Five Best: Wildlife retreats
Saturday 02 February 2008
1. Vamizi Island Lodge, Mozambique
Vamizi Island is part of a vast eco-project covering a 33,000-hectare wildlife area in Maluane, in northern Mozambique. Maluane has a large elephant population, many antelope species, a growing number of predators and abundant tropical marine life. Low-impact tourism and conservation partnerships with the likes of London's Zoological Society should help it remain that way. Vamizi Island Lodge comprises 10 palm-thatched beachfront houses with four-poster beds, private lounges and shady verandas decked with Swahili day beds. Scuba-diving the pristine coral reef is the favoured pastime, along with watching the Samango monkeys chasing land crabs through the brush.
Vamizi Island Lodge (0027 11 884 8869; www.maluane.com). Doubles from $740 (£370), all-inclusive
2. Karanambu Ranch, Guyana
This place is remote. The sort of remote that means taking planes, boats and cars with lots of gears to get to it. This is arguably what makes Karanambu, deep in the Guyana's southern interior, so special. There is a private landing-strip but the long route, by dugout boat through jungle waterways, reveals such wildlife as harpy eagle, spider monkey and scarlet macaws. The welcoming committee at this rustic lodge is the pack of giant river otters that will be your co-guests. This ranch is based around an otter-rehabilitation centre, run by the inimitable Diane McTurk, a Guyana-born Scot with a passion for the rare creatures that has bought her the attention of David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell. Traditional clay, thatched cottages make up the accommodation, each en-suite with hammock-strung verandas.
For more information contact Wilderness Explorers (www.wilderness-explorers.com) or visit www.karanambu.com
3. Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge, Nepal
A stay at this venerable lodge within Nepal's Chitwan National Park offers one of the best chances to see a tiger in the wild. And how do they track the beasts here? Nothing so mundane as a 4x4 jeep but, rather, on elephant back. And if you aren't game for the big game, there are horses to ride out through the surrounding riverine forest. But with crocodile, leopard and great one-horned rhino as the big cat's companions, you might prefer to be up on elephant back. The lodge's simple, elegant, tree houses and bungalows are made from sustainable Nepali materials. The whole place is solar-powered and the food, local and western, is top notch.
Tiger Mountain Jungle Lodge (00 977 1436 1500; www.tigermountain.com). Doubles from £225 a night, all-inclusive
4. Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Borneo
People come to this nature reserve on the island of Kota Kinabalu for the orang-utans. But along with these marvellous mammals the place boasts pygmy elephants and 10 species of monkey. Built from local hardwood, this simple 20-room lodge is designed like a Malaysian long house and has an imposing raised jetty and riverside veranda structure, a covered rainforest boardwalk and an open-plan living area. Rainwater and solar energy provide the necessary fuel and the only access is by boat.
Sukau Rainforest Lodge (00 60 88 438300; www.sukau.com). Doubles from RM1,031 (£150) per person, per night, all-inclusive, including road and river transfer
5. Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia
Mongolian wildlife abounds at this luxury eco-expedition camp in the Gobi desert. Sheltered by a 47-million-year-old volcanic outcrop, the lodge was built with the participation of the local community to Mongolian-Buddhist architectural standards, without using a single nail, and utilises natural materials and renewable energy resources. Stay in 30 elegant gers, the hand-made felt tents of Mongolia's nomadic herders, here with western-style bathrooms and views of the vast Gobi-Altai mountain range. Hiking and horse-riding in the Gurvansaikhan National Park brings sightings of argali (wild sheep), ibex (wild goat), wolves and antelope.
Three Camel Lodge (00 976 11 313 396; www.threecamels.com), en-suite doubles from $120 (£60)
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