The ‘Glamping’ (glam camping) revolution redefined the notion of camping with promises of king sized beds and plug sockets and it got us thinking – does that really upgrade a camping experience? Or should the ever adventurous traveller be looking for a little more from an escape to nature. The answer won’t shock you, we decided instead of ‘Glamping’ people should try ‘Amping’, our version of amped up camping. Forget your resort on a private island, sleep on an outdoor bed on the island’s shore. Don’t settle for a caravan, hire out a whole fleet of Airstream’s and camp on a rooftop. We think you get the idea. So we’ve put together a list of our top ten sleep-out destinations across the globe. Join us…
NKWICHI LODGE, AFRICA
Imagine waking up on a pristine beach along Mozambique’s dazzling shoreline, tucked away on your own private rock island in a luxurious open-air bed. Ten minutes by boat from the splendid Nkwichi Lodge is the ultimate African beach night for any traveller or stargazer. With room for just two guests at a time this isolated island hideaway, near Lake Malawi, enjoys the utmost privacy and boasts a canvas shower and enclosed toilet for convenience.
Enjoy dinner under the stars before settling down for the night under the glorious African skies. The next morning, after a truly magical sleep, wake up to a bush breakfast set up under a baobab tree a short boat ride away. Spend the rest of your day exploring the islands on foot and by canoe.
Under a Milky Way blanket, sleep-out in an opulent open-air bed that is open to the elements. Guests will relish the privacy and take comfort in the nearby team and boat that are available to offer their services.
WHAT TO PACK WITH YOUR SLIPPERS
The water is teaming with tropical fish so make sure you bring a snorkel to maximise your morning swim – but don’t worry if you forget because the resort can lend you one.
For those wishing to get back to nature’s basics there is no better place than Kolarbyn. Two hours out of Stockholm, near the shores of misty Lake Skärsjön, Kolarbyn comprises twelve wooden huts hidden in the forest. The natural lodges have no electricity, only candles and a crackling fireplace; after a silent night it is an out-of-this-world experience to slowly wake up with the birds and enjoy a refreshing swim in the lake. The lake is home to a floating sauna and each hut comes with a canoe and wooden rowing boat.
The hotel has a storage building where you can pick up food items for preparation over the fire. As there is no electricity or running water, water is brought from a spring and the primitive kitchen uses a fireplaces to cook.
Originally the huts were built by the villagers of Skinnskatteberg to practice traditional charcoal burning techniques. All of the wooden shelters feature a green roof draped with grass, ferns and even wild strawberries and raspberries. Each is complete with a fireplace stove, two hard beds with sheep skin rugs for sleeping bags, candles, firewood and recycling bins. In an effort to further immerse the guests in nature there are no en suites or shower facilities in the huts.
WHAT TO PACK WITH YOUR PILLOW
Your binoculars will come in handy to view the native wildlife. Kolarbyn is home to lots of birds and is in close proximity to the hunting ground of a pack of native wolves; visit them on either the wolf howling tour or on the wolf safari by horse. The forest is also home to moose and it is not uncommon for bears to be spotted around the area. In the case of them wandering into the campsite, however, the binoculars will probably not be necessary.
GRAND DADDY AIRSTREAM ROOF TOP TRAILER PARK, SOUTH AFRICA
When we say ‘trailer park’, innovative design and luxury are not words that usually come to mind. However, uniquely set on the rooftop of the stylish Grand Daddy Hotel in Cape Town, a collection of vintage Airstream trailers forms a surprisingly fashionable trailer park. Each of the seven Airstreams have been lovingly revamped by local artists and given a new lease of life through playful, sometimes eccentric, and always dazzling decor. The trailers are enclosed by a neat garden complete with US Postal Service Mailboxes and connected to the communal areas by a series of timber walkways and native gardens. The rooftop also boasts a tented sky bar with comfortable couches and heaters as well as an open-air cinema.
The Airstreams are all air-conditioned, well insulated and fitted with toilets and showers. The tongue in cheek and always-surprising themes range from The Ballad of John & Yoko, home to an oversized bed and adorned with a guitar and a creativity board where guests can spread their messages of love and peace, to Goldilocks and The Three Bears with cute story book features, to a floor-to-ceiling polka dot interior named Dorothy. Our favourite is the Moontides Airstream, which has a separate living and bedroom area styled in a dreamy combination of silver and blue.
WHAT TO PACK WITH YOUR HOME MOVIES
Bring your bling, after all it’s still a trailer park – the glitzier you look for the five o’clock porch drink, the better we say.
