INSTA-WORTHY ROMANTIC HOLIDAYS
From the jungles of Rwanda to glaciers in Argentina, PRI SHEWAKRAMANI lists unforgettable experiences that make for picture-perfect memories
From the jungles of Rwanda to Argentina’s glaciers, Pri Shewakramani puts together a list of unforgettable experiences that make for picture
DINE UNDER THE STARS IN RAJASTHAN
Stay in a Royal Tented Suite at SUJÁN The Serai ( doubles from AED 2,490; 0091-11-4617 2700, sujanluxury.com), a 100-acre private desert estate near Jaisalmer. The suite has its own heated pool, spa, dining and lounge tents. A romantic candlelit dinner can be arranged in the desert under the starlit sky, with live Rajasthani folk music.
When to go October-March
SWIM IN A SECRET WATERFALL IN INDONESIA
A 90-minute hike with Nihi Sumba ( doubles from AED 2,920; 0062-3-6175 7149, nihi.com) takes you to the Blue Waterfall on Sumba Island. Jump off a 30m cliff into crystal-clear water. The best part? Your personal butler will be at your beck and call, right from handing you a towel to setting up a romantic picnic with the falls as your backdrop.
When to go March-June
ENTER THE MAGMA CHAMBER OF A VOLCANO IN ICELAND
Take a tour inside the magma chamber of the Thrihnukagigur volcano with Inside the Volcano ( from AED 1,350 per person; 00354519 5609, insidethevolcano.com). A onehour hike through the Blue Mountains Country Park (45 minutes from Reykjavik), or a 20-minute helicopter ride gets you to the base of the volcano and a cable lift will take you down into it so you can explore the chamber and go nuts Instagramming the array of hues that greet you.
When to go April-September
GLAMP IN NAMIBIA
Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, so named for the number of shipwrecks that line the shore, features a multitude of landscapes – sand dunes, riverbeds and the Atlantic Ocean. Wildlife here includes elephants, hyenas, jackals and desert lions. Stay at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp ( doubles from AED 3,800; 0027-1-1257 5000, wilderness-safaris.com), eight minimalist albeit luxurious tents with floor-to-ceiling windows and shaded outdoor decks. Expect no Wi-Fi or phone network here, as you are truly off the grid.
When to go June-October
CRUISE IN ALASKA
The Celebrity Solstice ( from AED 3,670 per person for a seven-day cruise; 001888-751 7804, celebritycruises.com) is one of the more luxurious Alaskan cruise experiences. Expect craft cocktails, live barbecues and an incredible spa. Excursions include kayaking and fishing with the in-house naturalist; see calving glaciers, whales, seals, sea lions and penguins.
When to go July-August
ROAD TRIP THROUGH VINEYARDS IN BAROSSA VALLEY
The Barossa Scenic Heritage Drive in Australia is a gorgeous 57km journey. Stop along the way at any of the over 70 vineyards to try the variety of offerings (or just to Instagram them if you’re the one in the driver’s seat). Stay at The Louise
( doubles from AED 1,690; 0061-8856-2 2722, thelouise.com.au), set in the heart of the grape region. At the Seppeltsfield Estate ( 0061-8856-8 6200, seppeltsfield.com.au), you can taste grape from the barrel of your birth year, while at Penfolds ( 0061-8856-8 8408, penfolds.com) you can make your own grape blend at the laboratory and take the bottle home with you.
When to go April-May
POINT AND SHOOT IN BHUTAN
Bhutan is one of the most picturesque countries in the world, from the landing in Paro between snow-covered peaks to monasteries set on steep cliffs. Stay at Amankora ( doubles from AED 5,690; 0097-5233 1333, aman.com), which has five beautiful lodges across the country, while your guide ( price on request; photoworkshopadventures.com) takes you to spots off the beaten path.
