As we all know, the global pandemic has led to much uncertainty about the future of travel. However, we are continuously monitoring the ever-evolving situation to bring you the best holiday destinations and believe that change is in the air. Borders are beginning to open and special measures are in place to welcome you. With our assurances around flexibility, protection, safety and sanitation, now is the time to start planning your next big adventure. Below are just a handful of ideas of the types of trips that our experts can begin to craft for you now.
If you’re looking to set off on an exciting escape with plenty of history and culture, consider Sri Lanka. The country has done well to keep COVID-19 under control and is planning to open its borders in September. There are some incredible sites to explore, such as the Cultural Triangle‘s Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and less-visited Ritigala. Your guide will accompany you by private car, bicycle or on foot to some of the most interesting historical spots without the crowds. We know all the best small hotels and fully staffed private houses, and can design unforgettable ‘inside-track’ experiences.
“Travel is all about experiences and there aren’t many places better than Sri Lanka, with its rich history, diverse culture, pristine beaches and lush jungles,” says Tim Edwards, the co-founder of Gal Oya Lodge. “Gal Oya National Park is an ideal place to avoid other people and enjoy some of the world’s most unique experiences, including the chance to see wild elephants swimming and meet one of the last remaining communities of Veddas – the forest-dwelling, indigenous people of Sri Lanka.”
Another good choice for a truly mind-expanding trip is Israel. In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, we have access to the best private houses and apartments in which to stay. Highlights, such as the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall, can be viewed outdoors and our specialist guides will take you there first thing in the morning to evade the crowds. At the Sea of Galilee, the major Christian sites can be admired and explained from viewpoints and we can arrange private treks and jeep expeditions.
View from the top of Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem
We recommend that you finish your trip in the Negev Desert. Like the Sea of Galilee, this far-flung destination can be explored completely outdoors. We can create a fantastic glamping set-up for a secluded stay under the stars. Alternatively, the Six Senses Shaharut, opening in June 2021, will have a separate three-bedroom villa with its own swimming pool, ideal for getting away from it all.
Private villa at Six Senses Shaharut in Negev Desert, Israel
In September 2021, we will be running a fascinating small group trip through South Africa. This compelling historical and cultural journey is a private charter of the Rovos Rail train following in the footsteps of Sir Winston Churchill, led by his grandson Sir Nicholas Soames and leading historian Nicholas Schofield, who together, will bring the Boer War battlefields to life. This is a wonderful opportunity whether you’re looking to get away on your own, as a couple or with a group of friends.
A private charter onboard the Rovos Rail in South Africa, the ultimate luxury train experience
Many of us travel to enjoy delicious and interesting food and drink. We know where you should go and are ready to start creating your perfect foodie adventure. In Morocco, we can organise everything from outdoor cooking demonstrations and Berber-style picnics to couscous rolling classes in the foothills of the Middle Atlas and enjoying a sumptuous private seafood barbecue in Oualidia. The country offers so much more than just its souks. We have access to the very best private houses outside the cities, and if you’re looking for something truly off the beaten path, we can design an incredible journey in the secret south where you stay in private village houses in the Atlas Mountains.
Dar Ahlam in Morocco
Vietnam is another brilliant destination for food lovers. A major element of any journey here is the sublime cuisine you can taste along the way. There are some fabulous private villas and isolated hotels, such as Amanoi in the Ninh Thuan Province, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay (only accessible by boat) and Topas Ecolodge in the mountains of Hoang Lien National Park, which would all make the perfect base to explore this Southeast Asian country and taste its delicious regional dishes and diverse flavours. We can arrange any number of private foodie experiences both in the cities and in rural villages far from the crowds.
View from the pool at Topas Eco Lodge in Vietnam
Alternatively, for a very different culinary experience, you could head to Greenland to embrace nature and really disconnect from your everyday life. We can arrange a week of food and foraging, where you’ll meet small settlements of hunters and fishermen, and eat in one of the most remote restaurants on the planet.
