Ride Mashpi Lodge’s new Dragonfly gondola over Ecuador’s rainforest

Fancy a bird’s-eye view over 1,300 hectares of Ecuadorian rainforest? The new Dragonfly gondola at Mashpi Lodge promises a jaw-dropping experience…

Mashpi Lodge, a founding member of National Geographic’s ‘Unique Lodges of the World’, has created a special way for its guests to explore the incredible wildlife of the Mashpi Rainforest Reserve. The new Dragonfly gondola, an ‘open’ cable-car gliding 200m above ground, will take passengers on a two kilometre trip through the cloud forest accompanied by a guide.

On The Dragonfly gondola
On The Dragonfly gondola

There are three separate ‘on or off’ points located at differing altitudes so guests can choose whether to combine a ride on The Dragonfly with a testing hike through the forest, or to take the full two-hour return trip for a more relaxing experience (although perhaps not for vertigo sufferers!). The whole experience promises to reveal hidden waterfalls, swimming holes, walking trails and some amazing monkeys, birds and plantlife.

Watch the video here for a glimpse into this stunning ride https://vimeo.com/181557565

Riding the Dragonfly
Riding The Dragonfly

Mashpi’s sustainability ethos means The Dragonfly was carefully constructed over a period of 18 months largely by hand and without the use of any heavy machinery, to ensure minimal impact to the reserve and its wildlife. Much like the lodge itself, The Dragonfly is powered by renewable energy and designed to blend seamlessly and silently into the surrounding forest.

Mashpi Lodge – A “cocoon in the clouds”

Eco retreat Mashpi Lodge is described as a “cocoon in the clouds” – the 22 luxurious rooms are set within a striking contemporary structure with floor-to-ceiling glass allowing for magnificent views of the surrounding rainforest and mountains.

Mashpi Lodge
Mashpi Lodge

A paradise for nature lovers, the award-winning Lodge features an immersive Life Centre where wildlife enthusiasts can learn more about the reserve’s inhabitants including 500 species of bird, as well as butterflies, frogs and monkeys. The Hummingbird Viewpoint offers avid birders an unrivalled setting for bird-watching, featuring a shelter with seating and feeders for the birds strung from its roof.

Mashpi’s ‘Sky Bike’ (a fun idea) is another thrilling way to explore the canopy up close – pedal your way along a cable stretched between the trees, and enjoy panoramic views across the forest from the 26m-high Observation Tower.

For full details of Mashpi Lodge, including prices and booking, visit www.mashpilodge.com

Hummingbird at Mashpi Lodge
Hummingbird at Mashpi Lodge

See the eye of the tiger on a responsible safari

Your chance to see one of the world’s most elusive and beautiful creatures in the wild…

Finally, some good news about the tiger population in India – recent reports suggest that the number of Bengal tigers in the wild is slowly growing. Some conservation groups have credited responsible wildlife tourism in the region for this rise.

One such responsible tour operator, Natural Habitat Adventures, has now created a new itinerary for its 12-day Grand India Wildlife Adventure tour, giving tourists the opportunity to see the majestic Bengal tiger plus a host of other incredible wildlife on the Indian subcontinent.

Asian tiger (photo by Toby Sinclair)
Asian tiger (photo by Toby Sinclair)

By keeping safari groups deliberately small, and travelling to some of the lesser known (and certainly less crowded) national parks, Natural Habitat Adventures promises to have created the ideal India odyssey for nature lovers. It’s an increased chance to see Bengal tigers on a trip that aims to cause minimum distruption to wildlife and the environment, work together with local communities, and support ongoing conservation efforts in the region.

What’s on the wildlife tour?

The tour explores three of India’s top national parks spending three days in each park including the tiger-rich Bandhavgarh National Park, plus Kanha and Kaziranga National Parks which are more remote with far fewer tourists.

Guests join multiple game drives in open 4x4s to safari with a naturalist expedition leader in search of tigers, one-horned rhinocerous, Asiatic elephants, over 600 bird species and a host of other Indian wildlife.

While most safari is done via Jeep, if conditions permit you can also explore Kaziranga on elephant back, the most traditional way to experience this natural jungle setting.

