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13 Ultimate Wilderness Vacations

It's the ultimate escape: unplugging in the great outdoors at a remote retreat, with stunning natural scenes providing the perfect backdrop and larger-than-life activities entertaining the entire family from dawn to dusk. These are the 13 best destinations for ultimate wilderness vacations that offer adventure as well as luxury and serenity, with a mix of up-and-coming properties to know and our all-time favorite lodges.Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning these ultimate wilderness vacations—this year and beyond. Our team can match you with the accommodations and activities that are right for you and provide information on private villas, charters and more.

Best for Fly-Fishing and Horseback Riding: American West

From Big Sky, Montana to the Grand Canyon, the American West is an iconic destination for a wilderness escape full of hiking and biking in top national parks, horseback riding at stylish dude ranches, fly-fishing on trout-filled rivers, Wild West nostalgia and patriotic fun.

Where to Stay: If you loved Taylor River Lodge or The Ranch at Rock Creek, add the The Green O, which opened June 1 2021, to your list. This sophisticated, adults-only retreat is located in Montana's remote Greenough township, on the southern edge of the 37,000-acre Paws Up Ranch. The property features 12 design-minded, freestanding "hauses"—including elevated tree houses, forest homes with floor-to-ceiling windows offering 180-degree views, and "Green Hauses" with living garden roofs. Outside of the accommodations, entertainments include a seasonal dining concept from Executive Chef Brandon Cunningham; a serene spa, located within a collection of tents to promote immersion in nature; access to 100-plus miles of trails for hiking and riding, as well as 10 miles of the Blackfoot River for fishing and kayaking; and adventure activities like archery, ATV tours, rappelling, shooting and whitewater rafting. Plus: guests are able to explore the full expanse of Paws Up Ranch. 

Related: Just Back From: The Green O Luxury Resort in Montana

Best for Heli-Touring: Alaska & Iceland

In the words of Indagare trip designer Sasha Feldman, who scouted America’s 49th state: “The single most fitting word to describe Alaska is epic.” Few other places on earth are home to such a wide variety of dramatic landscapes. Here, travelers can heli-ski in the morning, have a picnic lunch on a glacier and salmon fish in the afternoon—plus, go mountain biking, bear-viewing, kayaking and mushroom foraging. Best of all, this ecological wonderland is raw, remote and astonishingly untouched.

Where to Stay: The Alaskan backcountry is a destination that all outdoor enthusiasts should have on their bucket list—and Tordrillo Mountain Lodge has access to some of the region’s finest heli-skiing terrain. Located on Lake Judd, the resort’s luxurious one- and two-bedroom standalone cabins foster a cozy, secluded feel, while still being close to the action. Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is all about one-of-a-kind tours, and the concierge team will help customize each visitor’s activity schedule with a multitude of excursions (like whitewater rafting, river kayaking, glacier trekking, wakeboarding and wake surfing on a Mastercraft wake-setting boat and much more!). The property’s heli-skiing experience is like no other, with world-class guides to seek out the best runs, terrain rich with pristine powder fields and a personal helicopter to whisk you away to meet your private chef for dinner after your day on the slopes. Plus, for an experience like no other, the lodge can arrange their “Kings and Corn” experience, which allows guests to summer heli-ski during the day, before embarking on a salmon fishing adventure at night. —Sydney Lapin

Plus: Nestled in one million acres of state-protected forests on Finger Lake, Winterlake Lodge is an intimate, tranquil property with simple but comfortable cabins and an enthusiastic staff, who guide activities like heli-skiing, bear viewing, dog sledding and glacier hiking. Meanwhile, further north, those seeking an über-remote experience will be dazzled by Sheldon Chalet, accessible only by helicopter. Built on the only private concession in the mountains of Denali National Park, the Chalet offers unparalleled access to the summit of Denali (and incredible views). Due to the remote location, there’s no access to cell service or WiFi—allowing guests to fully immerse themselves in the property’s elevated cuisine, fascinating history and life-changing exploration of the dramatic glaciers, including ice-cave spelunking, flying through the canyons via helicopter and visiting a hidden Mastodon (mammoth) boneyard. 