Wildlife and nature is another major draw for many of our clients. In May, Tanzania opened its borders to international tourists. In order to avoid other people, we suggest that you fly straight to Kilimanjaro International Airport and then on to Singita’s Grumeti Reserve with whom we have worked for many years. Here, we can book out one of the lodges exclusively, where you will have your own vehicle and guide exploring this stunning, Big Five area. We also recommend spending a few extra nights here sleeping under canvas in the bush.
Singita Serengeti House in Tanzania
Ethiopia is perfect for avid safari-goers looking for something different. Although best known for its history, churches and culture, the country – whose borders are already open – is also home to some amazing endemic wildlife, such as geladas and walia ibex in the Simien Mountains and Ethiopian wolves in the Bale Mountains. We can arrange for a private plane to take you from A to B and set up exclusive luxury camps along the way in some of Ethiopia’s most spectacular locations.
Geladas, sometimes called bleeding-heart monkeys, in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains
For marine wildlife, nothing beats the Raja Ampat Islands in Indonesia. These far-flung isles, one of the best scuba-diving and snorkelling destinations on earth, are explored onboard one of our favourite boats. You may find yourself swimming with whale sharks, manta rays or sea turtles to name a few.
Indeed, many of us are yearning to travel to a tropical beach, where we can laze on the soft, powdery sand and soak up the sunshine. There is perhaps nowhere better to do this than The Maldives, which is open for visitors and where there is an island to suit everyone. In addition, we recommend one of our favourite beach destinations: North Island in The Seychelles. The border is already open and you can fly to Seychelles International Airport on Mahé, where your own helicopter will be awaiting you. Once on the island, your home will be a private villa and measures have been taken to ensure you can have little to no contact with staff or other guests if you so wish. Alternatively, The Brando in French Polynesia, which reopened in July, is another idyllic island retreat, where you can just sit back and relax in an otherworldly spot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, miles away from civilisation.
The Brando, an island retreat in French Polynesia
For those looking for a trekking adventure, there are several excellent options. One of the world’s best places for a walking safari is Zambia. We know the top small, owner-run lodges, bush camps and houses, or if you’re after the ultimate safari experience, we can arrange for you to walk between private camps in South Luangwa, Kafue or Lower Zambezi national parks, encountering glorious wildlife and magnificent scenery along the way. “You won’t find an overcrowded, contrived safari experience in Zambia,” says safari guide, Luke Evans. “It is unstaged. It is real. It has the people, the wildlife and the beauty. Add the history – walking safaris were pioneered here. Then add the adventure. Our wilderness speaks to your soul. This gives you the sense that every day is very much a journey of discovery. You are not wrapped in cotton wool. You have the freedom to explore. COVID-19 was like a reset button for much of the world. We realised that less is more.”
Anabezi Lodge, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia
In Asia, one of our favourite walking destinations is Bhutan. With no recorded deaths from COVID-19, this pristine kingdom is a particularly safe choice if you are looking to enjoy the fresh mountain air and beautiful landscapes on foot. There are some superb small luxury lodges, from where you can set out on awe-inspiring hikes with private guides who will open your eyes to the country’s timeless culture. “For me Bhutan has always been about escaping the stresses of daily life and reconnecting with nature and one’s inner self,” says Khin Omar Win, the co-founder of Gangtey Lodge. “We have just 12 rooms and are blessed to sit at the head of a pristine valley in the foothills of the Himalayas, which invites exploration for active bodies and inquisitive minds.” We can arrange for you to walk to little-visited monasteries, a craft workshop or farm cooperative, or set off on a longer trek to see the benefits of a policy of Gross National Happiness for yourself. Alternatively, Nepal – whose borders are opening later this month – is a great option, with its stunning Himalayan scenery and countless trails.