Spot peacocks in India (photo by Toby Sinclair)
Spot peacocks in India (photo by Toby Sinclair)

Bush ecolodge accommodation

Alongside 5-star hotel accommodation in Delhi and Kolkata on arrival and at departure, the safari accommodation is in remote, secluded and eco-friendly bush lodges which offer luxurious comfort and the special experience of sleeping out in the bush.

Tiger safaris in India (photo by Toby Sinclair)
Tiger safaris in India (photo by Toby Sinclair)

Supporting India’s tiger population

After years of precipitously declining tiger numbers, India has charted a 30% rise in its 2014 tiger census, compared to four years before. Conservation groups attribute a share of that increase to responsible nature tourism. The sheer economic value of visitors to India’s tiger reserves benefits the communities around the reserves, offering local people an incentive to protect the wild creatures they share the land with. Given that India is home to 70% of the world’s remaining wild tigers, and India is the only country currently seeing a rise in tiger numbers, the presence of wildlife tourism here is integral to that continued success.

India's birdlife (photo by Toby Sinclair)
India’s birdlife (photo by Toby Sinclair)

Natural Habitat Adventures is the WWF’s (World Wildlife Fund’s) official travel partner.

The 12-day Grand India Wildlife Adventure departs regularly from November 2015 until April 2016, with prices starting from £5,900 ($8,995).

For more information including full itinerary, prices, dates and booking visit www.nathab.com

 

‘Luxury travel with a conscience’ in New Zealand

New Zealand tourism experts launched a new travel concept this week encouraging holiday makers to enjoy the very best of the country while supporting local conservation projects.

Organisations New Zealand in Depth and Luxury Lodges of New Zealand (with support from Tourism New Zealand) have joined forces to create ‘luxury travel with a conscience’. Six of the country’s most top-end lodges are offering guests the opportunity to get hands-on with conservation projects during their stay.

All of the luxury lodges are engaged in protection of local wildlife or the regeneration of natural habitats – so guests are already supporting conservation initiatives, even if they choose not to ‘get their hands dirty’. (Although we think that a few hours spent ‘in the field’ will give you a totally fresh perspective to your trip – and will make that sundowner cocktail sipped from your private pool all the more deserved!).

Here’s more about those envy-inducing luxury lodges and why you can enjoy them ‘guilt free’:

Eagles Nest
This multi-award winning New Zealand luxury hotel & retreat is set within a 75 acre estate atop its own private ridgeline offering spectacular views of the Bay of Islands. By staying at Eagles Nest, you will support and be a part of the lodge’s vital work to conserve rare local wildlife living on the property including the North Island brown kiwi.

Eagles Nest, NZ
Eagles Nest, NZ

Bay of Many Coves
Located deep in the Marlborough Sounds, Bay of Many Coves is a five star luxury resort that offers perfect seclusion in a pristine natural environment. By staying at Bay of Many Coves, you will be supporting a project that provides homes and habitat for the local population of blue penguins, the world’s smallest penguin.

Bay of Many Coves, NZ
Bay of Many Coves, NZ

Hapuku Lodge
Unique New Zealand accommodation, nestled 30 feet above the ground in the canopy of a native Manuka grove, Hapuku Tree Houses have spectacular views of Kaikoura’s dramatic mountains and surf-washed Pacific coastline. By staying at Hapuku Lodge, you will be supporting a project that is assisting the restoration of local native forest whilst having the chance to learn about Maori culture in the region.

Hapuku Lodge, NZ
Hapuku Lodge, NZ

Treetops Lodge
Treetops Lodge offers the ultimate in world-class luxury accommodation in the heart of New Zealand’s unique forest close to the thermal wonderland and cultural capital of Rotorua. By staying at Treetops Lodge, you will learn about the ancient Maori connection with New Zealand’s native forest and play your part in protecting it for future generations.

Treetops, NZ
Treetops, NZ

 

Blanket Bay
Blanket Bay is nestled amidst rugged snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps on the shores of Lake Wakatip. Its elegant yet rustic charm delivers peace and solitude for every guest. By staying at Blanket Bay, you will support a project that is helping to protect one of New Zealand’s unique and most endangered birds, the mohua.

