TRAVEL FOR THE PLANET

Many ex­otic des­ti­na­tions now of­fer eco-savvy va­ca­tion­ers the ad­ven­tures they’re seek­ing

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - TRAVEL - SEAN MALLEN

For many in­trepid trav­ellers, the bar has been raised for their va­ca­tion goals. They not only want an es­cape, they want an ad­ven­ture and to learn about their planet.

The in­ter­na­tional net­work of lux­ury travel ad­vis­ers, Vir­tu­oso, sur­veyed its Cana­dian clients and found that ad­ven­ture is the lead­ing trend for 2018. At the re­cent Travel Week con­ven­tion in Las Ve­gas, the halls were filled with op­er­a­tors of sa­faris, rain­for­est lodges and ecol­ogy-minded cruises.

“Ad­ven­ture travel is grow­ing be­cause I think peo­ple want to be in the midst of ev­ery­thing, in­stead of see­ing it pass by on a coach tour,” said Jes­sica Ren­shaw of Van­cou­ver’s Ren­shaw Travel.

Her sis­ter, Carly, added that trav­ellers are also sen­si­tive to the sus­tain­abil­ity of their des­ti­na­tions, keen to not do dam­age while learn­ing about the planet.

“I find these lodges are like win­dows into a prob­lem. Peo­ple get out of their daily lives and un­der­stand more. It’s re­ally pow­er­ful,” she said.

Here are sev­eral ex­tra­or­di­nary des­ti­na­tions that of­fer both ad­ven­ture and sus­tain­abil­ity.

NUNAVUT

The Ren­shaw sis­ters raved about Arc­tic Watch Wilder­ness Lodge, on the north shore of Canada’s Som­er­set Is­land in Nunavut. Founded and op­er­ated by vet­eran arc­tic ex­plor­ers the We­ber fam­ily, it claims to be the most northerly fly-in lodge on earth: 800 km north of the Arc­tic Cir­cle. The We­bers up­graded a former watch camp for bel­uga whales, adding gourmet meals that in­clude lo­cally caught Arc­tic char. Guests from around the world are of­fered sea kayak­ing, moun­tain bik­ing and fly fish­ing. There are arche­o­log­i­cal tours to sites of an­cient Indige­nous set­tle­ments as well as rem­nants of some of the early Euro­pean ex­plor­ers. (we­ber­ar­c­tic.com)

BRAZIL

In a com­pletely dif­fer­ent world, yet still on planet Earth, is Brazil’s Uxua Casa Ho­tel and Spa in the lit­tle At­lantic coast vil­lage of Tran­coso in Bahia state. The area, dis­cov­ered by hip­pies and artists back in the 1970s, is now a tiny re­treat that prides it­self on cel­e­brat­ing and sup­port­ing the com­mu­nity. Its rus­tic yet lux­u­ri­ous casas are em­bed­ded into the vil­lage right on the Quadrado, the town square which has been rec­og­nized by UN­ESCO.

Uxua (pro­nounced youSHOO-ah) has a spa, a beach lounge and a gourmet restau­rant. But un­like many lux­ury re­sorts that are co­cooned be­hind con­crete walls, vis­i­tors live in the midst of the lo­cal indige­nous peo­ple, the Pataxo, and are ex­posed to their art, cul­ture and re­spect for their en­vi­ron­ment. Uxua means “won­der­ful” in their lan­guage. (uxua.com)

AFRICA

Tom Fels, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Sin­gita group of African lodges, made a point of de­scrib­ing them as a “con­ser­va­tion brand.” Their des­ti­na­tions in South Africa, Zim­babwe, Tan­za­nia (and soon Rwanda) all stress pro­tect­ing and pre­serv­ing wildlife for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

“Our plan­ning is not for two years, but 200 years,” Fels said in an in­ter­view at the Vir­tu­oso con­fer­ence.

They also stress com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment: Work­ing with the peo­ple who live nearby to cre­ate jobs, ed­u­cate chil­dren and en­cour­age eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Sin­gita’s Mara River Tented Camp in Tan­za­nia of­fers ac­com­mo­da­tions on the Serengeti that are a lux­u­ri­ous, mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of 19th-cen­tury ex­plor­ers’ digs, all in­formed by African de­signs and fur­nished with lo­cal art­works and crafts. Guests en­joy com­forts that would have been unimag­in­able for the first Euro­pean vis­i­tors: A plunge pool, a spa and so­lar-pow­ered elec­tric­ity (as well as Wi-Fi if you must, al­though it’s in­ter­mit­tent). More to the point, the des­ti­na­tions are op­por­tu­ni­ties to see African wildlife, in­clud­ing ele­phants, big cats and crocodiles and hip­pos in the nearby river. (sin­gita.com)

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity for Cana­di­ans who are search­ing for ad­ven­ture and sus­tain­abil­ity, both of which are on dra­matic dis­play at Na­yara Springs, a prop­erty of 35 lux­ury vil­las in the mid­dle of a rain­for­est with a view of the Are­nal vol­cano, one of the world’s most ac­tive.

“Ev­ery­thing has been done so that we have the small­est pos­si­ble foot­print,” said founder and manag­ing di­rec­tor Leo Ghi­tis.

He hires his work­ers from nearby com­mu­ni­ties, sources his food from the re­gion, and is build­ing a re­serve for an en­dan­gered species of sloth. Vis­i­tors hike in the rain­for­est, go white­wa­ter raft­ing or take a tour to the rum­bling vol­cano, and at the end of the day, take a dip in a per­sonal plunge pool, dine in an al fresco restau­rant with a vol­cano view and fall asleep in a four-post king-sized bed swathed with white net­ting. (na­yarasprings.com/in­dex.html)

SUP­PLIED PHO­TOS

At Na­yara Spring in Costa Rica, vis­i­tors can stay in a lux­ury villa, hike in the rain­for­est, and take a tour to get an up close and per­sonal look at the Are­nal vol­cano, one of the world’s most ac­tive.

Sin­gita’s Mara River Tented Camp in Tan­za­nia of­fers ac­com­mo­da­tions on the Serengeti that are a lux­u­ri­ous, mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of 19th-cen­tury ex­plor­ers’ digs, all in­formed by African de­signs and fur­nished with lo­cal art­works and crafts.

At Arc­tic Watch Wilder­ness Lodge in Nunavut, guests from around the world try sea kayak­ing, moun­tain bik­ing and fly fish­ing.

The Sin­gita group of African lodges in South Africa, Zim­babwe and Tan­za­nia stress pro­tect­ing and pre­serv­ing wildlife.

At Uxua on’s Brazil’s At­lantic coast, vis­i­tors are ex­posed to art and cul­ture of indige­nous peo­ple while ob­serv­ing their re­spect for the en­vi­ron­ment.

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