We can never have enough of nature. Henry David Thoreau, the writer, knew this, that the “tonic of wildness” is essential to our time on earth. Discover seven distinct places to answer this call of the wild, to relax and reconnect with the natural world.
1. Head in the cloud forest
Where: Retreat to the central highlands of Costa Rica at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, in the mountains of Bajos del Toro, four kilometres from Parque Nacional Juan Castro Blanco and six kilometres from the Catarata Del Toro waterfall.
Nature calls: Live at one with nature, with sliding glass doors keeping views of the forest that rises from the clouds close by and suites that blend into the landscape with its mountain peaks and river streams. Play your hand in the natural legacy of the terrain on a tree planting outing and get to know the region on hikes to the waterfall, bird watching trips, forest walks, or horse riding, zip-lining and river rafting adventures. Get in touch with the slower pace of the natural world with massages in the spa or yoga on the deck and get a taste for nature’s bounty in the restaurant with its floor-to-ceiling windows and stone fireplaces and dishes that highlight the traditional Costa Rican cuisine and use ingredients sourced from the organic mini-farm on-site.
2. A cabin in the woods
Where: Dunton Hot Springs is set in Dolores, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in the United States. Surrounding it is the San Juan National Forest, with its San Juan Mountains and landscape that changes with the seasons, from bright white snow to flaming orange in autumn.
Nature calls: A typical cabin-in-the-woods holiday, but with the pleasures of gourmet meals, fine wines and spa treatments included. Live among the stags, moose and coyotes, in one of the hand-built wooden log cabins or spacious tents, keep warm in front of wood-burning stoves, and enjoying meals in the saloon with its hardwood period bar. Cellphones not permitted, they advise. Head outdoors for cross-country or downhill skiing through the tall pines in the snow season and explore the surrounding trails on hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding excursions from spring to autumn – escorted, if you wish, by one of the experienced guides. Soak in the natural hot springs as plumes of steam rise from the water, rejuvenate with yoga and Pilates classes or cast your line into the West Fork of the Dolores River – considered one of the best places for fly-fishing in North America.
3. The adventurer’s retreat
Where: Board a sea plane or boat to begin your adventure to the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in Tofino, Canada, where huge tepees and tents lie amid an ancient temperate forest with cedar trees over 1,000 years old.
Nature calls: At Clayoquot, nature brings out the adventurer in those agreeable to its wild ways – with surf lessons on a secluded beach, horse rides, a hike with a First Nations guide to the “Wild Side” interpretive trail and Flores Island, kayaking down a rushing mountain-fed river or in the ocean to private inlets and hidden coves. Go in search of black bears and whales or scout out the wildlife on the outskirts of the camp. The streams run with wild salmon while the resort’s canine neighbourhood watch keep the bears and cougars that roam freely across the estate away from the guest tents. Other adventures include rock climbing, water-skiing, zip lining, archery and stand up paddle boarding.
4. Escape to the English Countryside
Where: Take time out in the wilds of the Dartmoor National Park in Devon in the United Kingdom, at Gidleigh Park. Set in a wooded valley on the upper reaches of the River Teign, nature abounds.
Nature calls: Surrounding the of the guest rooms overlook the beautiful gardens of the grounds and the river running through them - glimpse the first tulips of spring, the carpet of bluebells that follows and the azaleas, acers, alliums, camellias and rhododendrons, and the rich hues of autumn. Stroll through the water gardens along the pathways, to the sound of water trickling over pebbles, and visit the specially designed kitchen garden, with its seasonal produce destined for the kitchen. Throughout the year, you can go on gardening and foraging tours with the chef and estate manager. Don a pair of the wellingtons and stout walking boots available and head further out on the estate, with a self-guiding maps or a local guide, and a picnic rucksack. Further out in Dartmoor are a variety of trails that cater for all levels of walker, and experience the wildlife and natural vegetation at home here among the riverside trails, moorland, woodland, waterfalls and historical remains. Go fly fishing in the River Teign with its wild brown trout, sea trout and salmon, or spend time on the green at the Peter Allis designed 18-hole putting course.
5. Out of Africa
Where: 270 kilometres from Cape Town, the wide open plains and rugged rock formations of Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa, invite nature lovers to rest and reconnect, far away from city life.
Nature calls: This Cape Dutch-style farmhouse is at home in a private wilderness reserve area, with private patios in both the main lodge’s suites and the exclusive-use Koro Lodge greeting the fresh mountain air and views of the wilderness sanctuary. It is a place to relax among the reserve’s free-roaming wild animals – some of which are highly endangered. Get up close to them on nature drives, walks and mountain bike rides. Paddle the rivers that have left their mark on this mountain landscape on canoeing trips, swim in rock pools, go fly-fishing and take along a picnic, dine outdoors on authentic South African cuisine beneath the starriest of skies, or find your inner calm in the day spa that opens out onto a gentle mountain stream below. Experience this ancient land through the eyes of the original inhabitants – the Bushmen – with the reserve’s more than 130 rock art sites of ancient Bushman paintings, dating from ten thousand years ago.
6. The remote island getaway
Where: On a private peninsula at the edge of the Anjajavy Forest in a nature reserve, Anjajavy l’Hôtel consists of a beautiful ensemble of rosewood villas along the long sandy beach of Moramba Bay on the Indian Ocean’s Mozambique Channel.
Nature calls: Offering one of the most unique close-up encounters with nature in the world, Anjajavy l’Hôtel’s connection to the natural world begins in its landscaped garden, where some of the island’s rarest species of plants grow and where the curious lemurs come to play in the cooler hours. Nature’s touch continues with the warm Indian Ocean that laps on the beachfront a few steps from your villa and across the rest of the island – considered one of the last remaining unspoilt oases on the planet. Here you’ll get to explore virgin forests, savannas, tiny islands, deserted creeks, mysterious caves, little fishing villages and the Tsingy coral and encounter the uncanny lemurs, chameleons, tortoises, humming birds, cocoa, vanilla, ylang-ylang, papyrus and carnivorous plants – and, possibly, new, as-yet unknown native species which continue to be discovered for the first time by visitors each season. Harness nature’s serenity relaxing by the pool beneath the palm trees or on a romantic seaside sleepout with views across the horizon.
7. Beside Earth's highest navigable lake
Where: Titilaka Lodge in South America is as off-the-beaten-track as you’ll find, set on a remote private peninsula south of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca in the Andes. It lies at an elevation of 12,500 feet, on the border between Peru and Bolivia – the cradle of the Inca civilisation and still home to one of the oldest communities in South America.
Nature calls: After arriving at Juliaca Airport, you’ll be driven to the wharf, and then escorted by motorboat to this remote eco-lodge. Wake up to the view of Lake Titicaca, fall asleep to fierce sunsets and star-speckled night skies, and in between, explore the Inca and pre-Inca ruins and the floating reed islands of the Uros people. Go hiking or biking through the Andean scenery, and explore the Aymara route – through the natural landscapes and communities of the Chucuito peninsula who depend entirely on their interconnected relationship with nature. Explore the open fields and pastures, travelling from one spectacular lookout point to another, whether by car, bike, or foot, and look out for the local wildlife and birds, while making time for a lake-view picnic.