Five Best: Green retreats
Get back to nature in these beautiful, remote and electricity-free hideaways
Saturday 21 April 2007
Sindabezi Island Lodge, Zambia
This lodge may not be hi-tech but it comes with its own pet hippo Horace. The camp, only 10km above the Victoria Falls on an island in the Zambezi River, has five thatched chalets. Each has one side open to spectacular views of the river. Ten guests is as busy as this tiny, private island gets. Off the grid, candles light up rooms, morning showers are from a bucket and toilets come "with a view". By day, there are game drives, canoe trips into the forest and picnic walks; and by night, guests can gather round the fire listening to the roar of distant lions.
Sindabezi Island Lodge, Zambezi National Park, Zambia (00 260 3 327 450; www.tongabezi.co.za). Doubles start at US$670 (£372), all-inclusive.
Adrère Amellal Oasis, Egypt
Within the famous Saharan oasis at Siwa, nine hours from Cairo, Adrère Amellal (white mountain) is quite a sight. The 39 rooms have been built by local tradesmen using the traditional "kershef" method, from rock salt, straw and clay. Its informal, minimal feel (no telephones, electricity or reception) is done in style with Bedouin furnishings, an infinity pool fed by a Roman spring and delicious dinners on balconies and terraces; it is more of an experience than a hotel. But one of the greatest pleasures is spending an evening by the glow of the oil lamps, candles, fires and stars, overlooking Siwa Lake.
Adrère Amellal Oasis, Sidi al-Ja'afar, Siwa, Egypt (00 20 2736 7879; www.adrereamellal.net). Doubles start at US$400 (£222), all-inclusive.
Feather Down Farm Days, UK
Luite Moraal (the man who brought Center Parcs to the UK) came up with the concept of luxury 'tented cottages' on working farms, and the first opened in August. Now nine franchises operate across Britain, from Somerset to Scotland, each with five tents sleeping up to six guests. We're talking canvas, but with wooden floors, real beds and down duvets, and even flushing loos. There's no electricity - instead, a wood-burning stove is stoked for warmth and cooking, and dinners are lit by hurricane lamps and candles. You can join the farmer going about his business, fetching eggs and milking, and there's a 24-hour (mostly organic) on-site shop.
Feather Down Farm Days (01420 80804; www.featherdownfarm.co.uk) has nine sites across the UK. Weekly rental starts at £345, long weekends from £195, self-catering.
Aspros Potamos, Greece
This settlement of 300-year-old olive farmers' cottages, tucked into a hillside on Crete's south coast, offers a peaceful back-to-nature experience. With a romantic cave-like feel, the rooms are spare: stone-paved floors, old country-style furniture, built-in beds and patios. And forget charging up your iPod: you won't find a socket. Candles and oil lamps provide lighting, and there are gas heaters for hot water and cooking. An award-winning photovoltaic solar power system is a new addition - generating enough energy to power a light in the bathroom and small fridge. If you go slightly stir crazy, a 1km walk through the olive grove brings you to Makrigialos (town, tavernas and lovely beach). Myrto, the owner, has lived here since she was eight.
Aspros Potamos, Makrigialos, Crete, Greece (00 30 284 305 1694; www.asprospotamos.com). Cottages start at €40 (£29), room only; minimum three-night stay.
Posada Amazonas Lodge, Peru
The only way in is by motorised canoe - an hour up the River Tambopata from the port of Infierno (which means "Hell") in south-east Peru. Posada Amazonas was established by Rainforest Expeditions but built on the Ese'eja Indians' territory, so they receive 60 per cent of the profits and co-manage the lodge. Torches illuminate wooden walkways to 30 candlelit rooms with private bathroom, one side open to the primary rainforest. There's a lounge with a library and dining room, serving tasty local and Creole dishes. Jungle walks give you a chance to see some of the planet's rarest creatures.
Posada Amazonas Lodge, Reserva Nacional Tambopata, Peru (00 51 1 421 8347; www.perunature.com/lodges). Three nights' stay from US$325 (£181) per person, full board.
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