Archive for the 'Eco-Hostel' Category

The organic, Ecuadorian eco-resort known as Alandaluz

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Ecuador is inch per inch (or centimeter per centimeter for the modern, metric crowd) one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth. It has something like 1,600 bird species, thousands of plant species, and an undetermined, ridiculous number of insect species.

One of the reasons that this small equator-straddling nation has so many species is because several major habitats (that are all biodiverse on their own) meet in Ecuador. For example, in the western part of the country, the extremely wet rain forests of the Choco bioregion reach their southern terminus and are replaced by the dry forests of the Tumbesian bioregion. These dry forests are restricted to western Ecuador and northwestern Peru and have become threatened due to deforestation.

One of the most important parks for protecting this type of habitat in Ecuador is Machalilla National Park. The large protected area reaches the coast near Puerto Viejo and is located near the eco-resort known as Alandaluz. Despite its costly sounding name, this hotel offers lodging for a wide variety of budgets and even welcomes the tent-carrying, camping crowd. Buildings at the lodge were constructed with driftwood from their beach and wood from sustainable forestry operations. They work at being as self sustainable as possible and thus make use of solar power and composting toilets (pretty important in this low-rain region).

They also employ a number of local people, some of whom work as guides when bringing guests to the nearby national park or their own private reserve that protects a very rare type of forest. One of the best things about this lodge, though, is their organic restaurant. The majority of the ingredients come right from on site organic gardens and the results are gourmet, absolutely delicious creations that are available for low prices!

Although you can’t swim on their beach (because of dangerous currents and rip tides), it plays host to a gorgeous sunset over the Pacific Ocean just about every evening.

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Find nature at the Lost and Found Eco-Hostel in western Panama

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

The isthmus nation of Panama is mostly known for its ocean-connecting canal but this tropical country is also a haven for a huge variety of plants and animals that live in the rain forests of the steamy lowlands and the misty cloud forests of the highlands. Most of the latter habitat grows in the more mountainous parts of western Panama. One of the most interesting places to experience these beautiful tropical forests is at a place called the “Lost and Found Eco-Hostel”.

Situated along the main highway that connects the Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro provinces, this small hotel is easy to miss unless you can keep an eye out for the yellow and red sign that denotes its entrance. From this point, it’s a steep, uphill walk to the lodge but the views from the main buildings are worth the effort. Various forest birds can be seen in nearby tree tops and there are also scenic views of forested mountains stretching into the drier and browner lowlands when the sun breaks through the clouds.

The hostel generates its own electricity, gets its own water from pristine mountain streams, and is surrounded by primary forests of the Fortuna Forest Reserve. Trails into this reserve are open to guests and make for a good workout as they go up and down the surrounding mountains. When not huffing and puffing on these rather challenging trails, hikers could come across orchids, Emerald Toucanets, and other tropical wildlife. If you don’t see any animals on the trails (tropical wildlife is shy), the owner sometimes puts out fruit on a feeding platform that provides rare views of wild Ringtails and other strange, cloud forest night creatures.

This unique place really is for nature lovers but even the most outdoorsy of folks can tire of the rain. Nevertheless, the owners have a contingency plan in the form of an indoor game and movie room when the rain gets to be a little too much.

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