Travel: Go off-grid and make the middle of nowhere your next dream destination
Plan a meaningful trip for 2021 at one of the world's most remote eco lodges, says Sarah Marshall
MANY of us are aching to get travelling again, to explore far-flung corners of the globe untouched by events of the past year. When things open up, we'll want to make sure our time and money is spent wisely and our impact on the environment is minimal.
Here are some of the world's most remarkable and remote eco retreats; places where travel becomes both a positive and restorative force.
:: Shinta Mani Wild, Cambodia
Surrounded by three of Cambodia's wildest national parks, 15 safari-style tents occupy a river valley once vulnerable to poaching, mining and logging activities. By offering local communities an alternative source of income, the area is protected, while the camp has also upped its eco game by banning single-use plastics and bottling water on site. Locally foraged ingredients are used in the restaurant and spa, and to complete the jungle experience, guests can arrive by zip-line.
How: Audley Travel (audleytravel.com; 01993 838 160) tailor-make a 14-day trip to Cambodia, including a three-night all-inclusive stay at Shinta Mani Wild from £7,200 per person, including flights.
:: Azura Marlin Beach, Mozambique
Escaping crowds requires some effort, so you'll need to take a helicopter to reach this idyllic Indian Ocean-lapped island in the Bazaruto archipelago. Home to Africa's only population of endangered dugongs, it's a pristine hideaway where efforts have been made to erase even footprints in the sand. Every brick in this new luxury resort, which opened in October, has been made by hand; other materials were sourced locally, including wooden beams made from trees felled by storms. Financial contributions are made to a variety of social and environmental projects, benefitting communities.
How: Rooms from £540pp per night. Book through The Luxury Safari Company (theluxurysafaricompany.com; 01666 880 111).
:: Wolwedans Private Camp, Namibia
An endless sprawl of ever-changing shapes and impressions, deserts invite focus and contemplation; few other landscapes spell out solitude in quite the same way. Catering to just six people, this private lodge is part of the NamibRand Nature Reserve, where conservation efforts have earned the area International Dark Sky Reserve status. At night, stars shine so bright, it feels as if the sky is ablaze. Using sustainable technologies, the camp has been designed to minimise environmental impact; it can easily be dismantled and moved away.
How: Full board stays from £479 per night (four sharing). Book through Lankester White (lankesterwhite.com; 07876 682 291).
:: Mar al Cielo, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Washed by the ocean and blessed with blue skies, this simple but spectacular two-bedroom lodge is surrounded by jungle and sand. Located in a nature reserve close to Lo de Marcos on Mexico's Riviera Nayarit, it offers access to quiet beaches and wild forest treks. A private chef can prepare meals in a nearby pavilion, where yoga is also available. Time a visit with the annual humpback whale migration from November until the end of March; blue whales, sperm whales and orcas can also be seen.
How: Rates from £166 per night (minimum two-night stay). Visit maralcielo.com.
:: Cosmoledo Eco Camp, Seychelles
With a name like Wizard Island, this jungle castaway in the Cosmoledo atoll is guaranteed to be magical. Perched on removable plinths, designed not to disturb the powder-soft sand, eight shipping containers have been repurposed as sea-facing 'eco pods'. Continuing the recycling theme, tables have been constructed from tree trunks, hanging lamps made from fishing nets and all cleaning products used are fully biodegradable. Spend days snorkelling, diving and kayaking, or have lunch on the flats with warm water lapping your ankles.
How: Pods cost £658 per night. Visit bluesafari.com.