Romantic Getaway into the heart of Africa
Eco-tourism is on the rise with the new millennials abandoning voyeurism in favour of immersing themselves in cultures and leaving their mark. Wealthy travellers want the excitement of a gap year itinerary but with the comfort and security luxury establishments bring to the fold. The definition of “luxury” is changing, now signifying entry into secluded / off-the-grid areas as opposed to king-sized beds and golden taps. Take your significant other on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Rwanda & Uganda for a plethora of unforgettable activities in the likes of tracking the areas endangered mountain gorillas and meeting the local Batwa tribe. Guests can become a part of the Volcanoes team’s desire to make a difference to the local community and participate in their conservation and community projects. Spend a romantic night in one of their eco-luxe lodges boasting breath-taking views of the African landscape.
The Ultimate 6-Day Gorillas in the Virungas and Gahinga, rates start at £3,435 per person
Price includes accommodation, transfers, an expert driver/guide & vehicle, alcohol & meals, all activities as per agreed itinerary, gorilla & chimpanzee permits and ATOL cover. Price excludes entry visas, airport taxes, gratuities and insurance. For more information please visit www.steppestravel.com or call 0843 778 9926
Mongolian Horse Trekking
If you are looking for an off-the-beaten path experience then it can’t get more unbelievable than horse trekking in Mongolia. You can journey to the very heart of the Khangai mountain range on horseback where you will discover the heart of Mongolia’s cultural heritage and the nomadic lifestyle that continues to thrive till today. Prepare to trace the path of generations of nomads that have travelled through the beautiful Orkhon valley, a UNESCO world heritage site, following the lush pastures along the Orkhon River.
Prices start from £840 and exclude international flights. For more information please visit www.evaneos.co.uk/mongolia/
Luxury Seclusion on Haggerstone Island
For those who like to throw in a bit of Robinson remoteness with their glamping, look no further than Haggerstone Island, 600km north of Cairns in Cape York. There’s only six structures on the island and that’s counting the jetty. Not, that you’ll be slumming it by any measure. Select from the Lagoon Hut, the Kwila Hut or the Beach Hut, each of which come with little luxuries. As the name suggests, the Lagoon Hut overlooks the lagoon and boasts a massive deck. Constructed from New Guinea Kwila timber, the Kwila Hut sits among the Coral trees with a view of the reef. The secluded Beach Hut is made largely of driftwood and is perched on the beach. There’s also a house, a main pavilion and of course, the jetty, where fish watching is almost mandatory. Spend lazy days fishing, sand boarding, bird watching, snorkelling or taking a helicopter adventure.
For more information about Haggerstone Island please visit www.haggerstoneisland.com
Ohio’s Hocking Hills
If you are looking for a place where there are no city lights for miles and miles, then your immediate thought may not be Ohio! But we forgive you for thinking this because we wouldn’t have originally thought so either; but take our word for it, Hocking Hills is very special. Although not far from civilisation (if it a state park after all), you will be lucky to find phone reception and internet access is hard to come by. The stargazing is absolutely spectacular and for couples it couldn’t get more romantic. Unsurpassed beauty takes eco adventure seekers along miles of trails, waterfalls, prehistoric caves and magnificent cliff-top vistas. The scenery and unbelievable views are enough to convince anyone that they should explore their artistic talents and with a community of resident artists you will feel at home in no time. Although if you decide that your talents are not placed in art then you can purchase creative works instead from the beautiful galleries that sit amongst the hills.
For more information please visit www.explorehockinghills.com/stateparks/
Following the success of its inaugural event in Morocco last November, RESTIVAL is delighted to bring the magical nomadic event to a new location in the Sahara desert. This November, Restival Sahara sets up camp in the awe inspiring sand dunes near Merzouga in Morocco for more Saharan resting beneath a blanket of stars. Positioned in the heart of the ‘Alps of the Desert’, the Bouchedor desert camp offers comfortable luxury, romantic and eco-lux accommodation, amazing food and a brilliant program of curated experiences. Restival is working hand-in-hand with the local Berber Tribe, and a nomad family have been invited to the camp to set up a full authentic Berber village. From rug weaving workshops to cooking in bread ovens, guests will experience the modest lifestyle of these exceptional people. Highlights for couples include specially curated sessions such as ‘The Art of…’ workshops: Anne Lloyd has developed a series of ‘Art of’ sessions including The Art of…Relationships, Love and Conversation. This is offered together with dune meditations and one to one coaching sessions. Another fabulous couples experience is learning ways to disconnect and reconnect, through the use of gong baths and writing workshops to yoga and meditation.
Tickets are now on sale now for the two, five-day events taking place from 10 – 15 November and start from £1,200 per person (this includes a limited 20% early bird booking discount). Tickets include five nights’ accommodation, based on four sharing and all meals, transport to the desert and shared experiences. Flights to Marrakech, hotels in the city and airport transfers, as well as some additional experiences and alcoholic drinks are extra. For more information and enquiries, visit www.restival.global
Rugged Cornish Romance
Embrace your inner nomad with Firefly’s earthy, back-to-nature appeal. Winding through North Cornwall’s country lanes, discover this authentic woodcutter’s cabin tucked away in a hidden corner of Trebudannon, a tiny rural hamlet of sweet cottages and farmland near Mawgan Porth. With a rustic charm and natural swimming pond, this luxury self-catering woodcutter’s cottage near Mawgan Porth offers a unique ‘into the wild’ experience, perfect for couples with a four-legged friend in tow, or a romantic cottage break with a difference. The real luxury here is the organic, natural beauty of the simple life. This unique luxury self-catering cottage retreat for couples has an outside fire and large barn doors that open out onto the deck; an intriguing home where clever craftsmanship meets huntsman’s lair. Inside you’ll find a fully-equipped kitchen, an open fire, a deep velvet sofa strewn with fur atop a thick crochet rug, and shelves stacked with vintage books, trinkets and woodland treasures.
