Indonesian eco-resorts go for wildlife wow factor

Fri Feb 5, 2010 8:09am EST
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By Angus Thompson

JAKARTA (Reuters Life!) - While on honeymoon in Indonesia, Australian newlyweds Richard and Clair Webb decided to go somewhere truly exotic: not a luxury resort on an idyllic beach, but an eco-friendly lodge surrounded by wild orangutans.

The couple found the remote Rimba Orangutan Eco Lodge, bordering Tanjung Puting National Park in south Kalimantan and a refuge of the endangered orangutan, one of four such places in Indonesia that try to educate guests about the environment and wildlife conservation.

"Watching these animals that are so rare, it was a really beautiful experience. It was the highlight of our honeymoon," Clair Webb told Reuters by telephone from her home in Canberra.

"I'm a bit conscious of my environmental impact. It was good to be able to stay at a place that was eco and animal friendly."

Using rainwater and compost systems, the small hotel sponsors conservation projects and enlists local guides to take visitors for encounters with orangutans in the wild.

Alan Wilson, co-owner of the lodge, said the wow factor of seeing wildlife is the drawcard for guests at her establishment and three others in Bali, Komodo National Park and Sumatra also run by Eco Lodges Indonesia, a small company with local as well as international shareholders including environmentalists.

"I think the word "eco" is used far too flippantly," said Wilson, a former veterinarian.

Profits of the four establishments are used to protect the parks they border, and fend off illegal logging, poaching or harmful agricultural practices.   Continued...

<p>A tourist looks at an orang utan at Camp Leakey in the Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan October 15, 2009. Indonesia has been criticised for rampant deforestation for palm oil, timber and other development, leading to rising greenhouse gas emissions and loss of habitat for wildlife. But eco-tourism is becoming a buzzword in Indonesia, with many hotels and tour operators touting their sustainable bent in a bid to attract a share of a growing global market. REUTERS/Eco Lodges</p>