solutions, without the need to traverse the planet.

Changes to tourism in a Post Coronavirus World

These changes can in fact be a very good development for tourism as a whole. But it is absolutely essential that such programmes are introduced carefully. We need to ensure that there are financial benefits for hosts and hoteliers, without damaging community ways of life. We also need to retain and even enhance different culture. This can be done by sharing their unique beliefs and traditions with others. The beauty of good eco and community tourism in a post Coronavirus world is that once a few basic principles are understood, it is simple and replicable almost anywhere. Care needs to be taken because if introduced without the inclusion of all stakeholders, then immense damage can be inflicted on communities and cultures around the world.

Who we are

As a multi award winning eco lodge, we are proud to have been involved in community tourism for 20 years. We have received global recognition for our work. For almost 20 years, 3 Rivers & Rosalie forest eco lodge have been at the forefront. The eco lodges offer successful examples, training and advice on the introduction of fascinating community tourism projects around the world. Our goal has always been to respect cultures and create exciting and interesting activities for visitors. The aim is creating authentic experiences for visitors, and much needed income to individuals and communities.

International Organizations we have worked with

Many of our past projects have included close partnerships with many international organisations. Some examples are eco-tropicalresorts.com, packforapurpose.com, responsibletravel.com, ecohelpline.org, and many more.

What we offer

We offer onsite and on location courses and ecotourism consultancy services. With our new world in mind, we are now excited to be offering special, individually designed online classes and consultancy for a post Coronavirus world. The courses are designed to suit your particular requirements, on establishing community tourism projects. These courses are built to suit the hotels’, hotel staff, host’s, and visitors’ needs, all in one.
These new online courses are offered in partnership and collaboration with www.eco-tropicalresorts.com.

Contact us to organize a tailor made course that will work for you, and lead to the long term sustainability of your tourism product.
You are also welcome to contact us free of charge, if you have a few simple specific questions that you would like answered.
If the industry moves with both the coronavirus and climate changing times, we will successfully navigate through these challenging times. For more information contact us via this website, or visit the 3 Rivers eco lodge founder’s website on www.jemwinston.com .

Looking forward to a new climate and community conscious post Coronavirus world.

Mr. Jem Winston
Founder and Managing Director,
3 Rivers Eco Lodge, Dominica

Adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Gorilla Habituation Adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable National park

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Start your adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with gorilla habituation. The Uganda Wildlife Authority introduced the mountain gorillas’ habituation experience in January 2014. The habituation adventure will cost each person $1500.

Gorilla habituation is a process where the wild mountain gorillas are trained to get used to people. This process can take 2 to 3 years. During this time, the researchers visit an identified wild gorilla group on a daily basis. Researchers learn more about the individual gorillas as well as the way they behave during this period.

Gorilla Habituation Experience

With gorilla habituation, clients will get to spend more time with the mountain gorillas compared to regular gorilla trekking. Gorilla trekking can take three quarters of the day just getting to and from the gorillas but actual time with them is only one hour. Clients get to spend 4 hours with the gorilla habituation experience.

Clients experiencing this adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable Park will be moving with the researchers as they habituate the gorillas. You may also visit semi habituated mountain gorillas during this adventure. The semi habituated gorillas are not as predictable. They can decide to hide and behave in a manner that is not predictable. Researchers can stop the experience at any time if they feel it is harming the semi habituated gorillas.

When Mountain Gorillas are habituated

With time, these mountain gorillas get used to the researchers and each individual gorilla is given a name. Once the researchers are very sure that these gorillas can be habituated, they introduce a mock exercise where a few people start visiting. These small visiting groups can include scientists and journalists. Once such a gorilla family has passed the mock exercise, it is opened for visitation by paying clients.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has around 12 habituated gorilla families. The named groups are Habinyanja, Mubare, and Rushegura found in the Buhoma sector. As well as Bitakura, Oruzongo and the Kyaguriro found in the Ruhija sector. And Nshonji, Mishaya, Busingye, Bweza, Kahungye found in the Rushaga sector, and the Nkuringo group found in the south. At the moment, 8 gorilla permits are available for purchase from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.  All these sectors are located in the southern part of the park.