Blanket Bay Lodge, NZ
Blanket Bay Lodge, NZ

Fiordland Lodge
With commanding views out across Lake Te Anau, Fiordland Lodge’s luxury haven has style, comfort and privacy making it the perfect base for your Fiordland experience. By staying at Fiordland Lodge, you will be helping the local community to protect native wildlife in one of the world’s outstanding wilderness areas.

Fiordland Lodge, NZ
Fiordland Lodge, NZ

For more information about the ‘luxury travel with a conscience’ concept visit www.newzealand-indepth.co.uk or call +44 (0)1298 74040.

 

Get back to nature at the new Gal Oya Lodge, Sri Lanka

Swimming elephants and a walk with the Vedda tribe – we’re ready for this new eco lodge in Sri Lanka…

At the northwest boundary of  Gal Oya National Park is a new high-end eco lodge ready to show you the real Sri Lanka. Gal Oya Lodge, spread across 20 acres of private forest, promises a luxurious stay in the jungle, with strong eco-friendly credentials.

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Accommodation

Eight spacious bungalows sit nestled in the forest canopy, each with its own breathtaking view thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and private verandas. Each bungalow has a private living room, bedroom with king-size bed, and en-suite bathroom (complete with both indoor and outdoor showers, and ‘his’ and ‘hers’ basins).

Also available is a two-bedroom villa perched at the highest point at Gal Oya Lodge. A large open-plan living space connects the two bedrooms which each have their own wraparound veranda allowing you to gaze at both sunrise and sunset.

Facilities

The lodge has its own restaurant and bar, plus a small organic kitchen garden so you could pick your own chillies for dinner! An outdoor swimming pool, set against the backdrop of the low-lying mountains, offers a refreshing spot for a morning dip.

Excursions

This is where Gal Oya Lodge comes into its own. The owners work with the local Vedda community (the aboriginal people of Sri Lanka) to offer guests unique opportunities, such as walking with the tribal chief to hear more about their way of life. Proceeds are given back to the community through medical and educational schemes.

Being a National Park, this area is a wildlife-lover’s paradise. Guides from Gal Oya can take you on safaris by foot and by boat – the country’s largest lake provides a wonderful vantage point for wildlife spotting, including the sight of swimming elephants!

Alternatively, take a jeep drive through the jungle to the mightly Nigala River which flows under a boulder field.

Recommended for… Wildlife lovers and those interested in the real Sri Lanka

Be aware that… The lodge is in a very beautiful but also very remote location – don’t expect wifi or mobile signal (great for a digital detox!)

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Solar-powered hot-water system
  • ‘Grey’ water from the rooms and kitchen used in the gardens
  • Anaerobic waste treatment system
  • No air-con required as polished concrete floors and high illux roofs provide a naturally cool environment
  • Tables and chairs made by local craftspeople
  • Produce grown by the lodge, or sourced from small, local farmers
  • Medical and educational schemes set-up to help the local Vedda community

 

For more information, including prices and booking, visit www.galoyalodge.com

How to have a truly green holiday in the New Forest

If you go down to the New Forest woods today, be sure of a big surprise… From treehouses that float above the forest, a bedroom suite where even the TV is pedal-powered, and a fleet of whizzy electric cars – this is how to have a green holiday!

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The beautiful forest, pasture and heathland of Hampshire’s tranquil New Forest National Park is a firm UK ‘staycation’ favourite – and the eco accommodation on offer makes it an even bigger draw. Goodtrippers loves…

The Treehouse Suites at Chewton Glen

Young or old, who doesn’t love sleeping in a treehouse? Located in the grounds of luxury hotel Chewton Glen (voted Conde Nast’s Most Excellent Hotel), these luxurious tree houses are up on stilts giving the impression of floating above the forest canopy. Each suite has floor to ceiling glazing offering magnificent views of the surrounding area.

With a hot tub on the deck and an outdoor covered area, these suites offer a secluded and romantic setting. Each treehouse is equipped with a compact kitchenette, and a breakfast hamper is delivered to your suite daily.

Suites come in various sizes and layouts: choose from Treehouse Studio Suite, Treehouse Loft Suite, Treehouse Hideaway Suite, and the Private Treehouse.

