Down a somewhat private lane on the west side of Fontana Park in Buchanan County sit two solid new cabins — prime examples of sustainable resources, says Buchanan County Conservation Executive Director Dan Cohen.
Built and opened to the public in 2011, the cabins feature many sustainable-living elements, including triple-paned, energy-efficient windows, structural insulated panels and locally sourced materials and labor. All of the electrical needs are operated through off-grid solar panels.
Helping out at an African nursery or digging trenches in rural India has become a fashionable – rite of passage for a generation of young Britons.
But many volunteers end up doing more harm than good – and the gap year trend is even being blamed for potentially fuelling child abuse in the host communities.
Mounting concern that the growing numbers of tourists keen to work in orphanages in countries such as Cambodia and Nepal could be leading to local children being abandoned or abducted to meet the demand has led to calls for a radical rethink on the ethics of so-called voluntourism.
Drifting with good intentions The endless ocean, broken occasionally by sand-fringed islands, stretched before me. A salty breeze caressed my face and two magnificent sails billowed bright in the sunlight as we headed into the unknown. I was on an oceanic adventure, sailing across the Palawan archipelago in a replica of a boat that first crossed these Philippine seas more than 1,000 years ago.
My trip was a taster of a new tour by local company Tao Philippines, which offers off-the-beaten-track sailing holidays between El Nido, in the north of long, thin Palawan island, and Coron, further north, off Busuanga island. Taking in areas few tourists visit, it directs some of its profits to funding community projects across the islands.
At Spa Yves Rocher, in the heart of France’s Brittany region, you’re definitely in five-star-boho territory. Everything about the Eco-Hotel, including the elegant treehouse, immerses you in a sensual experience with nature.
Let’s start with the food. The restaurant, Les Jardins Sauvages, serves organic meals made from ingredients grown by local gardeners, prepared by local bakers, craftsmen and apiarists, all within 20 or so miles from the hotel.
Working Lighthouse in Isle au Haut, Maine:
Yearning for a true island getaway? “No television, no fax, no e-mail, no Internet, no electricity,” promises the Keeper’s House Inn.
A 40-minute ride on the mail boat from Stonington takes you across Penobscot Bay to Isle au Haut, on which dwell about 75 full-time residents, a stubby 1907 lighthouse, and the comfy but rigorously off-the-grid inn. There’s no electricity here, save for some solar and windmill power supplementing the gaslights, candles, and kerosene lanterns.
YOU know you are way off-grid when people view WiFi as a question.
“Why Fi? Why indeed,” came the response when I asked about about internet connection upon realising I had no phone signal.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the kids went white when we arrived at our cottage to find there was no TV signal. What the hell were we going to do for three days?
The only SKY was the big boring blue stuff outside.
But it doesn’t take long after arriving on the fantastically remote and beautiful island of Tiree to adopt a similar view to the locals.
It’s a cliche but Malta’s little sister island really is one of the Med’s best-kept secrets. Its ancient citadels, sun-baked terraces and Byzantine churches are a gift for location scouts (see Gladiator, Troy, Game of Thrones), but for the rest of us, the red-sand beaches and impossibly blue waters are the real stars of the show. At the end of February the low-key islanders go nuts for Carnival (28 February to 4 March).
What to do If you see only one sight ? Make it the Ggantija Temples at Xaghra – the oldest freestanding structures in the world, dating back to 3600BC. Swim in the “Inland Sea”, a lagoon surrounded by cliffs and connected to the sea by a narrow limestone archway. Relax on the gorgeous sandy beaches at Ramla Bay and San Blas. Gozo’s crystal-clear waters offer some of the best dive spots in the Med – you can book dive and snorkelling trips in the harbour town of Marsalforn.
Mexico, but not as we know it[/caption]SAN EVARISTA, Mexico — Rising at dawn to catch the sunrise, cruise passengers nursing coffee cups watched as the Safari Endeavour glided past the Baja Peninsula’s ragged coast.
As the rays played over the cliffs, each thumb-shaped cove and crescent beach came into view for a minute or two, then slid out of sight, disappearing astern.
Fifty metres off the starboard bow, a whale surfaced, blowing an airy spray and leaving a widening circle of ripples. On the port side, a squawking band of seagulls hovered over a rocky islet shared by a colony of croaking sea lions.
They – and the Endeavour – were the only signs of life, or so it seemed to this first-time visitor to the Sea of Cortes, a 1,000-kilometre long finger of ocean separating the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland.
Chikoko Tree Camp South Luangwa National Park, Zambia Remote Africa Safaris is a small, family–run operation in Zambia with four intimate little camps, renowned for its excellent guides and remote, pristine locations and leopard sightings. Chikoko Tree Camp and its sibling Crocodile Camp are in South Luangwa National Park, and reached by canoe and foot via the parent camp, Tafika, where the owners John and Carol Coppinger and Bryan Jackson live. Neither has electricity or generators; they use solar lighting, gas freezers and radio communications, and to get a phone signal you have to go to the top of a termite mound on the edge of the park. Chikoko Tree Camp has three twin timber–and–grass chalets with big beds, crisp linens, flushing lavatories and steaming bucket showers. Amazing food is produced in hole–in–the–ground ovens and there are ice–cold beers on demand. There are also shady hammocks and lots of other cushioned spots for siestas. The emphasis is on walking and mountain biking with a team of excellent guides. The details Open from May 25 to October 31. Prices from US$480 per person per night on a full–board basis (remoteafrica.com).
You had better be going for a good long time to justify all those air miles. And these destinations prove that going off-grid does not have to mean roughing it.
But Petit St Vincent St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean has a gloriously ‘unplugged’ feel. Petit St Vincent is a beautiful private island between St Vincent and Grenada. It was substantially spruced up by new owners in 2011, but regulars say little of its previous spirit has been lost. While the whole vibe is rustic, it’s as exclusive as nearby Mustique with a celebrity clientele to match, so it’s actually a highly slick operation.
Amongst this vast country’s cities, beaches and deserts, people find their niche and enjoy their time. In a country with a population in excess of one billion people, however, there will be a crowding problem. For those of us who appreciate silence and tranquility, the northern state of Uttarakhand offers salvation from the incessant hustle and bustle of the city streets.