From far-flung cabins to off-grid retreats, these are the great escapes where you can really get away from it all, says Sarah Marshall.
Even before the pandemic, tourists had grown tired of overtourism; travellers no longer wanted to follow the crowds.
Space and privacy will become even more important when we all start to travel safely again, with most people likely to favour remote, wilderness areas over busy city streets.
So, if isolation has given you a taste for the quiet life, these are a few of the world’s remote retreats, hotels and self-catering cottages to consider.
Corocora Camp, Los Llanos, Colombia
Colombia’s Pacific coast is famous for its birds and marine mammals, but one of the country’s highest concentrations of wildlife can be found inland in the wetland savannas of Los Llanos, a big sky region commandeered by capybaras, anteaters and camera-shy pumas. This idyllic four-tent camp is in the thick of the action on a remote, private 9,000-hectare reserve, reached by a two-hour drive from Yopal. Track animals on horseback with llanero cowboys, crossing plains, following rivers and swimming through lakes. Doubles from US$310/£252pp through Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.co.uk).
The Treehouses at Lanrick, Perthshire
City dwellers craving nature can get their fix at this eco-friendly site on the banks of the River Teith, launching in September. Five secluded, one-bedroom, self-catering treehouses with log-burning stoves occupy their own woodland plots, with two linked by a bridge for families. And once a welcome hamper of local products has been delivered, only birds and squirrels are likely to drop by. Trossachs National Park is four miles away, perfect for mountain climbing, wild swimming and boat trips on Loch Lomond. From £200 per night (lanricktreehouses.co.uk).
Shipwreck Lodge, Namibia
Being cast at sea has similarities with the pandemic: drifting endlessly, alone, it seems there’s no horizon in sight. But this luxurious beached vessel strikes a beautiful balance between serenity and solitude, in a landscape of dry riverbeds and dunes veiled in ocean mist. Sleeping 24 people in spread apart cabins, this architectural masterpiece is the only accommodation option in the 6,504sq-mile Skeleton Coast National Park, in a country with one of the world’s lowest population densities. From £650pp per night (naturalselection.travel).
Bacchus House, Antipaxos, Greece
With only 30 residents and three tavernas, crowds are never an issue on this unspoilt Ionian island. In the absence of any shops, food and amenities are delivered by boat; few cars mean soundscapes are dominated by lapping waves. Spend days exploring nature trails or walking barefoot along empty white beaches. Suitable for couples, this self-catering hilltop retreat is even further away from it all. Seven nights in September cost from £1,274pp (two sharing) plus flights and transfers through GIC The Villa Collection (gicthevillacollection.com).
Owner’s Cabin, Staurneset, Norway
We may all be suffering cabin fever, but ‘hytte culture’ (or cabin lifestyle) could be the ideal antidote. Outside space is the premium sell for this isolated cottage: perched on a peninsula overlooking the North Sea, it’s surrounded by a sprawl of nature. Three double bedrooms make it suitable for families, with multiple options for hikes and direct access to a white sandy beach and rocky tide pools, providing enough activities to keep children educated and entertained. From 6,000NOK/£460 per night through 62Nord (62.no/en).
Khwai Leadwood Camp, Botswana
Safari holidays revolve around wilderness; the only large gatherings are herds of antelopes, elephants or zebra. Part of the Okavango Delta on the edge of Moremi Game Reserve, home to a high predator density of leopards, lions and wild dogs, the community-run Khwai concession shares the same excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. African Bush Camps are offering 65 per cent off regular rates at their new six-tent camp, opening 1st August 2020, for bookings made by the end of May. From US$360/£291pp per night (africanbushcamps.com).
Mallin Colorado Ecolodge, Aysen Province, Chile
Distances are vast in Patagonia, on the edge of the world, where the closest neighbour can be many miles away. A five-hour scenic drive from the nearest airport, this family-run lodge is not an overnight visit, but the rewards are worth your journey time. Set amidst meadows, native forest, and the vast Lake General Carrera, the location offers guests a chance to trek glaciers, hike woodland trails or sit back and revel in people-free views. Rooms from US$120/£98 (mallincolorado.com).
Domaine Des Etangs, France
A private home converted into a hotel, this rural property features an 11th century chateau and six stone farmhouse cottages, surrounded by gardens and lakes. There’s so much space, each cottage comes with its own electric car, encouraging guests to discover the countryside at their own pace. Domaine’s sommelier can set up private tastings, while chefs prepare farm-to-fork dinners on site, delivering luxury hotel living without encroaching on personal space. From E400/£350 per night (domainedesetangs.com).
Torfhus Retreat, Iceland
Icelanders are experts in social distancing; for them, it’s a way of life. Designed in the style of traditional grass-roofed turf houses, lodges at this off-grid retreat are part of the popular Golden Circle loop – although tucked away and hidden from crowds. Each house has its own private hot tub, and chef Thorarinn Eggertsson can cook intimate dinners ‘at home’. Powered exclusively by geo-thermal and hydro-electric energy and with vegetables grown on site, there’s no need to rely on anyone else. Three nights from £942pp (torfhus.is).
Naiko Retreat, Australia
The roar of the Southern Ocean can drown out all the troubles we’re currently living through. A two-hour drive from Adelaide, this low-rise, environmentally sensitive three-bedroom property is within splashing distance of waves, surrounded by 200 acres of farmland with not a soul in sight. Swim and fish from the private beach in a sheltered cove, or watch whales, kangaroos and echidnas from the deck. There’s also an iconic Finnish 1960s Futuro home in the grounds; one of only 60 in the world, the flying saucer-shaped building is being restored as a wellness space. From AUD$990/£520 per night (naikoretreat.com.au).