For more information and booking visit www.chewtonglen.com

Cottage Lodge Hotel

You can’t be a couch potato in the activity-filled New Forest – even the TV in this eco-friendly boutique hotel is powered by an exercise bike! The award-winning, eco chic Cottage Lodge is located in the New Forest village of Brockenhurst. Guests can stay in a room built from New Forest Douglas Fir, including the four-poster beds, and enjoy the award-winning ‘New Forest Breakfast’ where all produce, from the yoghurt to the tea, the mushrooms to the sausages and eggs, are sourced from the New Forest area.

Heating and hot water is powered by a wood burning stove and solar panels. Low-energy LED lighting is used throughout, and the flush toilets use harvested rainwater.

For more information and booking visit www.cottagelodge.co.uk

Get around with a Twizy

When you’re looking out for New Forest ponies, you may spot another mobile addition to the New Forest landscape – the UK’s first fleet of Twizy electric cars. With a comprehensive network of charge points throughout the New Forest, they’re a great eco-friendly way to get around the National Park quickly (and if your cycling legs need a rest).

Also, those arriving a Brockenhurst train station can hire an electric van to transport their luggage to their accommodation while they take a bike and enjoy a more leisurely journey to their destination.

Visit www.thenewforest.co.uk for full details and to book.

 

New eco-luxe camp to open on Greenland’s ‘Arctic Riviera’

Adventure travellers looking to visit the stunning wilderness of Greenland’s east coast, will get the chance to explore the area from its first eco luxury base camp, opening in summer 2015.

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Built by nature travel and WWF partners Natural Habitat Adventures, the new Base Camp Greenland offers all the amenities of a deluxe African safari-style camp. Private tent-cabins will have heating, carpet, beds with duvets and pillows, en-suite bathrooms, and verandas with stunning views. A camp chef will prepare fresh meals and guests can gather in a communal area for dining and relaxing.

Natural Habitat founder Ben Bressler explained, “‘Til now, Greenland’s remote east coast, carved by glaciers and rent by deep fjords filled with icebergs, has been inaccessible to all but the hardiest of travellers. Base Camp Greenland is changing that.”

The camp enjoys a view of the Greenland Ice Sheet – the world’s second largest ice mass – where guests will have a close-up vantage point on the dynamics of global warming as glaciers spawn gigantic icebergs and meltwater rivers form in front of the ice cap.

The new ecolodge, which accommodates just 12 travellers at a time, is the vision of Natural Habitat’s Olaf Malver who has been to Greenland (a staggering) 26 times! He says the camp’s location is ideal, “It’s remote, majestic and nature feels huge here, like few other places in Greenland. Yet it is relatively easy to reach from Iceland.”

Travellers can book a four-night stay at Base Camp Greenland on Sermilik Fjord, the heart of a region known as the ‘Arctic Riviera’ for its many dry, sunny summer days – wildflowers will be in bloom on the tundra and pods of whales can be spotted from camp. Guests can enjoy a wealth of incredible activities and explorations including whale watching, sea kayaking, hiking, and visits to traditional Inuit villages.

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Trips depart in August 2015. For more details and booking, visit www.nathab.com/alaska-northern-adventures/greenland-nature-adventure.

Due to its commitment to environmentally-friendly travel, Natural Habitat Adventures has been chosen by global conservation charity WWF as its worldwide travel partner.

(Please note: The Google Maps marker indicates the nearest town and not the exact location of Base Camp Greenland)

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World’s 10 most extraordinary places to stay

Ever wanted to spend the night in a lighthouse in New York state? A treehouse in Laos? Or a cave hotel in Turkey? These are just three of the 10 most extraordinary places to stay in the world – according to travel experts Lonely Planet.

