Eco-tourism is one of my favourite travel trends for 2017, and environmentally friendly options are opening all over the world. During my recent trip to Cambodia I knew I wanted to stay in an eco-lodge but was concerned that they might be too inaccessible or expensive. Luckily, I was proven wrong and found getting to the amazing Rainbow Lodge in Cambodia was surprisingly easy and reasonably priced! Keep reading to find out why I highly recommend visiting the Koh Kong province of Cambodia and experiencing this wonderful retreat for yourself.
A NATURAL JUNGLE HABITAT
Located off the main highway that connects Cambodia to Thailand, the Rainbow Lodge is very easy to get to either via bus or taxi. Upon arriving at the bridge, the staff meets you at the water dock and takes you on a quick 10 minute journey down the Tatai river to the lodge itself. It was very reminiscent of my time in the Amazon Rainforest, with dense forest and hardly any sounds besides the wildlife. Everything is taken care of by the lodge from the second you step on the boat until the time you check out. This includes all of your meals, activities, and simply a place to relax and enjoy the untouched wilderness!
The Rainbow Lodge has activities for all types of travellers, whether you are looking for a relaxing spa retreat or some serious nature treks. The riverside spa offers a number of treatments, including massages, body scrubs, and manicures/pedicures. The prices are all extremely reasonable, with a 60 minute massage starting at only $15, so there is really no reason not to indulge while staying at the lodge.
If you are looking for more physical activities, the Rainbow Lodge has numerous options to choose from. There are a variety of walking and trekking tours, including ones that visit nearby villages, explore mangroves, venture out for night walks, and go for full day treks to an isolated river in the middle of the jungle. No matter your fitness or experience level, you can find a tour suited for you! The Lodge also provides a naturalist to accompany you, making sure your tour is both a knowledgeable and safe experience.
FOOD MADE WITH LOVE
After participating in one of the many tours, you will surely work up an appetite. Luckily the Rainbow Lodge had some of the best food I ate during my entire trip in Cambodia! Given the remote location, I was absolutely blown away by the quality of food for every meal. All food is included during your stay, with a hearty breakfast, an a la carte lunch, afternoon snacks, and a full 3 course dinner every night. I really couldn’t believe the consistent high quality of every meal, and the fact the entire cooking staff was local and lived right across the river was even more impressive!
Working with the local community, both for environmentally friendly practices and helping local businesses, is an integral focus of the lodge and permeates every aspect of their Green Roots program. The lodge minimises its footprint as much as possible, with their goal to not only become environmentally neutral but ultimately environmentally positive. This means that they are actively working to prevent further deforestation in the area caused by illegal logging and other activities, and aiming to achieve regenerating forests to encourage growth of the surrounding area.
All of the construction and design of the lodge was done with the highest eco-friendly practices in mind. This includes using sustainable locally produced materials such as palm wood and palm leafs. For energy, the Rainbow Lodge has installed both solar and hydroelectric power, along with low wattage equipment to minimise electricity use. Water access is one of the more difficult problems in the region, which the Lodge has solved by using storage tanks and a reservoir to collect water during the wet season, and using non-chemical filtration to provide clean drinking water year round. This is just a small sample of the conservation efforts that underlie each part of the hotel, and it is one of the most environmentally friendly places I’ve ever stayed!
The Rainbow Lodge does amazing things outside of the hotel in the local community as well. They provide year round full time salaries for over 10 local employees, at wages higher than the typical local levels. While I stayed I met some wonderful women who worked in the kitchen and lived just across the river, two of which were sisters and the third was their close friend. It was wonderful to see how close knit the community was and the fact that Rainbow Lodge is able to provide jobs for them to work together. All supplies are purchased from local markets as well to support the local economy and ensure these local small businesses can continue to operate.
Support for local businesses extends far beyond simply purchasing local food and supplies as well. The Lodge has established several programs to help local Cambodians not only open their own businesses but keep them sustainable long term as well. In particular, the Lodge helped an employee named Panna open her own laundry service, providing a sustainable business for her and her family. Similarly, they helped another employee affectionately known as “Mom” to utilise her sewing and business skills to run her very own tailoring shop.
The Rainbow Lodge’s Community Fund has helped numerous local organisations as well. This includes the nearby Tatai and Koh Adet schools, helping to provide much needed funding and supplies to the 10 teachers and 200 students who attend. The assistance has included solar power, computers, sports equipment, IT and English training, and a new water collection, storage, and sanitation system. The Lodge also supports its four legged friends in the community, running clinics and donating to the Phnom Penh Animal Welfare Society (PPAWS), which provides assistance to sick and injured animals in the area. The sheer number of programs and impact the Rainbow Lodge is having in the local area cannot be understated, and was easily one of my favourite parts of staying there.
It should be quite obvious at this point how impressed I was with the Rainbow Lodge. The location felt wonderfully remote but was easily accessible, the food was incredible, and the activities were a great way to explore the area. Knowing that my stay was going towards a place that was both incredibly eco-friendly and supportive of the local community made it even more enjoyable. The Rainbow Lodge is a very special place in southern Cambodia, and I strongly encourage you to visit them next time you are there!
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I was welcomed as a guest by the Rainbow Lodge. As always all opinions are my own.