Batwa Cultural Visit in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi forest is home to a beautiful diversity of fauna and Flora, including some exotic plants and rare and endangered animals. The forest was also home to the Batwa pygmies, the original dwellers of the ancient forest and known as the keepers of the forest. The Batwa lived in  harmony with the forest and survived by hunting small game using bows and the arrows, as well as gathering plants for food and medicinal purposes.

Adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Batwa pygmies in trouble

In 1922, the lives of the Batwa people changed forever when the Bwindi forest became a national park and a world Heritage site. This was done in order to protect the endangered mountain gorillas living within in it’s boundaries. The Batwa pygmies were evicted from the park and became conservation refugees in a world that was very unfamiliar to them. Their skills and the means of subsistence were not so useful in this modern environment and they began to suffer.

In 2001, when the Batwa tribe was on the edge of extinction, the American medical missionaries Dr Scott and Carol Kellermanns came to their rescue. They bought land and established programs to help improve the conditions and the lives of the Batwa. This also included the building of a school, hospital and housing. The Kellermanns also developed water and sanitation projects and found ways that the Batwa pygmies could generate an income and sustain themselves.

Batwa Development Program

These projects are now managed and operated by the Batwa Development Program. The program works closely with the Batwa community to ensure that their indigenous rights are respected. Also that they benefit from the forest being a national park as well as a tourist attraction.

Batwa Cultural Experience

The Batwa cultural experience was created by the displaced Batwa pygmies. It’s goal is to educate Batwa children and to share their amazing heritage and traditions with the world. A day spent with the Batwa gives you a chance to enjoy many different things. This includes hiking in the forest with the people of the forest.

The Batwa guide will provide you with a chance to see how they used to live and hunt in the traditional manner. The Batwa guide will teach you how to use a bow and arrow, to hunt as they used to do. You will also visit a traditional Batwa home and learn from the women how to prepare and cook, as well as serve a meal. Talk to a medicine man and learn about the properties of medicinal forest flora. You also get to hear the ancient legends and the traditional songs. For more about Uganda’s Parks and Wildlife.

Submitted by Green World Safaris. To go directly to their website visit: Tours in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo with Green World Safaris.

Gorilla Trekking FAQs Part 4

More gorilla Trekking FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQS) about Gorilla Trekking

Below are some Gorilla Trekking FAQs submitted by Green World Safaris

What time of the year should I travel to see the gorillas?

The gorillas can be visited any time of the year. Be aware that it can rain any day of the year due to the rain forest climate in which the gorillas are located. May and April are the rainiest months, so most people avoid travel during those months.

Do I need to be fit to trek or find the gorillas?

A certain level of fitness is needed, as well as the willingness to hike up the muddy slopes and through the varied vegetation and uneven terrain. The gorillas live in the montane forests, which are at a higher elevation, so the treks to view them are at a higher altitude. Being at higher elevation requires more exertion and fitness than lower level treks.

Am I guaranteed to view the gorillas when I set out?

The gorillas live in their natural habitat and there is no guarantee that you will see them. That said, we have never heard any of the travelers regretting their treks. To help ensure visitors will see the gorillas, trackers set off at dawn to locate the gorilla group. The trackers then radio their GPS coordinates to the park headquarters. This means that when you set off on your trek with the guide, you are headed to where the gorillas are located. The trackers stay with the gorillas, even though they are not moving, until the group arrives. 

What type of clothes should I wear?

A water proof jacket is important because mud and rain can be expected. Long trousers are recommended, as well as a T-shirt underneath a long sleeved shirt. These will protect your arms and legs against nettles and other things you might encounter on the trail. It’s also a good idea to bring a water proof day pack to protect your camera and to carry water bottles and snacks. For at a small fee, the porters can be helpful in carrying your items up the steep slopes.

