Get out and explore – luxury hotels and tour operators offer more ways than ever to ensure that guests get a “local” experiences without the sometimes less-than-luxurious local touches. Today’s traveler knows that seeing wildlife and stunning surroundings doesn’t mean having to sacrifice 600-thread-count sheets or private butler services.
These three great trips offer a wide variety of animal adventures for the luxury explorer.
Caneel Bay, St. John
Set on its own private peninsula amid 170 acres in Virgin Islands National Park and features seven secluded white-sand beaches, Caneel bay is an ideal destination for Caribbean relaxation. Dive or snorkel in the gentle waters and spot sea life such as peacock flounder, stingrays, and green sea turtles to reef squid, trumpetfish, and moray eels. Keeping in line with Laurance Rockefeller’s original vision for the resort, donkeys, mongoose, deer, and iguanas roam the property freely—this spring, the herd of donkeys that inhabit Caneel Bay welcomed a new addition, Sugar Millie, who was named for the nearby Sugar Mill Ruins. Rates begin at $459 per night.
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort, South Carolina
Located in the heart of the South Carolina Lowcountry, The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort, exemplifies true southern gentility. Shaded by oak trees lined with Spanish moss, guests can take in the May River’s dramatic tidal shifts, salt marsh, and oyster beds. It’s easy to see all sorts of natural wildlife. Visit The River Road Preserve—a 1.4-mile wildlife haven that spans the eastern edge of the island, home to great blue herons, alligators, and rare bald eagles. Or, get active on 13 miles of bike trails for a chance to spot wild boar, deer, armadillos, snakes, and bobcats. On the water, guests can charter the Grace, an antique wooden ship, for a sunset cruise to watch dolphins feed—and if they’re lucky, strand-feed, an adaptive feeding technique used only by dolphins in the South Carolina coastal region. By kayak, guests can see small sharks, sting rays, birds, blue crabs, and more. Rates begin at $500 per night.
True wildlife lovers will find a thrill in the hunt for the snow leopard on a two-week journey with Nomadic Expeditions. Though their chances of seeing one are admittedly slim, hardy travelers will thrill to exploring prime snow leopard habitat in hopes of spotting the elusive big cat in its natural environment with Nomadic Expeditions . The two week-long journey in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia created in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund takes in areas populated with rare animals and birds, from the Asiatic Wild Ass to Pallas’s Sandgrouse. There are also myriad opportunities for authentic cultural interaction with local nomads and to learn about the natural and human history of Mongolia from guides, scientists and herders who are intimately familiar with the scene. $15,900 per person; departure November 15-December 1, 2014.