Whether you would like to charter a boat, stay in a private house or villa, retreat to your own tented camp, take over a lodge, have an island all to yourself or go on a remote walking adventure, we can easily arrange some truly special and exclusive trips in many of our favourite destinations. Below, we have outlined what we believe are six of the best ways to travel on your next trip.
1. Charter a boat
Chartering a boat is a brilliant way of getting friends and family together again after the lockdown. It is also a very good way of ensuring total privacy on your holiday. We are fully independent, so our only concern when choosing a private yacht or cruise is what is right for you. Our insider knowledge allows us to recommend the most spectacular routes, the utmost comfort, excellent food and best guides.
In The Galápagos Islands, we can arrange for you to have one of our favourite expedition yachts – Theory or Origin – all to yourself. This is a fantastic way to explore these wildlife-rich isles.
“Without any tourists since March, nature has taken a break and visitors can expect to see the Galápagos as it was 20 to 30 years ago,” says our Latin America expert, Milly Warr. “Both boats are incredibly comfortable and sophisticated, with a capacity of 20 passengers, which means they are split into small guiding groups of a maximum of eight people, a big plus. They also have their own glass-bottomed zodiac and stand-up paddleboards, which many boats do not have.”
Explore the wildlife-rich isles of The Galápagos Islands onboard a private boat
Equally amazing is a private boat trip down the River Nile in Egypt. Meandering along between Luxor and Aswan, you pass through some of the Nile Valley’s most picturesque and verdant scenery, home to some interesting bird species.
There is no better way to experience this mythical river – the journey gives you an intriguing glimpse of rural Egyptian life on the riverbanks and gives you the opportunity to interact with locals. It takes you to the treasures of Luxor and Aswan as well as some of the quieter, more isolated temples. We can book one of Nour el Nil’s fantastic dahabiyas – Meroe, Malouka, El Nil and Assouan – exclusively for you.
“Unlike many other boats, they are able to stop almost anywhere along the banks, which is a huge advantage,” reveals Destination Expert, Antonia Black. “Each characterful and atmospheric vessel is run by an Egyptian crew and the food served is mainly traditional local dishes.” Alternatively, Sanctuary Nile Zein Chateau – with just two suites and four cabins – is a wonderful option for a small group or family of 12.
There can be almost nowhere better for setting sail than Indonesia. One of our favourite boats available for private charter is the gorgeous Prana by Atzaro. Sleeping up to 18 in nine suites, this is the perfect retreat for large multigenerational families or groups of friends wishing to go island-hopping in this otherworldly corner of the planet. “Never had I felt so immediately relaxed than when we stepped onboard, welcomed by an incredible crew armed with lemongrass-scented towels and fresh papaya and pineapple juice,” remembers Antonia.
The perfect island-hopping experience in Indonesia
“This palatial, teak-and-ironwood phinisi super-yacht, spanning an impressive 55m, is one of a kind.” Designed to reflect the country’s traditional sailboats, it has been entirely handcrafted and the attention to detail across all four expansive decks and nine cabins is superb.
Prana by Atzaro, one of our favourite boats for private charter
For a larger group who would like to cover bigger distances, Aqua Blu sleeps 30 in 15 suites. “We were lucky to have four modern marine engines and a sleek yacht design with Quantum zero speed stabilisers in contrast to a traditional phinisi,” explains Co-Owner + Director Christopher Wilmost-Sitwell. “This allowed us to cover great distances in style and comfort, stopping off at various islands along the way. It was one of the most phenomenal trips I have ever been on.”
2. Stay in a private house or villa
Staying in a private house is a great way of experiencing a place if you’re looking for privacy. From beach houses in Mexico, South Africa and Indonesia to wilderness retreats in India, sub-Saharan Africa, the Arctic and Latin America, we can offer true exclusivity in some of the world’s most dramatic destinations. If you’re looking for your own slice of island paradise, we recommend the amazing private villas at Soneva Fushi in The Maldives. Sleeping from two to 20 people, they are spread out and have huge pools and plenty of space.
“They’re ideal for family stays or multigenerational groups,” states Asia expert, Venetia Stanley. “There is so much to do here, such as exploring by bicycle, snorkelling, desert island picnics and indulgent spa treatments. Located in the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere, the marine life there is phenomenal and there are always dolphins swimming off the edge of the reef.”
Enjoy your own slice of island paradise at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives
In Sri Lanka, we have access to some fabulous private villas both on the coast and in the undulating tea country. For an idyllic seaside bolthole, we suggest Sisindu C, a two-bedroom beach villa sleeping four. Situated on a quiet spot on the country’s south-west, coast, just a short drive from Galle, it has uninterrupted ocean views.
