Brightly colored carpets line the markets in Marrakech.
Heeding the call of the wild just got easier and a lot more pleasant.
Glamorous camping has long defined safaris, where luxury tents and staff catering to guests’ needs create a vintage “colonial” atmosphere that adds romance to expeditions in the wild.
Now, many travel providers are incorporating one- or two-night luxury camping adventures into their vacations, allowing guests to bask in the remote without the remotest hint of discomfort.
Banked by lush rain forest and simple fishing shacks, the Amazon is an exciting passageway through the jungle. Double-decker river boats from Manaus, hub of the Brazilian Amazon, deliver guests to bungalows nested in the rain forest. Outdoor reception and dining rooms are located near comfortable air-conditioned private quarters. Outdoor hammocks invite you to take siestas, and four natural rock-walled pools allow you to cool off while watching birds flit and chatter in the canopy above.
Fish for piranha, admire spider, squirrel and capuchin monkeys’ acrobatics, visit local communities to encounter villagers and venture out by canoe after dark to meet up with alligators—all without giving up a good night’s sleep in comfortable accommodations.
Australian Dream Time
Australia’s extremes stretch from Sydney, humming with caffeinated energy, to the interior’s empty, rugged outback. Capping a tour of the continent, a stay at iconic Uluru, the landmark formerly known as Ayers Rock, offers luxury camping in the midst of the wilderness.
Neighboring Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, where 15 white-tented accommodations, complete with king beds, electric window blinds and framed photographs of Australian pioneers, provides luxe perches from which visitors can explore the Red Desert.
Set off for Uluru at sunrise and sunset on hiking excursions to the sacred rock. Evening bush barbecue menus include upscale camp fare accompanied by Australian wines sipped under an obsidian night blanketed with stars.
After visiting Morocco’s exotic palaces, riads and markets from Casablanca to Marrakech, a journey to the Sahara kindles Arabian Nights fantasies of tents carpeted with thick, woven rugs—outfitted with en suite bathrooms, of course.
Rise at dawn and set off on camelback or in a 4x4 vehicle to explore the Erg Chebbi dunes. Dine like a Bedouin king on tender Moroccan lamb, then stargaze by the campfire before extinguishing your bedside lamp.
Outdoor Central america
Just beyond your tent flaps, the Costa Rican jungle soundscape reverberates with bird song and frog calls. Canvas walls and screened windows envelop spacious rooms with queen or king beds, electric fans and full bathrooms. Kick back after a day of white-water rafting, rappelling or zip-lining on furnished outdoor decks where owl butterflies hover and tiny lizards scurry by.
In Panama, indulge in luxury overwater accommodations in the Caribbean archipelago Bocas del Toro. Thatch-roofed and solar-powered cabanas line the dock over clear shallows. Swim, kayak or tour isolated beaches, returning to locally caught seafood dinners.
Journey through the Rajasthani countryside to the sacred lakeside city of Pushkar. After settling into your tented camp, take a camel cart ride to the Pushkar Camel Fair. Steep yourself in the sights and sounds of bartering camel traders and merchants calling to you from brightly colored booths where they display their wares. At day’s end, a flickering bonfire casts a heavenly glow as you dine beneath the stars. Then you’ll sink into a comfortable bed dressed with lush Indian fabrics and enjoy your private en suite bathroom with running water.
Please contact your AAA Travel Counselor or go to AAA.com/offices to find one near you.
Photography courtesy of Donar Reiskoffer/Wikipedia
This article was first published in November 2012 in Traveler. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.