Is there a minimum or maximum age of guests visiting the gorillas?

The minimum age to trek the gorillas is 6 years and older. This rule is the same for both Rwanda and Uganda and is enforced by the national parks. There is no upper age limit.

Do I need a gorilla permit?

You must obtain a gorilla permit in order to visit the gorillas and this must be obtained 4 months prior to your visit. The permits currently cost $600 in Uganda, $1500 in Rwanda and $ 450 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That price is per person. The money for the permits goes directly towards conservation of the gorillas, anti-poaching efforts and education of the local communities. Permits are limited to 8 visitors per group per day, so be sure you plan in advance.

Will this be covered by my travel insurance?

You may need to pay an additional premium to cover your gorilla trekking. Please check with your travel insurance.

Can you track the gorillas when feeling unwell?

This is a big no, the gorilla are vulnerable to human diseases and something that is small to us can be dangerous to them. You need to take care of yourself before the safari and avoid getting sick. You also need to warn your guide if you aren’t feeling well.

How big are gorilla tracking groups?

There is a maximum of 8 people per group in Uganda or Rwanda.

How far is my lodge to the park headquarters?

You will be located within easy access to the park headquarters, but the distance will depend on which accommodation you chose. Check with your lodge to find out exactly how far it is from park headquarters. The distance to the headquarters is usually within a 1-60 minute walk.

How much time can I spend with the gorillas?

Once you have sighted the gorillas, you will be given one hour to spend with them. We recommend that you track them at least twice. This means that the second time you track them, you can ignore taking photos and concentrate on enjoying the experience.

If you have more questions, please contact Green World Safaris at info@greenworldsafaris.com.

This is part 4 in a series about mountain gorilla trekking. See part 1 about mountain gorilla trekking, part 2 about mountain gorilla safari, and Gorilla Trekking Regulations and Permits Part 3.

This series of blogs was submitted by Green World Safaris. They arrange mountain gorilla tours in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They are based out of Uganda.

5 Reasons to Choose a Boutique Hotel

Boutique Hotel
5 reasons to choose boutique

When you are planning a trip there are many factors to consider. From initial packing and asking for time off of work, to transportation and budget, it can quickly become overwhelming. One choice that can be both exciting and easy is picking out your accommodation.  When it comes to picking your hotel, consider a boutique hotel for these fun reasons. First, let’s clarify what a boutique hotel is exactly.

What is a boutique hotel?

A boutique hotel is classified as a smaller hotel – typically 10 to 100 rooms – that is furnished, stylish, or located in a unique setting.

5 Reasons to Choose Boutique

5 reasons to choose a boutique hotel

#1 Go Small

Small boutique hotels offer relaxing spaces that compliment the environment it is in. Small hotels may appear low budget but often times this means perks. Such as personalized service, more care to decor, and a feeling of truly experiencing the location you are visiting.

#2 Plenty of Personality

Boutique hotels often go for plenty of style and quality rather than trying to accommodate large numbers. This gives their guests a unique experience like looking out into a jungle or being steps away from a sandy beach.

#3 Exceptional Service

A small hotel means fewer guests, allowing the staff to give those select guests more attention. Not only can you receive more personalized service, but often times those at boutique hotels have first-class training.

#4 High-end Design

Plenty of hotels design their rooms to look the same by going for generic comforters and furniture. Boutique hotels go the opposite direction by decorating their spaces to complement the space around them. With boutique hotels, you can expect a high-end design that embraces unique furniture pieces and fun decor.

#5 Ultimate Luxury

Your experience at a boutique hotel will give you an overwhelming sense of luxury. Aside from these spots also offering incredible design and high-end service, you can expect additional factors that make it even more enjoyable. Your boutique hotel may boast eco-friendly lodging, exceptional activities, and cuisine only enhanced by your surroundings.

No part of a vacation should be stressful, especially the planning process. If you are wondering where you should stay for your next trip consider a boutique hotel. You can almost guarantee an exclusive experience.

