There’s no feeling quite like warming by a roaring campfire out in the wilderness, beneath the stars. In our busy, modern, tech-heavy lives, getting back to nature feels more and more important. Whether it’s by lakes or rivers, high up in towering mountains or on wildlife-filled grasslands, spending time in the great outdoors is a way to feel reinvigorated, a time to switch off phones and laptops, to breathe fresh air and enjoy stillness and peace.
But the days when camping meant scrimping on style and comfort are long gone. Glamping stepped in, offering the same away-from-it-all feel, only with comfortable beds, en-suite bathrooms, heating, lighting and even antique furniture and local art, not to mention gourmet meals, cocktails and fine wines, plus swimming pools, gyms and spas.
Of course, even when it comes to glamping, the natural setting is the star, whether it’s the deserts of Mongolia, the jungles of India or the beaches of Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Here are 12 of the world’s best glamping experiences, combining creature comforts with incredible locations and unforgettable adventures.
Three Camel Lodge
Gurvansaikhan National Park, Mongolia
Breathing spaces don’t come much vaster than the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The Three Camel Lodge is a wilderness ger (traditional nomadic tent) camp in the shadows of the Gobi-Altai Mountains of Gurvansaikhan National Park, with a main lodge and 50 tents that blend into the rugged desert landscapes. Open from mid-May until mid-October each year, the camp sits in a prime location for outdoor adventurers, with hiking, horseback riding and camel-trekking—though the most memorable way to explore is via the camp’s motorcycles with sidecars. There’s also a chance to see local wildlife, including ibex, mountain sheep and soaring raptors. Each ger comes with a hand-painted wooden bed, a wood-burning stove and 24-hour solar electricity. There’s also a desert spa and, in the main lodge, the Bulagtai Restaurant and Thirsty Camel Bar.
Shinta Mani Wild
Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia
Cambodia’s Cardamom mountains are one of southeast Asia’s conservation success stories, with wildlife poaching now largely replaced by ecotourism. Located on the border of three national parks (Kirirom, Bokor and Cardamom), the recently launched Shinta Mani Wild was created by renowned architect Bill Bensley with 15 custom-designed tents containing plush armchairs, travel trunks and framed photos, with mesh windows looking out onto forest greenery. The camp is reached via a dramatic zip-line ride, and the tents sit on the edge of a river that flows through the camp. Wildlife and nature are the big draws, with the jungle home to wild elephants, bears, gibbons and tigers. Guests can track animals with dedicated rangers and conservation experts.
Makgadikgadi National Park, Botswana
Makgadikgadi National Park in Botswana has vast salt flats, desert, baobab trees and rocky outcrops, all of it home to elephants, lions and desert-adapted species, from ostriches to meerkats. San Camp is one of Africa’s most romantic camps, resting on the shores of the shimmering Makgadikgadi salt pans and tucked away on an island of palm trees. The interiors of the camp’s seven white tents’ contain Persian rugs, antiques and four-poster beds. 4x4s are on hand for game drives, though it’s even more exciting to set out on quad bikes, on horseback or on foot with the local San Bushmen. Also worth a mention in the same region is the legendary Jack’s Camp, which is currently being rebuilt, set to relaunch in May 2020 to celebrate the pioneering camp’s 25th anniversary.
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Siari is the first arrival in a major new $1.8 billion Costa Canuva development project in the Riviera Nayarit, about 50 miles north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s west coast, soon to be home to a golf course and new hotels, including a recently announced Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Siari’s glamping site comes from Hamak Hotels, the Mexican company behind Cartesiano Hotel in Puebla and Chablé Maroma in the Riviera Maya, two of Mexico’s most stylish recent openings. Set on 2.5 miles of private beach, the tents have elegant-but-rustic interiors, each with an outdoor hot tub and outdoor shower. As well as lazing on the beach, guests can explore by kayak or paddleboard, or head out for some snorkeling, fishing, scuba diving or hiking.
Ranthambore National Park, India
Tigers are the key reason to visit India’s Ranthambore National Park, and Aman-i-Khas, a safari outpost from the renowned Aman resort brand, is on the threshold of the park, with daily jeep safaris offering the chance to glimpse the big cats, as well as other local wildlife, including crocodiles, leopards, jackals and around 300 species of birds. Mughal-inspired tents have plenty of space in bedrooms and lounge areas, bathrooms separated by cotton drapes and private sundecks for watching passing birds. It’s also possible to take camel safaris through villages on the outskirts of the park and on bird-watching treks along the Banas riverbed. Back at the camp, relax with spa treatments and dinner under the stars.
