A Tropical Adventure, Rainforest Style

For your next tropical holiday, why not swap your bathers and pink cocktails for some long-sleeves and hiking boots, and take on a tropical rainforest?

With the Amazon winding its way through eight countries, South America is most commonly associated with rainforests. However, many rainforests can also be found in Central Africa, South East Asia and Australia – so you have a wide choice of rainforest holiday destinations.

rainforestWildlife Expectations

Although rainforests cover only around 6% of the earth’s surface, they are home to at least 50% of the world’s animal species.

The local wildlife in each rainforest will differ, depending on which part of the world you are in. However, typically each rainforest will be home to a variety of primate species such as orangutans and chimpanzees, countless exotic birds, a range of reptiles, and one or two large cat species, such as tigers or jaguars.

Although you might be hoping to spot an abundance of wildlife, the density of rainforests means their inhabitants have plenty of places to hide. It really is a privilege, then, if you do manage to spy a spider monkey swinging branch-to-branch, or a black panther peeking out from behind a tree trunk.

So Where Should I Go?

Many rainforest have a range of nearby accommodations, so that you can spend your days in the wild and your nights in comfort. Here is a list of some rainforests to consider for your next tropical adventure.

Daintree Rainforest – Queensland, Australia

The oldest rainforest in the world. Located in the northern part of Australia, the Daintree is home to some native Australian wildlife, such as swamp wallabies, tree kangaroos and platypuses. The magnificent rainforest canopy and flora is also uniquely Australian.

There is no shortage of accommodation in the Daintree. You can stay in beach houses close to the coast and the Great Barrier Reef, in luxurious day spas, or in eco lodges deep inside the rainforest.

Gunung Mulu National Park – Sarawak, Malaysia

This South-East Asian rainforest on the island of Borneo, is heritage listed for its exceptional natural beauty. The rainforest is known for the number and range of bats that inhabit its caves. There are also around 80 species of mammal in the park, and 270 different kinds of birds. There are plenty of hiking trails and activities in the national park, including cave tours and a canopy walk through the tree tops, where most of the rainforest wildlife hangs out.

Stay at the rainforest headquarters or at the nearby Royal Mulu Resort, which provides comfortable accommodation, relaxation, and great food.

Gunung Mulu National Park

Gunung Mulu National Park

Anywhere Along the Amazon – South America

The Amazon Basin is the largest tropical rainforest in the world. The great size of the rainforest means flora and fauna vary between locations. This rainforest is brimming with life and is one of the best placed in the world to spot large rainforest mammals, such as jaguars, sloths and exotic monkeys.
Amazon accommodations are easy to find, as are tours and adventure packages. Simply decide on a South American destination, and take it from there.

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More than a B&B – Five of the World’s Most Eccentric Hotels

In theory, you could travel for a week, stopping each night in a different country on a different continent, yet spend every one of those nights in a Hilton, a Four-Seasons or a Ritz-Carlton. You might even wake up one morning and forget which country you are in, until you draw back the curtains.

So instead of discussing run-of-the-mill, name-brand hotels, here is a hotel list with a twist: 5 of the most eccentric hotels throughout the world.

Ice Hotel

Ice Hotel

1. ICEHOTEL, Sweden

This hotel is exactly what it sounds like – a hotel made completely out of ice and snow. Located in the small village of Jukkasjärvi in Northern Sweden, some 50,000 people from all over the world come to stay at the hotel each winter.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this hotel, is that it is rebuilt every year at the start of winter. It takes approximately 2 months to build the hotel, using thousands of tonnes of ice from the Torne River. Towards the end of winter, 5,000 tonnes of ice is harvested and stored, to get a head start on the next year’s construction. Designers and artists from around the world are involved each year in constructing this magnificent, ever-changing piece of art.

2. Gamirasu Cave Hotel, Turkey

A scenic five hour drive south east of Ankara, the Gamirasu Cave Hotel offers tourists a unique luxury cave experience. Located in the heart of Cappadocia, this hotel is embedded in the side of a rocky hill, offering tourists unique cave-style rooms. The premises was once used as a monastic retreat, and maintains its historical charms.

While the hotel still offers its guests all of the modern day 5-star luxuries, the range of well-maintained cave suites and the rocky hotel façade, transport visitors back centuries to the Byzantine era.

