Don't Call It Glamping: 10 Amazing Luxury Camping Adventures
By Cristina Goyanes, National Geographic, 11 May 2017.
By Cristina Goyanes, National Geographic, 11 May 2017.
Glamping has given luxury camping a bum rap for far too long. The extravagant, posh term referring to experiences where glamour meets camping has turned off some adventurers who would otherwise enjoy this upscale approach to sleeping under the stars. Picture this: Go hiking, biking, kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, or whatever your heart desires in the most exotic and breathtaking places on the planet, then return “home” to a cozy bed with a real mattress, gourmet meals, and a roaring campfire - all prepared for you in advance.
We dare you to say “Nah, I'm good” to these awesome, high-end, camping experiences around the globe.
1. Todos Santos Eco Adventures - Baja, Mexico
Photograph Courtesy Todos Santos Eco Adventures
Todos Santos Eco Adventures in Baja, Mexico, starts each boat ride from La Paz to La Isla Espíritu Santo (Holy Spirit Island) with a morning swim...with sharks. The 30-foot-long, polka-dotted whale sharks are harmless and photogenic, so bring a waterproof camera. You'll also want it when splashing around with sea lion pups and turtles later in the Sea of Cortez. Once you arrive at Camp Cecil - the island's first and only year-round luxury camping property, founded by the charming husband-and-wife team Sergio and Bryan Jauregui last November - freshen up in one of eight spacious, safari-style tents, complete with beds and furnishings on the stunning secluded beach. Sit down to an oceanfront gourmet lunch prepared by an Italian chef, then grab a siesta or get in gear to kayak, SUP, snorkel, or hike around your own private paradise, which Jacques Cousteau once called the “Galápagos of the North.”
Best time to visit: June and November are the dreamiest months in terms of weather and wildlife, but it's open all year, except for September and October. For its first season, Camp Cecil is only US$275 per person a night through August 15 (rates will go up on November 1).
2. Aman-i-Khás - Rajasthan, India
Photograph Courtesy Aman Resorts
If you've heard of Aman Resorts, which hosts 31 properties in 20 countries, you know they are known for their intimate, stylish retreats set in remote, beautiful surroundings. Aman-i-Khás is no exception. Situated in the famous Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India (just outside Jaipur), this 10-tent sanctuary brings the best man-made amenities to mother nature, including 20-foot canopy ceilings, air conditioning, and a stand-alone shower and tub. When you're not lounging in your sweet “room,” you’ll be out with guides tracking tigers (this is the best place to spot these beasts in the wild), leopards, hyenas, crocodiles, antelope, deer, and more.
Best time to visit: October to March is ideal for wildlife viewing, particularly for bird watching. Fees start at US$1,000 per person a night.
3. Wanderland Popup - Catskills, New York, USA
Photograph Courtesy Wanderland
In spring of 2017, Wanderland Popup is bringing its chic boutique tents to the tiny town of Tannersville, inside the green mountains of the Catskills and about a two-hour-a-half-hour drive from New York City. The New Jersey-based company, founded by artsy couple Jason Thomson and Sonia Jo, will set up 10 Lotus Belle tents, handcrafted in Australia, in a lush field close to a private lake and hiking trails in Hunter Mountain, Indian Head and Kaaterskill Wild Forest. Visitors can also go fly fishing, try zip lining, and enjoy bonfires. Decorated with a vintage vibe and artisanal accessories, these cozy tents and their come-hither, queen-sized-beds are warm, both literally and figuratively.
Best time to visit: The location is best enjoyed during the spring, summer, and early fall - perfect for leaf-peeping season. Tents start at US$185 a night.
4. Garden Village Bled - Lake Bled, Slovenia
Photograph Courtesy Garden Village Bled
Escape to the vibrant forests of the Julian Alps, and set up camp at the eco-resort Garden Village Bled, just a few minutes away from the semi-glacial Lake Bled, Slovenia. It sounds a bit like the title of a horror flick, but rest-assured, this Central European countryside is as scenic and serene as they come. Choose from one of the camp’s 23 units - ranging from a family-sized treehouse to a safari-style tent with large double bed, bath tub, air conditioning, and a private vegetable garden. Visitors also have access to a plant-filled organic restaurant and a refreshing spring water pool that will help soothe sore muscles after hiking Slovenia's highest peak, the approximately 9,400-foot Mt. Triglav. Other cool activities in the area: fishing, kayaking, rafting on alpine rivers, riding, cycling, golf, tennis, and paragliding.
Best time to visit: Head to the camp from April to October. Rates start at US$200 a night per person, based on double-occupancy.
5. Treebones Resort - Big Sur, California, USA
Photograph Courtesy Treebones Resort
If you're obsessed with sunsets, consider a dusk stakeout in this fabulous 500-square-foot tent that resembles a giant cocoon. Perched on the edge of a cliff at Treebones Resort in Big Sur, California, this hidden gem overlooks the Pacific Ocean from a private deck - which is a great spot for your tripod. An outdoor fire pit will keep you warm as temperatures dip during that magic hour. After you get the shot, aim your camera inward to capture the metal ribs of your temporary home, which glow in the dark, offering solar-powered indoor lighting. The room features a claw-foot shower, flushable composting toilet, and cozy king-sized bed that you will struggle to leave in the mornings. Good thing day activities, like hiking through redwoods to canyons and waterfalls or kayaking with whales, dolphins, and seals, aren't scheduled too early.