SAL SALIS, AUSTRALIA
The Ningaloo Coast in Western Australia enjoys breath-taking views, beautiful beaches and an abundance of native wildlife. Here, hidden in the dunes that overlook the pristine coastline, lies the exclusive bush camp, Sal Salis. Guests will wake to the song of birds and wander down to the beach for a glorious morning swim in Nigaloo’s crystal waters. Kangaroos grazing among the dunes will become a common sight, as will the spectacle of breaching whales in the distance. Down on the beach a shaded area with sun loungers and cool drinks doubles as a whale deck that provides the perfect vantage point to view the Humpbacks – and to enjoy a starry sky in the evenings.
The camp provides a relaxed lounge area with panoramic views across the reef and Indian Ocean and a sunken dining area complete with a bar stocked full of the best wine and beer Australia has to offer.
At Sal Salis nine spacious tents are raised on platforms to enhance the views, each with utterly luxurious beds and an eco-friendly en suite bathroom. Complete with a hammock to enjoy the days, at night sprawl out on a handmade Jarrah bed, fitted with 500 thread count organic cotton sheets.
WHAT TO PACK WITH YOUR AKUBRA
Bring an underwater camera for when you bathe with sharks. Nigaloo Reef is one of the best places in the world to swim with white sharks. Annually between April and July these slow moving creatures migrate to the Reef – no one is quite sure from where – following the mass spawning of coral. Swimmers can snorkel alongside them in comfort, even getting a close up view inside their 1.5 metre mouths, as the plankton-feeding creatures are harmless to humans and have even been known to play with divers.
PATAGONIA CAMP, CHILE
Hugging the shore of Lake Toro, Patagonia Camp is surrounded by brilliant landscapes, ancient forests, lakes and turquoise rivers, making it the ideal place to experience the rugged region by combining nature and adventure with cosy luxury. Designed to be aesthetically and structurally harmonious with the natural landscape, the entire complex is raised on wooden stilts and platforms in an effort to protect the hundred year old vegetation and varied bird life. Located in the backyard of the famous Torres Del Paine National Park, excursions can be arranged to this and other well-known sights in the area, including Base Torres, Grey Lake, Sarmiento Lake, Mirador Condor.
The lakeside campsite provides opportunities for fishing and they are bicycles on hand to explore the private land as well as the next-door majestic forest.
The camp comprises 18 Yurts, which are tent like domes, nestled into a dense forest of beech trees facing the spectacular views of Lake Toro. Each yurt has a private bathroom and terrace and is fully equipped with a king or two single beds and heating. Decorated to flaunt locally handcrafted furniture and woven fabrics they combine the magic feeling of being under a tent and in the midst of nature, with still being cosy and comfortable.
WHAT TO PACK WITH YOUR TREKKING SHOES
Patagonia is notorious for experiencing four seasons in one day, therefore, we recommend travellers should be prepared for everything; wind, rain, sun, snow.
LA QUINTA GLORITA, USA
In warmer climates people live in Palapa’s; open air housing with high pitched palm thatched roofs that are orientated to capture cool breezes and protect occupants from tropical humidity. It is this type of romantic accommodation that makes La Quinta Glorita, located in El Pescadero, such a unique experience. Nestled against the El Pescadero hillside, the camp is surrounded by organic vegetable and basil fields with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean – why on earth would you want to block out the sights and heavenly aromas with walls?
Made of indigenous materials your room will be open to the elements so you can listen to the birds while relaxing on your hammock, settle in and watch the ocean, and a whale or two, and if you’re lucky witness at turtle hatching. The lodging is ideally located next to the Sierra Laguna Mountains, which make for a beautiful hike, surfing hot-spot, Cerritos and Todos Santos, where you can visit art galleries or enjoy a candlelight dinner. After sunset, enjoy the campfire, and gaze up at the stars.
WHAT TO PACK WITH YOUR SURFBOARD
Although there are no televisions or radios in this unaffected camp there is excellent phone reception for mobile addicts to relish in, so don’t forget your i-phone.
IGLU-DORF ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND
This village of igloos began with extreme snowboarder Adrian Günter, who craved fresh tracks in Zermatt’s morning powder and decided to stay overnight on top of the mountain, so he would definitely be first out. With no house to sleep in Günter built his own igloo and after a morning of fresh snow became the happiest man alive. As others heard of Günter’s success he busied himself building more igloos to meet the demand. The rest is history.
The igloos are built by blowing up a balloon covered in snow that is left to harden. When the air is let out of the balloon an igloo remains and the interior ready for interior design. All igloos are connected so once you are inside you need not brave the elements until you are ready. With no wind inside it couldn’t be more peaceful.
Choose from a romantic igloo with a private toilet and Jacuzzi, or a standard igloo for up to six people. On arrival, delight in a steaming hot cheese fondue, take a snowshoe walk to warm up and jump into the hot whirlpool. Each igloo has a sleeping bag made for minus forty degrees Celsius; most nights it’s only around zero, so guests stay very toasty.
