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Dream Trips | 2008

A South African Safari

For an otherwordly experience, there's nothing like a game drive in the African wild. The 185,000-acre Madikwe Private Game Reserve, in the northwestern corner of South Africa, is part Kalahari desert, part bush country. It's also ideal for spotting giraffes and elephants, as well as rare wild dogs and furry tree-dwelling primates known as bush babies—all without seeing another person for miles.

Where to Stay

Rustic-chic Madikwe Safari Lodge (Suites from $868, double, all-inclusive) is a three-camp lodge wedged between the slopes of two rolling hills. The 20 suites are done up in thatch and stone, offset by such modern design touches as private plunge pools; the bedrooms are filled with antique Bauer travel chests and baskets from the local Tswana tribes. For the most privacy, book a room in the smaller, four-suite West Camp and watch animals on the plains while soaking in a bronze-plated tub.

Where to Eat

You can choose to join the group for dinner around the open-air fire pit, or arrange a lantern-lit meal on the deck of your suite. The Pan-African menu includes Afrikaner dishes like potjie—a traditional slow-cooked stew of game meat braised in a cast-iron soup pot. Don't miss the malva pudding—sticky-toffee cake covered in butterscotch sauce.

What to Do

Schedule a morning game drive in an open-top Jeep. If you're lucky, you'll come across the Big Five, plus hard-to-spot cheetahs. On evening drives, guests are served glasses of iced mampoer, a fruit-based Afrikaner eau-de-vie, while viewing the sun setting behind the Marico River.

Insider Tip

Chef Lavuis Tlhagwane offers private cooking lessons upon request, where you can learn to make African tamales with local corn and a sweet potato filling. —Douglas Rogers

From the article Dream Trips | 2008.

<center>Dream Trips | 2008</center>

Jason Lang

A Hidden Beach in Thailand

Many beaches in Southern Thailand are overrun with Western travelers, but the quiet stretch of powdery sand known as Rai Lay, on Krabi Island—only accessible by boat—is an exception. Its towering limestone cliffs and tropical foliage, and the crystal-blue waters of the Andaman Sea, make this low-key hideaway a romantic alternative to places like Phuket.

Where to Stay

Bordered by beaches on three sides, the 26-acre Rayavadee (66-75/620-7403; rayavadee.com; doubles from $1,127) is made up of 103 airy two-level bungalows—some set in the jungle and others overlooking Phranang Beach. Sand Sea Resort (66-75/622-609; krabisandsea.com; doubles from $65) has 68 simple, breezy bungalows steps from the water.

Where to Eat

Yum talay (spicy seafood salad) and chu chi goong (prawns in red curry) are the dishes to order at Krua Phranang, the seaside restaurant at the Rayavadee. At sunset, sip a coconut cocktail at the Grotto restaurant, tucked into a limestone cliff. And don't skip the fresh food grilled by locals right on the beach: corn on the cob, chicken skewers, and chunks of pineapple.

What to Do

The jungle trail at the southeast end of the peninsula leads to the palm-fringed Princess Lagoon, where you can take a dip at high tide. The more adventurous can paddle around in a kayak; you'll discover tiny caves, deserted beaches, and the nearby Phra Nang shrine. Get a Thai reflexology massage, either the luxurious deep-tissue Thai Boran rubdown at the Rayavadee, or the $5 on-the-beach version.

Insider Tip

If you really want this remote peninsula all to yourself, visit Krabi between May and October. Though this is Thailand's monsoon season, the daily short, dramatic showers last only about 20 minutes.—Whitney Lawson

From the article Dream Trips | 2008.

<center>Dream Trips | 2008</center>

Matt Ohara

A Sail in the British Virgin Islands

Along this archipelago of 60 islands—most of them deserted—you can rent a yacht and drift away from civilization. Sleep under the stars; anchor off an empty islet and hunt for conch shells; stop at the far-flung island of Anegada, famed for its sweet lobster; or swim up to the Soggy Dollar Bar (284/495-9888), on Jost Van Dyke island.

Where to Stay

The Moorings (888/952-8420; moorings.com) and Sunsail (888/350-3568; sunsail.com) are the top yacht-rental companies. Expert sailors can skipper themselves with a bareboat charter (from $410 a day), while novices can hire a crew for an extra $160. Or combine land and sea at Biras Creek (Seven-day packages for two from $6,475, including meals ), an off-the-grid resort on Virgin Gorda. Its weeklong Sailaway trip includes five nights in a beachfront villa and two nights on a private yacht.

Where to Eat

Dock your boat at the waterfront Eclipse Restaurant (dinner for two $60), a candlelit open-air spot. Foxy Callwood has been serenading guests for 40 years at Foxy's Tamarind Bar (Jost Van Dyke; 284/495-9258; dinner for two $90).

