Cristalino Jungle Lodge: A Resort ACTUALLY Saving the Rainforest
Image via: Alexander Yellen
When you see the Southern Cross for the first time....Actually, when you see the Southern Cross for the first time on a moonlit boat ride through the Amazon after a full days drive across Brazil, you'll know that you've either hit the Jackpot or that you're on a trip with Team Green Living Project. This spring GLP took their crew down to South America to capture sustainability in action, learn from the stories of the people on the front lines of conservation and prove that something can be done to improve the planet. Brazil, Peru and Ecuador were the target countries for this trip, and I was asked to tag along and over the next few weeks I will be reporting from the front lines. Our first stop was the Cristalino Jungle Reserve in Alta Floresta, Brazil in the Southwestern Amazon. If you want to see the Amazon first hand, if you want to support local communities in their efforts to preserve the rainforest and all of its treasures and you want to keep your footprint barely visible then look no further than the Cristalino Jungle Lodge.
More images and info after the jump.For over 16 years, Vitoria Da Riva Carvalho and her crew have managed to make an almost entirely self-sustainable resort that is single-handedly responsible for preserving over 200,000 hectares (and counting) of rainforest. "If this resort did not exist, then all of the land you see today would be farmland, no question," says Alex , one of the Managers at Cristalino. The resort began as just 17,668 hectares, but in 2000 the government of Brazil realized how important the region was and decided to turn over 184900 hectares into a private reserve, never to be developed, titled the Cristalino State Park. Cristalino Jungle Lodge sits in the middle of this national preserve.
What Makes Cristalino Sustainable?
First, the basics. They recycle everything on their property. The site is accessible only by boat and therefore the trash truck isn't going to stop by here once a week to collect trash, recycling and yard waste. They manage to recycle it all by collecting it from the rooms and the grounds and bringing it to the mainland when they make other trips and dispose of it in the local recycling facility. They also have an organic garden where they grow much of the food they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Obviously, if they are going to grow organic food, then they figured they should compost it too so they have a compost system as well.
Image via: Chad Simcox. Sustainability is such an ingrained value that Vitoria wanted to find a way to add renewable energy to the site. Water is easily accessible here in the rainforest, but electricity is not. So, the lodge installed a solar hot water system, so each room is guaranteed both hot and cold running water. Though by far, my favorite feature is the special "garden" behind each bungalow adding to the ambiance and growing bananas. If you take a closer look, you will see a small sign with each garden stating that this garden is filtering the gray (sink and shower water) and blackwater (toilet) from your bungalow. While you might flinch when you see the sign, nothing about this garden says waste or nastiness. Instead, you see bird of paradise plants blossoming and huge bunches of bananas ready for the picking.