WHAT TO PACK WITH YOUR WINTER CLOTHES
Nothing. The resort provides sleeping bags, breakfast, dinner. If you do the snowshoe walk they provide the sticks and the shoes, so just bring yourself and your best snow-ski apparel.
BANYAN TREE AL WADI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Past the town of Sharjah, near Dubai, is a lavish desert resort made up of 133 white-topped wood-platform tents spread across the Al Wadi Nature reserve. The reserve spans 100 acres and protects indigenous flora and fauna, as well as three reintroduced indigenous antelope species. Guests wanting to explore this wild area need not compromise on luxury with each ‘tent’ including silk upholstery, a large tub and rain shower, private sundeck with daybeds and a pool.
The resort boasts Thai, Arabian and Mexican restaurants or travellers can indulge in butler-staffed private barbecues served under the stars. There are also many classes on offer including archery, falconry skills – learning how to hunt using indigenous falcons and owls – camel and horseback riding. Guests can watch experts handle raptors, enjoy the many bike trails or spend a day at one of the world’s finest spas.
Ranging from 1,700 to 2,700 square feet, each tent is designed to cater for guests looking for exclusivity. Our favourite is the Al Khaimah tented pool villa suggested to be for world-weary nomads the dwelling is an oasis of serenity complete with oil burners, sunbeds and a mini bar cabinet – offering a variety of ways to pacify your senses.
WHAT TO PACK WITH YOUR KAFTANS
Something you don’t mind getting sandy. The resort’s guides will sweep you off on a journey through the dunes of Al Wadi Nature Reserve ambling through Wild Ghaf trees and running gazelles. At spots along the way you can experience the thrill of sand-boarding down perfect sand dunes, if you dare.
The small village of Harads, close to the Lule River, houses around 600 people and is home to a restaurant, shop and guest house. In this remote location you will find the dynamic designs of the Treehotel. Inspired by the film The Tree Lover, a tale of three city dwellers who go back to their roots by building a tree house together, the hotel is a collection of five suspended ‘tree-rooms’ designed by some of Scandinavia’s leading architects.
Each perched room has fantastic views of the Lule River valley, the powerful river itself and miles of forest. Guests can renew their energy, surrounded by unspoiled nature, and let their daily stresses just slip away. From this vantage point, at certain times of the year, the northern lights add to the incredible view.
Each of the five ‘tree-rooms’ are unique, not only in architecture, but in furniture, lighting and fabric design. Our favourite is the Mirrorcube design, which is camouflaged by mirrored walls that reflect their surroundings. To prevent the abundant bird-life from crashing into the mirrored walls they have been clad with infrared film; the colour is invisible to humans, but visible to our feathered friends. The construction of each lodging was environmentally friendly and the daily operations are likewise aimed to have minimal impact on nature, that’s why each room has environmentally-friendly combustion toilets and water efficient sinks.
WHAT TO PACK INSTEAD OF A MIRROR
Guests can choose to visit the village of Harad by foot, bicycle or even kick-sled during the winter months and meet the village families over coffee and pastries. As the locals regale you with stories about local history, present and future, a souvenir or picture of your hometown would make a lovely present and talking point.
Traipse exquisite beaches, scuba dive glassy seas and lounge on uninhabited tropical islands, before retreating each night to a magnificent wooden ship fit for royalty. With the help of experts, design your own sailing route. Perhaps you’d like to spend your days pic-nicking on hidden pristine beaches or scuba diving in Raja Ampat. You can visit the previously off-limits Mergui Archipelago – one of the few untouched paradises on earth – or hike through the New Guinea jungle to meet the indigenous tribe of ‘Tree People’ and dance to the rhythm of their jungle drums.
To reach your vessel, the Silolona, hop onto a private sea plane which lands on water right beside the ship. The crew will work the sails and whip up fresh feasts from local sources, allowing you to laze on the crisp white cushions on the sun drenched deck by day, and enjoy the unique sunset’s setting over remote exotic islands by night.
Combining beautiful traditional features of spice island sailing vessels and modern facilities, the Silolona is a powerful handcrafted wooden ship newly built from the finest tropical hardwoods. She features five unique suites, each with their own en suite, as well as three lounge areas, a shaded alfresco dining space and diving centre; spread out across spacious decks.
WHAT TO PACK WITH YOUR STRIPED SHIRTS
The ship comes equipped with enough cutting-edge watersports equipment for your entire party so make sure you bring suitable swimwear and you’ll be kayaking, or water skiing, or scuba diving, or fishing – you get the idea – in no time.