The Resort at Paws Up
Set on 37,000 acres of Montana wilderness, the Resort at Paws Up is the consummate campgrounds, situated between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. The ‘Wild West’ luxury ranch resort combines top-class service and accommodations with outdoor possibilities, including fly-fishing, rappelling or even taking part in an authentic cattle drive. For something more sedate, there are treatments available at Spa Town, the resort’s tented spa. The resort has six luxury campsites, including Riverside Camp, Cliffside Camp and, the newest, North Bank Camp, with tents containing wooden furniture, colorful cushions and photographs of local animals, including bison. The ranch also just announced a new private-air transfer partnership with XOJET.
Dar Ahlam Nomad Camp
Sahara Desert, Morocco
Covering an area almost as large as the entire United States, the Sahara Desert was made for explorers. Dar Ahlam Nomad Camp in southern Morocco helps travelers to see the colorful desert in style, well-located for enjoying the golden dunes and clear starry night skies. In the evocatively named Valley of the Roses, the canvas-wrapped tents are furnished with Moroccan textile–covered cushions and Berber kilims (woven rugs), with en-suite bathrooms and private terraces to enjoy the views and night skies. This is a place for campfire drinks and starlit romantic meals, including Moroccan specialties, such as tagines and harira.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
There’s a Mongolian influence to Patagonia Camp’s luxurious yurts or gers (portable round tents) but the surroundings are pure Patagonian. The camp is just outside Torres del Paine National Park, with views of Lake Toro and the towering, snowy, spiky granite peaks of Cuernos del Paine (‘Paine Horns’), one of the park’s strikingly jagged landscapes. Each comfortable and elegantly furnished yurt has a private bathroom, heating, a ceiling window for stargazing and its own terrace, with some also coming with their own outdoor hot tub and lounge areas with outdoor fireplaces.
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle
Chiang Rai, Thailand
There aren’t many places in the world where you can see three countries from one spot, but Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle is one of them, with views out across northeast Thailand, where the camp is located, and neighboring Laos and Myanmar. Tucked away in the Golden Triangle region, the main reason to visit is to see and spend time with rescued elephants, including guided walks with the lumbering giants, though there are also bamboo jungles, mountain trails and nearby Buddhist temples to explore. Each tent has its own themed décor with local artifacts and furniture, as well as views out across the Ruak River, Myanmar, the mountains of Laos and the forests of the Golden Triangle.
Singita Mara River Tented Camp
Serengeti Game Reserve, Tanzania
Set in the 99,000-acre Singita Lamai private concession at the northern tip of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, Singita Mara River Tented Camp has a prized position on a bend in the Mara River, with the Serengeti to the south and Kenya’s Masai Mara to the north, a great spot for watching the wildebeest crossings during the great migration. The camp operates entirely on solar energy, with safari tents given a modern East African design by award-winning South African interior designer Cécile & Boyd, with natural fabrics, bright Maasai colors and African arts and crafts. As well as watching the local wildlife, there are bespoke wine tastings with the camp’s sommelier.
Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat
British Columbia, Canada
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort has an edge-of-the-world feel. The Relais & Château, all-inclusive, eco-safari resort sits at the mouth of the Bedwell River, near Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island on Canada’s Pacific Coast. Its wilderness location in a UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve is accessible only by seaplane, helicopter or boat. Twenty-five white canvas safari-style tents have cast-iron stoves, en-suite bathrooms with heated floors, private outdoor showers and antique furnishings, with plenty more comforts across the camp, from wellness spa treatments to gourmet cuisine. But the pristine wilderness is the main attraction, with activities including hiking, biking, whale- and bear-watching, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking and helicopter adventures.
One of the newest additions to the Indonesian island paradise of Bali, Capella Ubud is another tented camp designed by Bill Bensley. The camp’s 22 tents are immersed in the rainforest, around 30 minutes from Ubud, the town and surrounding area famous for Hindu temples, yoga and spiritual retreats, and luminous rice terraces. Each tent takes inspiration from the early European expeditions to Bali in the 1800s, and comes with its own private plunge pool, lounge area and outdoor deck and, inside, four-poster bed, dark wood furniture and ornate Indonesian décor. Glampers can also venture out to Ubud’s markets and temples, as well as the nearby Monkey Temple.