Iceland is a must-visit for its pristine landscapes and top-notch adventure activities such as glacier trekking, volcano hiking, horseback riding, fjord cruising and mountain glamping. This extraordinary island offers otherworldly terrain that is ripe for expeditions, and it is one of the best places to view the Northern Lights, especially from September to April.

Where to Stay: A former sheep farm converted into a luxe experiential hotel, Deplar Farm exists in a Narnia-like wonderland on Iceland’s Troll Peninsula. The 13-room property offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience with world-class wilderness guides, summit-to-sea heli-skiing, salmon fly-fishing and countless other activities.

Related: 10 To Know: Indagare’s Tips for an Alaska Vacation

Best for Hiking: Chilean Patagonia

The view from Tierra Patagonia. Photo by Al Argueta.

The view from Tierra Patagonia. Photo by Al Argueta.
Chilean Patagonia is famous for its bright-blue glacial lakes, plentiful wildlife and snow-capped peaks, so it's no surprise that the destination tops the list for most outdoor junkies—but the excursions, which range from trekking to fly-fishing and horseback riding on a working estancia, are varied enough to please travelers of all ages and interests.Where to Stay: Only 25 minutes from Torres del Paine National Park, Tierra Patagonia offers luxurious yet environmentally-conscious rooms with stunning views of the Massif (mountain range) from every window. The property’s private concession stretches to the picture-perfect Lake Sarmiento and is home to pumas, condors and guanacos, and guests can visit nearby estancias for scenic horseback rides. For a more remote experience, travelers should not miss the Awasi property, located on a private concession further north.Related: 23 Trips of a Lifetime to Plan this Year

Best for Desert Exploration: Namibia & Morocco

Namibia has one of the lowest population densities in the world, and if it weren’t for the occasional herd of elephants, a traveler here might think she was on Mars. Often described as Africa’s final frontier, the landscape consists mostly of desert, sand dunes and huge open spaces—ideal for hiking, driving ATVs, hot air ballooning and tracking big game like lions, rhinos, cheetahs and giraffes.Where to Stay: One of Namibia's newest luxury properties, The Nest at Sossus, is unlike any other safari lodge in Africa, thanks to its intimate size and unique design. Modeled after the labyrinthine nest of the desert's "Sociable Weaver" bird, The Nest is a private villa-style property that accommodates a group of up to eight guests. Just a 45-minute drive from the gate of the protected Sossusvlei pan, The Nest offers exclusive access for game walks and drives with expert guides, a private pool, scenic flights and hot air balloon tours, a private butler and a gourmet chef. In between activities, you can soak in the modern interiors and lounge spaces of the villa, as well as the outdoor art installations, valley views and wildlife-attracting watering holes that surround the entire property.Meanwhile, the wind-swept desert of Morocco draws in visitors who are enchanted by the romance, adventure and culture of this captivating destination. To experience magical Morocco to the fullest, travelers should step out of the main cities and into the expanses of such deserts as Skoura and Agafay, which offer a seemingly endless playground of rippling sand dunes. Nights here are spent stargazing with Bedouin guides, and days are filled with exploration by foot, camel or 4x4. —Sydney LapinWhere to Stay:Tucked away in the remote desert oasis of Skoura lies the hidden gem Dar Ahlam, or the “House of Dreams.” This special property provides an ideal respite for cultural immersion and astonishing Moroccan landscapes. What was once an ancient kasbah was restored to a 14-room hideaway, secluded by palm groves and almond trees, that overlooks the Atlas Mountains. The staff consists of locals who are eager to share their passion for Morocco, and who seamlessly orchestrate personalized adventures and experiences. Standout experiences include trekking into the Valley of Roses and participating in traditional tea ceremonies with 12th-century Berber villages. Dar Ahlam allows its visitors to properly unwind without the distractions of everyday life—with pampering perks like candle-lit massages at the hammam or soaking in the elegant beauty of supper under the stars. —Sydney LapinRelated: Explore Our Upcoming Insider Journeys to Morocco — Tangier and Marrakech with Architectural Digest

