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Chalets on the ocean in the Maldives photographed from above
Inspiration3-minute read

Five luxury wilderness escapes

Wild, open spaces are calling to travellers at an almost primal level right now, encouraging them to explore beyond the cities and tourist staples of years past and reconnect with nature. Travel journalist Heather Greenwood Davis offers up five experiences that deliver on their promise to sate your wanderlust

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04/01/2021Fact-checked 22/01/2021

(Getty Images)

Rainforest adventures on St Kitts

If visiting the St Kitts rainforest is on your bucket list – and it should be – there’s only one way to do it properly. Those in the know book an open-air jeep tour and head away from the beach crowd for a pampered local Zen experience. Greg’s Safaris offers several options that take you out on to the Central Reserve, which covers a quarter of the smallest country in the Americas. Your reward: trees hanging heavy with mangos, soursop and breadfruit and peek-a-boo playing green vervet monkeys.

When you’re done, retreat to the three-bedroom, two-storey presidential villa at the upscale Park Hyatt St Kitts Christophe Harbour. Your private infinity pool centres your view on The Narrows – a bright blue strait that separates the island from its volcanic sister island, Nevis. 

Take off to St. Kitts

Conservation safaris in South Africa

Sleep next to the watering holes at the new Marataba Conservation Camps and wake each morning to the possibility of elephants, leopards, kudu, rhinos and more wandering by at breakfast. The unparalleled proximity to the wild spaces of Marakele National Park in South Africa includes unique opportunities to help conservationists track and compile ID kits of key species, set up camera traps and help with game census logging on trips in and around South Africa’s Waterberg Biosphere Reserve.

The innovative public-private partnership conservation model, developed under Nelson Mandela’s presidential reign, welcomes families (kids of all ages are accepted at the exclusive- and semi-exclusive camps) to the malaria-free, 21,000-hectare parkland. Pampered stays, gourmet cuisine and outdoor showers share space with private nature walks and visits to the Marataba Research and Rewilding Centre, where orphaned baby animals await. You’ll leave satisfied you’ve done your part to protect the lands for the next generation.

Take off to South Africa

(Adobe Stock)

Seasonal wildlife in Bella Coola, Canada

The route to Bella Coola takes you off the beaten path to Coast mountains, the largest fjord in the Americas and the planet’s largest expanse of coastal temperate rainforest. At your destination, you’ll find the world-renowned biodiversity of the Canadian wilderness. Winters offer the chance to explore snow-covered forests, with options ranging from snowshoeing to heli-skiing. Return in the summer in search of the unique all-white spirit bears of the Great Bear Rainforest, fly-fish in serene surroundings for trout and join indigenous leaders for a better understanding of Canada’s first peoples. Your stay in one of ten authentic timber-framed chalets at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge – one of the Magnificent 7 Luxury Wilderness Lodges of Canada – offers unparalleled access to 60 acres of lush, private land within British Columbia’s largest provincial park. Opt to get there via ferry and you may be rewarded with views of seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales along the way.

Take off to Canada

(Justin Nicholas)

Marine magic in The Maldives

Few places in the world rival the combination of pristine marine life and opulent luxury of the Maldives. The almost 1,200-island nation spread across 26 atolls – including the Baa Atoll, named a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve in June 2011 – gives new meaning to the idea of a secluded getaway. The islands in the Arabian Sea aren’t large, which makes land explorations by foot or bicycle pleasant, but, for a true wilderness experience, head for the water. Dive with whale sharks, snorkel with sea turtles or watch wild dolphins from a sailboat adventure in this exclusive oasis.

Choose from stunning villas (such as these at Soneva Fushi), romance-inducing overwater retreats (think Anantara and unique underwater sleeping quarters (The Conrad [opening image] and The Pullman). You’ll be torn between sharing every breathtaking experience online and keeping this jewel all to yourself.

Take off to the Maldives

(Adobe Stock)

Wilderness on your doorstep in Montana, USA

The ultimate in private getaways requires little more than heading to ‘Big Sky Country’. Montana’s Rocky Mountains backdrop stretches into the heavens and the wide, open, sparsely populated grasslands seem to go on forever. Heading out to explore is a given, but on horseback is a must.

Book into The Resort at Paws Up and, after a day exploring the 37,000-acre ranch, you can head back to the pristine white, tented spa rooms nestled amongst the soaring pine trees for a Blackfoot River Rocks treatment or Four Paws Tandem Massage.

Nearby, 1.5 million acres of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area await, as do mountain-bike worthy terrains, more than 100 miles of designated hiking routes and exhilarating ATV paths. Sleep well in the privacy of luxury homes and glamping tent options spread out across the ranch lands, and the promise of both Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks nearby waiting to expand your opportunities for more adventure.

Take off to the USA