To accompany the launch of their first ever collection of world’s best hotels, Lonely Planet has revealed its top 10 list of unusual accommodation choices. We reported the Lonely Planet ‘eco accommodation’ list last week and now pick out some of the Goodtrippers-friendly options on the ‘extraordinary’ list: here are our picks…

Planet Baobab, Gweta, BotswanaPlanet Baobab, Gweta, Botswana

Second in Lonely Planet’s list, this funky lodge is a must if you’re visiting Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. You can choose to stay in a traditional mud hut (en-suite and adorned with art made with the natural pigments found in the many termite mounds in the area), or a traditional grass hut (en-suite and constructed using the same methods as the original bushmen of Botswana). If you fancy it, camping facilities are also on offer. Walkways wind through the baobabs (which are lit up at night) to a pool and bar-restaurant. Spot meerkats and elephants while you sip your sundowner…

 

Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, AustraliaPeppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, Tasmania, Australia

No. 5 in the Lonely Planet list, this eco-friendly lodge is located on the edge of the spectacular World Heritage site Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Cabins are nestled privately in the bushland, with wallabies bounding past the windows and wombats shuffling amid the trees. Locally sourced game, wine, cheeses and honey permeate the restaurant’s menu, one of Tasmania’s best. The view from the spa is a dense thicket of King Billy pine trees. Guests can choose from couples’ or family cabins, right up to suites with private outdoor tubs and fuel-efficient fireplaces.

 

Free Spirit Spheres, British Columbia, CanadaFree Spirit Spheres, British Columbia, Canada

Treehouses for grown-ups! These fantastic handmade orbs, suspended among the tall trees of west coast rainforest, are kitted out like cosy boat cabins inside (mod cons including iPod docks all present and correct) and are accessed by rope walkways and spiral ladders. You’re encouraged spend time in your swaying sphere to immerse yourself in the local wildlife – the chattering birds and squirrels, now on your eye-level. The site also has showers, a sauna, kitchen and barbecue.

 

Thonga Beach Lodge, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South AfricaThonga Beach Lodge, South Africa

This luxury resort by the beach is environmentally-friendly and remote – it’s one of few such lodges within the 328,000 hectare iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its spacious huts are scattered through dune forest, some with spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. Whales frequently pass by, and Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles nest on the nearby beaches. Take a nature trek with a local expert, a deep sea dive, or simply relax in the spa or indulge in the lodge’s fresh seafood and salads.

 

The Gibbon Experience Treehouse, Bokeo Reserve, LaosThe Gibbon Experience Treehouse, Bokeo Reserve, Laos

Completing the Lonely Planet top 10 is this outstanding experience in Laos. Imagine waking to the sonorous call of the endangered black-crested gibbon, stretching in your bed a hundred feet up in the triple canopy, and nursing a coffee on your balcony as you watch the dawn mist crowd in over the jungle valley below. The tree houses, erected by conservation group Animo, are a thing of wonder straddling the giant trunks of strangler fig trees. You have to take a zip wire to ‘fly’ into your night’s accommodation! Dinner is delivered fresh from the nearby campfire, and music is the ambient sound of cicadas as fireflies dance in the night air.

 

The full Lonely Planet Top 10 Extraordinary Places to Stay

  1. Mihir Gahr, Rajasthan, India
  2. Planet Baobab, Gweta, Botswana
  3. Prendiparte B&B, Bologna, Italy
  4. Qasr Al Sarab, UAE
  5. Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, Tasmania, Australia
  6. Free Spirit Spheres, British Columbia, Canada
  7. Taskonak Hotel, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
  8. Thonga Beach Lodge, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa
  9. Saugerties Lighthouse, New York state, USA
  10. The Gibbon Experience Treehouse, Bokeo Reserve, Laos

 

You may also be interested in the Lonely Planet’s top 10 eco stays

 

Stay at Mon Choix, Mauritius – a pioneering eco lodge

With the weather starting to take a downward turn, autumn is a time to dream of tropical holidays… But stop dreaming! Say goodbye to grey and drizzly days, book yourself a flight to tropical Mauritius, and indulge yourself in a stay at the charming Mon Choix – Mauritius’ first certified eco lodge and true pioneer in the island’s ecotourism industry.

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Nestled in the mountains in Vallés des Prêtrés, just 10 minutes from the city of Port Louis, Mon Choix ‘Les Maison de Vallé des Prêtrés’ offers beautiful panoramic views across the valley towards the sea. It sits within a 7-acre private park offering ample opportunity to explore its rivers and walkways. Rather sweetly, the website describes the location as perfect for spotting fruit bats and for stargazing!