Best time to visit: Visit anytime, since temperatures here generally range from 50 to 80 degrees year-round. Expect fog in the summer and rain in the winter. Tent rates start at US$595 a night.
6. Tiger Tops Elephant Camp - Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Photograph Courtesy Tiger Tops
Elevate your camping experience with elephants. Tiger Tops Elephant Camp is Nepal's first privately owned tourism company to replace elephant riding, which many animal rights activists consider cruel and archaic, with responsible elephant activities, like walking with the elephants in the jungle and learning about how they communicate and behave. You won't find any chains at this spacious enclosure, where the largest living land animals - 11 of them at this camp - roam and socialize freely with each other and humans. Stay in one of six fully equipped safari tents, featuring attached bathrooms and electricity. Other fun activities you can enjoy within the national park include jeep and river safaris and bird watching - though you may never want to leave your new nine-foot-tall elephant bestie.
Best time to visit: Visitors should head to the camp during March and April, the dry season, or October and November, when the weather is very comfortable and the landscape is extra green. Sites starts at US$160 per person a night.
7. Dinosaur Provincial Park - Alberta, Canada
Photograph Courtesy Alberta Parks
While you’re waiting for the next installation of the Jurassic Park film franchise, you can see traces of extinct dinosaurs and other Mesozoic-era creatures in the rock formations across this sprawling valley. Located in the Canadian badlands in Alberta, Canada, just under a two-hour drive from Calgary, Dinosaur Provincial Park is teeming with authentic dino-digs you can explore by foot. After a long day of hiking, kick up your feet in a snazzy canvas tent with a wood floor, electric heater, fans, lights, and outlets. The campsite also features a BBQ, fridge, cookware, queen-sized bed, and a pullout futon that sleeps two, plus nearby showers, laundry facility, and restaurant. If your inner archeologist wants to dig up the past, drive 2.5 hours further to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park for one of the largest collections of petroglyphs and pictographs on the great plains of North America.
Best time to visit: Book a stay in May through September or visit in early October. Tents starts at US$105 per person a night.
8. Serengeti & Silverbacks Touring in East Africa
Photograph Courtesy Peregrine Adventures
If you've been saving up for your dream African safari, this is it: Peregrine Adventures just announced their new Serengeti & Silverbacks tour. The 15-day adventure starts in Kigali, Rwanda, and ends in Arusha, Tanzania. Test your grit tracking gorillas by foot for about four hours through the wet, steamy, and muddy East African jungle. While the hike is far from a walk in the park, your hard efforts will be rewarded. Not many people can claim they've spent time with these great apes in their natural habitat. Also keep an eye out for the Big 5 during other excursions, including a boat trip and several game drives. Reflect on your amazing adventures under the stars in premium, permanent tents for about half of your trip. During the other half, you'll crash in hotels, lodges, or farm stays.
Best time to visit: Tours run May through to November and start at US$9,191 per person.
9. Dunton River Camp - San Juan Mountains, Colorado, USA
Photograph Courtesy Dunton River Camp
Enjoy the great outdoors without great discomfort at the Dunton River Camp, a former 19th century cattle ranch in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado, just steps from the West Fork of the Dolores River. Guests staying in any of the eight fancy tents, which sit atop 640-square-foot wooden platforms anchored to the bedrock, will feel right at home with must-have amenities including a shower, a gas stove, telephone, and Wi-Fi - plus two mountain bikes to use. The bike isn't your only option for transportation. Sign up for horseback riding in the high Rockies or try your hand at world-class fly fishing after rafting the Dolores River. You can also go hiking, rock climbing or mountaineering in the high San Juans, or visit a natural hot spring at nearby sister property, Dunton Hot Springs.
Best time to visit: Head to the camp in the summer and early-fall. Stays start at US$1,500 per tent a night, based on double occupancy.
10. Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp - Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
Sure, green fields an obvious choice for where to pitch a tent, but what about green waters? Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp in Khao Sok National Park tested out this theory in January 2011 when they opened Thailand's first floating campsite on the 64-square-mile, man-made Cheow Lan Lake in a scenic corner of Khao Sok's tropical rainforest. The 20 custom-made, fully furnished tents are securely anchored to platforms, so you never have to worry about your “home” drifting off while you go for a morning dip or kayak from your porch. Afterward, hop in the shower in your room to freshen up for an excursion to Elephant Camp - the sister property inside the park that invites people to eat and interact with the friendly locals (ahem, elephants!).
Best time to visit: Any time of year is excellent, though it's worth noting that along the southeast and southwest coastlines, the highest rainfall occurs from September to December and April to October, respectively. Rates start at US$565 per person per night.
Top image: Todos Santos Eco Adventures Resort in Baja, Mexico. Credit: Todos Santos Eco Adventures.
[Source: National Geographic. Edited. Video and some images added.]