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Tranquil, remote, private; these adjectives top the priority list when you’re looking for a proper break. But these destinations take secluded travel one step further. From heli-skiing lodges in the Arctic Circle to dreamy private islands, you won’t want to share this lot with anyone else – and don’t have to.
1. Nimmo Bay, British Columbia
Buried in the old-growth forests of the Great Bear Rainforest, Nimmo Bay is totally inaccessible by road. Only reachable by helicopter, the aerial journey over British Columbia gives you a teaser of the surreal nature you’ll be immersed in at Nimmo. The family-owned and -operated hideaway began as a heli-fishing destination, but has since added an array of activities to its offerings. Pack your itinerary with paddleboarding alongside dolphins and sea lions, kayaking on sparkling waterways or bear spotting on a forest hike. Or you could just head for a clifftop picnic followed by drinks in the hot tub. Accommodation comes in the form of nine rustic-chic cabins where you’ll fall asleep to the soundtrack of a babbling brook and awake to birdsong.
2. Faroe Islands, Denmark
Vagar airport is telling of the 18 islands themselves; tiny, stress-free and extremely quiet. With few flights in and out of the Faroe Islands, this little-known destination started to creep onto travel hotlists a couple of years ago thanks to striking scenery, Michelin-starred cuisine and incredible treks. Best make the journey while the sheep to human ratio is still 2:1. First and foremost is the landscape; cragged mountain ranges, remarkable waterfalls like Mulafossur, rolling green fields and little villages dating back to 1350 AD make for a quaint but dramatic scene. A must-see is Sorvagsvatn Lake. Dubbed “The Lake Over the Ocean”, it sits 30 metres above sea level on the edge of a steep cliff, but thanks to an optical illusion, it often appears as though it’s hovering hundreds of metres above the sea below. If time allows, a trip to Berg Hestar stables (an hour from Gjogv) is highly recommended – because what better way to take in the Faroes than on horseback?
3. Cirque de Matafe, Africa
East of Madagascar on Reunion Island, Cirque de Matafe sits in the heart of a collapsed volcano enshrouded by untamed nature, without a road in sight. The caldera looks totally inaccessible and for the large part it is, but for the lucky few travelling by way of helicopter (or those willing to make the journey on foot) Cirque de Mafate offers an unruly, spectacular landscape that looks lifted right from Jurassic Park with 120,000 kilometres of forest trails to explore all its ravines, ridges and waterfalls. Although the terrain appears inhospitable and there aren’t any towns, you’ll find isolated Creole settlements dotted across the mountains, living on a plateau or in the hollow of a valley – spottable by the bright colours of the homes – where you can rent a room for the night and meet the locals. We suggest brushing up on your French as English isn’t widely spoken here.
4.Niehku, Lapland, Sweden
Niehku is definitely one for those who are seeking a thrill as much as they are privacy. With a name that means “dream” in northern Sami, the newly opened lodge is definitely a skier’s paradise. A 90-minute flight from Stockholm to Kiruna followed by another 90-minute drive along a desolate road will bring you to Niehku’s doors. So far off the beaten track you can hardly see it, Niehku is housed in a former railway roundhouse deep in the Arctic Circle, on the border between Sweden and Norway. Built by skiers for skiers, winters sports take centre stage here with helicopters firing up at 9am everyday with a maximally certified guide on board. From there, it’s a case of scouting out the pristine pistes – it’s a “if you can see it, you can ski it” mentality here and the only thing you’ll be sharing a slope with is a reindeer. Back at the lodge, typically minimal Scandi design and a generous helping of industrial accents make a chic setting for apres. In the off-season, hiking, cycling, fishing and hunting are on the itinerary instead.
5.North Island, Seychelles
North Island first made the papers as the (reported) setting of Kate and Will’s honeymoon, and since then its granite peaks and pearly shores have embedded themselves in our travel fantasies. While the majority can only access North Island via their desktop screen, for the lucky few boarding that 20-minute helicopter from the capital of Mahe, insurmountable luxury awaits. In see-it-to-believe-it scenes, glittering white beaches meet lush green forestry and deep-blue cyans on either side. The island’s 11 luxury villas are very Robinson Crusoe meets TAT London in style – but you won’t be spending much time indoors. Try downward dog on a paddleboard, kayak on your own private patch of sea, picnic on a cliff or indulge in a seaweed wrap at the spa. Whatever you do, end the day with a barbecue and cocktail on East Beach. If you’re looking for something more private, Honeymoon Beach is your go-to (quite possibly the most romantic place we’ve ever seen, so we’ll forgive the name).
6. Ponza, Italy
The Italian isles conjure images of glitz, glam and expensive negronis, but unpretentious Ponza is a welcome exception. Although the largest of the six Pontine Islands, Ponza is still a fleck in the Tyrrhenian Sea and on this tiny isle, simplicity rules. Cars are a scarcity; there is only one main road and no five-star hotels; natural landscape is unmanicured and the only language spoken is Italian. It’s very much Call Me By Your Name territory, with greenish-blue waters lapping golden shores that give way to marbled grey cliffs ascending into clear skies. During the days, pack a picnic, rent a motorboat and drop anchor in an isolated alcove for an idle afternoon of sunbathing, doggy paddling and mozzarella eating. Post-beach, make your way back to shore for a sunset aperitif and dance at Covo Nord Est, the only club on the island. After a day in Ponza, you’ll understand why Homer’s Odysseus and his crew ended up staying for a year.
7. Ladakh, India
Although domestic flights in and out of Ladakh are available, the region’s landscape appears so untouched it still counts as secluded. Situated in the farthest flung outskirts of India, where the country meets Tibet, Kashmir and Pakistan, this Buddhist ex-kingdom is unearthly, an attribute resulting in its throng of nicknames: The Roof of The World, The Land of High Passes, Moonland and so on. As the latter would suggest, the terrain is lunar-like; the arid desert is clay coloured and snow peaks of the surrounding craggy outcrops are otherworldly – signs of life manifest in the prayer flags fluttering in the wind or an eagle flying overhead. For a little more human contact, you’ll head to Leh, the region’s biggest town. Here you’ll find trekking paths and Buddhist sites, including the colossal 17th-century Leh Palace that was modelled on the Dalai Lama’s former home and offers panoramic views of the old town’s bazaar and labyrinth-like pathways below. Be wary about driving in Ladakh as treacherous high passes are closed around October to May so road access is limited.
8. Sheldon Chalet, Alaska
You’ve probably seen Sheldon Chalet on your Instagram Explore page. Smack bang in the middle of Alaskan wilderness and perching 6,000 feet above the Don Sheldon Amphitheatre against a backdrop of the northern lights, it’s the quintessential travel-inspo pic. Aside from the panoramic views of the mountain range afforded by your own private observation deck, Sheldon Chalet offers northern lights viewing, heli-skiing, glacier hiking and rappelling into ice crevasses. If your idea of winter luxury is more fireside champagne than cliffside abseiling, the chalet is also the perfect place to put your feet up and do absolutely nothing. The journey consists of a helicopter from either Anchorage or Talkeetna, but wherever you depart from you’ll get an airborne tour of the surrounding Ruth Glacier on your way.
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