What to Do

A popular pit stop is Trellis Bay, on Beef Island, thanks to its provisions store. Visit the shop at Aragorn's Studio (Beef Island; 284/495-1849; aragornsstudio.com), which carries local pottery and handmade herbal soaps. And don't miss the legendary full-moon parties at Bomba's Shack (Cappoons Bay; 284/495-4148), on Tortola.

Insider Tip

You don't have to be a guest to use the spa at Peter Island Resort (800/346-4451; peterisland.com), which welcomes day-trippers for the ultimate indulgence: 5½; hours of massages and body buffing in a private couples suite.—Laura Begley

From the article Dream Trips | 2008.

<center>Dream Trips | 2008</center>

John Heseltine/CORBIS

A Sicilian Agriturismo

In the hills of Sicily, 2½; miles from the sea, is the secluded 19th-century farmhouse Mandranova. It's a working farm, close to the towns of Agrigento, Licata, and Caltagirone, where guests can explore centuries-old architecture, open-air ve­ge­table and clothing markets, and traditional ceramic shops.

Where to Stay

Mandranova (Contrada Mandranova, Km 217, Strada Statale 115; 39-091/612-0463; mandranova.it; doubles from $225) is set on 420 hilly acres, with stunning view of olive groves from any of the 11 rooms. Owners Silvia and Giu­seppe di Vincenzo have filled the estate with antiques and terra-cotta pottery from Caltagirone, the hub of Sicilian ceramics production for hundreds of years. If the Mandranova is booked, look for more Sicilian agriturismos at agriturismo.net.

Where to Eat

In the Mandranova kitchen, Silvia cooks local dishes such as wild-fennel pesto and caponata e polpette in agrodolce (eggplant ratatouille with meatballs in sweet-and-sour sauce). She offers cooking lessons—learn to make her famous almond cake. For a romantic night on the town, arrange for a taxi to La Madia Restaurant (22 Corso Filippo di Re Capriata; 39-092/277-1443; dinner for two $80) in the port town of Licata, 10 minutes away. The perfect meal: chef Pino Cuttaia's merluzzo, pine-smoked cod with a hint of orange peel.

What to Do

On Thursday mornings, locals gather in the main square in Licata to buy fresh vegetables and Italian leather goods at the weekly market. Caltagirone, 22 miles east, has dozens of ceramics boutiques. For a dose of history, go north to Agrigento, home to the fifth-century B.C. Valley of the Temples—a collection of seven Doric-style Greek temples that is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Insider Tip

The daylong boat trip on the Mandranova's 38-foot motorboat traverses the western coast of the island. Guests swim with dolphins during the warm months, then explore the small island of Saint Nicola Rock, home to thousands of seagulls.—Faith Willinger

From the article Dream Trips | 2008.

<center>Dream Trips | 2008</center>

Fabian Heusser

A Fortress in India

The craggy Aravalli Range cuts diagonally across Rajasthan, and on a plateau in its foothills lies the tiny village of Deogarh. Seclusion is clearly the draw here, where you can live like modern-day royalty in an 18th-century fortress.

Where to Stay

Book the palm-fringed Fort Seengh Sagar (Manda Wara; 91-29/0425-2777; deogarhmahal.com; from $1,205 a night), a four-bedroom island villa set within a moat and accessible by bridge. A sweeping terrace and turreted balconies punctuate the exterior, while the interiors are fit for a maharajah and queen: Indian rosewood beds, red-and-gold quilts, copper washbasins.

Where to Eat

Executive chef Navneet Suhalkar prepares regional dishes such as palak halwa—a purée of spinach cooked in cream—and syrupy pineapple malpua (fried pancakes) at the fort's Surya Mahal restaurant, which has a sprawling granite terrace.

What to Do

A vintage 1930's train descends 1,800 feet over its 13-mile journey from the neighboring town of Mavli to Marwar Junction. Walk the narrow lanes of Marwar's bazaar, ending at Manak Chowk, a central square lined with shopkeepers peddling Rajasthani wares such as water­­­­­color miniatures and embroidered pashmina shawls.

Insider Tip

The hotel can arrange a camel-cart ride through the countryside for stunning views of the Aravalli mountains and lakes.—Tanvi Chheda

From the article Dream Trips | 2008.

<center>Dream Trips | 2008</center>

Courtesy of Private Islands Inc.

A Private Island in Maine

Down east Maine is dotted with private islands—Oar, Clapboard, Chanterelle—where couples can play Yankee castaways. One of our favorites is the four-acre Spectacle Island, a short boat ride from Bar Harbor. The best time to go is June to September.

