20 of the world's most luxurious campsites
Once upon a time camping was a rough-and-ready business of pegging out your own canvas, washing in the river and cooking scratch meals over a campfire.
But -- as the likes of Justin Bieber, Scarlett Johansson, Ryan Reynolds, the Duchess of Cambridge and Kate Moss know all too well -- the chic traveler who wants to get close to nature goes glamping instead -- with all the luxuries of a boutique hotel laid out closer to the stars.
From tented safari camps in Africa to Asian yurts and Australian swags, some luxury camps offer more facilities than your own home.
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1. Sal Salis: Exmouth, Western Australia
The Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef camp is hidden in the white sand dunes of Western Australia’s Cape Range National Park. Nine spacious wilderness tents sit meters from the water’s edge and the world’s greatest fringing coastal coral reef.
What the Aussies call "Wild Bush Luxury" is strictly sustainable here. With all solar-powered electricity, composting toilets, organic linen and only 20 liters daily washing water per guest it’s right-on as well a comfortable.
From US$685 per night including transfers, meals, drinks and activities including kayaking, snorkeling and guided walks.
P.O. Box 471, Exmouth, Western Australia; +61 2 9571 6399; www.salsalis.com.au
2. Joy’s Camp: Samburu, Kenya
Joy’s Camp is in Shaba National Reserve, on the site where Joy Adamson lived and raised Penny the Leopard after writing "Born Free" about Elsa, the lioness whom Joy and her husband took in after poachers killed the cub’s mother.
The 10 chic canvas bedrooms have views of the surrounding hills, overlooking a natural spring where elephant and lion jostle for water rights. Each tent is decorated with handmade glass and colorful textiles woven by the local nomadic tribepeople, and has its own private veranda for game viewing.
From US$370-590 per person sharing per night including meals.
Shaba National Reserve, Samburu, Kenya; www.joyscamp.com
3. Amanwana: Moyo, Indonesia
This wilderness hideaway on Moyo, a nature reserve east of Bali, looks out over a secluded bay, a protected marine park and beyond to the Flores Sea. Moyo is good for nature enthusiasts, offering frequent sightings of deer and monkeys.
The camp’s 20 air-conditioned tents are finished with hardwood floors, a king-size bed and large bathrooms. A solid wall enclosing each tent assures privacy, and guests can step out on to coral-star decks for basking and stargazing. An open-air pavilion facing the sea houses a dining room and bar.
US$750 per night including transfers plus US$125 for full board.
Moyo Island, West Sumbawa Regency, Indonesia ; +62 371 22233; www.amanresorts.com
4. Treebones: Big Sur, California, United States
In the beautiful old hippie enclave of Big Sur, these 16 yurts -- large fabric tents suspended over a wooden lattice frame -- come with heat, light, queen-size beds and sinks with hot and cold water.
There are polished wood floors and doors opening to a redwood deck overlooking the coastal splendor.
With these views you can forgive the fact bathrooms are a stroll away.
This being Big Sur, you can get a massage in your yurt, not to mention reflexology and craniosacral therapy. And there’s a restaurant with a sushi chef and delicacies from the campsite’s own organic garden.
From US$189 for two people.
71895 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, United States; +1 877 424 4787; www.treebonesresort.com
5. Banjaar Tola: Madhya Pradesh, India
The Taj Group, better known for its Indian palace hotels, has gone into the camping business in Kanha National Park, a prime center for tiger viewing. They’ve put up 18 luxurious tented suites on raised platforms in the jungle and furnished them with sitting areas, decks overlooking the river and even a butler hatch.
US$414 buys your tent for the night including four meals and two jungle drives per day, drinks, laundry, taxes and park fees.
Banjaar Tola Kanha, Manjitola, Mukki Baihar, Balaghat, Madhya Pradesh, India; +91 22 6601 1825; www.tajsafaris.com
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6. Lodge K: Marrakech, Morocco
An "Arabian Nights" fantasy in the heart of the Palmeraie, the wild palm-studded desert area is a 15-minute drive from the souks of the medina.
Themed tents -- Egyptian, Balinese and other decorative styles -- have all the comforts of a boutique hotel. Each has a fireplace, air conditioning, plasma screen TV and a fabulously ornate bathroom.
A communal salon and restaurant in the gardens overlooks a circular swimming pool, and there is a gym, spa and hammam.
From US$925 for three nights, including transfers, breakfast, hammam for two and a bouquet of red Atlas roses.
Route de Fez km. 5, Dar Tounsi, Marrakech, Morocco; www.boutiquesouk.com
7. Arkaba Station: Flinders Ranges, Australia
Set in a spectacular red earth location, this "Swag Decks" camp makes it possible for guests to sleep under the stars without forgoing comfort.