Woodlyn Park Hotel

Woodlyn Park Hotel

3. Woodlyn Park Hotel, New Zealand

While the accommodation on this farmland property may not rival that of a Shangri La, you do have the option of spending the night in a freighter plane that flew in Vietnam, a World War II patrol boat or a 1918 rail carriage. These converted transports are positioned throughout the park, and comfortably decked out with all the amenities necessary to provide for a comfortable hotel stay.

Woodlyn Park also offers guests underground accommodation in the world’s first Hobbit motel, a rare treat for Lord of the Rings fans and Hobbit enthusiasts.

4. Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

This hotel is pure Caribbean paradise. A curvaceous structure perched on the side of a beach-side mountain, each of the hotel’s 24 sanctuaries is approached by its own sky bridge. The hotel seamlessly blends in with the magnificent St. Lucian ecosystem, and looks out at the Piti and Gros Piton mountains, which tower above the immaculate Caribbean waters.

Each sanctuary has it’s own uniquely designed infinity pool, and no less than 1400 square feet of space. These luxury pads are TV, phone and radio free, although WIFI is available upon request for those unable to completely disconnect.

5. Taj Lake Palace, India

Not a hotel on an island, but a hotel which IS the island. Situated on Lake Pichola in Udaipur, this hotel was built two and a half centuries ago as a prince’s palace. Accessible only by boat, this floating, white marble hotel is the epitome of architectural romance.

The Taj Lake Palace is all about luxury, pampering, and accommodation fit for royalty. The hotel is surrounded by history, and most of the artwork and designs within the hotel are original.

Living Green – How you can Make a Difference

Living Green

What would you do if somebody came into your house and started destroying it, making it uninhabitable? That is exactly what we are doing to the only home we really have: earth. By living a more eco-friendly life everybody can help stop this destructive process.
Some people think that living green is expensive and impractical. They believe that it means making your home outside the city, buying only costly organic food, driving a hybrid car and spending a small fortune on transforming your house into being energy efficient. Not everybody can afford all these things but there are ways in which every single person on earth can reduce their carbon footprint.

Knowledge is Power

The first step to a greener life is education. It is important to recognize where we are going wrong and putting steps in place to rectify it. The Internet has a vast amount of information available; read, learn and share your knowledge. By joining environmental groups locally or online, you can further share knowledge and get to know other like-minded people.

How you can Make a Difference

Here are a few simple actions everybody should start putting into practice in different areas of their lives.

Around the house

• Change incandescent light bulbs to energy saving bulbs. Although the initial cost is higher, these bulbs last longer and reduce energy bills in the long run.
• Take a shower instead of having a bath to save water and energy used for heating up the water.
• Unplug appliances when not in use. This will also reduce energy bills.
• Make sure the dishwasher or washing machine is full before starting a cycle.
• If you live in the US, use the EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator to estimate your household emissions. This will help you to explore ways of reducing your footprint, and save money.
• Recycle as much as possible.

Living GreenOut and about

• Use re-usable shopping bags when you do shopping. This way less plastic bags end up in the landfill, or polluting the environment.
• Buy recycled or recycle-able products as much as possible.
• Walk, cycle, use public transport or join a car pool to get around. This will reduce your carbon footprint.
• If you have to drive, drive slowly, avoid idling too long and use cruise control.

You are what you eat

• Cook enough food, but not too much. Use leftovers for meals the following day or if that is not possible, for compost.
• Eat as much seasonal, local and organic food as possible.
• Can’t afford organic produce? Grow your own. By starting an edible garden, you are not only saving money for food, but also reducing the carbon footprint of the food making its way to the shops and into your home.
Eat less meat. By eating vegetarian meals you help reduce the massive carbon footprint the meat industry leaves.
• Buy in bulk. This way you use less packaging and save money.
• Bake and cook in bulk. While preparing today’s dinner, put something in for tomorrow to save the energy you would have spent the next day and you also free up some time.
• Eat low on the food chain where possible.

Needless to say, if you have the means to install solar panels, retrofit your home, gather rainwater, buy a hybrid and only eat organic food, wonderful. If not, start implementing these small changes in your life and educating others. Earth is our home and it is the only one we have, let us take care of it.

Image courtesy of Ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net