1. Stroll with zebras
Gondwana Game Reserve – a few hours’ from Cape Town – has just launched a three-day walking safari. The two-day Pioneer Trail sees campers covering 15 to 20km of open grassland that is home to unique plants, as well as lions, elephants, zebras and giraffes. Each night is spent at a different camp, where tents come with ensuite bathrooms and guests are pampered with delicious campfire meals.
2. Chill in the arctic circle
Octola – a log cabin based on a traditional laavu (temporary shelter) in Finnish Lapland, inside the Arctic Circle – may be the most remote luxury retreat in the world. The large chalet, with 10 rooms, is set in 300 hectares of snow-blanketed wilderness yet offers a sauna, private butler, five-star cuisine and 24-hour concierge service.
3. Sail away
The 55m-long Prana – the world’s largest wooden phinisi yacht – can now be chartered to sail around Indonesia’s rugged Komodo Island, home to the famous komodo dragons, plus Rinca and Padar islands, where you can dive at some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs. The boat has its own spa, yoga deck and open-air cinema, along with a private chef and scuba instructor. The Prana can accommodate up to 18 guests.
4. Visit the pandas
Head to Chengdu for an extraordinary 12-day panda safari. Take the high-speed train to Qingchuan county to visit the 405km2 Wild Panda Nature Reserve – one of the most diverse and intact forest ecosystems left in Asia. There are also visits to the newly rebuilt Gengda Wolong Panda Center, which reintroduces pandas into the wild, and the new Dujiangyan Panda Valley research centre.
5. Camp with penguins
This grand luxury five-day adventure starts by catching a Gulfstream G550 jet from Cape Town down to Whichaway, a luxurious camp (complete with an award-winning chef) on the edge of the Schirmacher Oasis in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. Another two hours’ flight west of the camp takes you to Atka Bay, home to a colony of more than 6,000 emperor penguins.
6. Dive into history
Two specialist companies have joined forces to offer “citizen explorers” the chance to join researchers on an 11-day expedition 3.8km below the surface of the North Atlantic, to the wreck site of the Titanic. The trip will depart from St John’s, Newfoundland in Canada next summer, with explorers able to watch scientists create a 3D model of the shipwreck, as well as document the condition of the ship.
Illustrations by Nathalie Lees
This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of Silkwinds magazine