That means soft cotton sheets, pillows, quilts in cooler months and thick mattresses. Each swag deck has elevated walls to ensure guests have privacy as they lie back and take in the surrounds.
From US$2,090 for four days including transfers, food and drink, camping gear and walking safari guide.
Wilpena Road via Hawker, South Australia; +61 2 9571 6399; www.arkabastation.com
8. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort: Vancouver Island, Canada
This secluded rainforest by the sea lies in the north of British Columbia. Here 20 posh tents have been kitted out with king-size beds and private bathrooms with indoor/outdoor showers, double sinks and flush toilets.
The luxury quotient has been ramped up with opulent rugs, tea tables and antique dressers stocked with heirloom china and silver accessories.
Horse riding, surfing, kayaking and whale-watching are all available, plus hiking along the river to waterfalls and mountain views. No wonder the place has just been named Most Excellent Eco Resort in USA or Canada by Condé Nast Johansens.
From US$4,787 for three nights including transfers, gourmet meals, drinks and all activities except helicopter cruising, available for an extra charge.
Clayoquot Sound World Biosphere, Vancouver Island, BC Canada; +1 250 323 303; www.wildretreat.com
9. Soneva Fushi: Maldives
One of the archipelago's premier luxury resorts can arrange a romantic night camping on a private sandbank.
Guests are installed in a comfortable tent, complete with bathroom facilities, where they can sip cocktails as the sun sets, while stargazing through their own private telescope. A candlelit dinner follows and breakfast is brought over by boat to complete the experience.
Romantic, but the tents can be set up for families as well as couples.
"Overnight at the Sandbank package" from US$5,930 for four nights including three in resort and one camping. One massage per person is thrown in, plus the candlelight dinner and return seaplane transfers.
10. Gorah Elephant Camp: Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Each of the 11 tented lodges here enjoys a huge canopied double bed and jaw-dropping views. The enormous showers have double-heads, offering sun-heated rainwater and a solar-powered jet spray.
But don’t expect any luxuries requiring electricity -- it’s been banned.
From US$983 double including meals and game drives.
Gorah Elephant Camp, Plettenberg Bay, Garden Route & Winelands, South Africa; +27 (0) 44 501 1111; www.mrandmrssmith.com
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11. Hoopoe Yurt Hotel: Andalucia, Spain
Deep within the rugged wilds of southern Spain, this is a camping hotel situated near Cortes de la Frontera, one of the classic white villages of Andalucia. There are limestone ridges and the Tajo gorge to explore, and wild swimming in the nearby Genal river.
Each yurt comes with its own hammock and is a short stroll from the pool where you can sip cocktails and soak up the sun or snooze in the shade of a giant cork tree. Then wander through the surrounding olive groves and forests, finishing off with a gourmet dinner cooked on site.
From US$185 per night including breakfast.
Cortes de la Frontera, Ronda 29380, Andalucia, Spain; www.canopyandstars.co.uk
12. 4 Rivers Floating Lodge: Koh Kong, Cambodia
The world’s first floating luxury tented camp is situated on the banks of the Tatai River in the south of the country. Situated in a landscape of rare orchids, frangipani, mangroves and birds of paradise, the tents sit in a neat L-shape overlooking the Cardamom Mountains.
Even in the wild heart of Cambodia, guests can expect flat-screen TV, a DVD library and Wi-Fi. Activities include river trips, fishing expeditions and treks to the Tatai waterfalls.
From US$135 per night including breakfast and return boat transfers
4 Rivers Floating Lodge, Koh Kong, Cambodia; +855 9 7643 4032; www.ecolodgesasia.com
13. Sala’s Camp: Masai Mara, Kenya
Sala’s Camp is in the heart of the Masai Mara, well placed to witness the great migration of wildebeest from July to September with long views over the Sand River towards Tanzania and the Serengeti.
From the seven luxury tents, complete with hot showers and flush toilets, guests can enjoy abundant bird life as well as thundering hooves in season. Sundowners, stargazing and dining by moonlight are the favored activities after dark.
From US$490 per person per night, including all meals, game drives, laundry and taxes. Park and conservation fees are extra.
Sala's Camp, c/o The Safari Collection, PO Box 15565, Nairobi, Kenya; +254 20 502 0888; www.thesafaricollection.com
14. Aman-i-Khás: Rajasthan, India
Perched on the edge of prime tiger-spotting territory in Ranthambore National Park, Aman-i-Khás boutique hotel in Rajasthan takes the lavish history of Maharajas' hunting parties to new heights.
