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The 5 Best Glamping Sites in the World

Marisa Megan

8670 Aljezur, Portugal

Glamping, or luxury camping, has made a resurgence as a favorite travel trend. It’s a way of getting out into the world without sacrificing all of the comforts of home. And there is quite possibly nothing more romantic. The best camps are like the set of a film scene, allowing you to weave your own stories and experience the magic that has drawn people to traveling for generations.

While glamping runs the gamut, from simple and rustic to high end luxury, the most sought after stays are a throwback to a bygone era, when travel meant hauling your trunks of silver and porcelain table settings into the bush so you could still have a civilized meal on safari.

In today’s hyper-connected world, this romantic way of traveling is every more important in getting us back to what travel really is all about — experience, connection and a little bit of magic. Here are a few of the best glamping sites you can find, in some unexpected hidden corners of the world.

Glamping in Africa: Jack’s Camp, Botswana

Jack's Camp, Botswana. Photo by Chris Mitchell
Jack's Camp, Botswana. Photo by Chris Mitchell

Jack’s Camp is truly an immersion into another era. Once home to legendary explorer and safari guide Jack Bousfield’s 1960’s safari camp, this newer rendition of Jack’s Camp was founded by Jack’s son, Ralph Bousfield, in his father’s homage. Today’s Jack’s Camp is a bastion of dramatic old-world safari glamor, practically a mirage in the shimmery white heat of the Great Kalahari.

The camp sits on what was once one of the world’s largest super-lakes, the Makgadikgadi, which dried up thousands of years ago and became an otherworldly landscape, home to some of the rarest species of wildlife on earth. It’s also where you’ll find the stunning setup of ten luxurious Bedouin-style canvas tents that make up this one-of-a-kind safari camp.

Luxury camping has no limit at Jack’s. Imagine green canvas tent-suites with muslin-draped walls, crisp cotton linens, romantic outdoor showers and real silver table settings, all with the vast, salt-desert backdrop. There’s even a cool pool pavillion keep the daytime heat at bay, and come nightfall, hot water bottles and persian rugs to keep you cozy in the still night air.

While many come for the luxurious glamping experience, most are there for Ralph himself, who is one of Africa’s most coveted safari guides, with five generations of safari experience.

“We inherited his ethos that the experience that people received through excellent guiding and interpretation of the environment is what they should take with them from Africa,” explains the younger Bousfield. “It was real pioneering stuff. The area and the concept were both untried and untested.”

If getting off the beaten path means more to you than just getting outdoors, then you’ll want to head to Jack’s Camp to discover the world for how it once was, and learn the ancient secrets of the tribal people and wild animals that still inhabit these raw, natural settings.

Glamping in Utah: Under Canvas Moab

Under Canvas Moab, Moab, Utah. Photo by James LeBaron
Under Canvas Moab, Moab, Utah. Photo by James LeBaron

Under Canvas Moab is the epitome of African safari luxury camping, brought back to the dramatic national parks of the United States southwest.

Inspired by their own African safari experience, the owners of Under Canvas opened their first luxury camping location in the US in 2009. Since then, they’ve expanded to include seven luxury glamping resorts across America’s national parks. The standout however, sits at the foot of the Moab desert, where dramatic views of deep canyons and towering plateaus await you just outside your canvas front door.

The luxury camping tents offer guests all of the comforts of home while getting to immerse themselves in the spectacular scenery. The romantic setting has even been dubbed “the perfect glamping experience” by Vogue. Under Canvas Moab blends into its dramatic surroundings and allows you to get up close and personal with the deep canyons, towering plateaus and raw landscape, so you can truly feel the immense power of the great outdoors.

Glamping in Africa: Scarabeo Desert Camp, Morocco

Scarabeo Camp, Morocco. Photo by Adventurous Life
Scarabeo Camp, Morocco. Photo by Adventurous Life

When the desert calls, it’s time to listen, especially when it’s calling you from a camp as breathtaking as Scarabeo.

The Scarabeo Desert Camp is located in the Agafay desert, just forty minutes outside of Marrakech, but it’s a world away from the hectic city life. The camp itself is comprised of a dozen oriental-inspired tents, decorated with unique, locally sourced craftwork and nestled inconspicuously into the beautiful desert surrounding.

Inside the luxury camping tents you’ll encounter the same elegant simplicity that makes up the rest of Scarabeo — with African woven matting, Berber rugs and Moroccan lanterns setting the scene, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported through time and space to another era altogether — one where Hemingway is as likely to be a dinner guest as Greta Garbo.  

This oasis camp is made complete by the smiling team set out to welcome you to their unique little paradise. Explore the landscape on camelback, or unwind under the expansive desert night sky. Scarabeo is a place to disconnect from everyday life, unwind and experience the magic that has drawn travellers to the desert for centuries.

Glamping in Japan: Hoshinoya, Fuji

Hoshinoya, Fuji, Japan. Photo by nicolasmonnet
Hoshinoya, Fuji, Japan. Photo by nicolasmonnet

Hoshinoya Fuji is a minimalist lux glamping resort overlooking Lake Kawaguchi, just a short distance from the foot of Mt. Fuji. The contemporary, concrete “cabins” are designed to promote simplicity and encourage guests to connect with their inspiring natural surroundings. Each of the resort’s cabins have a living room-style balcony that takes up a third of the square footage, with the effect of blurring the line between interior and exterior living.

Hoshinoya calls itself glamping, although it’s a bit more like simple living than actual luxury camping. Still, the experience is similar, and definitely does its part to free guests from their hectic city-living habits. From learning how to chop wood to grilling your own game, Hoshinoya Fuji offers its guests a unique immersion into a different way of living. Especially for those coming from the massive metropolises of Tokyo and Osaka, Hoshinoya truly is a brave new world.

Glamping in Mexico: Playa Viva

Playa Viva, Mexico. Photo by Chris Cohen
Playa Viva, Mexico. Photo by Chris Cohen

Set discretely within a 200 acre private nature preserve, Playa Viva is a boutique hotel and glamping in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Designed to get guests up close and personal with the wild Pacific Coast, this environmentally conscious escape has that sweet combo of feeling luxurious but also comfy enough to call home.

The unique casitas at this Mexican resort sit just above the beach, with views of the Pacific ocean and access to the resort’s open-air amenities. The entire property was constructed of natural materials, with a rustic and subtly contemporary design. The stylish escape is part glamping, part hotel, with one magnificent bamboo treehouse to round off the accommodation choices.

The property itself is part of a native eco-system that’s teeming with biodiversity — from an onsite a turtle sanctuary and estuary to an Aztec archeological ruin, guests of Playa Viva will revel in the completely unique setting and natural offerings.

There’s even a restaurant serving organic food from local farmers, as well as onsite gardens and orchards to keep your tummy as happy as the rest of you during your stay in this incredible paradise.

Whichever setting you choose — safari, jungle, desert or forest, glampings allow you to interact with the natural surroundings in a way that traditional hotels could never deliver. It’s not only an immersion into the natural world, or the soul of a place — it’s also a deep dive into an almost forgotten way of living, and into the true magic of travel.