Eco-friendly retreats: Save the lions, support local craftsmen and play marine biologist for a day at these sustainable resorts in Japan, Kenya and South Africa

How to travel in style without killing the Earth

In recent years, there has been a notable change in the attitudes of travellers around the world. They’re no longer just in pursuit of lavish or out-of-this-world experiences, and thanks to travel operators adopting responsible practices in a bid to save the environment, people are increasingly game for socially conscious travel. Who knew one could travel in style, responsibly? Here are five luxury retreats that are all for saving planet Earth.

&Beyond’s Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve Retreat

Where: Chile

What will I experience?

&Beyond adventures are crafted with the aim to make the world a better place, and you’ll know it when you sign up for their trip to the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve. At the reserve, which is situated in the Chilean Patagonian rainforest, you will learn all about the area, the Huilo Huilo Foundation and their commitment to the conservation of nature and local culture.

Fauna and flora conservation projects abound, and that includes the initiative to protect Chile’s national symbol – the huemul, a south Andean deer that’s in danger of extinction. Also immerse in the beauty of the reserve at your own pace with a self-guided tour, catch sight of the elusive pudu (the world’s smallest deer) and enjoy birdwatching, if you’re keen.

Robb tip: Hop onto the Andean Condor Cable Car and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the reserve. The cable car will take you through a new section of the reserve called the ‘Hidden Forest’, which will also give you the opportunity to trek, mountain bike and visit the mighty condor.

&Beyond

Bushmans Kloof’s Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat

Where: South Africa

What will I experience?

Resting at the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains in South Africa, the Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat is a multi-award-winning space (it is part of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World) that’s home to breathtaking open plains, sandstone formations and ancient bush art sites that date back 10,000 years.

The hotel busies itself with plenty of conservation projects linked to wildlife and nature, with one that involves three Anatolian sheepdogs. In a bid to ensure that local farming communities protect their livestock from harm in the most responsible and sustainable way possible, the hotel relies on these fine agile dogs to fend off the leopards and all sorts of predators. Meet the farmers who raised them and the dogs; they come from Turkey originally, and are known for their loyalty and sandy coats which help them blend into the surroundings.

Robb tip: Join their signature rock art excursion, where you’ll get a deep understanding of the spiritual culture of the Bushmen who once inhabited the Cederberg Mountains for over a thousand years. These rocks are still stained with their paintings, which were created through the use of natural pigments such as ochre, animal blood and plant sap.

Bushmans Kloof

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

Where: The Maldives

What will I experience?

It’s not just barefoot luxury here. You’ll get to play a marine biologist, too. Spend a day on board a manta research vessel with marine biologists from The Manta Trust and swim with the manta rays. Plant your own coral reef, learn to collect critical marine data, assist with the injured sea turtles (hopefully none), and at the same time, improve your free-diving skills. You’ll be in the safe hands of a team responsible for amassing the largest number of identified manta rays anywhere in the world.

Robb tip: Sign up for some parasailing to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. If you’re afraid of heights, sail out to a floating platform and enjoy the view from below instead, over a candlelit dinner in the middle of a sparkling lagoon.

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

Scott Dunn’s Lion King Adventure

Where: Kenya

What will I experience?

In celebration of the release of Disney’s The Lion King, bespoke travel curator Scott Dunn has brought the movie to life with an eight-day adventure across Kenya. This safari getaway will please both the young and old. Enjoy breakfast with giraffes, visit Pride Rock in Hell’s Gate National Park and witness the Big Five game animals on a horseback safari.

Together with Singita, Wilderness Safaris and more, &Beyond is also part of the Lionscape Coalition. Besides raising funds for the lions, efforts have been put in place to protect the wildlife, educate locals and empower the travel industry to play an even bigger role in conservation. Lion numbers have dwindled drastically since the release of the first The Lion King, but the Lionscape Coalition aims to double that by 2050.

Robb tip: Explore the legendary Pride Rock and a renowned rhino sanctuary in an open four-wheel drive for the ultimate safari adventure.

Scott Dunn

Walk Japan’s Kunisaki Tours

Where: Japan

What will I experience?

Celebrated for its immersive walking tours since 1992, Walk Japan is committed to providing funding for local labour in the rural regions of Japan. Most recently, the tour curators introduced the Kunisaki tours, which allow travellers to explore off-the-beaten track areas of the Japanese peninsula. Wander through sleepy hamlets, thick forests and towering cliffs. You’ll also get to visit the locals and witness their crafts, all in a bid to help promote the lesser known areas that they live in.

Other Walk Japan tours include exploring East Hokkaido, tackling the snowy regions of Nagano and travelling through Nakasendo.

Robb tip: End a day of walking with a relaxing dip in Yufuin, one of Japan’s elegant onsen resorts situated in the Ōita Prefecture.

Walk Japan

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