1 LONGITUDE 131, ULURU, AUSTRALIA
Of course, the sight of Uluru glowing in the sunset is the most wonderful vista you could ever imagine, sitting under one of those dazzling white sails that top the best five-star suites of the Ayers Rock Resort. But coming a close second is a glimpse of a waiter driving up your pathway on a golf buggy with a tray held aloft in one hand, full of iced drinks and snacks. The tented rooms are splendid, decorated with Aboriginal art and crafts, and the red centre is only ever a glance away through the glass doors to the terrace. See www.longitude131.com.au.
2 HOENIB SKELETON COAST CAMP, PALMWAG, NAMIBIA
Opened last year, this camp, in one of the most remote parts of Africa, is surrounded by sand dunes, rugged gravel plains and a ring of mountains. Until you touch what you thought were green-painted walls, it’s hard to believe the eco-villas are actually made of canvas. They sit as lightly as possible on the fragile landscape. With an outside shower to complement the one inside, it’s ultra-modern; a kind of white-washed Swedish look, in the last place on earth you’d imagine such style would exist. See www.classicsafaricompany.com.au.
3 FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE, SOP RUAK, THAILAND
You know you’re not in a standard tent when you hear it comes with elephant trekking through the jungle and a spa treatment. These tents are bigger than many apartments back home, and come with timber floors, paddle fans and custom-made wooden hot tubs on the outdoor deck. If you prefer air-conditioned, indoor ablutions, go for the copper baths inside the tent, before putting your head down on a hypo-allergenic pillow. See www.fourseasons.com/goldentriangle/destination.
4 PAROS BY AMARYA, GOA, INDIA
With its white rectangular tents on decking, sitting right on the ocean front, this resort offers something rather better than a regular camp on the beach. Each of the 18 luxury tents are furnished with regional antiques and ethnic textiles. The communal restaurant-lounge, a few steps away, offers both Western and local foods, as well as Nespresso coffee. Who says you can’t have everything? See www.amaryagroup.com.
5 JACK’S CAMP, MAKGADIKGADI PANS, KALAHARI, BOTSWANA
Billed as the most romantic tented experience anyone could have, Jack’s Camp has a series of 1940s-style safari tents, but with muslin draped over the interiors of the walls, wooden commodes, designer furnishings and Persian floor rugs. Its creators claim they were the first to introduce five-star linens, white napery and silver dishes into the luxury camp experience. The pool pavilion is an outdoor stretch of timber decking around the pool with a canvas awning. Old-world safaris were never this glamorous – or comfortable. See www.luxurysafaricamps.com/jackscamp.html
6 EDENWOOD RANCH AND PRESERVE, WISCONSIN, US
Located in the middle of a wildlife reserve, these tents are made for privacy and feeling at one with nature. The ranch is a favourite for game hunters, however, so dedicated animal lovers might be better off avoiding. See www.thehuntingpreserve.com
7 MACAL RIVER CAMP, CHAA CREEK, BELIZE
Simple, basic and cheap, the tented options here are for those who revel in the outdoors. Deep in a nature reserve, the canopied wooden-based villas are designed to meld into the environment. Visitors can hike, swim, canoe, go bird-watching and animal-spotting and take turns on mountain bikes. See www.chaacreek.com.
8 KARIJINI ECO RETREAT, KARIJINI NATIONAL PARK, PILBARA, WA
These smart tents are set on elevated timber platforms and topped with overhanging shades that create outdoor terraces. They sit unobtrusively in the raw, red landscape of massive mountains and escarpments cut by gorges more than 100m deep. Even the notes in the tents not to use chemical shampoos and to beware the family of frogs who like to sit on the toilet float, preventing it from flushing, have charm. See www.karijiniecoretreat.com.au
9 MERZOUGA LUXURY DESERT CAMP, ERG CHEBI, MOROCCO
Set among the dunes of Erg Chebi, in the Sahara Desert, this tented oasis offers “haimas” – traditional tents made of camel skin – with ensuite bathrooms, wall-to-wall rugs, solar-powered lighting and handcrafted furniture. See www.merzougaluxurydesertcamps.com.
10 SERRA CAFEMA CAMP, KUNENE, NAMIBIA
All canvas-walled and timber-floored and thatched-roofed, these rooms bring the outside inside beautifully – the trees that grew on this site before the camp arrived have been incorporated into their design. The room I stayed in had no fewer than five growing and twisting around. The flavour here is “old colonial”, with a dark-timber desk, leather and canvas-backed chairs, fans and the soft glimmer of brass as you look out from the high decking to the river below. See www.classicsafaricompany.com.au.