“The house is light and airy with a lovely swimming pool. This is a great beach option for families or small groups looking for seclusion but vibrant surroundings,” says Penny Buckley, Head of our Asia, the Middle East + Australasia team.
If you would like to escape to the Sri Lankan hills, Dutch House Bandarawela, sleeping four, would be one of our top recommendations. Set in beautiful scenery, here you will lose all sense of time as you sip Ceylon tea, play boardgames, swim in the indoor pool or relax in the richly decorated rooms. We also have some dreamy private houses up our sleeve for larger groups. If you’re looking for a peaceful and eco-friendly haven for up to 12 people, Sisindu T, a wonderful six-bedroom villa, might be the answer. Lying in a tea estate, it has views of the verdant hills as far as the distant coastline. Alternatively, Ashburnham, which can sleep 12 adults (or 10 adults and seven children) is another superb choice on a tea plantation. We can arrange for you to take over this stylish, homely refuge, where you will spend your days walking in the Knuckles Mountain Range, swimming in the pool or just unwinding with a book.
When you think of where to stay in Morocco, a traditional riad usually comes to mind. In fact, there are many lovely villas, particularly in and around the Palmeraie district of Marrakech, which are perfect if you are looking for privacy close to this vibrant city. One of our favourites is Ezzahra, a beautifully landscaped private estate with three incredible villas of varying sizes that can be taken separately or all together.
Villa Ezzahra, Morocco
For a very different experience, if you would like to get off the beaten path, you could explore the country’s secret south, staying in impeccably designed traditional village houses along the way.
“This is all about experiencing a lesser-known part of Morocco in the utmost privacy with a team of staff dedicated to you,” explains Claire Ferguson, Head of our Africa + the Indian Ocean team. “The areas you visit offer some of the most striking landscapes found in the country to my mind. You stay in a different private house each night and have your own guide and chef throughout.”
Explore Morocco’s secret south
If you’re hoping to get away from it all on an Arctic adventure, head to Logger’s Lodge in the depths of Swedish Lapland. This luxury wilderness lodge – originally built in 1942 for loggers transporting timber down the river that lies just metres away – is surrounded by forest and wonderfully isolated, sleeping just two people. You can enjoy uninterrupted wild scenery and skies unaffected by light pollution, making it an ideal viewing point for admiring the Northern Lights darting across the sky. The owner and your personal chef stay in a house across the road, on hand to deliver delicious, organic meals and look after you. You’ll also have your own wood-fired sauna and outdoor hot-tub to use day or night.
Luxury in the wilderness at Logger’s Lodge, Swedish Lapland
3. Retreat to your own tented camp
In Africa, a great example of this is Enasoit Camp in Laikipia, Kenya. “This is a wonderfully secluded safari option – perfect for family groups,” discloses Africa expert, Millie Summers. “Enasoit sleeps up to 16 people in six tented cottages and two pool house cottages. Guests get exclusive use of the camp and the surrounding reserve, offering them a completely private safari experience without seeing other tourists, even on a game drive. The main mess tent and the tented rooms down on the plains all have plenty of relaxation space, log fires and views of the waterhole, so wildlife regularly comes to drink while you are sitting comfortably on the sofa! There is a wonderful swimming pool and pool house just up the hill, where leisurely lunches can be enjoyed.” We highly recommend that our clients end their trip with a private charter of Enasoit’s dhow, Tusitiri, in the Lamu archipelago following their safari.
Breakfast with a view at Enasoit Camp in Laikipia, Kenya
Similarly, you can stay at some extraordinary fly camps in Zambia. This is authentic safari at its purest, with bucket showers, no electricity and certainly no Wi-Fi, and it’s ideal if you are looking to get back to the real essence of the African bush. “You have the camp all to yourself and feel as if you are sleeping under the stars, as the tent walls are made of mosquito-proof gauze,” says Africa expert, Cara Maitland.
On the other side of the world, in Australia’s rugged Blue Mountains, there is another wonderful bush camp that you can have all to yourself. Here, James Castrission, a modern-day explorer with several ‘firsts’ under his belt, will be your host. Surrounded by awe-inspiring nature, you will spend your time here abseiling, canyoning, mountain-biking, doing early morning yoga and bush walking. The area is known for its dramatic scenery, encompassing steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and villages. “Spending an evening in the beautiful Blue Mountains, sitting around a roaring campfire and listening to James inspire you with his enthralling tales, is very special and memorable,” describes Penny Buckley. “His ability to engage his listeners and share in his experiences is an art.”
