Nature’s Embrace

By: STEPHANIE SMITH

Colombia’s first high-end, sustainable ecolodge is attracting international attention partly because Cannúa is an experience in rejuvenation and responsible hospitality like no other.

 

In Colombia, you’ll find cheese in the hot chocolate. Long, melty cheese like mozzarella. The strange mixing of flavors is called a Chocolate Santafereños. It recently went viral on TikTok to a perplexed, incredulous world audience.

Colombia has a lot of surprises up its sleeve and the locals love these kinds of juxtapositions. A fondness for the unexpected pairings is omnipresent. In the case of Cannúa, the country’s first upscale ecolodge, you’ll find the co-owners delight in the odd combination of a luxury hotel and environmentally friendly practices.

That translates into views from your high-end room that are world-class, but walking down a path to get there may require an old-school flashlight. The dining will be absolutely gourmet in its presentation and utterly scrumptious in flavors, but you won’t find beef or pork on the menu. The furnishings are all gorgeous and made by locals out of sustainable materials, but you may share the space with bugs feeling comfortable in your bathroom. For the record, the locals cherish insects that rejuvenate the land. It’s all about high-end accommodations while operating with a strong ethos of environmental responsibility and the love of all creatures.

Veiled behind the treetops and foliage of the Colombian Andes mountains near Manizales, this retreat is a haven for those seeking a harmonious blend of indulgence, clean eating, communing with nature and environmental consciousness.

If you’ve been hitting up Costa Rica or the Galapagos Islands for top luxury eco-tourism experiences, Cannúa is the new global “it spot” for exploring biodiversity. It’s also an easy three-and-a-half-hour nonstop flight from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. From there, it’s only a 40-minute drive from the airport out to the secluded property in the middle of completely safe, rural Colombia.

Built by locals earning a fair wage, Cannúa’s lodge was crafted from 125,000 sustainable earth bricks made from the excavated dirt on the property and dried in the sun. The unyielding commitment to sustainable practices at Cannúa is fascinating to witness up close. The lodge utilizes solar energy, rainwater harvesting, and waste recycling to minimize its impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

The property has 18 rooms including six awe-inspiring cabanas and two junior suites, along with a spa, bar and restaurant that has been nominated as one of the country’s best. The chef focuses on rescuing lost flavors of Colombian cuisine and harvests crops from the hotel’s 86,000 square feet of organic gardens. On a guided tour, guests learn about how Cannúa is reforesting its acreage using chemical-free permaculture with an aim to help regenerate natural ecosystems and become carbon negative.

Pre-Hispanic trails have been preserved throughout the property. These one-of-a-kind guided hikes through cloud forests, birdwatching excursions, and visits to nearby coffee plantations and farms provide guests with a taste of Colombia’s diverse landscapes. The lodge’s knowledgeable staff can tailor bespoke experiences, ensuring that each guest’s stay is personalized and unforgettable (I took a chocolate tasting-slash-history lesson and can talk about cacao with the best of them.)

The on-site spa, surrounded by lush gardens, provides a tranquil space for guests to indulge in holistic treatments inspired by indigenous Colombian rituals. Yoga and meditation sessions are conducted in open-air pavilions, allowing guests to connect with nature while fostering a sense of inner peace. Guests can also partake in cooking classes to learn the art of traditional Colombian dishes.

Colombia is a lush place of contradictions, and while you may not come back home dropping cheese in your hot chocolate, you will come back a changed person cherishing nature and life’s salty and sweet sides.

 

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