Related: Postcard from Morocco: Our Favorite Moments from Our Travels

Best for Wildlife Viewing: Botswana, Zimbabwe & Rwanda

The ultimate destination for a picture-perfect safari, the Eastern and Southern regions of Africa are home to some of the most spectacular wildlife viewing, and countries like Botswana and Rwanda, in particular, have set the example for other nations as models for sustainable development. These countries' low-volume, low-impact approach to tourism has resulted in some of the most exclusive luxury camps in Africa, with a real sense of remoteness in their lack of fences within vast private concessions.Where to Stay: In the Okavango Delta—one the Botswana's most lush regions and an essential stop for any itinerary—Wilderness Safaris Mombo offers an unparalleled experience in the country's Moremi Game Reserve, which is celebrated for its excellent animal-viewing and birding. Reopened after an extensive renovation in January 2018, Wilderness Safaris Mombo Camp continues to be a statement property focused on design and conservation. The eight spacious, enchanting tents are carefully designed with canopied beds, large copper tubs and and porch decks featuring plunge pools, swing beds and loungers; plus, tents are 100-percent solar-powered. Wilderness Safaris Mombo draws repeat visitors thanks to its extremely accommodating and friendly staff, who can help arrange such experiences as a couple's massage on a private porch with panoramic views over the floodplain. —Sydney LapinWhere to Stay: Featuring some of the most extravagant accommodations in all of Africa, Singita Pamushana, in Zimbabwe,  is a luxury safari lodge that goes above and beyond to provide a warm welcome. Remotely located on the 130,000-acre Malilangwe Reserve, it is no surprise that the lodge is home to breathtaking views and an abundant range of big game. The design of the property’s main lodge and eight freestanding suites (plus one incredible five-bedroom villa) channels a sense of grandeur tempered by earthiness; intricate tribal tile work in the bathrooms, African art and a curated selection of books in the rooms make the villas feel more like private homes than hotel rooms. The lodge’s expert guides and rangers meet with guests on arrival to review preferred activities (game drives, walking safaris and visiting the local village to learn about community development) and set up individual schedules. —Sydney LapinWhere to Stay:

 Overlooking Lake Rwanyakazinga in Rwanda, Wilderness Safaris Magashi Camp’s six tented suites offer the best of both worlds, with land- and water-based safaric within a private concession of Akagera National Park. Here, guests have exclusive access to the park and the chance to experience the thrill of gorilla-trekking alongside the adventure of a traditional safari. Magashi even offers night game drives, ideal for viewing the high local population of nocturnal leopards. For experiences even further off the beaten path, Bisate—located in Volcanoes National Park—is a spectacular eco-lodge from Wilderness Safaris. A series of spherical fiber-thatched pods with domed roof, the six sophisticated forest villas were built into an eroded volcanic cone, with floor-to ceiling windows displaying knock-out views of nearby volcanoes. In addition to gorilla-trekking, Wilderness Safaris Bisate hosts hiking to see the famous golden monkey, as well as local village visits, birding walks and the chance to participate in Bisate’s forest rehabilitation program. After a long day of trekking, the incredible culinary program will not disappoint. —Sydney Lapin

Related: A Legendary Safari Camp is Back in Botswana and Just Back from: A Safari with Impact in Zimbabwe

Related: Explore Our Upcoming Insider Journeys trip to Botswana, hosted by safari legend Colin Bell

Best for Glamping: Canada

Massive and complex, Canada's sprawling swaths of scenic wilderness offer travelers a host of idyllic summer retreats, where the focus is on hiking, fishing and soaking in your surroundings.

Where to Stay: Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge was a pioneer in the “glamping” movement and is still one of its best practitioners. Located in the heart of the Pacific Northwestthis tented camp provides a unique wilderness experience with sublime food and service in a gorgeous, rugged setting. Where Clayoquot really shines is in its excursions, which are all led by the fun, young staff guides; nothing is outsourced. For an even more private experience, Nimmo Bay is set on the shores of a secluded bay off of British Columbia, with only nine cabins. This elegantly appointed, intimate wilderness lodge has been family-run for more than three decades. While some guests come for such outdoor adventures as kayaking through the Broughton archipelago or cruising around in a boat to observe the abundant wildlife, the property’s real specialty is its highly regarded heli-fishing program.

