Luxury travel operator, Sanctuary Retreats, has established a well-deserved reputation for creating inspirational travel experiences in some of the most remote, exclusive and exotic destinations on Earth.
'Staying ahead of the game is something we pride ourselves on", says Sanctuary Retreats' Marco Rosa. 'Our local guides are constantly on the look-out for new activities and unique experiences for our guests."
Marco has selected ten of Sanctuary Retreats' favourites experiences (in no particular order). Read on for your next travel inspiration.
1. Tracking lions on the beach at Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge, Tanzania
From right outside the suites, wildlife spotting can occur on foot. Says Rosa, 'You can pad barefooted directly from your veranda onto the beach for a gentle stroll or to watch the fisherman bringing in their prawn nets. What makes Sadaani's beach unique, however, is the various footprints you can find imprinted in the sand. There is nowhere else in the world where can you walk on a beach following the footprints of lions!"
2. Exploring the Zambezi by canoe at Sussi & Chuma, Zambia
Take a walk on the wild side and track wildlife on foot. According to Rosa, this is an experience of a lifetime. Guests can explore channels and rapids on the mighty Zambezi River on inflatable canoes accompanied by professional guides, along with close encounters with some of Africa's -big five' game to boot.
3. Bush skills safari at Sanctuary Baines' Camp, Botswana
In Botswana guests can learn how to survive in the wild as part of the Sanctuary Baines' Camp bush skills experience. Guests can try their hand at tracking game or poling a mokoro, the local dugout canoe, through the shallow waters of the Okavango Delta. The more industrious can also learn how to make traditional spears for fishing – and hopefully how to catch them.
4. Cooking at Sanctuary Swala, Tanzania
According to Rosa one of the most popular activities at Sanctuary Swala Camp is its Chef Experience. 'We find that our guests have never done anything quite like this before and really enjoy themselves trying out local delicacies. Our chef shows them how to make dishes from local ingredients like maize, beans and spinach, using a traditional Jika senefu stove. And once the meal is ready, one of our staff will also instructs them how to eat dishes – local style".
5. Visit Tujia boatmen in China on The Yangzi Explorer
On China's mighty Yangtze River guests aboard the Sanctuary Yangzi Explore can visit the Shennong Stream on one of the many shore excursions on offer. Crystalline waters, verdant forests and stunning riverine gorges provide an incredible backdrop for an experience aboard sampans (wooden long-boats) rowed by expert Tujia boatmen. According to Rosa guests are also fascinated to see the Tujia boatmen still wearing traditional handmade sandals to work on the boats.
6. Sin Kyun village visit in Myanmar
Sanctuary Retreats has recently begun sponsoring Sin Kyun, a small remote village just north of Mandalay. With a population of just under 1,000 inhabitants, it specialises in farming and hat making. Guests aboard the Sanctuary Ananda can visit the village and witness first-hand a traditional way of life, little altered for centuries, in an unspoilt location seldom viewed by outsiders. Following the village Chief's request, Sanctuary Retreats has recently donated the much-needed funds for a library and a house for an English teacher.
7. Batwa tribe experience at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge, Uganda
In the Bwindi Impenetrable Forrest, guests have a unique opportunity to meet the local Batwa tribe and learn about their way of life, including a traditional hunting and gathering demonstration, a musical performance and a visit by the local 'goddess'. Says Rosa, 'The Batwa tribe are the oldest inhabitants of the Great Lakes region of Central Africa and speak largely the same language as the Hutu and Tutsi groups of Rwanda. Like most of the tribes in Africa, they have moved from place to place and are now found mainly in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and eastern portions of the DRC."
8. Bathe under the stars at Sanctuary Baines' Camp, Botswana
For one of the most romantic experiences, Rosa reckons it's hard to go past a star-lit bath at Sanctuary Baines' Camp in Botswana. Says Rosa, 'This is the ultimate in safari chic. The camp is built on raised platforms high above the Boro River in amidst a grove of trees bordering the Moremi Game Reserve. The private star bath allows you to enjoy an open-air bubble bath under the stars, as you soak in style. Truly unforgettable."
9. Star gazing in Serengeti at Sanctuary Kusini, Tanzania
Most visitors come to Africa looking for the wildlife and the beauty, yet one of the most spectacular sights of all is hardly ever mentioned – the African night sky, offering some of the best star gazing in the world. One of Rosa's favourite past times? Settling into luxurious blankets and cushions around the campfire at Sanctuary Kusini exploring the beauty of an African night sky.
10. Nature walk at Sanctuary Olonana, Kenya
Last on Rosa's list is a walk with the camp naturalist at Sanctuary Olonana and a chance to learn about plants, trees and insects and their use in the daily lives of the Maasai tribe. He'll also share his intimate knowledge about the surrounding environment and how many of the trees and plants can be used for medicinal purposes. Guests are also encouraged to plant a tree, leaving a positive mark in Africa.