If you are planning on visiting the island of Roatan, Honduras in the Caribbean, take a look at Blue Bahia Resort. This small, eco-friendly boutique resort is located on the beach in a sleepy area just outside the vibrant night life strip on the island. Perfect for lazing the days away, diving and enjoying peaceful surroundings while being just moments away from all of the action.

Submitted by Blue Bahia Resort. Their listing on Eco Tropical Resorts: Blue Bahia Resort-Honduras

Other lodging in Honduras

Bali Eco Stay Indonesia

Bali Eco Stay Indonesia

Find the Bali of your dreams at Bali Eco Stay Indonesia: villagers that believe in karma and don’t lock their doors; untouched tropical island beauty; vast rice terraces and mountain spring water that tastes far better than anything bottled.

Discover Bali Eco Stay Indonesia: a haven for conscious travelers and nature lovers. Nestled in its own abundant valley, Bali Eco Stay Indonesia endeavors to provide a platform for guests to connect comfortably with nature. It is crossed by a pure mountain stream which cascades down a 12 metre waterfall to a pool of breathtaking beauty; and nourished by naturally occurring spring water. Surrounded by sculptured rice terraces and lush food forest, the resort rests 480 metres above sea level, creating a temperature that is a refreshing 5 degrees cooler than those experienced in Ubud and coastal areas.

Bali Eco Stay Indonesia Waterfall

Bali Eco Stay Indonesia Waterfall

There are so many factors setting this resort apart from the plethoric collection of accommodations on offer in Bali – to name only a few: many of the raw ingredients are grown organically on site in their intensive permaculture food gardens, forest and rice field; filtered spring water is made available to all showers and taps in the resort, thereby reducing plastic bottle waste and the risk of upset stomachs; plus the fact that Bali Eco Stay creates 60% of its energy requirements by harnessing the energy generated by the on site waterfall!

Guests are encouraged to explore the food garden and trek the extensive trails through surrounding food forest, to refresh in the natural rock pools, to practice yoga, or relax with a book from the extensive library. Guided food forest tours, and workshops in carving, weaving, preparing local culinary delights and offerings are available… or you may prefer to simply indulge in a massage or two in the jungle immersed, open air massage bale. Rediscover your sense of harmony, balance and serenity being nurtured by nature.

Submitted by Bali Eco Stay. See their lodging on Eco Tropical Resorts: Bali Eco Stay

Go to all lodging in Indonesia

 

Gorilla Trekking Regulations and Permits Part 3

Gorilla Trekking Regulations and Permits

Reasons for trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking regulations and permits in Uganda.  The “Pearl of Africa” is a very scenic country with lush landscapes, flowing rivers, and lots of wildlife. The lakes and mountains of Uganda are covered with dense rain forest. Friendly people and a safe country to travel in make Uganda another good choice. Uganda also has the best game viewing, chimpanzee trekking, cultural and heritage exchange, and of course, mountain gorilla trekking. Uganda’s main tourist attraction is the mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable National park. This African country is also home to many chimpanzees. The chimps are found in Kibale National park, which makes it a great tourist destination as well.

Tourists have been gorilla trekking in Uganda since early 90’s and is well established. The gorilla population is stable and growing  because of the effective management of Bwindi Forest National Park and the conservation efforts. The National Park provides walking trails, beautiful views, bird watching and waterfalls. Tourists can also visit the local villages, like Buhoma, in order to get a taste of life in rural areas of Uganda.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla Trekking Regulations and Permits

Regulations for mountain gorilla trekking

Mountain gorilla trekking regulations are in place to ensure the well being of the endangered mountain gorillas. Regulations are in place to limit the number of people allowed in daily, the amount of time tourists can spend with the gorillas, and the maximum group size. Mountain gorillas are vulnerable to many human diseases and the regulations help with this as well.

Tourists can visit with the mountain gorillas are from 8:00 am to 7:00pm.

A maximum of eight people per day are allowed to visit the mountain gorillas. This reduces the exposure of the primates to disturbances and diseases caused by humans.

