IN­STA-WOR­THY RO­MAN­TIC HOL­I­DAYS

From the jun­gles of Rwanda to glaciers in Ar­gentina, PRI SHEWAKRAMANI lists un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ences that make for pic­ture-per­fect mem­o­ries

Condé Nast Traveller Middle East - - Contents -

From the jun­gles of Rwanda to Ar­gentina’s glaciers, Pri Shewakramani puts to­gether a list of un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ences that make for pic­ture

per­fect mem­o­ries

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

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