When to go March-April and September-October
PLAY INDIANA JONES IN PETRA
The Ultimate Petra Experience ( from AED 16,900 per person; 0044-20-7426 9888, blacktomato.com) is a four-day tour of Jordan’s ancient rock city. Your adventure will include experiences such as a private barbecue surrounded by the ruins of Little Petra and a trek to the Ad Deir Monastery. Also on the
“AFTER A LONG TREK IN THE JUNGLE SEARCHING FOR GORILLAS, RECOVER IN A CHARMING COTTAGE
IN THE FOOTHILLS OF THE VIRUNGAS”
agenda is a visit to Petra’s most recently discovered site where you’ll hear some fascinating excavation stories. When to go September-June
TREK ON A GLACIER IN ARGENTINA
If you’re up for a challenge, trek to Perito Morena with Hielo y Aventura ( from AED 360 per person; 0054-29-0249 2205, hieloyaventura. com), a UNESCO-listed glacier, where the sight of icebergs crashing into the lake below will enchant you. End your day at EOLO Patagonia
( doubles from AED 3,060; 0054-11-4700 0075, eolopatagonia.com), a 10,000-acre estancia with all you could ever want.
When to go September-November and March-May
TRACK GORILLAS IN RWANDA
There are less than 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the world and Rwanda is one of the best places to have a close encounter with these fascinating creatures. After a long trek into the jungle, recover at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge ( price on request; 00254-20-273 4000, governorscamp. com), a charming cottage in the foothills of the Virungas and adjacent to the Parc National des Volcans. Bookings need to be made well in advance as only eight permits are given per day. When to go August-September
SNORKEL WITH WHALE SHARKS IN BELIZE
Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn
( doubles from AED 1,470; 0086-6356 5881 thefamilycoppolahideaways.com) is located at Placencia, a tiny fishing village on the Caribbean coast of Belize. During the full moon weeks, from March to June, red snapper spawning brings whale sharks just 48km east of here. Snorkel with these gentle giants for memories of a lifetime.
When to go March-June
HUNT FOR WHITE TRUFFLES IN ITALY
Piedmont in north-western Italy is a gourmand’s dream. The region is famous for its white truffles (some of the rarest in the world), cheeses and grape. Accompany a local truffle hunter from Bellini Travel ( AED 7,825 for two people; 0044-20-7602 7602, bellinitravel. com) and their dogs through the woods for an authentic experience. The picking is followed by an aperitivo with white truffles and some local cheeses and meats.
When to go November
DIVE WITH SEA LIONS IN THE GALÁPAGOS
The area is known to have some of the best diving in the world. Spot sea lions, sharks and turtles at Cousins, a dive spot off the coast of Santa Cruz Island. Book your dives through Scuba Iguana Padi Resort ( from AED 990 per person; 0059-3-5252 6497, scubaiguana.com). Stay at the Pikaia Lodge ( doubles from AED 4,110; 0059-3-4371 1670, pikaialodge.com), one of the most luxurious hotels on Santa Cruz, with a restaurant on a volcanic crater and its own fleet of yachts, which can be used to explore nearby islands.
When to go January-May
CHASE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS IN FINLAND
The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort ( doubles from AED 2,420; 0035-8-1666 7101, kakslauttanen.fi) is 241km north of the Arctic Circle. Stay in the Kelo Glass Igloo, which has a private sauna, fireplace, kitchenette and a bedroom with a stunning glass roof. If you don’t see the lights from your room, rent a snowmobile ( AED 245 per person) and chase them on a wildly beautiful journey through snowy forests.
When to go December-February
CHARTER A YACHT IN GREECE
Explore islands in the Aegean Sea with your own private yacht from Istion Luxury Yachts ( price on request; 0030-21-0981 1515, istionluxuryyachts.com). Sail from Athens to the Cyclades islands; watch a glorious sunset at a vineyard in Santorini or party the night away in Mykonos. Explore the lesser-known islands of Ios and Anafi, where white sands, blue waters and quaint villages await you.
