From the first time I saw a photo of Four Rivers Floating Ecolodge in Cambodia, I knew it was different. The whole thing floats on a river surrounded by forest!! What an interesting idea! Imagine not clearing a patch of forest to create a new tourism development. So, I felt fortunate recently, when I asked Valentin Pawlik of Four Rivers, if he would mind answering some questions about this unique spin on ecotourism. Here are the answers:
What makes Four Rivers Floating Lodge unique?
Before 4 Rivers, no one have placed luxury safari tents on floating platforms. Some like to call “floating” any over-water structure, even on stilts or poles. But, 4 Rivers is truly floating. You can feel the bobbing as soon as you set a foot on the platform. Place this in the most beautiful corner of Cambodia, in the heart of the Cardamom Mountains, in a national park, and your pictures can compete with the ones of any dream place in the world.
What are the environmental advantages of having the whole lodge floating on a river?
4 Rivers is modular. I built it having in mind that one day we might have to move it. So the most obvious advantage of that is that the place will become just as it was. Our footprint on the environment is very minimal.
What are the other measures you have taken to make Four Rivers eco-friendly?
Being in a national park, we are surrounded by forest. And we want to keep it that way. In countries with a good forest management, wood is an eco-material. Unfortunately not in Cambodia. Therefore we wanted to show that we can do nice things without cutting any trees. Using composite and recycled materials, using renewable energy, having a proper trash management system, a good gray water treatment system, were the first measures we implemented.
But, continuously educating our team, making them believe and transfer our “eco-preaches” is even more important. Cleaning up together the river banks, placing trash bins in villages around us, using biodegradable packaging materials are some examples of enviro-friendly steps we take in order to keep the place as close to what nature has made it.
Obviously a lot of thought and care was given to making Four Rivers eco-friendly. Why was it important to make the extra effort?
If I am very pragmatic. Nature is our asset, our selling point…so it’s obvious that we need to protect it. At 4 Rivers we are selling peaceful seclusion, at one with the natural order. Take away the “natural order” and you have a very different product.
On the romantic side, at 4 Rivers we are nature lovers and admirers. Nature gives us life and beauty, and we say “thank you” by doing our best to protect the environment.
Terry Lawson Dunn