Ten luxury tents, equipped with daybeds for lounging as well as regular ones for sleeping, come with butlers -- as they should for a cost of around US$1,000 per night.
Meals and drinks are on top, but you do get the services of naturalist guides to explore the territory on foot or by four-wheel drive. There’s also a swimming pool, a lounge tent, a separate dining tent and a firepit lined with sofas on which to perch and discuss the day’s sightings with other guests.
From US$925 per night.
Aman-I-Khás, Ranthambore, Rajashthan, India; www.amanresorts.com
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15. C Lazy U: Grantby, Colorado, United States
This luxury guest ranch offers 38 rustically elegant cabin accommodations with western-style furnishings, stone fireplaces, sitting rooms, balconies, and jetted tubs. There’s also glamping in a secluded tent complete with electricity, heat and a beautifully dressed bed.
Ride horses by day, then retreat with cheese and wine or snacks over the campfire.
US$350 per night for cabins, US$125 extra per night per tent.
3640 Colorado Highway 125, Grantby, Colorado, United States; +1 970 877 3344; www.clazyu.com
16. Kasbah Tamadot: Asni, Morocco
Sir Richard Branson’s Atlas hideaway comprises 10 Berber tented suites, combining 21st-century comforts with original artifacts, fabrics and furniture sourced from local markets or commissioned from local craftsman in Marrakech.
Each tent has a sitting area stepping up to a luxurious bedroom area with king-size bed, allowing views onto the private deck, valley and Atlas mountains beyond. Some tents have large soaking tubs, an outdoor dining area or private plunge pools.
Mule trekking and hiking into the mountains are popular activities -- and these tents have access to the pool and spa of the resort.
From US$972 per night double including breakfast.
BP 67, 42152 Asni, Morocco; www.kasbahtamadot.virgin.com
17. Minaret Station: Wanaka, New Zealand
Minaret Station near Lake Wanaka is New Zealand’s first luxury tented camp, located at the head of a picturesque glacial valley in the heart of the Southern Alps accessible only by helicopter.
Guests sleep in luxurious tented suites complete with wall-to-wall sheepskin carpet, king-size beds, private decks with their own hot tubs and bathrooms with twin sinks and plenty of hot water.
On-site facilities include the "Mountain Kitchen" with a library, dining room and living area, lit by open fires. A top-notch chef and private guides are on hand.
Activities include hiking and heli-trekking between mountain ranges and fly-fishing rivers.
From US$2,353 for two per night including scenic helicopter transfers, all meals, drinks and guide services.
PO Box 218, Wanaka, 9343, New Zealand; +64 (0)275 888 9865; www.minaretstation.com
18. Four Seasons Tented Camp: Chiang Rai, Thailand
In the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos converge, sits the Four Seasons Tented Camp offering all the luxuries associated with that five-star hospitality name.
The 15 tents are modeled after 19th-century adventure expedition digs, with handcrafted furniture, hardwood floors and traditional thatched roofs. Canvas they may be, but they are heated in the cold, air-conditioned in the heat and offer Wi-Fi and refrigerated minibars.
Activities include elephant rides, floating down the Mekong and visiting the Hall of Opium across the Burmese border.
From US$2,467 per night including transfers from Chiang Rai, meals, drinks, excursions and one spa treatment per stay.
P.O. Box 18, Chiang Saen Post Office, Chiang Rai, Thailand; +66 (53) 910 200; www.fourseasons.com
19. Chiawa Camp: Zambia
This luxurious lodge is set on the banks of the Zambezi in an area abounding with savannah wildlife, hippos and crocodiles.
Each tented suite has a private game-viewing deck, indoor and outdoor shower and a rolltop bath from which you can watch nature parading by.
Doubles from US$1,300 including all meals and drinks, bush drives, game viewing by boat, taxes and park fees.
Lower Zambezi National Park 10101, Zambia; +260 211 261588; www.chiawa.com
20. Tandara: Macquarie Park, New South Wales, Australia
You don’t have to trek into the bush for a pukka glamping experience; you can have one just 10 kilometers from Sydney. Here, in the Lane Cove River Tourist Park, luxury eco-tents perched on a sandstone shelf overlooking the valley have won a tourism award.
Expect not only a king-size bed, bathtub and double walk-in shower, but flat screen TV and DVD player and a complete outdoor kitchen complete with an enormous barbecue.
From US$406 including a breakfast basket, fruit, push-bikes and a bottle of wine per person.
Plassey Road, Macquarie Park, NSW 2113, Australia; +61 2 9888 9133; www.lcrtp.com.au
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