When to go June-September
LIVE IN A CASTLE IN SCOTLAND
Inverlochy Castle ( doubles from AED 1,690; 0044-13-9770 2177, inverlochycastlehotel.com) is in the picturesque Scottish Highlands at the foothills of the Ben Nevis mountain. Modern amenities meet old-world furnishings here (the dining room has furniture gifted by the King of Norway). Outdoor activities include golf, clay-pigeon shooting, fishing, wildlife tours, white-water rafting and deer stalking. Don’t miss the afternoon tea, at which freshly made scones and local jams are served.
When to go June-November
INDULGE YOUR ARTY SIDE IN THE MALDIVES
For couples looking for a little more than endless blue views and the typical island layabout, Joali Maldives ( doubles from AED 5,945; 00960-658 4400, joali.com) opened just last month with an artistic bent. Pick up
“SEARCH FOR TRUFFLES IN THE ITALIAN WOODS
FOLLOWED BY AN APERITIVO WITH LOCAL CHEESES AND MEATS”
the resort’s art map and explore the extensive collection, which includes collaborative works with local artisans and the Art Studio & Gallery, which also features changing exhibitions by international artists.
When to go November-April
WALK WITH POLAR BEARS IN MANITOBA
Seal River Heritage Lodge ( from AED 34,860 per person for a seven-night stay; 001-204-878 5090, churchillwild.com) is located on the shores of Hudson Bay in the heart of the Canadian Arctic. Getting here is no easy feat, but the opportunity to walk within 100m of a polar bear makes it worth it. The lodge also offers beluga whale tours and fishing expeditions.
When to go October-November
PIG OUT IN TASMANIA
At Saffire Freycinet ( doubles from AED 5,440; 0061-3-6256 7888, saffirefreycinet.com.au), you can watch cooking demonstrations, take a walk around the countryside to sample local ingredients and attend a mixology masterclass. Also on offer is a visit to an oyster farm, where, after you learn about cultivation methods, a table is set out in the middle of the water and oysters are served with chilled grape.
When to go December-May
LIVE THE BEDOUIN LIFE IN OMAN
For a taste of life in the desert, check in to the Canvas Club ( doubles from AED 6,770; 0049-211-9753 3323, canvasclub.de) in the Wahiba Sands for the night. The traditional Bedouin-style tents come with luxurious touches, such as Egyptian-cotton sheets, a private bathing tent with a rain shower and a separate living room. Also on hand is a private chef who bakes fresh bread in the morning.
When to go September-April
HELI-SKI IN THE ANDES
As snow melts in the Northern Hemisphere, head to Chile for the skiing experience of a lifetime. Noi Puma Lodge ( doubles from AED 953; 0056-22799 8932, noihotels.com) has access to over 5,100sqkm of virgin powder in the Andes. Helicopters will take you over breathtaking peaks that will soon be your own private ski slope.
When to go June-October
CATCH YOUR OWN FOOD IN SEYCHELLES
Take a half-day private deep-sea fishing charter from JA Enchanted Island Resort ( AED 3,600 for a four-hour boat ride; 0024-8467 2727, jaresortshotels. com). In some of the richest fishing waters in the world, you might catch some yellow-fin tuna, dorado and wahoo. Back at the resort, the chef will cook up the catch in any way and anywhere you want – be it a private beach barbecue or a poolside Creole dinner at your villa.
When to go April-May and October-November
ISLAND-HOP IN THAILAND
Embark on an idyllic sojourn exploring Thailand’s most picturesque islands, rife with verdant jungles, deserted sandy beaches and chilled bars to capture the perfect #sunset snap. A two-week island-hopping adventure with Hayes & Jarvis ( price on request; 00447-12-9383 9571, hayesandjarvis.co.uk) takes you to buzzing Koh Samui, the serene bays of Koh Tao and to Koh Phangan, known for its mix of yoga retreats and parties.
When to go February-September
Stay cosy while watchingthe Northern Lights in Finland. Opposite: Explore Petra on afour-day tour
From top: Snap photos off the beaten path in Bhutan; go fishing in the Seychelles. Opposite: Postcard-perfect Blue Waterfall on Sumba Island, Indonesia