The hosts Joan and Jean-Michel de Senneville have designed the lodge using a mix of traditional English and modern African decor creating a tranquil and peaceful bolthole. It’s the perfect retreat for rest and relaxation, or a comfortable base from which to explore Mauritius’ natural environment.

Accommodation – choose your pirate!

Mon Choix consists of four suites – brilliantly, they’re named after famous pirates of yesteryear! The ‘Henry Morgan Suite’ is one of the largest with an en-suite bathroom and dressing room, plus two large private terraces – one overlooking the valley to the sea, and one facing the mountain range. Similar in size is the ‘Calico Jack Suite’ with en-suite facilities and one private terrace facing the sea. The ‘Blackbeard Suite’ has a larger terrace overlooking the valley to the sea; and the ‘Mary Read Suite’ offers views of the sea from your room.

Facilities and food

The shared spaces make full use of the beautiful surroundings. Seating and dining areas are available inside, but why wouldn’t you lounge on the many terraces and the large outdoor veranda? And outside dining areas mean breakfast can be served in the sun or you can enjoy dinner under the stars. Breakfast is included in your booking as well as dinner on the first evening of your stay – taste a varied menu of Créole specialities plus European and Indian dishes. Other restaurants and takeaways are nearby when you fancy a change.

The enormous garden includes a BBQ, and the swimming pool offers a fantastic mountain view. If you must keep in touch online there is free wifi throughout the lodge.

ActivitiesIndian Ocean, Mauritius_lr

The hosts are happy to provide maps of nature trails and walks in the surrounding area – you can also book your own personal hiking guide if needed. There is a massage service, gym and health spa, offering a range of treatments, 30 minutes away.

Alongside horse-riding, hiking, golf and cultural excursions to discover more about this island’s multilayered history (perhaps most famous for the plight of the poor Dodo!), a holiday on Mauritius has to spent on the water. The island offers fantastic scuba diving opportunities as well as surfing, boating, water sports and even submarine tours to get a closer glimpse of the local marine life.

Recommended for… Sea-lovers and those looking for a peaceful retreat

Be aware that… The lodge only has four suites so make sure you book ahead for the dates you want

For more information, including booking and prices, visit Mon Choix online at www.ecomauritius.com.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • As the island’s first certified eco lodge, Mon Choix is soon launching a Mauritius-wide green initiative ‘Green Mauritius’ promoting and sharing best eco practice.
  • Solar panels and low-energy lightbulbs are used throughout. Candles are also encouraged as an alternative to electric lighting.
  • Rainwater is collected for reuse around Mon Choix and guests are encouraged to reduce water consumption.
  • The saltwater swimming pool necessitates the need for chemicals
  • Recycling is in operation; plastic bags are banned; organic waste is used for compost; and containers are re-used for shopping
  • The garden is home to many indigenous flora and fauna including giant fruit bats, rare birds, river shrimps and insects. Mangoes, papaws, tomatoes, herbs and bananas are grown for guests to eat.
  • All staff are educated in Mon Choix environmental efforts, and the wider ecology of Mauritius so they can share their knowledge with guests.

 

 

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Eco glamping in South Wales at Cwtch Camp

Guest blogger Jacob Little reviews the cool eco campsite Cwtch Camp in South WalesCwtch Camping, Wales

Cwtch Camping is set amongst the rolling countryside of South Wales in an area famed for its spectacular coastline and great beaches. It’s a secluded spot near Haverfordwest, and is within easy reach of main cities such as Bristol and Cardiff. The simplicity and pleasure of secluded, off-the-grid living can easily be found here amongst three acres of beautiful woodland.

Accommodation

The accommodation is best described as Scandinavian-style cabins, which are constructed using locally milled and sustainable timber. Insulated to keep warm on cold nights and stay cool during the summer, they’re beautifully crafted structures which are delightfully basic yet amazingly comfortable and cosy. The cabin I experienced during my stay was well decorated and furnished, with whitewashed walls and antique furniture which added to the atmosphere and rustic sense of homeliness. Although this is at heart a camping experience, they’ve really gone the extra mile to make it a warm, comfortable and cosy experience: so much care and attention has been put into decorating and furnishing the cabins.

