Sleeping With the Animals

We've found 4 locations sure to please both your sense of adventure and your need for ultimate relaxation.
By: Erica Walsh


'Kangaroos in an animal farm.'

Photo by: Satheesh Nair

Satheesh Nair

There's nothing quite as exhilarating as watching wild animals roam freely in their natural habitat. But wouldn't it be nice to combine that exhilaration and awe with the comforts of a luxury resort? We've found 4 locations sure to please both your sense of adventure and your need for ultimate relaxation.

Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa
Queensland, Australia
Australia's Daintree Rainforest has been in existence for over 110 million years and it represents the largest surviving tract of tropical lowland on the Australian continent. The region includes a total of 7 wildlife habitats: billabong, open grassland, mangroves, riverine, lowland forest, creeks and estuary habitats. The Daintree River is home to estuarine crocodiles and over 200 species of fish and crustaceans.

Amidst this natural wilderness sits the Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa. Fifteen tranquil rainforest villas nestled among the world's oldest living rainforest; the resort is an intimate and organic getaway. You'll feel as though you've entered another world, but don't worry, you won't have to forgo your favorite creature comforts. Each villa has air conditioning, TV, clean comfortable linens and a telephone.

Aborigine guides will escort you through the surrounding forest, providing cultural and botanical information. At the nearby waterfall, you'll see King Ferns that date back almost 400 million years. Appreciate this awe-inspiring ecosystem as the Aborigines do -- not simply a forest, but a kitchen, medicine chest, tool shed and church.

At the Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa, experience a truly unique relationship between man and nature. Nature walks, yoga, Pilates, energetic healings and cultural studies all draw from the energy of this fascinating and humbling environment.

Cape Cassini Wilderness Retreat
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
The Cape Cassini Wilderness Retreat is Kangaroo Island's only eco-accredited bed and breakfast. Located on the island's north coast, guests can watch wild kangaroos, wallabies and birds from the comfort of the retreat. Cape Cassini's commitment to sustainability and responsible travel includes solar and wind energy, an organic orchard and vegetable garden and a separate waste system.

The retreat offers several guided hikes across the island, some hosted by owner, David Welford. The Coastal Wildlife walk showcases the island's Little Penguins and encourages guests to explore the island's many caves for fossils. Other walks available are the Orchid Gully Wildlife walk and the Cliff Top View -- both featuring spectacular views and wildlife-spotting.

If the Cape Cassini Wilderness Retreat has inspired your inner do-gooder or reinvigorated your commitment to go green, consider partaking in their working holiday. In exchange for 4 hours a day, the retreat will reduce your rates by 50 percent. Work includes helping in the organic orchard, collecting firewood, marking trails and cleaning storm debris. The offer is open for 3-night minimum stays between June and September.

Tarangire Treetops
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Perched in ancient Baobab and Marula trees, the Tarangire Treetops lodge overlooks a path of elephant migration. Twenty suites, each with private balconies, provide views of the lodge's watering hole and the animals that quench their thirst there. The Tarangire National Park is home to some of the largest herds of elephants in Africa, as well as buffalos, lions, cheetahs and leopards.

Treetops offers guided game walks and night tours, including a cultural learning experience centered on the unique lifestyle of the ancient Kenyan tribe, the Masai. The establishment of the Treetops resort has resulted in positive developments for these Masai villages, including improved water facilities, a school and local employment.

The lodge prides itself on offering guests a luxury experience as well as an eco-friendly and educational one. The suites are spacious, clean and comfortable; the Sundowner Bar offers a fine selection of wines and authentic native fare is served every night in the camp's restaurant.

When planning your trip, keep in mind that the camp is closed during April and May.

The Oberoi Vanyavilas
Ranthambhore, India
Located on the edge of the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, The Oberoi Vanyavilas is India's leading luxury jungle resort. Their tents are covered in finely embroidered canopies and feature lavish bathrooms and private walled gardens -- a little distance between you and the tigers is a good thing.

Named for the hills Ran and Thanbhor, the Ranthambhore Reserve is home to over 300 types of trees, 272 species of birds, tigers, leopards, sloth bears, hyenas, crocodiles and the Indian Python. The park is closed from July through September and recommends visits during May and June when water scarcity brings the animals to visible waterholes.

It can get pretty hot during the day, but mornings and evenings can be pleasantly spent on the sun-kissed deck or in your private garden. Of course, you can always cool off in the ornately tiled pool that also offers magnificent views of the reserve.

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