Choose Your Bliss
With the Atacama Desert in the north, the natural wonders of Patagonia in the south, and the majestic Andes mountains running its length, this sliver of a country that piggybacks Argentina is a mecca for adventure-seekers. Stay at the Refugia Lodge on the Chiloé Archipelago (from $530, all-inclusive; refugia.cl). The hotel opened in September with only a dozen rooms, each with Pacific Ocean views and Jacuzzis. Kayak around the Chauques Islands, hike the rugged coastline or the majestic native forests, and admire the island’s famous centuries-old wooden churches, declared UNESCO World Heritage sites. Meander even further south toward the most remote part of Patagonia, a beautiful region of glaciers, fjords, and snow-capped mountains. The Singular hotel (from $350; thesingular.com) recently opened in an industrial-style building on the shores of the Last Hope Sound. Trek in and around the magnificent Torres del Paine National Park: Explore the centuries-old Milodon Cave, marvel at the granite monoliths of the Paine Towers, and scale the mountain to take in the Grey Glacier and the staggering scenery from the Condor and Salto Grande viewpoints. Then, rejuvenate with a mineral-therapy treatment of indigenous herbs and glacial water at the hotel’s spa.
Though it doesn’t get as much attention as neighboring South Africa, this sparsely-populated southwestern African nation is a place of astonishing beauty. Home to one of the world’s oldest deserts and the largest private nature reserve in southern Africa, Namibia is an enormous expanse of sandy dunes and mountain peaks on the Atlantic Ocean coast with a diverse array of wildlife. Stay at the recently renovated And Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge (from $430 per person, all-inclusive; andbeyond.com), a haven located in the NamibRand Nature Reserve near the towering Sossusvlei sand dunes. Each of the reserve’s ten exquisitely designed villas has a private veranda ideal for star-gazing (the night sky here is so legendary that the hotel has a resident astronomer for guests). Spend the days exploring the immense natural landscape: Go on a guided safari drive to see zebras, cheetahs, and leopards; explore the dunes on foot or in an all-terrain vehicle; and book a private scenic flight along the mysterious Skeleton Coast for a bird’s-eye view of the multihued sand dunes. Conclude your desert adventure by visiting the Namibian capital Windhoek. Stay at the Olive Exclusive (from $255; the olive-namibia.com), where each suite is inspired by a region of the country and features a private plunge pool and outdoor daybeds.
While the onset of the revolution early last year brought serious political and economic strife to Egypt, intrepid travelers find that there are still many reasons to visit the North African country. Fly into Cairo to tour the famous Giza pyramids, then make your way to some of the country’s less-traveled regions. Among the draws are the beautiful desert oases in the far west and the palm-lined Nile riverbanks of the serene south, which the locals call Upper Egypt. Check into one of the 138 gorgeously opulent rooms at the Hotel Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan (from $280; sofitel-legend.com). This recently renovated respite opened by the adventurer Thomas Cook in 1899 has long attracted illustrious visitors, such as Dame Agatha Christie (she penned Death on the Nile here), actor Omar Sharif, and Sir Winston Churchill. For an expert tour of ancient ruins, the hotel can arrange overnight trips with an Egyptologist to the temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu. Or head to the Siwa Oasis, a mystical area of salt lakes and jagged-rock formations, famous for being the location of the Oracle of Amon. Book a traditional Siwan room, constructed with salt rock and palms, at Adrère Amellal (from $605; adrereamellal.net), an ecolodge tucked in the base of the White Mountain. There’s plenty to do here: Ride horseback through olive groves, go for a swim in the natural spring-fed pool or Lake Siwa, and visit the Petrified Forest and Great Sand Sea.
From the Winter 2013 New York Wedding Guide