For more information about Firefly please visit www.firefly.uniquehomestays.com
Southern Amazon Seclusion
Hidden within the Southern Amazon sits the spectacular Cristalino Lodge. A 100 % off the gird lodge that runs on 100% green power thanks to 60 new solar panels. This designer eco lodge is located in 11,399 hectares of forest reserve in Brazil’s Mato Grosso region, and is so remote it is only accessible by boat. It is the perfect place for couples to totally unwind and get in touch with nature, as it is seriously committed both to the environment and providing guests with the highest levels of accommodation, service and understanding of the natural world. The ecolodge’s architecture was carefully designed to integrate harmoniously with the surrounding jungle. The bar has an inviting spacious outdoor deck equipped with tables, stools and loungers, creating an ideal environment for sharing stories with friends and fellow travellers. The restaurant complements the experience by serving delicious candlelit dinners. If you were hoping to explore the surrounding jungle a little further then Cristalino Lodge offers a wide range of guided outdoor activities including canoeing, hiking, climbing the 50-meter nature observation towers, boat trips and fauna & flora observation. There are an exceptional number of species, even by Amazon standards, making this one of the regions richest places for observing birds, mammals, butterflies and orchids. It is a refuge for endangered species and is home to more than seven species of monkey, including the endemic white-whiskered spider monkey.
Cristalino Lodge offers a range of accommodation with prices starting from £228 per person per night based on two people sharing a double room. The price includes transfers between the local airport and Cristalino Lodge, all accommodation, 3 meals per day, daily exploration trips accompanied by a local guide and bilingual guides, with equipment, boats and canoes provided (groups no larger than 8 people per guide), and access to the beautiful Cristalino Natural Heritage Forest Reserve. For more information please visit cristalinolodge.com
Stargazing in the Moroccan Mountains
Kasbah Tamadot, situated in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, provides un-beatable dark skies. Paired with virtually no light pollution, Kasbah Tamadot offers incredible star gazing opportunities. With only Berber villages lacing the slopes and the vibrant Moroccan cities miles away, the Milky Way lights up the landscape and you can expect to see the planet Saturn and double star Albireo from the mountain peaks. Make the most of the scenery and enjoy dinner on the roof or kick back and relax watching a Moroccan inspired film in the open air under the stars.
Guests staying for three nights or more in one of the stunning rooms or suites will be treated to their last night. The offer is available for new bookings for stays of 4, 5 or 7 nights until 31st August 2016. For bookings please call 0800 716 919 (toll free) or +44 (0) 208 600 0430 or visit www.virginlimitededition.com
The Real Neverland
As a child the idea of frolicking around Neverland with the lost boys was a wild dream that could only ever be imagined; but wild dream no more. The private Scottish island of Eilean Shona on the west coast of Scotland – the inspiration for Neverland in JM Barrie’s Peter Pan – has recently introduced the newly converted Old Schoolhouse. Now a boutique, two-bedroom idyll, it was originally the long-gone island community’s school. It is here, during summer holidays taken on the island in the 1920s, that JM Barrie took inspiration from the magical surroundings to create the screen adaptation of Peter Pan. Following a full year’s restoration, the much-loved derelict outpost on the remote north shore has been transformed into an uber-romantic bolthole for two (or four). The result is a jaw-dropping hideaway, completely off-grid – there is no electricity, Wi-Fi or mobile phone signal – which combines splendid isolation with no expense spared comfort. The peaceful location of the Old Schoolhouse is wonderfully isolated, over a mile along the North Channel coast path and a 45 minute walk from the jetty where guests disembark. Nestled in a valley with a secluded bay (ideal for skinny dipping) it has glorious views out to sea. Reputedly frequented by the island owner’s wife in the 19th Century as a sanctuary from her children, the house retains its form as an adult-only escape where couples can unwind and absorb themselves in each other and the natural surroundings.
One week’s rental of the Old Schoolhouse costs £1,250 including return transfers to the mainland with Eilean Shona. For more information please visit eileanshona.com, eileanshona.com/the-cottages/the-old-schoolhouse , +44 (0)1967 431249.
Wild Faroe Island Beauty
Situated in the North Atlantic, midway between the Shetland Islands and Iceland, the Faroe Islands is like no other destination on earth. Though part of the Kingdom of Denmark, this collection of 18 rugged islands feels a world away from the mainland and, whilst boasting a unique history and array of traditions, also provides one of the world’s most beautiful and magical wild landscapes. Certainly off the usual beaten tourist track, but becoming more widely known for the breathtaking scenery, hiking, birdwatching and eclectic music scene, the Faroe Islands, remains largely undiscovered by the masses.
Daily flights operate year-round (London to Vágar Island, via Copenhagen) and cost from £368 pp return. Twice-weekly direct flights (Edinburgh to Vágar Island) operate until 18 December, from £199 pp return. Visit www.atlantic.fo for more flight information.
Did you miss the first 10 Unbelievable Off-the-Grid Getaways?