A View With a Room
Plus: the World’s Ultimate Outposts
By Alex Markels
Rainforest Canopy Tower, Panama
The U.S. military once used this radar tower to track drug runners flying from neighboring Colombia. Overlooking the Panama Canal, the tower is a remarkable example of Panama’s “peace dividend.” In accordance with the Panama Canal Treaty, more than 80,000 acres of primary rainforest are reverting to Panamanian control. The six-bedroom tower is smack in the middle of Soberania National Park, a vast swath of jungle populated by more than 300 bird species. It’s a favorite of birders, among them Robert S. Ridgely (see “The Secrets of the Cloudforest,” page 88).
Kapawi Lodge, Ecuador
This 20-room enclave on the shores of eastern Ecuador’s remote Pastaza River sets a new standard for both local involvement and environmental sensitivity in eco-lodge development. Even before Kapawi’s master plan was drawn up, the indigenous Achuar people provided vital information on the rivers and existing trails in this largely unmapped Amazonian region, which is accessible only by airplane. The Achuar’s work was supplemented by extensive scientific research on local flora and fauna (including pink dolphins, rare river otters, and more than 300 bird species). Waterside bungalows contain private bathrooms with composting toilets, solar-heated showers, and sun-generated electricity. “It’s completely sustainable,” says Megan Epler Wood, the president of the Vermont-based Ecotourism Society who was so impressed with Kapawi that she wrote a case study about it. The current owner of the lodge, Ecuador’s Canadros tour company, will eventually transfer its management to the Achuar. The tribe already derives nearly half its annual income from the project, and so is better able to resist corporate offers to develop oil wells or raise cattle. Nor is it apt to resort to the slash-and-burn agriculture that has long blighted the region.
address: Luis Urdaneta, 1418y Avenida Del Ejercito, Guayaquil, Ecuador
price: $762 (three nights) to $1,403 (weekly rate); includes land transportation and guided excursions.
The World’s Ultimate OutpostHundreds of eco-lodges have been built amid tropical jungles, cloudforests, and remote savannas since the early 1980s. In selecting some of the finest, Audubon used several criteria: Wildlife and wilderness must be plentiful. The accommodations should be clean and comfortable, whether they are rustic open-air cabins or modern luxury hotels. And above all, the eco-resorts ought to prove that nature tourism is not just good for business but good for the environment, the native population, and the local culture as well.
Other Rooms with Views
- Il Ngwesi Lodge, Kenya
- Chumbe Island Coral Park, Zanzibar, Tanzania
- Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America
- Lapa Rios, Costa Rica
- Hotelito Desconocido, Mexico
- Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge, Trinidad
- South America
- Posada Amazonas, Peru
- Australia and Malaysia
- Kingfisher Bay Resort & Village, Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia
- Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysia
Copyright © National Audubon Society
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