Where to Stay

Book Spectacle Island Estate (647/477-5581; privateislandsonline.com; from $7,500 per week), a three-bedroom cottage on this spruce-covered spot in Frenchman Bay, well ahead of time. The master suite has spectacular sea views, a four-poster bed, and a whirlpool. The wood-burning fireplace in the living room is cozy on foggy nights, while the wraparound porch makes for good afternoon bird-watching, when gulls and osprey swoop along the shoreline.

Where to Eat

Catch the boat back to Bar Harbor and have a seafood cioppino with fresh-caught fish or jumbo baked lobsters at La Bella Vita, in the Harborside Hotel (55 West St.; 800/328-5033; dinner for two $90). For an extra fee, the rental agency will stock your fridge ahead of your stay.

What to Do

Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island offers rugged hiking trails (or walk along the beach and watch the lobster boats). The island rental also includes a seaworthy 27-foot powerboat manned by a licensed captain.

Insider Tip

Pick wild blueberries that grow on the island and fold them into your morning pancakes. —Shane Mitchell

From the article Dream Trips | 2008.

<center>Dream Trips | 2008</center>

Courtesy of Tierra Atacama

An Atacama Desert Adventure in Chile

Though stark from a distance, the world's driest desert is an expansive, exotic landscape studded with oases, majestic dunes, and thermal pools. This is an ideal destination for those who enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Bonus: romantic sunsets and starry nights.

Where to Stay

The new, family-owned Tierra Atacama (800/829-5325 or 56-2/263-0606; tierraatacama.com; from $300, including breakfast), steps from the town of San Pedro de Atacama, is bordered by ancient native algarroba and chanar trees. Inside, the 34 rooms are swathed in natural beiges and browns, and at the 4,850-square-foot spa, couples can book decadent treatments using local volcanic mud, salts, and herbs.

Where to Eat

Café Adobe (211 Caracoles; 56-55/851-164; dinner for two $23) is a local favorite with a crackling bonfire centerpiece. Try the lomo a lo pobre, a traditional Chilean dish of grilled beef served with crispy French fries, sautéed onions, and a pair of fried eggs. Restaurante Ckunna (359 Tocopilla; 56-55/851-999; dinner for two $23), located in what was once San Pedro de Atacama's first schoolhouse, offers contemporary twists on Altiplanic staples: filet of novillo (young bull) with new potatoes topped with wild mushrooms and chanar-berry sauce.

What to Do

The 1.8-mile-long Death Valley hiking and biking trail starts in the village, runs through stunning natural salt sculptures, and ends with a descent down a sand dune. Tierra Atacama will arrange for a sunrise excursion to El Tatio geyser, or a rock-climbing lesson in the village of Socaire. They can also set up a moun­tain­­top picnic.

Insider Tip

The handicrafts market—Mercado de Artesanías—at the corner of Ckilapana and Socaire, in San Pedro de Atacama, sells downy-soft alpaca and llama wraps made by artisans in nearby Cámar and Toconao.—Connie McCabe

From the article Dream Trips | 2008.

<center>Dream Trips | 2008</center>

Courtesy of Mikael Genberg

A Night with the Fishes in Sweden

What It Is

Floating a half-mile from the shore in Lake Malaren is the Utter Inn , a 337-square-foot houseboat with underwater sleeping quarters. The cheery red-and-white cottage has a terrace, kitchenette, and inflatable boat for venturing to town.

What Makes It Dreamy

"Utter"—which is Swedish for "otter"—no doubt refers to the half-in-the-water, half-out nature of the inn. Climb down the ladder from the tiny kitchen/bath above deck and enter your submarine sleeping quarters with glass-paneled walls. While twin beds may not make for an exactly romantic getaway, the Captain Nemo-like surroundings (be prepared to awaken to a curious pike peeping in at you) certainly add an exotic element.

More Information

Utter Inn (46-21/390-100; vasterasmalarstaden.se ; doubles from $156. )

From the article Dream Trips | 2008.

<center>Dream Trips | 2008</center>

Blaine Harrington III/Corbis

A Luxurious Canadian Wilderness Retreat

What It Is

With plush, secluded tents set on a pristine stretch of Canadian coast, Clayoquot offers a remote getaway accessible only by boat or floatplane from Vancouver.

What Makes It Dreamy

When the word "extreme" is used in conjunction with this lodge, it's usually in reference to luxury, not lifestyle. Sure, you can canoe, kayak, hike, horseback ride, and fish all day long, but when you return to your tent, don't expect a collapsible cup or mummy bag. Down duvets, oriental rugs, and four-course dinners featuring that day's catch on fine china render your outdoorsy experience more Teddy Roosevelt-with-porters than Grizzly Adams.

More Information

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort & Spa ($10,934, all-inclusive, three-night minimum stay.)

From the article Dream Trips | 2008.

See the slideshow: Dream Trips | 2008

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