Best for Exploration at Sea: Antarctica

Best for Cultural Immersion: Southeast Asia


and Cambodia stand apart from other wilderness vacation destinations in that their cultural offerings are just as rich as their outdoor adventure opportunities, making either country the perfect choice for a getaway that combines a few days of city touring with nature immersion.

Where to Stay: Guests at the Four Seasons Golden Triangle Tented Camp get to play ‘mahout,’ or elephant minder, while residing in one of 15 tricked-out tents that overlook Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle, where Thailand meets Myanmar and Laos. Accommodations are chic and dining is fantastic, as are the Mekong River safaris and myriad opportunities to observe elephants, making it a dream come true for animal lovers. In southern Cambodia, Shinta Mani Wild camp is located on 400 acres of previously threatened wilderness, with 15 luxury tents and exceptional off-the-beaten-path nature experiences. The Shinta Mani group worked with the Wildlife Alliance to protect land that had frequent illegal logging to create this truly unique resort. On-property, days are spent immersing oneself in the local habitat, whether boating, kayaking, fly-fishing or joining the Wildlife Alliance anti-poaching rangers on their morning surveys (this varies in excitement; some may have a pleasant hike, while others may find wild animals rescued from traps). Other popular activities include cliff jumping at the hotel's beautiful waterfall and unwinding with spa treatments.

Related: Five Luxury Travel Trends for 2023 (Plus Where to Go)

Best for Far-Flung Adventure: New Zealand

Exterior view over lake and snowy landscape of Minaret Station in New Zealand

A view over lake and snow of Minaret Station in New Zealand. Courtesy Minaret Station.
Whether you picture Lord of the Rings characters in front of soaring mountains or lounging by the fire in a cozy lodge, New Zealand is one of those rare places where reality surpasses fantasy. The beauty of the landscapes and the breadth of experiences are simply unmatched.Where to Stay:

One of New Zealand’s most epic wilderness experiences is set on 65,000 spectacular acres of private farmland in the middle of the remote Fiordland. Accessible only by helicopter, the intimate, family-run Minaret Station takes advantage of its secluded location and rugged beauty. Visitors can stay in one of four luxurious alpine-style chalets at the resort and explore by foot, boat, helicopter, ski or ATV.

Related: Best New Hotels of 2023: Top Picks from Around the World

Best for a Jungle Escape: Brazil

South America’s largest country has myriad opportunities for wilderness exploration. Much of this, of course, is in the Amazon rainforest. But other areas, including the vast marshlands of the Pantanal, provide critical habitat to thousands of species, including the endangered (and elusive) jaguar as well as scores of species of endemic tropical birdlife. —Peter Schlesinger

Where to Stay: In the Amazon, Indagare recommends Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge and Cristalino Lodge. These two properties, on different tributaries of the great river, both offer full immersion into the jungle. Anavilhanas, north of Manaus, gives guests prime access to a massive swathe of the rainforest, including one of the world’s largest river archipelagos. Over the course of their multi-day itineraries here, guests have opportunities to see pink and gray dolphins and other wildlife on full- or half-day boat tours, go on jungle walks and swim in the river—as well as the lodge’s pool overlooking the islands. To the south, activities at Cristalino emphasize walking through the jungle on the reservation’s 22 miles of trails, reachable by riverboat. Birders from around the world flock (no pun intended) here to see some of the nearly 600 bird species that live amongst its trees, such as toucans, macaw, parrots, parakeets and birds of paradise. And in the Pantanal, Refugio Ecologico Caiman is a private reserve with a just-renovated hacienda and two buyout-only lodges, each with wetlands-facing pools. The Refugio is one of the world’s best places to see jaguars: Onçafari, Brazil’s leading jaguar protection organization, has its headquarters here, and guests on Onçafari’s research excursions have a 98 percent chance of seeing the elusive cats. Also on view at Caiman: massive hyacinth macaws, anteaters and capybaras.—Peter Schlesinger

Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning these ultimate wilderness vacations—this year and beyond. Our team can match you with the accommodations and activities that are right for you and provide information on transportation options, private villas, charters and more.

Published onApril 8, 2022

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