South America owns some of the planet’s most stunning scenery, and a handful of eco-hostels are working to protect it by creating opportunities for more eco and sustainable tourism.
The environmental impact of cheap and easy modern travel is monumental: avian fuel accounts for 10% of worldwide carbon emissions and tourism encourages waste – hotels and hostels alone heat billions of showers a day with non-renewable energy and use countless tonnes of water to wash once-used towels.
An influx of visitors to smaller communities can also be devastating: natural landscapes are cleared as tourist hubs develop, and local livelihoods go bust as tourists’ money goes back into newly sprung-up hotel, fast-food and shopping chains.
None of this means you have to stop travelling altogether. Travel opens doors to meeting new people, learning about cultures other than your own and discovering amazing sights in the flesh rather than from an encyclopaedia. Plus, if your money’s spent the right way, you can help sustain local communities and cut down on the carbon footprint of your trip. Choosing a hostel that operates on environmentally-friendly principals can help towards this.
Eco-hostels across South America promote a more harmonious way of interacting with the environment while travelling. See the list below to find out fun, affordable places to stay in South America that won’t cost the earth…
Bellas Artes Guest House, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Bellas Artes Guest House in Brazil’s vibrant capital Rio de Janeiro heats water with energy drawn from solar panels on the roof, uses efficient light-bulbs, recycles and separates waste. Brazilian coffee, Minas Geras cheese and seasonal fruit is included in the breakfast, and a shop sells local Brazilian crafts.
|Bellas Artes Guest House|
La Casa Verde, Banos , Ecuador
Overlooking national parks Llanganates and Sangay, La Casa Verde is an eco-lodge nestled in the valleys of Banos, Ecuador. The lodge is built from sustainable materials, energy comes from a hydro-electric dam and all supplies are locally sourced. The owners are replanting damaged forest in the area too, and there’s a strong recycling initiative in place.
|The view from Casa Verde|
Refugio Ecologico Casa del Sol Naciente, San Agustin, Columbia
Set on an organic farm with a coffee plantation, Refugio Ecologico Casa del Sol Naciente is about a mile into from San Agustin and grows its own fruit, veg and herbs for cooking. There’s also an eco-trail you can follow to discover the stunning canyon and Magdalena River below.
|Refugio ecologico Casa del Sol Naciente|
Cerro Chato Eco Lodge, La Fortuna, Costa Rica
With views of the Arenal Volcano and tours on offer to help you discover the Costa Rica’s scenery and wildlife, Cerro Chato Eco Lodge provides traditional casita lodgings for eco-travellers on a budget. Take a bird-watching tour, go horseback riding, hike up the Arenal, take a canopy tour or visit to Caño Negro wildlife refuge.
|Cerro Chato Eco Lodge|
Clare Reynolds is a travel writer based in London.
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