In 2007, Hitesh Mehta left his full-time job as a successful landscape architect and environmental planner, embarking on a journey to scout and uncover the world's best ecolodges. Three years, forty-six countries and six continents later, his travels have resulted in a gorgeous, oversized book called Authentic Ecolodges (Collins Design, $50). In its pages, Mehta reveals the world's thirty-six most authentic ecolodges, based in expected--and unexpected--places, from Kenya, South Africa and Namibia to China, Chile and Indonesia. Mehta, who was raised in Kenya in an Indian family, is considered the foremost authority on ecolodges, which he defines as "low-impact, nature-based accommodations of five to seventy-five rooms that protect the surrounding environment; benefit the local community; and are designed, constructed and operated in an environmentally and socially sensitive manner." Indagare spoke with the author about his new book, why visiting and supporting these lodges is crucial, and his hopes for the future.
What was the inspiration behind this book?
There were two main inspirations: to create an environmental and social awareness amongst travelers, professionals and researchers, and to celebrate the brilliant work of people on the ground--craftspeople, lodge owners etc.-- who would normally not be featured in magazines and books. And in my own small way, I also want to be, as Gandhi said, "the change I want to see in the world."