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A four-day stay at the Huaorani Ecolodge costs $600 per person, including lodging, meals, activities, and guides. An extra $250 covers all transportation, including a van ride to Shell, charter flight to the Huaorani's remote airstrip, and a van ride and commercial flight from Coca, downriver from the lodge, to Quito on the last day. The lodge supplies Wellington boots for tromps through the mud, but don't forget the bug repellent…or the camera.

As ecotourism becomes more popular, more lodges that conserve the beauty of wild places and their rare cultures have opened. In another part of Ecuador's Amazon Rainforest, the Achuar tribe runs Kapawi Ecolodge. The lodge itself sits on a river and offers such comforts as a restaurant serving ceviche, local trout, and Chilean wines, and thatched suites with canopy beds and local paintings. A four-day stay costs $670 per person, and transportation from Quito, including a flight, costs $224 per person.

In Bolivia, a remote community called San José de Uchupiamonas, located deep in the jungle of Parque Nacional Madidi, developed a series of thatched guest cabins called Chalalan Ecolodge to help preserve their way of life. Situated a five-hour boat ride from the nearest major town, the lodge is in an area of enormous biodiversity. The staff members and locals host visitors with traditional dances, music, and meals. A four-day stay, including transportation, starts at $350 per person.

Community-owned lodges aren't the sole domain of South America. The Grootberg Lodge, situated in the deserts northwest of Windhoek, Namibia, opened in 2005 as the country's first fully community-owned lodge. Here, visitors track wildlife like elephants and rhinos with local guides and visit traditional Himba herding communities. A double room costs about $212 per night.

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