Not so long ago, jungle tours were reserved for adventure professionals such as biologists, anthropologists and rare individuals who prefer exotic extremes. Recently, however, the growing interest in these unique ecosystems has created “jungle lodges” or “Houses in the jungle”, with levels of comfort suitable for discerning travelers who crave adventure.

Although there are some ultra-luxurious lodgings out there, where particular attention is paid to concierge services and high quality bedding, most of them are decidedly more authentic, preferring to bank on the natural wealth of areas and providing learning for different resources.

With the levels of global awareness there now are about the environment, a weariness of more “commercial” tourism, combined with television channels dedicated to this sort of thing, one now sees a democratization of nature tourism. Ecotourism and nature tourism is fast becoming an answer for travelers concerned about the future of the environment and peoples of the planet.

The quest for exoticism and authenticity is hardly more difficult to access, and is now part of standard travel choices. According to Kurt Holle, Rainforest Expeditions, Peru, “30 years ago, there was only one commercial flight per week landing at Puerto Maldonado, Peru. But now there are three planes a day.”

Some travelers want to relax and get away from the daily grind, while others venture into the jungle to see for the first time in their lives a strange bird or an exotic deer. Some houses recognize the importance of community input into the patron’s experience and make it more enriching. We’ve found you a few options!

All lodgings listed donate a certain percentage of their profits to the community, and are facilities suitable for families:

The Lodge at Pico Bonito

La Ceiba, Honduras

Nestled in the spectacular rainforest of Pico Bonito National Park, thirty minutes from the airport in La Ceiba, Pico Bonito is a lush resort with luxurious features. A member of the chain “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”, this authentic resort, with its main building in wood and stone, nestles at the foot of the mountain Nombre de Dios, in the midst of a dense cocoa and coffee forest.

The cabins reflect rustic elegance, but with comfort. You go to your accommodation through paths that crisscross the forest, where you can see the crystal river waterfall Río Corinto. Guides can identify for you more than 400 bird species that inhabit this ecosystem, such as the magnificent Turquoise Cotinga and the much sought Keel toucan. Jaguars, ocelots, kinkajous, peccaries and several species of monkeys can be observed.

Web site: www.picobonito.com

Sabalo Lodge

Osa Peninsula, Acosta Rica

Admire wildlife by observing a primitive mangrove and rainforest in your hammock. Here you find a national park that has been qualified by the National Geographic Society as “the final frontier of the earth, and the most biologically intense place on earth”, with its breathtaking beach nearby.

Meet a population living near the river in the middle of the jungle. Go for adventure to explore educational aspects, where you do not rub shoulders with more than twelve guests at a time to ensure a maximum encounter with wildlife, and to ensure an excellent personalized service still limiting a negative impact on the environment.

Web site: www.sabalolodge.com

Finca La Maya

San Carlos, Panama

One hour from Panama City, in a lush tropical region on the Pacific coast, is the cultural and international community center of Finca La Maya. Adjacent to this organization stands a magnificent and spacious house with Mediterranean architecture, where coconut palms, tropical fruit orchards, hiking trails, bicycle paths and small-scale golf are at your fingertips. The rooms are spacious, airy and equipped with air conditioning. This hostel is eight minutes from one of the most beautiful beaches in the region. Best for a user-friendly experience in nature where learning is the order of the day.

Web site: www.fincalamaya.com

Indian Creek Lodge

Belize

Located at the foot of a Maya mountain, on a private nature reserve, the Indian Creek Lodge embodies the culture and architecture of the people who lived in this region centuries ago. You can live in thatched houses accessible by paths of stone built by local craftsmen. The walls are striped with vines and lush colorful heliconia.

The cabins are equipped with verandas perched on the mountain for a view of the rainforest with a breathtaking and impressive overlook on two freshwater lagoons, where egrets, herons, cormorants and other exotic birds live. The cuisine is high in flavor and color, and is primed with fresh and outstanding local ingredients.

Two steps of the house are located the ruins of Nim Li Punit, the second largest Mayan site in the world, near the watershed of the Golden Stream. Nearly 400 species of birds have been recorded, in addition to the tapirs and the largest concentration of jaguars.

Web site: www.belizelodge.com

Don’t Forget to Pack:

  • Your swimsuit! For when you reach a deserted beach!
  • Good walking shoes and socks that are thick and long to prevent critters from tickling your ankles.
  • A hat, of course!
  • Anti-mosquito treatments (aerosols, creams)
  • A flashlight with an extra battery pack.
  • A metal whistle (sold in most sporting goods stores).
  • Calamine lotion or Anti-itch ointment.
  • A poncho or light raincoat clothing.
  • A plastic bag for wet clothes.
  • Binoculars (for better view).
  • A pad of paper and some pencils, in case of a burst of creativity!