Nature lodges in Australia’s Tasmania, South Africa’s Kruger National Park and Chile’s Atacama Desert provide opportunities to commune with sea, savannah and desert.
The flowing form of the colossal windows of Saffire Freycinet in Tasmania evokes the panoramic coast, referencing the waves and sand dunes of Coles Bay. Décor draws on the surrounding region: the pink granite of the Hazards Mountains and the grey-green of native bushland are interrupted by punches of orange, taken from the startling colours of lichen that grow on the driftwood and rocks of the pristine coastal landscape.
This seamless unity between inside and outside is key to Saffire Freycinet’s ability to relax and rejuvenate its guests, who can use the space as informally as if they are relaxing in a coastal home. Wander around the peninsula at leisure, or enjoy a guided tour of a local aquaculture farm, or a nature walk.
Some of Australia’s best fine food and wine is produced on Saffire’s doorstep. Tasmania’s Mediterranean conditions are reflected in stunning cool-climate wines, and local fishermen supply crayfish, scallops and deep-sea fish every day, still salty-sweet and fresh. Oysters and mussels are farmed in nearby Great Oyster Bay, and the chefs pick the best of the local farm produce. Palate Restaurant will tailor dining to guests’ requirements, and provide a new twist to favourite dishes.
Space is the big luxury at Saffire Frecinet. Suites range in size from 80 to 140 square metres, while offering a high standard of luxury, alluring views, generous relaxation areas and an eclectic mix of furnishings. Men are especially welcomed at the spa, with treatments that reflect personal preferences.
Few sounds are as chilling as the laugh of a hyena in the dead of night, telling guests at the Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, set within a private game reserve in Kruger National Park, that if they take a step too far, they are fair game.
The entrance to the avant garde Earth Lodge, sculpted into the side of the earth, is a hidden corridor leading to a panorama of the South African bush. The lodge’s 13 luxurious suites break with traditional style, with wooden sculptures adding their own magic, while a languid leopard may saunter into view as one lies in bliss at the Amani Spa.
Lions, elephants, rhinoceros and leopards all roam free in the bush, and on a single summer’s day there are more bird species than many will see elsewhere in a lifetime. The animals dictate the shape of the day, so early starts become exciting pursuits on open Land Rovers. The staff are dedicated to conservation.
An outdoor boma, its walls sculpted from tree roots, captures the drama of the night and the power of the wilderness, and is a popular place for dining by lantern light — enclosing guests rather than animals.
Nature is laid bare in Chile’s Atacama Desert, and its nakedness allows guests at Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Spa to fully appreciate the strength and beauty of the volcanic Andes. The landscape is extreme in its variety, with a barren brick orange contrasting with lush river canyons.
Alto Atacama, located in a fertile valley, is built in the style of a traditional adobe settlement. Its lines follow the angles of the surrounding cliffs, the walls are the colour and texture of the soil, and the roof tiles are of native wood.
The 32 spacious rooms follow the Alto Atacama concept of simple luxury, tranquility and space, while intimate settings provide opportunities to enjoy fine dining, Chile’s excellent wines, a spa, hot springs and swimming pools, and the company of people from around the world.
The Lascar volcano erupts every few years, and geysers gush hot water and steam. Flamingos, llamas, vicuñas and other animals, along with some rare plants, have adapted to the desert. The Incas once thrived here, and remnants of Spanish settlement are all around.
The skies of northern Chile are some of the clearest in the world, and at nightfall the lodge is the perfect place to ponder the universe.
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