Private hideaways: Six of the best remote lodges

These lodges are a little harder to get to, but well worth the effort.



With its 4000-metre peaks and eroded valleys, Ethiopia's Simien Mountains is one of Africa's most spectacular landscapes. Getting here can be a bit of a process – a one-hour flight from Addis Ababa to the former capital of Gondar, then a 2½ hour road trip – but the strikingly designed Limalimo Lodge is a great place to arrive. Base yourself here for a couple of days to enjoy magnificent hikes: you may not spot the elusive Ethiopian wolf, but you will be delighted by the endearing antics of huge troops of gelada baboons. Not feeling energetic? You can still soak up magnificent views just by lounging at the lodge.

From $US255 twin share; see



The Andaman Islands has only recently started welcoming visitors; now a new luxury retreat lets visitors enjoy a soft landing after the adventure of getting here. Flights to the archipelago's capital, Port Blair, leave from a number of Indian cities; from there, a two-hour ferry ride takes you to Havelock Island. The trip is well worth it: this secluded retreat is surrounded by verdant forests filled with endemic species, and snorkellers will find a magnificent coral reef accessible directly from the beach. Keep an eye out for turtles and rays. There is also a luxurious spa for those who fancy some pampering.

From INR32,500 a villa; see



Photo: Richard James Taylor

Why is Colca Canyon not as overrun with visitors as Machu Picchu? Somehow, the canyon has flown under the radar; many travellers to Peru don't realise that, apart from Incan ruins, the country is also home to one of the world's most spectacular canyons. Colca's remoteness – the nearest airport, in Arequipa, is four hours away – may also have something to do with it. Fortunately travellers can relax at the inviting Belmond Las Casitas, its individual lodgings scattered around the extensive grounds. Staff will organise memorable hikes and expeditions, including the opportunity to watch condors soaring up-close.

From $US400; see



Swell Lodge, Christmas Island.

Swell Lodge, Christmas Island.

If you wanted to see how far you could go without leaving Australian territory, you would probably end up at Christmas Island, a sliver of land closer to Jakarta than it is to Perth. (The direct flight from the WA capital takes around four hours). The owners of the wonderful Swell Lodge decided that it was time Australians got to know this far-flung but enchanting island, with its beaches and waterfalls, old-growth forest and an eco-system. From the moment you wake to amazing ocean views through to the evening when a private chef comes to prepare your meal, it's a memorable experience.

From $1380 per couple twin share, including daily activities, all meals and Wi-Fi; see


Qasr Al Sarab appears out of the sand dunes like a real-life mirage.

Qasr Al Sarab appears out of the sand dunes like a real-life mirage.

On this crowded planet, there are few places where you can really get away from it all. One of them is the Empty Quarter (Rub' Al Khali desert), the world's largest uninterrupted sand desert. These notoriously inhospitable wastes are now home to a true oasis: the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort. The fortress-like palace serves as the starting point for all sorts of desert adventures, from hiking and camel rides to high-octane dune bashing. After a day in the desert, nothing feels quite as indulgent as being scrubbed clean in a traditional hammam ritual. Another highlight: heading out into the dark for a star-gazing excursion and being dazzled by how fiercely those stars blaze.

From $516 a night; see


Principe Island
SatSept28Six - Six of the best remote lodges - Ute Junker
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Photo: Scott Ramsay

Talk about a long way from anywhere. The closest major land mass to the volcanic island of Principe, floating off Africa's west coast, is Gabon, 300 kilometres away. Some might consider that a drawback. For those who like to go one step beyond, however it's part of the allure. The island has a choice of lovely lodgings, the pick being the luxurious Sundy Praia, where guests stay in tented villas and enjoy hikes to waterfalls and deserted beaches. This isolated island is the perfect place to chill out and discover the pleasures of life in the slow lane.

From €755 a villa half-board; see

Ute Junker was a guest of Taj Exotica, Swell Lodge and Sundy Praia.