Wangdue Eco Lodge

An ecotourism pioneer, Wangdue Eco Lodge is a family-run home away from home for tourists who like the idea of keeping their carbon footprints to a minimum while traveling in Bhutan. The lodge emphasizes a full-spectrum green approach that keeps it local: generating their own power with wind turbines, harvesting rainwater, growing vegetables in their own garden, and planting trees for the health of the local bird and butterfly populations. If you share these aspirations, Wangdue Eco Lodge may seem like a godsend.

The setting is spectacular. Ecofriendly buildings are set along a secluded ridge in west-central Bhutan's Wangdue Phodrang district, with panoramic views down to Nyashigaykhar village. Up over the Dang Chhu near its confluence with the Puna Tshang Chhu are the ruins of mighty Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. On clear days, Himalayan tiger mountain Gangchen Tag is visible behind the fortress at 6,784 meters (22,257 feet).

A refurbished ancestral home houses the lobby, lounge and bar. The family that owns and runs the lodge lives upstairs. Guest cottages are short walks along the ridge, each comprising two suites self-contained for a couple or family, with a choice of either twin or king-sized beds. Large wrap-around balconies have views over terraced village farms below. The aesthetic is clean and spare, with dragon and garuda design iconography, wood floors and ceiling beams, and modern fixtures in bathrooms with stone walls and slate flooring. All buildings fuse traditional Bhutanese style with an eye toward treading lightly on their environs, using earth-friendly construction materials — sourced from the surrounding area whenever possible — biogas for cooking, energy-saving lighting, biodegradable cleaning items, and solar power to heat water for showers, washing, and cooking. Two wind turbines above the main buildings supply more power, and the lodge recyles or composts waste products. Free wifi is available throughout the property. The lodge opened only in March 2015, so it's all relatively new and modern.

Wangdue Eco Lodge grows organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs in their own gardens, and serves them along with free-range eggs, milk, cheese, butter and other local organic produce to guests — all made into authentic Bhutanese dishes in the lodge kitchen. There is home baked bread, ground coffee, and fresh mint tea. Guests can also immerse themselves with Bhutanese who live in the area by cultivating and planting alongside them on their farms, learn how to produce local cheese and distilled rice wine (ara), cook authentic Bhutanese cuisines with the experts, or play archery and other traditional games.

Guests can also make Wangdue Eco Lodge a base camp for day trips: adventure hikes to
Shaphangyuel, Gaselo, Khotokha and Nahi through unspoiled forests, cultural hikes to Nyenzergang monastery, Rinchengang, and Rubesa. Wangdue Phodrang town, the district capital, and the dzong built in 1638 alongside which the town grew, are easy walks from the property. Though Wangdue Phodrang Dzong was almost entirely destroyed in 2012 by a fire set off by an electrical fault, its lower walls remain impressive ruins. For longer treks, the district has many trails that the national government has set aside as protected park land.

The Bhutan Low Carbon Destination Project recognized Wangdue Eco Lodge for its exemplary use of sustainable consumption and production. This lodge is more than just a place to rest your head on the way elsewhere; it’s a community for like-minded spirits and a destination in itself.