Glamping in Australia’s Blue Mountains
4. Take a lodge exclusively
Tarkuni, the homestead at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in South Africa, is one of Africa’s top safari lodges that can be taken for exclusive use. With five individual suites, sleeping a total of 10 guests, this stunning dwelling is the perfect place for a family or group of friends to have South Africa’s largest private reserve almost all to themselves.
Tarkuni, the homestead at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in South Africa
The same goes for India‘s Samode Safari Lodge, on the edge of Bandhavgarh National Park, home to the highest density of tigers in the world. We can arrange for all 12 villas, full of character and heritage, to be taken so that you have the whole lodge to yourself. This cosy bush retreat is really well run by a fantastic team who will ensure you have an unforgettable stay.
Samode Safari Lodge, Bandhavgarh National Park, India
Similarly, in Colombia, Casa Oropéndola (formerly Casa Galavanta) is a four-bedroom private lodge, sleeping eight, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Its glorious setting overlooking the Carribean Sea and surrounded by cloud forests and coffee fields makes it a wonderful place for clients interested in trekking, yoga, coffee and, of course, birding; more than 20 endemic bird species reside here. “We love this place,” enthuses Milly Warr. “It’s remote and located up in the clouds, so it is super quiet and peaceful. It almost feels like you’re in heaven! The house itself is gorgeous, with hammocks to lie in and take everything in. You are also very well looked after by the host and chef.”
Casa Oropéndola in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada Mountains
5. Take over a private island
If you’re looking for a far-flung island surrounded by its own marine reserve, nowhere beats Thanda. Located in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Tanzania, it offers pure isolation, an idyllic place where families and friends can gather in a naturally secluded environment. There is a five-suite villa and two beach bandas, which together sleep up to 19 guests, as well as a swimming pool, tennis court and a fully equipped gym. The team, ranging from the resident marine biologist and guides, masseuses, chefs and hosts, design daily activities that ensure you have a thoroughly memorable stay, such as a surprise breakfast on an uninhabited isle or special sundowners on a sandbank that disappears with the tide. There is also a boat house with sailing boats, kayaks, paddleboards, wakeboards, sea-bobs, water-skis and snorkelling equipment. The more adventurous can spot blacktip reef sharks on night-time snorkels straight from the beach and swim, ethically, with whale sharks from November to March.
Far-flung Thanda Island, off Tanzania, is surrounded by tropical waters and its own nature reserve
In Belize, there is another heavenly island, which could be yours for a relaxing and adventurous getaway. Coral Caye, on the Belize Barrier Reef, is a two-acre island eight miles off the mainland. The island sleeps up to 10 people in a charming house and two rustic cottages, all decorated in a light, airy and seaside-inspired style. There is a small, sandy beach, gently lapped by the Caribbean Sea and backed by mangroves. Privacy and solitude are the name of the game here, and the island’s staff are on hand to serve you a tasty breakfast, light lunch and fresh fish on the barbecue in the evening, Creole style.
Sleep up to 10 people at Coral Caye on the Belize Barrier Reef
6. Go on a remote walking adventure
Having been cooped up over the last few months, many of us are longing to get out on an active adventure again. We can design some unforgettable journeys, such as a relaxing walking holiday in Bhutan, where you stay in small lodges that have just a handful of rooms and can be booked out exclusively. These make a great base for exploring the gently undulating valleys on foot. We also recommend spending a night in a private camp in the Punakha Valley, a wonderful experience.
Punakha Dzong, Bhutan
Alternatively, go walking with camels in northern Kenya. “This completely private experience is one of the most authentic ways to see Africa,” says Africa expert, Millie Summers, who did this a few years ago. “It really is a trip like no other and it offers a unique perspective not only of the animals but also the land they live in. Like the nomads, you will walk from camp to camp with a train of Maasai, Samburu and Turkana tribesmen and camels who carry your camping provisions. It is back to basics but it is very comfortable and the food is delicious, particularly considering it is served up in the middle of nowhere and washed down with nice cold drinks – all important after a good long walk. You gain a great sense of freedom and it’s incredible to have this kind of wilderness experience with these Samburu guides who know this part of Kenya better than anyone.”
Walking with the Maasai in Kenya
Above are just a handful of examples to inspire you, as every trip we create is tailor-made to you. Now is the time to start booking your next extraordinary holiday.