The historic mountain town of Paro in Bhutan
In South America, Peru is beginning to open up again, and when it does, its awe-inspiring landscapes and enthralling heritage make it very appealing to individuals, couples and families alike. Strict sanitisation protocols will be followed and your guide, driver and chef will accompany you every step of the way. We have the most delightful private villas in the Sacred Valley at our disposal, which make the ideal base for hiking to Machu Picchu and further adventures in the Andes. Our specialist guides know the best routes and timings to avoid other tourists, although we have been told that these spectacular Inca ruins are now as uncrowded as they were 15 years ago. We can also organise for you to explore secret Inca trails and deserted ruins on foot and off-the-beaten-track places by e-bike, paddleboard or raft, and can set up incredible luxury camps if you would prefer to really embrace the great outdoors. For those who have more time, we recommend spending a few nights in a private villa in the jungle at Inkaterra Reserva AmazÃ³nica or a suite at the Tambopata Research Centre in the Tambopata National Reserve.
Peru, a paddleboarding paradise
To really get off the beaten track, start planning your trip to New Zealand. Hardly touched by COVID-19, the country is all about the outdoors and magical scenery, and a private helicopter can take you wherever you wish to go. On North Island, we would recommend staying in one of the four houses at The Landing, a tranquil retreat in the Bay of Islands, a fabulous place to feast on scrumptious food, sip wines from the vineyard, mountain-bike, kayak or set out on their boat for picnics in secluded bays and more. On South Island, you can set sail onboard an exclusive catamaran at Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. Your skipper and his team will give you a fascinating insight into the history of the stunning area – Preservation Cove is where Captain Cook first landed in 1773 – as well as finding the best spots for fishing, scuba-diving and kayaking. “I sat in a kayak on perfectly still, reflecting water and watched the snow creeping down the mountains. It was glorious,” recounts Jo Speedy, our friend on the ground.
Onboard the private boat at The Landing, a tranquil retreat in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Consider neighbouring Australia, a direct flight away, if you’re hoping to escape somewhere remote. For space and immersion in nature, the Australian outback is perhaps unparallelled, with its vast, arid landscape dotted with mobs of kangaroos, emus, echidnas and many other species. The homestead at Arkaba Conservancy is a wonderful wilderness retreat, where days are spent on jeep or air safaris spotting interesting wildlife, hiking through the dry creek beds lined with red river gums or getting involved with Arkaba’s impressive conservation work. If you’re looking for a wild hideaway on the Great Barrier Reef, go to Lizard Island. Staying in a private pool villa or beachfront suite on Lizard feels as if you are at the end of the earth. You can spend your time here swimming, snorkelling, scuba-diving, going on boat trips to the inner and outer reef and learning about the island’s marine conservation efforts.
Arkaba Conservancy wilderness retreat, Australia
Costa Rica, which has just reopened its borders, is also home to private houses and small, isolated lodges in wild and beautiful surroundings. Great for families, this very safe Latin American country is renowned for its jungle retreats offering exciting adventures, such as white-water rafting at Pacuare Lodge or ziplining, biking or horse riding at Nayara Tented Camp in Arenal National Park. Afterwards, we suggest heading to Kasiiya Papagayo on the north-west coast. This tiny property is the perfect place to unwind on the beach at the end of your trip. “We are exceptionally private, with only seven suites on 123 acres of jungles and sea,” says Kasiiya’s owner. “We aim to provide the perfect balance between wilderness and comfort. Those looking for the utmost privacy can even book out the entire property and have our staff cater to your every need.”
Sunset platform at Kasiiya Papagayo, Costa Rica
If you’re looking for an offbeat holiday, Japan – a direct flight away – might not be the first place to come to mind. However, we can create an itinerary that combines the cities with some wonderfully secluded places. On any journey here, you will experience the omotenashi (meaning ‘hospitality’ or ‘service’) for which the country is famous. This deep-rooted concept, at the core of Japanese culture, centres around care rather than expectation, so you can be sure you will be looked after with the greatest care and attention to detail wherever you go. Whether you would like to hike the Kumano Kodo trail, stay in a tiny ryokan amid a bamboo forest, go skiing in Niseko or cycling around islands in the Seto Inland Sea, we can craft the perfect trip for you.
Skiing in Niseko, Japan
No two itineraries we design are the same – always starting with a blank piece of paper and a conversation. The world is opening up again, so get in touch for the most up-to-date information on our destinations. Now is the time to start planning your next extraordinary trip.