Green Retreats

by Matthew Link

Where: Ecuadorian Amazon

The pitch: This small lodge in the Amazon is a Shangri-la for wannabe Indiana Joneses. Your hosts are reformed headhunters (we're not talking about executive recruitment, either) and getting here—which involves a flight from Quito on a small plane and then a motorized canoe up the black waters of the Pastaza River—is half the adventure.

Green factor: Kapawi was built in 1993 to help provide for the local Achuar Indians, who make up most of the staff and will take over all operations within five years. The 19 thatched bungalows are built over the river in the tribe's traditional style. The lodge purrs along on solar energy and uses flush compost toilets and biodegradable soap, and there's almost no plastic in sight.

Creature comforts: European-trained chefs serve up gourmet fare on china—dinner might range from filet mignon to Ecuadorian dishes such as stewed Amazon fish wrapped in palms. The bar serves up Chilean Cabernet and Pisco Sours.

Eco-activities: The Achuar were virtually undiscovered until the 1960s, and they use dugout canoes to take guests down rivers rife with pink dolphins, dole out sips of chicha (a fermented yucca root beverage), and give lessons on how to use a blowgun. There are also jungle treks through virgin rain forest filled with electric-blue butterflies and red howler monkeys.

Green rule of thumb: "If you bring a plastic item or batteries into an eco-lodge, it's your responsibility to take them back out," says marketing manager Maria Lurdes de Montalvo.

Kapawi Ecolodge
Tel: 800 613 6026
$650 per person for three-night stay, including food and excursions

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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