Facilities

There are three cabins and one bell tent in the Cwtch Camping field, ranging from a double occupancy (with a very comfy double bed!) to the larger cabin which accommodates three adults or two adults and two children. There is a fantastically well-stocked kitchen and cooking area, with a range of utensils, pots, stoves and plates. Tea and coffee is supplied, and in addition a welcome hamper is fully stocked for your arrival. There is a shower cabin in the same field, and you can be sure of running hot water at any hour of the day or night!

Cwtch Camping podActivities

Cwtch Camping is a real retreat – excellent if you want to get away from it all and escape to the proper Welsh countryside. It’s brilliant for anything active – walking and cycling are especially encouraged and the site offers bikes for hire. The nearby beaches of Broadhaven and Little Haven are worth exploring and only a short cycle ride or drive away. The excellent (and award winning) pub The Swan serves some of the very best food in the area.

Recommended for… A great getaway of couples and anyone wanting to explore the area’s beautiful countryside and coastline. It’s also perfect for groups – a large campfire and stove which is provided offers a focal point and it would be a good place to host a barbeque or gathering of close friends.

Be aware that… There’s no getting away from the fact that this place is beautifully secluded, so you have to be prepared to source your own entertainment, and be prepared for the weather…!

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Low-impact accommodation
  • Cabins built from locally-milled and sustainable timber
  • Working in harmony with the natural environment
  • Wild food, forager walks run from the campsite

 

For more information and booking visit www.cwtchcamping.co.uk or email: info@cwtchcamping.co.uk, T: 0752 5779 454.

About the author: Jacob Little is an online marketing professional who loves to write, take photos and travel. He also loves to explore, find new places and publish stories on his blog. He also provides freelance copywriting and content creation services. Visit http://www.jacoblittleportfolio.co.uk for more info.

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Ta-Dar! Escape to the Dar HI Eco Lodge, Tunisia

Heard of a ‘dar’? It could be your new Tunisian eco escape…

Tourism in Tunisia is slowly on the increase again as independent travellers seek out the vibrancy and exoticism of northern Africa. And stylish eco hotels and lodges are popping up all over the area, many in the form of ‘dars’ – boutique hotels converted from townhouses and mansions.

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One such dar, which proudly proclaims its eco credentials (and is therefore a safe bet for any ‘Goodtripper’), is the Dar HI Eco Lodge and Spa located in the historic Nefta town, southwest of Tunis, on the edge of the Chott El Jerid desert (a location that has played backdrop to the Star Wars films to name but a few). The lodge area includes date tree gardens and shaded terraces in which to relax.

Dar HI is super stylish with contemporary design throughout using a mix of natural materials, Arabian inspiration and zingy, uplifting colours. It even houses a ‘laboratory’ for PalmLab – a network dedicated to researching modern uses of the palm tree, whether in cooking, skincare, architecture and design. Dar HI displays many of the project’s pilot designs in its interiors.

Accommodation:Dar HI Pill house

The 17 rooms are based around four concepts: The Pill Rooms (high above ground with exceptional views); The Troglodytes (reminisent of the traditional troglodyte homes of Matmata, each room has a private terrace and is linked to the others by a circular communal space); The Dunes (at sand level these rooms are inspired by bivouacs and the natural, cave-like spaces the wind creates in sand dunes); Dar Malika (a traditional house in the village, perfect for families who still wish to use the hotel facilities).

Facilities:

The natural source of hot water beneath Dar HI means the available hammam and swimming pool remain warm with no need for additional energy to be used in heating. The on-site spa offers the usual range of treatments you’d expect alongside some Arabic specialities including Arabic massage and warm sand scrubs (using sand from the nearby desert).

Food:

Organic food is served in the restaurant which is housed in a lovely caven-like space where diners can watch the chefs at work in the open-plan kitchen. They also grow and cook their own vegetables on-site.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Sustainable design and interiors throughout (including hosting PalmLab)
  • Natural hot water source used for pools and hammam
  • Organic food served in the restaurant (using homegrown produce)

 

For more information, including prices and booking, visit www.dar-hi.net/en

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