Passion Points: Escape
As I have spoken to travelers, seen where inspired hoteliers are opening and thought about where I am interested in going this year, I have noticed that getting off the grid and into the wild and remote is growing in appeal.
I think it is because technology has allowed us—and now demands us—to be plugged in and turned on every waking minute. On those rare occasions when I have no cell service (whether it’s in a place like Cuba or Myanmar or Montana) I return to a less distracted and more present state of being. Getting to share that with friends and family is my hope for this coming year and here are some of the new spots that I think are ideally suited for indulging in isolation.
For more than a century, Swedes have escaped to the mountains for fresh air and solitude. Entrepreneur Lars Bertmar has added serious modern comforts to a historic mountain retreat, so guests at Fjallnas (www.fjallnas.se/en) now stay in folk-farm style buildings with wifi and heated floors. Depending on the season (here they count eight, including Crusty Snow and Eternal Sun), days can be spent on hikes, cross-country skis or in the spa but always with a focus on nature.
Until recently, adventure travelers were most familiar with Argentina’s Patagonia, with its lunar-like landscapes and theatrical Perito Moreno glacier. On my next trip, however, I would like to visit the smaller Chilean side, now home of a handful of incredible lodges. Top of my list to stay is Awasi (www.awasipatagonia.com), one of Patagonia’s most celebrated arrivals, with just twelve spacious villas. Each comes with a private guide and 4×4 for customized excursions in the park. Other highlights of Chilean Patagonia include the picturesque Paine Massif and Glacier Grey, numerous glacial lakes and wildlife, including condors, guanaco and puma. It’s an absolute must-visit destination for photographers and naturalists.
Two longtime Tanzania wildlife lovers have expanded their offerings in the wild this year. Legendary (www.legendaryexpeditions.com), the outfit run by billionaire conservationist Dan Friedkin, has added a lodge near Ndutu called Mwiba. Its resemblance to some of the Singita properties is no coincidence, as ex-Singita staffers were involved in its creation. And within driving distance, Chem Chem (www.chemchemsafari.com) has added another tented camp called Little Chem Chem with access to incredible game viewing in Tarangire. Both are lodges I hope to visit this year.
Camp out in Wadi Rum where Lawrence of Arabia was based. A new luxury tented camp has just opened so you can enjoy the desert remoteness but with hot showers and copper basins in the bathrooms. Spend the days hiking, dune surfing or exploring by camel, 4×4, hot air balloon or hang glider. In the evenings dine in a Bedouin tent by lantern and star light.
From an icebound ship turned into a hotel, you can explore the pristine Arctic. Just reaching the basecamp is an adventure as you set out from a trapper’s cabin on snowmobiles to travel across frozen valleys. Stay in berths on the ship for one night and explore glaciers or sign up for a small boat cruise to set out to photograph polar bears. Or for those who are less interested in snow, book a lighthouse room for the night.
South East Asia
Parts of South East Asia have seen massive tourism development in the past decade, but board a classic sailing vessel and head out into the distant islands of Indonesia like Sumba and Sawu or the little explored coast of Myanmar and you can find pristine beaches, jungles filled with wildlife and glorious time away from civilization. When Gwyneth Paltrow took her family on such a cruise last year, she declared, “a dream of mine came true when I traveled to Indonesia for the first time…Never did I imagine that we would run our hands through the dark ocean at night and watch it light up with phosphorous, see a Komodo dragon in the wild, swim over a massive sea turtle, or be taught to make native dishes in situ.”
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