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Eco lodges inspire an appreciation of nature

Published: Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011 1:15 a.m. CDT

Visit an eco lodge where adventure is encouraged, eco-friendly practices are in use, and supporting the local community is essential. Here are five to consider.

Rosalie Forest Eco Lodge, Dominica, West Indies. Explore the volcanic island on foot or by donkey. Hike to waterfalls, surf or watch turtles or whales. Later return to your treehouse, cabin or cottage in the rain forest, surrounded by organic gardens. Learn how British owner Jem Winston uses wind power to provide light and how his reliance on community resources enriches both locals and guests.

Contact: 767-446-1886; www.rosalieforest.com

Playa Viva, Juluchuca, Mexico. Stay in this family-friendly, all-inclusive coastal lodge near Ixtapa, where the owners operate a turtle sanctuary. Last year, guests helped save and release more than 100,000 baby turtles. The solar-powered lodge was built with the help of local craftspeople using indigenous materials. Your family is invited to join the chef for a visit to the nearby farmers market. Later, learn to cook local specialties.

Contact: 866-482 8922; www.playaviva.com

Nature Inn at Bald Eagle, Howard, Pa. Everyday practices at this eco-friendly retreat include geothermal heating and cooling, solar heating of water, rainwater harvesting, native habitat restoration and the use of rain gardens to decrease runoff and increase absorption. Your family will enjoy the beauty and abundance of wildlife in the area. Find hundreds of miles of trails plus trout streams. You’ll also find an elk refuge, local artisans and pristine nature.

Contact: 814-625-2879; www.natureinnatbaldeagle.com

Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Stay in one of 31 chalets in a rain forest that’s part of the Danum Valley Conservation Area. From eco-savvy quarters, families can plan outings that include scouting 300 species of birds and 120 species of mammals. Expect to see orangutans, pygmy elephants, and Bornean hornbills. View the habitat from a 1,000-foot-long canopy walk 85 feet above the ground.

Contact: 011-60-88-267-637; www.borneonaturetours.com

Shakti 360 Leti, Himalayas, India. Soak in splendid views from your cabin in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. A strong commitment to the community includes employing locals and using traditional building techniques. Your kids will be able to meet village children. The company has introduced solar heating and lighting and water reuse. Also, it created a foundation to foster local renewable energy, education and cultural projects. Hike and learn about the culture of this beautiful region.

Contact: 866-401-3705; www.shaktihimalaya.com

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