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Active Travels: La Loma Jungle Lodge, Panama

La Loma, Panama

By Steve Jermanok

I’ve had my fill of snow this winter in Boston. So now I’m dreaming about the warm weather and an upcoming trip to Jamaica. This week, I’ll delve into my favorite eco-resorts in the Caribbean and Costa Rica. The sustainable tourism movement has grown leaps and bounds in the past decade. No longer can you simply throw compost in the back of a Marriott and call it an eco-resort. To be green, destinations have to offer indigenous culture and food, encourage outdoor recreation that highlight the region, curb greenhouse gases that impact the environment, and involve the entire community in the tourism effort. Many resorts even go a step further by helping to support local school systems and food banks. These five lodgings are green in every sense of the word.

Increasingly, the small eco-retreat design that made such an imprint in Costa Rica has slipped farther south into Panama. On an archipelago in the northwestern part of the country, a short boat ride from the town of Bocas del Toro, is a three-cabana lodge socked in the middle of the verdant jungle and surrounded by a working cocoa plantation.  All of the cabins at the Jungle Lodge were created from fallen trees and inspired by the architecture of the local Ngobe Indians. The employees are also local, including your guide through the rainforest and beach to see sloths, armadillos, small crocs called caimans, and the graceful blue morph butterfly. At dinner, lobster and conch will not be served, as the owners try to use only sustainably harvested fish like yellow jack. Rates are $110 per person a night, including three meals, the boat ride over from Bocas town, and some of the excursions.

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