By Chinmoy Lad
The rugged wilderness has always been a natural calling to mankind – after all, mankind was shaped by it before by inventing agriculture, creating colonies and discovering civilisation. But the adventurer has found a way to escape the chaos of cities and going back to mankind’s roots by roughing it out and camping in nature. Luxury travellers have always prized accommodation that are at one with nature, but these have primarily been ensconced within southern Africa by way of safari lodges and tented camps. Tented camps, often referred to as glamping, typically offer all the modern comforts of hotel rooms, suites or villas, but in unique accommodation that offers a glimpse of the power of the wild. Some arose to experience wildlife, but tented camps have a history dating back millenia to the nomads and nomadic tribes. However, a rise in the need for nature has resulted in a selection of tented camp resorts outside Africa, some along traditional nomadic routes, offering a mix of raw nature and cultural experiences with luxury.
Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai
In the harshness of the desert, it is best to describe Al Maha as an oasis. Only an hour’s drive from Dubai, Al Maha showcases the heritage and architecture of the Bedouins against the backdrop of the dunes, where gazelles and the Arabian onyx roam free, visible from your suites that each come replete with a private plunge pool.
Aman-i-Khas, Ranthambore, Rajasthan, India
Ten highly-exclusive identical tents sit on the outskirts of Ranthambore National Park, famous for housing one of India’s largest populations of tigers and other wildlife. While the main draw, wildlife is not the only attraction in the vicinity, with a range of cultural excursions including a visit to the daunting Ranthambore Fort. The tents are luxurious (108 sqm/1,162sqft), the food is rustic yet refined, and the service is exemplary, with each tent provided a dedicated batman (or butler), who will even accompany you on your journey from Delhi to Sawai Madhopur, replete with refreshments for the arduous road ahead.
Kasbah Tamadot, Asni (near Marrakech), Morocco
Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition retreat, set at the foothills of the imposing Atlas Mountains outside of Marrakech, is a traveler’s dream. While the retreats hosts several room types including a more traditional structure, the ten Berber tents are each individually decorated with traditional Moroccan furnishings and select antiques and items from the vast collection of the resort’s previous owner, Luciano Tempo.
Longitude 131°, Uluru, Australia
Staring stark at one of the wonders of the world, Longitude 131° features 15 tented structures built at the edge of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in central Australia, each with a view of the outback icon, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, a large plateaued sandstone formation in an otherwise flat landscape. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer spectacular views of the red rock, perfect for waking up to see the sun soaring, or camp at night gazing at an array of glittering stars in the balcony by a toasty roaring fire.
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand
At this crossroads of Southeast Asia that connects Burma, Laos and northern Thailand, the historic Golden Triangle region, Four Seasons’ Tented Camp Golden Triangle offers guests the chance to explore the region’s bamboo jungles and to interact with rescued elephants in their natural habitat. The elevated tents are luxuriously appointed, some with hot tubs on the outdoor deck.
The Serai, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
One of the very first Relais&Chateaux-accredited properties in India, this tented camp site set on the outskirts of Jaisalmer draws inspiration from the royal caravan sites of the Rajputana. Away from the chaos of Jaisalmer, the retreat is a throwback to a colonial age. Aside from excursions to Jaisalmer and Jaisalmer Fort, one of the key highlights here are the evenings, where the silence of the calm night is punctuated by haunting folk songs by the local Rajasthani Manganiyar singers.