From diving in Madagascar to relaxing in Ibiza, find out here about the fabulous holidays that won't cost the earth.
Don’t panic! It’s still OK to go on holiday – but, as the world wakes up to the dangers of pollution and global warming, it’s time we picked how and where we travel with more care. Check out our guide to the best eco travel hotspots here.
Strattons is one of the most eco-friendly hotels in the UK. An award-winning Grade II-listed building in the market town of Swaffham, Norfolk, it’s been transformed into a stylish eco-chic boutique hotel. There are ten lavish, themed rooms, such as ‘Boudoir’, which has wallpaper splashed with Renaissance prints, and the theatrical ‘Red Room’ with a four-poster bed and cosy fireplace. Most of the food in its restaurant is organic, seasonal and sourced from local suppliers. The bathrooms are fitted with water-saving devices, there’s a wildlife-welcoming garden and almost all waste is recycled. Double rooms cost from £150, including breakfast.
Camp out in style at the delightful Hoopoe Yurt Hotel in southern Spain. Pitched among cork and olive trees with spectacular views of the Grazalema mountains, each circular yurt, or tent, is individually decorated and has a large double bed and an outdoor bamboo bathroom with a solar-powered hot shower. There’s a swimming pool on site, yoga, massage and aromatherapy in the local village, and a large mountain rock pool nearby at Cuevo del Gato. A yurt costs £95 for two with breakfast. It’s a two-hour drive from Malaga, or take a train via Madrid to Ronda, then a local train to Cortes de la Frontera, where the owners will collect you.
Enjoy the quieter side of Ibiza by staying at Can Marti, an organic farm in a wooded valley in the north of the island. This old stone farmhouse has been limewashed and lovingly transformed into self-catering studios and apartments with juniper-beamed ceilings, thick walls and rainwater harvesting. You can have an organic breakfast on your terrace looking out over gentle slopes of almond, carob and olive trees. Bikes are provided and it’s just a kilometre to a picturesque village and pretty beaches. An apartment for two costs from £102 and the owner donates 7% of his annual income to African non-governmental organisations.
Follow in the footsteps of Brad and Angelina at Wolwedans, a collection of camps in the Namibian desert built on a principle of ‘ethical simplicity’. Choose from rustic-luxurious chalets set on a crest of dunes to the most exclusive Boulder’s Camp, hugged by huge granite rocks. 10% of profits go to conservation in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. Original Travel offers a ten-night package to Namibia, with three nights at Wolwedans from £2,800, including full board and flights.
Orion is a collection of four luxury tree houses near Nice where you can swing from a hammock on a terrace perched 30 metres up. Each tree house is reached via an outer wooden staircase that climbs up to a double bedroom with an ensuite round wooden bath and an open ‘massage shower’. There’s a pebble-lined natural swimming pool that self-cleans with aquatic plants and its a short walk to the arty town of St-Paul de Vence. A tree house costs from £118 with breakfast.
When you join a marine conservation expedition with Blue Ventures to study the coral reefs off the west coast of Madagascar, you’ll also enjoy some of the best diving in the western Indian Ocean. You’ll learn to identify the coral and fish species, right, in the lagoons of the Grand Récif de Tuléar the fourth largest coral reef in the world and gather data for scientists that will pave the way to establishing Madagascar’s newest marine park. A four-week expedition costs £1,592, including accommodation, food, marine-science training and diving, but excluding flights.
Explore the Peruvian rainforest at the Amazon Yarapa River Lodge. Meet tribal Indians, see exotic birds and pygmy marmoset monkeys while travelling on locally guided jungle tours in hand-carved canoes. The solar-powered lodge is made out of local materials, has an eco-friendly waste system and thatch-covered roofs and walkways that keep you cool in the tropical heat. Yarapa is managed through a partnership between the people of the nearby Jaldar village and a New Yorker who has helped create a private reserve around the lodge. A week costs from £532 based on two sharing and includes accommodation, meals, guided tours and transport from Iquitos.
Djuma Bush Lodge is an intimate lodge in the Sabi Sand wildlife reserve on the border with the Kruger National Park in South Africa. The upmarket chalets and spa are owned by an ecologist who employs local guides to take you on game drives to see animals such as lions, elephants, giraffe and zebra. The lodge has been awarded the Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa eco label for its commitment to local communities and has helped build two schools and a media training centre. A week-long safari, including car hire, flights from London to Kruger and three nights at Djuma, costs from £1,395 through Rainbow Tours (rainbowtours.co.uk).
Sukau is an eco lodge which sits on stilts above a silted river, surrounded by dense jungle. It is designed in the style of a Malaysian long house and is more about getting closer to nature than being pampered in the lap of luxury. Rainforests contain half of the world’s species and you can guarantee some of them will be on the doorstep of your lodge. Look out for orangutans, proboscis monkeys and hornbills.
If beach holidays aren’t for you and you fancy something utterly different, then try a walking holiday in the Indian Himalayas where you can explore the foothills of the mountain range. Staying in renovated three-bedroom guesthouses with delicious vegetarian food on offer, the local guides can lead you through the pine forests and beautiful mountain valleys.