A new year means we often focus on ourselves, perhaps setting personal goals or ‘must-dos’ for the year. Now is the perfect time to consider the latest trend for wilderness experiences, where intrepid trips get away from it all, leaving us space and time to connect more deeply with nature -and ourselves.
Nihi Spa Safari, Indonesia
These days, we’ve come to expect world-class spas in our luxury hotels but Nihi on Sumba Island, Bali’s undeveloped little sister, takes the connection between nature and wellness one step further. Within this remote island wilderness, where waves crash onto dramatic rocky headland and haphazardly-growing coconut trees shade pale sheets of sand, guests are encouraged to take a ‘spa safari’ for a whole day during their stay. At dawn, hike through the rugged countryside, paddy fields and traditional thatched villages to reach the spa – a droplet of sheer luxury with open-sided casitas and infinity pools that overlook the dramatic cliff view. Be soothed by the hypnotic ocean panorama and calming treatments that make use of local ingredients such as red rice, coconut oil and aloe vera. And with 90% of staff employed locally, and donations to the Sumba Foundation building schools, wells and clinics you can do good while feeling good.
Walking safari, Mana Pools
Have you ever been tempted to wander deep into the African bush, away from all the sights and sounds of civilisation? Head so far off the beaten track that you instinctively become tuned into the big and little details of the natural world? This 6-night walking safari in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe takes you into the heart of the African wilderness where you’ll canoe remote rivers and set up explorer-style camps in the wild, or sleep on luxurious raised star beds that come with a blanket of the darkest night skies. You’ll discover the secrets of the Greater Mana ecosystem such as the 1,000-year-old Baobab tree, and learn the art of tracking big game without a human in sight. The modern world will be a distant memory.
Arctic Watch Discovery
Expeditions to the Arctic used to be for intrepid explorers only, where your bed for the night meant a draughty tent on the tundra. However, we’ve discovered a new way to access this icy wilderness – a fly-in to the most northerly lodge in the world at 800 kms north of the Arctic circle. At this off-grid basecamp, guests stay in private cabins and are served gourmet food such as Arctic char, organic beef from Alberta and Okanagan Valley wines. But what really sets this place apart is its opportunity to see the largest congregations of beluga whale in the world alongside polar bears, arctic foxes and snowy owls. The lodge sits on the banks of the Cunningham River where the whales pass, so guests can sea kayak around the milky-white mammals as they navigate towards open water.
Visitors to Rajasthan often get caught up in the whirl of incense-scented forts, palaces and festivals. But we recommend making time to enjoy the natural beauty of the encircling land – and find a connection with India. At luxury wilderness camp, Sujan Jawai you can do just that. In the foothills of the Aravalli mountains, away from the hubbub of life, absorb peaceful views of granite formations, tranquil lakes and winding sand riverbeds. To get closer to this mesmerising wilderness, walk with a Rabari herdsman and learn about their semi-nomadic lifestyle including their symbiotic relationship with leopards, who are thriving here- your chance of spotting one is high. Later, perform yoga on a smooth, sun-warmed rock, soak up sunset views from your infinity pool or relax at the camp, surrounded by flickering lanterns.
If you like your wilderness served with a side of adrenaline, then this remote lodge, located in the thick jungle of Costa Rica allows you to become immersed in nature via heart-pumping adventures. Its unique location on the Pacuare River means you can arrive by raft along white water rapids, where jungle fronds hang down steep-sided gorges – just the start of your adventure in nature. The next activity might be zip-lining through the canopy, hiking trails that lead deep into the rainforest or canyoning a lush jungle escarpment. Back at the lodge, take a moment to relax in your jade-green private pool in front of a mosaic of green jungle, before enjoying a candlelit dinner 60 feet up an ancient Ceiba tree in a specially designed ‘nest’. This is the ultimate wilderness hideaway.