Tourists are only allowed to spend 1 hour with the primates.

Tourists must be at least 15 or 16 years old to be able to visit the gorillas.

Rules of gorilla trekking for the protection of the mountain gorillas

Any person who is sick, not feeling well or has an infectious disease will be advised to stay at the lodge so that the gorillas are not exposed.`

If anyone has to cough or sneeze when they are near the gorillas, they need to cover their nose and mouth and turn their head away from the gorillas. This minimizes the chances of the mountain gorillas being exposed to human viruses or bacteria.

Tourists must stay 5-7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. Again, this minimizes the exposure to human illness. If people keep their distance, the gorilla group will be more relaxed.

Visitors must keep their voices low up to a distance of 200 meters from the gorillas and not point or use a flash when using a camera.

Smoking, eating or drinking is not allowed near the mountain gorillas.

Visitors are asked to wash their hands before going on the trek. Again, helping keep the gorillas from exposure to diseases.

People are not allowed to touch the gorillas, even when they come close.

Visitors must carry all trash out. Trash can harbor diseases or other contaminators.

Tips for mountain gorilla trekking

Trekkers are advised to wear long pants, socks, long sleeved shirts, and gloves. These clothing items will keep people safe from bugs, as well as stinging nettle and thorny branches.

Being physically fit is a must because the hike goes through rough terrain and therefore is challenging and tiring.

Hikers should remember to bring enough water, water proof bags for cameras, insect repellent, sun screen and a hat.

People are advised to book an organized trip through a reputable tour company. Tour companies can get permits to visit the mountain gorillas before visitors arrive.

Tourists should try to avoid trekking in the rainy season when the hiking is difficult.

How to buy the gorilla trekking permits

Mountain gorilla trekking permits should be purchased at least 5 months before the planned trek, preferably through a tour operator.  This is especially true during the high season of June to September and December to February, when many travelers want permits. There are a limited number of permits available.

 The price of gorilla permits in Uganda

The gorilla permit price varies between the high season and the low season. High season permits cost $600. Low season permits, in April, May, and November are $450.

How and where to get gorilla trekking permits if not going through a tour company

Visitors can purchase permits for mountain gorilla trekking with cash or traveler checks at Uganda Wildlife Authority. Tourists can go to their central offices in Kampala or purchase permits from abroad. During high season advanced booking is recommended. During low season, visitors can get permits on the spot at Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters.

Buying mountain gorilla permits online

People wishing to trek can purchase permits online  using EEF (a form of money transfer). Credit cards do not work. Permits can be purchased 2 years in advance by depositing 30% and paying the balance 91 days before the gorilla encounter. Local operators are given priority with 80% of the permits, leaving only 20% for people to buy directly. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is in charge of the permits but authorized tour companies are the easiest way to get a permit. Reputable tour companies do not mark up the price of the permits, so there’s no reason not to go directly to them.

Mountain gorilla permits in Rwanda

Visitors can obtain mountain gorilla permits through the Tourism Board offices in Kigali or Ruhengeri, near Volcanoes National Park. Tourists can also contact the Tourism Board via telephone or email. The permit costs $1,500 and is easiest to obtain from a tour operator. Trekkers are advised to book early. During peak tourist season, from June to October, it is advised that permits be purchased at least 4 months prior to the planned trip.

Gorilla permits in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Anyone planning to trek in the DRC is advised to book with a tour company. The DRC is more stable now, but the tour companies will help insure your safety. Permits cost $400.

When to go mountain gorilla trekking

Trekkers can go gorilla tracking at any time of the year, but during the rainy season the paths are much harder to navigate. The rainy season goes from March to May and October to November. Permits in Uganda during the rainy season only cost $450. The dry season, December to late February and June to late September, makes for easier hiking but more tourists.

This is part 3 in a series about mountain gorilla trekking. See part 1 about mountain gorilla trekking, see part 2 about mountain gorilla safari.

This series of blogs was submitted by Green World Safaris. They arrange mountain gorilla tours in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They are based out of Uganda.