Making eye contact with sloths and waking up to monkeys on your windowsill might be your dream vacation. But wouldn’t it be even better if you knew you were respecting, and maybe even helping, the environment? With sustainable tourism on the rise, especially in South America, you can experience the real, undisturbed beauty of these magical places…and maybe even contribute a little to their conservation. Grab a mosquito net: Here are five luxury eco-resorts that will bring you closer to nature.
MASHPI LODGE, ECUADOR
Plopped in a biodiversity hot spot known as the Tumbes-Chocó-Darién, the Mashpi Lodge is dedicated to the conservation of its precious ecosystem. But the “lush jungle, urban comfort” motto is what will draw even the most outdoor-averse person to the tropical forest. A sustainable architectural masterpiece, the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows will engulf you in natural surroundings even from your own bathroom (oh hi, monkeys), while the luxury accommodations and gourmet cuisine will really make it feel like a true vacation.
PIKAIA LODGE, GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Designed with the environmentally conscious, physically active and adventurous traveler in mind, this resort offers visitors unmatched access to the place Darwin discovered his finches—while still respecting the incredibly eco-sensitive surroundings. It’s located on Santa Cruz Island, which means guided small-group excursions to Galapagos National Park, secluded whites sand beaches and other islands are all a yacht away. Oh, and the tortoises you wanted to see? Pikaia has its own reserve on the property. (More like survival of the chillest.)
TREEHOUSE LODGE, PERU
You might be surprised to see “all-inclusive resort” and “the Amazon” in the same sentence, but smack in the middle of the Peruvian rainforest, you can sleep in a treetop canopy—the raised suites off the jungle floor mean you’ll escape the humidity and heat. If waking up to wave at the monkeys and birds outside your bungalow isn’t enough wildlife action for you, consider piranha fishing, a sloth-sighting hike or a night jungle cruise to satisfy your adventurous side. Later you can quench your cosmopolitan side with a strong drink at the lodge bar.
YACUTINGA LODGE, ARGENTINA
The folks behind this hidden gem in the heart of the Upper Iguazú Rainforest have proven themselves pioneers in sustainable tourism: Yacutinga is officially a Private Wildlife Refuge; it’s even planted 30,000 native trees since it opened its doors. Any guest who visits the lodge will feel the magic of their surroundings with ecologist-guided hikes and information sessions. But as peaceful as the lodge is—replete with a yoga and meditation center—you will definitely want to travel the 50 miles to the famous Iguazú Falls, the biggest (and utterly sublime) waterfall system in the world.
BUTTERFLY HOUSE, BRAZIL
If you really want to get away from it all, this luxe hideaway is a perfect bet. Located in northern Brazil on the Maraú peninsula, the area is far less traversed compared with its southern cities (how relaxed can you actually get in Rio?). That means you’ll feel like you have the pristine beaches, lakes and rainforests all to yourself—well, you have to share with the animals, of course. With bungalows blending into their natural backgrounds, strict policies to ensure the lodge doesn’t pollute its surroundings and locally-sourced everything, it doesn’t get more unspoiled than this…well, with a gastronomic restaurant and pool, of course.