When it comes to blow-out travel in 2018, choose to be defined by your experiences, not by your possessions. Take inspiration from these handpicked holidays, each given an edge thanks to unique experiences or privileged access. Whether you choose snow, sea, jungle or desert, it’s time to pack.
WILD CAMPING ON KUBU ISLAND IN BOTSWANA
Helicopters are transforming the safari landscape, providing access to some of Africa’s most remote, unspoilt places. Adventure excursions at Jack’s Camp, a speck in the stark lunar landscape of the Makgadikgadi salt pans, are no exception. The Kalahari’s harsh, sparse dry season is the time to go camping — and to zoom across the vast, salt-encrusted expanse of the pans on quad bikes to Kubu Island. But during the game-rich wet season, only a helicopter transfer will do. Stop for a picnic lunch, or camp under the stars between baobabs and boulders.
What it costs: Jack’s Camp: $1,290 per person per night; five-night Jack’s Camp safari, including two nights’ camping on Kubu Island, from $9,655 per person sharing (minimum of two people). A 90-minute flight and day trip to Kubu Island costs $3,070. naturalselection.travel
ESCAPE TO A PRIVATE VOLCANIC ISLAND
Príncipe is a tiny island 210km off the west coast of Africa, in the Gulf of Guinea. The volcanic island is a magical world of primordial rock and dense tropical rainforest, fringed by the Atlantic Ocean. The best part is that you don’t have to share it with many adventurers. And the opening of Sundy Praia, on the northwest tip of the island, means you can immerse yourself in nature without forfeiting any comforts. Start the day with yoga or a forest hike, or cool off in the ocean. Guests can join the conservation team in the middle of the night to check on turtle nesting sites.
What it costs: half-board for two people sharing a one-bedroom tented villa is €935 (lunch is an additional €45 per person per day); three bedroom pool villas from €1,995 per night (rates valid until October 2018). sundyprincipe.com
CRUISING LIKE ROYALTY
There is cruising in the Mediterranean and then there is sailing on the Wind Surf luxury yacht. This exclusive yacht accommodates 310 guests and is awash with attentive staff. Take an eight-night cruise along the Dalmatian Coast, embarking in Venice and ending in Rome. The itinerary includes the bustling harbour of Split: a majestic palace, polished marble streets and a treasure trove of boutiques; access to Dubrovnik’s pedestrian Old Town where, after lunch with a view, you can watch brave divers leap off the towering cliffs into the ocean’s depths.
In Kotor, one of Montenegro’s most beautiful bays, marvel at 12th-century Baroque palaces and Romanesque churches, or climb to the fortress on the hill for a 360˚ perspective. In Giardini Naxo, an Italian fishing port, highlights include wine tasting and lunch at a family-run winery, and a tour of the ruins in Taormina. Onwards to Amalfi, a Unesco World Heritage Site characterised by dramatic coastal scenery, before the cruise ends in Rome.
What it costs: R58,282, with a choice of departure dates. Price includes accommodation, all meals, all drinks, and all on-board activities, excluding spa treatments.
HELI-SKIING IN ICELAND
Iceland’s phenomenal scenery boasts a plethora of geological features, including several volcanoes, geysers, glaciers, and, for the lucky few, the elusive Northern Lights. This far-flung destination has never been more hip, but it pays to go with a super-experienced operator, such as Scott Dunn.
Iceland offers more adrenalin-heavy activities than the average adventurer can comprehend, including a thrilling snowmobile expedition to the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Dunn’s guests have access to guided tours across the surface of the glacier, taking in the incredible views of Iceland’s south coast. Stay at the former-sheep-farm-turned-luxury-Nordic-retreat Deplar Farm, on the north’s Troll Peninsular, where the dramatic landscape is set for heli-skiing from summit to ocean. Or check into Trollaskagi Camp, a pop-up glamping retreat with six luxury domes, open from March to May.
What it costs: Dunn organises tailor-made itineraries to Iceland from ￡3,800 per person, including flights and private transfers.
EXPLORING SOUTH AMERICA’S UNCHARTED TERRAIN
And Beyond, one of Africa’s most conservation-minded safari outfits, offers a collection of “off the radar” journeys to remote destinations in and beyond Africa. The latest, a 10-night Chile and Argentina Explorer itinerary, includes transport in 4x4 Land Rover Discovery vehicles and the attention of a bilingual driver-guide, who doubles as a destination expert. This year, there will be March and October departures. These are action-packed, experiencerich itineraries incorporating top-class accommodation each night; fresh, local gourmet meals throughout the journey; premium wine tasting; immersion in local culture; hiking, floating, rafting and climbing in the lake regions; and off-road driving around lakes, rivers, and mountains, including the Seven Lakes in Argentina.
What it costs: From $14,450 per person sharing, for a minimum of four guests; up to $12,850 per person sharing for a maximum of 10 guests.
EMBARK ON A MOROCCAN ADVENTURE
Mr & Mrs Smith started out as a site on which to find hidden-gem hotels, but has expanded into a full-service travel site with tonnes of tempting, tailor-made itineraries. We fell in love with the Ultimate Moroccan Adventure, a 10-day trip offering accommodation in the best luxury boutique hotels. Don’t miss soaring over the landscape in a hot-air balloon; taking a guided tasting tour through Marrakech; spending a night camping under the stars in the Agafay desert; visiting an argan plantation in Essaouira; indulging in an authentic hammam session; and taking a camel ride into the middle of the desert.
What it costs: the nine-night/10-day trip costs ￡1,969 per person, based on two people sharing.
A GROWN-UP ESCAPE WITH FAMILY APPEAL
Escaping to the Maldives gives you permission to do nothing, yet there’s so much to do. Kanuhura, located in the Lhaviyani atoll in the north-east of the Maldives, is the perfect base. The real deal-clincher, especially for people with kids in tow, is the raft of self-improvement activities on offer. Expert private instructors are on hand for diving, catamaran sailing, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding lessons, and more. Kokaa, the wellness spa, specialises in authentic Maldivian treatments and crystal massage.
Exploring the island on foot takes half an hour, but you can also cycle or take a golf cart to dine at a dizzying choice of restaurants and beach bars. At the heart of Kanuhura is a marine-biology research centre where guests can learn about coral-reef ecology and conservation.
What it costs: Seven nights’ bed and breakfast, including return flights from Johannesburg to the Maldives, from R78,370 per adult sharing. wlh.co.za
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This article was paid for by Discovery.