Heather Benjamin

As the breezes of fall give way to the chill of winter, we sometimes think wistfully of travel to warmer climates. Whether you’re considering a trip this winter or just mulling over options for future travel, you have plenty of options for places to stay that are as “green” as they are exotic. Sustainable lodging options will allow you to support environmental and community initiatives even as you enjoy the beauty of a natural area.

The website for the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World program presents a collection of accommodations where travelers can find lodging not only complementary to the landscape, but also incorporating principles of sustainability. For example: 

Zarafa Camp, Botswana

As Great Plains Conservation’s “most environmentally innovative camp,” the Zarafa lodge has almost no footprint. Situated on the Zibadianja Lagoon and built using recycled hardwood and canvas, the camp boasts a 170-panel solar farm to produce all its electricity. Bio-gas plants and special filters recycle waste into cooking gas and irrigation water. In addition, the game vehicles primarily run on vegetable oil, and drinking water is treated through a UV-filtration system, eliminating the need for disposable water bottles. The combination of these techniques has created a hospitality destination that makes almost no demands on its pristine environment.

Kasbah Du Toubkal, Morocco

On the edge of Toubkal National Park and the High Atlas Mountains, Kasbah Du Toubkal is a boutique hotel built with local materials and managed and staffed by people from the surrounding area. The lodge complements its energy source with solar power and filters water from a spring to avoid use of plastic bottles. Food that is not consumed is given to the community, with scraps supplementing the feed of livestock. Kasbah has also assisted with funding for projects such as Education For All, to give girls from the rural High Atlas region the opportunity to pursue higher education, and Mountain Propre, to establish trash and recycling collection and organize regular cleanups.

For more environmentally friendly places to stay on vacation, check out these resources: