There’s no doubt about it—Central and South America are breathtaking. Filled with diverse wildlife, warm inhabitants and landscapes that, before seeing them, you might have thought only existed in a postcard, Central and South America is where Mother Nature really shines. Trying to plan a solo adventure to this untouched part of the world? Reach out to Surtrek, the undeniable leader in South American eco travel, and experience the magic for yourself. South American vacation destinations are some of the best examples of luxury eco tourism, and these must-see spots below let you appreciate it to the fullest.
Perched on the shores of Lake Atitlán, in Guatemala, Laguna Lodge boasts unbeatable views of Volcán San Pedro just across. Adding to its allure, this five-star, boutique hotel sits at the bottom of a towering, tropical dry forest. A picture of eco luxury, it’s filled with everything from ancient Mayan trails and rock climbing, to mountain biking, zip-lining, rappelling and high-altitude scuba diving, and each of its six lakeside suites are made out of volcanic stone, adobe and palm-fringed rooftops. Hungry? The food here isn’t to be missed, either. Laguna Lodge has an award-winning restaurant that serves organic, locally-grow cuisine and grows and roasts its own coffee beans. Fusing idyllic luxury with an innate sense of outdoor spirit, Laguna Lodge gives solo travelers the freedom to explore the deepest corners of Guatemala while having everything they could ever need (or want) at their fingertips.
This cozy hotel is the epitome of charm. It sits in the historic center of a small fishing village, is surrounded by overgrown gardens, has a treehouse you can sleep in, and overlooks a 16th-century town green. At the five-star UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa, you’ll find modern amenities expertly draped in rustic decor—not surprising, when you consider that Wilbert Das (former creative director of the Italian fashion line Diesel) led the the design and worked with local artisans to use traditional building methods, reclaimed materials and Brazilian furnishings. Ideal for the solo traveler, here, you’ll find everything you need: like a spa, a gym, two restaurants serving traditional cuisine, and the real treat, a unique swimming pool filled with healing aventurine crystals. The latter is believed to have healing properties, so go here to both discover the world and balance your chakra.
This rainforest lodge is as authentic as it gets! Run by Inkaterra, an ecotourism company that’s considered the “pioneer of sustainable tourism in Peru,” Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica doesn’t just let you see nature; it makes you part of it. Floating high above the Madre de Dios River from its place in a forest canopy, wander through hanging walkways as you gaze over endless treetops, 480+ bird species, and 1200+ kinds of plants. Wake up and explore the deepest corners of the Aguajales swamp below, and when the sun goes down, dine by lantern light. Like everything else at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, sleeping won’t be a problem. There are 35 comfortable wood-and-thatch cabanas and a secluded canopy tree house where you can lay your head, and of course, the soft sounds of the rainforest to rock you to sleep.
If you like bird-watching, this jungle lodge is for you. Named one of National Geographic Traveler’s top eco resorts, Cristalino Jungle Lodge sits high above Brazil’s rainforest canopy and has two observation towers, both of which promise endless views of Brazil’s idyllic jungles and more than 600 bird species. Stay in one of its eco-friendly bungalows and immerse yourself in bird-watching, canoeing, hiking, swimming, boating, photography, butterflies or ecotourism. And when you do stay here, you’ll get an education, too. Cristalino Jungle Lodge supports education, preservation and research projects through the Cristalino Ecological Foundation, which has a special partnership with Fauna & Flora International.
When it comes to South America vacation destinations, Pacuare Lodge stands out from the rest. Sitting on the banks of the river for which it is named, Pacuare Lodge is tucked in the jungles of Costa Rica, in a lush part of the world surrounded by towering trees, steep gorges, jaguars, ocelots, tropical birds, colorful butterflies and more. Designed to make a minimal impact on the landscapes around it, Pacuare Lodge embraces the environment. Go here for whitewater rafting, canyoning, trekking, canopy tours, and of course, to see some howler monkeys. In fact, as part of its commitment to Costa Rican ecosystems, the lodge actually supports projects to reintroduce howler monkeys into their forest reserve, which were nearly wiped out by indigenous hunters years ago.