Four of the most isolated resorts in the world
These four middle-of-nowhere retreats promise an isolated and inspiring experience unlike any other.
If privacy is the greatest standard of luxury, only a few resorts in the world can truly call themselves top-notch. Finding a secret slice of paradise — whether on a far-flung island, an expanse of hidden desert, or a secluded stretch of savanna — isn't always easy, but once you've found it, you'll never want to leave.
Read on to discover four middle-of-nowhere retreats that promise an isolated — and inspiring — experience unlike any other.
Australians may be surprised to see you in the "Top End," the northernmost stretch of their country's vast and sparsely inhabited Northern Territory. Even their own compatriots rarely make it up this far, where the one city of any significance — Darwin: population 142,000 — is a blip in an endless expanse of savanna, swampland, and sandy coastline. A 3-hour drive or 30-minute flight east of Darwin lies Bamurru Plains, an African-safari-style Outback retreat that is equal parts peaceful and exhilarating.
Set on a 303-square-kilometre ranch outside Kakadu National Park, Bamurru Plains consists of 10 corrugated-tin cabins elevated on stilts above the floodplain of the Mary River. Rather than glass windows, the cabins are lined on three sides with floor-to-ceiling screens, opening visitors to the sights and sounds of local wildlife — but never to neighbouring guests. Soft breezes and sunlight filter through the screens in the mornings, along with the sweet tweets of birds, the thumping of passing wallabies, and the grunts of the ranch's Asian water buffalo.
Like the floodplains of southern Africa, the scrubland turns to a sea of greens and blues after the rainy season. From May to October, guests can explore this temporary water world by air boat, a thrilling high-speed safari where the area's massive saltwater crocodiles — which can reach lengths over 6 metres — are the main attraction. (The ranch loses about 600 of its buffalo per year to the crocs.)
Bamurru Plains also offers safaris by foot, four-wheel drive, and ATV, as well as boat trips on nearby Sampan Creek, said to be the most densely populated crocodile habitat in Australia. (bamurruplains.com) — _Bruce Wallin_
Explora Rapa Nui
Located 3700 kilometres of the coast of South America on Chile's Easter Island, Explora Rapa Nui may be the most remote resort of all. The luxuriously appointed 30-room lodge — which is accessible via five-hour flights departing from Santiago, Chile or Tahiti — offers more than 20 cultural and outdoor excursions on the 163-square-kilometre island, which by some measures is the most isolated inhabited landmass on earth.
Guests can hike and bike through the island's rugged terrain under the watchful eyes of the ancient stone Moai statues, catch a glimpse of the abundant sea life with day-long snorkel trips, and — if stays are timed right — participate alongside locals in the 10-day long Tapati festival. (explora.com) — _Phoebe Neuman_
Dar Ahlam Nomad
You set off from Dar Ahlam, the fanciful kasbah near the Moroccan town of Skoura, and head deep into the desert toward Erg Mhazil, where the resort's exclusive-use tented sibling, Dar Ahlam Nomad, sits among sculpted sand dunes and little more.
When you first arrive, the highest dune is a sight for sore eyes, with colourful cushions and rugs laid out to welcome you for a spot of mint tea. Refreshed, you're then led to your tent, with its suite-quality double bed, embroidered pillows, and brass lanterns.
At sunset, a dinner table hidden behind another dune is set with fragrant harira soup, followed by a traditional veal stew and a verbena-scented orange salad to finish. Musicians play softly amid a spread of flickering candles; here, can you take in a sky full of stars — and the rare feeling of absolute solitude that comes with it. ( darahlam.com)) — _Laurie Werner_
Most make the trek to Wilderness Safaris' Serra Cafema, located in the extreme northwest of Namibia, for the chance to visit with the Himba people — one of the world's last truly semi-nomadic tribes. The camp offers one of the most authentic and respectful ways to interact with the Himba community in the country, working closely with the tribe's leaders to give guests an opportunity to learn about their lifestyle and customs.
The eight-villa camp is also on the banks of the Kuene River, which separates Namibia and Angola and is one of the only permanent water sources in this corner of the Namib Desert — making it an excellent place for viewing wildlife like the 4.3-metre-long Nile crocodile. (wilderness-safaris.com) — _Phoebe Neuman_