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Hottest Travel Destinations of 2011

Sanctuary Retreats, Zambia, Africa

Courtesy of Sanctuary Retreats

Zambia, Central Africa

Raw and undeveloped, the game-rich nation of Zambia has long attracted veteran travelers for its rugged walking safaris and rustic bush lodges, but it has remained relatively under the radar. As a handful of major safari players lay the foundation for a bigger presence in the country, Zambia is poised to become the next great African destination. In June, Sanctuary Retreats (from $550 per person per night) will open Zebra Plains, four luxe tents on South Luangwa National Park’s eponymous river, which is frequented by elephants, leopards, and giraffes. With vintage campaign furniture and even a library, it’s the kind of old-world aesthetic usually only found in East African properties. Ecotourism operator Wilderness Safaris (from $530 per person) has expanded to Victoria Falls with Toka Leya, where 12 tents on a riverbank are linked by teak walkways. A handful of new camps along the Zambezi River, known for its adventurous canoe tours, have cropped up. Among the best is Sanctuary’s Zambezi Kulefu, where a large pavilion is lit with lanterns at dinnertime. Not to be outdone, the smaller, family-owned operators are revamping their long-established bases as well. Bushcamp Company (from $350 per person), which pioneered South Luangwa walking safaris with Norman Carr Safaris (normancarrsafaris.com; from $432 per person per night) and Robin Pope Safaris (robinpopesafaris.net; from $400 per person per night), has renovated all six of its park camps, most stunningly at Zungulila, where four thatched-roof dwellings have canopy beds and plunge p


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