3 of a kind
Hotels for adventures
RAS KUTANI, TANZANIA
Southern Tanzania, Africa, tel: 0044-207471-8780, selous.com
You can set off on your own Crusoe-esque adventures in this “barefoot” resort set on swaths of sandy beach skirting the Indian Ocean, beside a lagoon and amid 100 acres of dripping rain forest. There are 132 species of trees, some of which double up as playgrounds for four types of monkey, including the black-and-white colobus. Turtles nest along the shore of Ras Kutani in the first half of the year and guests can help to protect this once-declining species: their numbers are rising again now that poaching has been discouraged.
The resort has a variety of acquatic equipment for free use by guests. You can grab a snorkel and explore the coral reefs and shipwreck off-shore and view the dolphins and colourful fish that glide over them. When the surf’s up, you can use the hotel’s boogie-boards to do some gliding of your own. There are also canoes to head up the lagoon on.
Rooms: There are nine en suite beach cottages, made from natural local materials, with eight-foot wide beds, verandahs with hammocks and ocean views. For those that like wider views, there are four suites on a hill, with private pools and Sultan beds and there’s also a family house. Holidays from €2,700 per person in June and July, including flights from Dublin and seven nights’ full-board.
Balakha Village, Kingdom of Bhutan, tel: 00975-8272333, amanresorts.com
A 10-night cycling expedition in Bhutan in August bears the name Cycling in the Clouds, indicating an escape for the head as you pedal the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan’s dramatic landscape of snow-topped peaks, heavily forested slopes and rivers rushing over rocks. You will cycle between five lodges across the central and western valleys of Bhutan, the Buddhist country that lies between China and India in the eastern Himalayas. You will then be nicely warmed up for the final day of the trip which will have you racing in the Tour of the Dragon Race on September 1st. This muscle-burning, day-long mountain bike race runs over 268km from central to western Bhutan and up slopes of between 1,200m and 3,340m on four mountain passes.
Rooms: Amankora (which combines the Sanskrit word for “peace” with kora or “circular pilgrimage” in Bhutanese) comprises a series of lodges in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang, set in the central and western valleys of Bhutan. Room interiors are natural and some have rammed-earth walls, wooden panelling, terrazzo baths and king-size beds. Views include monasteries, courtyards, valleys and mountains. Price from $13,000 (€10,451) each, including all meals, beverages, car and driver, race entry, cycling jersey, race day wrap-up party and two sports massages.
TURTLE INN RESORT, BELIZE
Placencia Village, Stann Creek District, Belize, tel: 00-501-523-3244, Coppolaresorts.com
Out on the edge of Belize you can do a counter-intuitive dive in which – if someone shouts “shark” – you take emergency action by jumping into the water and going to look for it. In this part of the Caribbean, just below Mexico, it is high season for whale sharks, but they can be seen all year round along with various other exotic swimmers – including stoplight parrotfish, queen angelfish, squirrelfish and the great barracuda. Also awaiting exploration around the “cayes” (tiny islands) that dot the sea here is a reef containing coral species such as branching fire, rose lace and blushing star.
Scuba dives take place from a boat owned by the resort of Turtle Inn beside the fishing village of Placencia and its lagoon. Miss Ellie is a 46ft boat with all sorts of electronic equipment including, crucially, a “fish finder”, along with diving and driving expertise from humans.
Rooms: There are 25 thatched cottages and villas, all a hop and a skip from the Caribbean Sea in this resort, owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola. They include one-bedroom, one-bathroom cottages; two-bedroom, two-bathroom villas; a family pavilion; a lagoon bungalow and a secluded Modernist-tropical beach house. Four-night scuba packages cost from $1,653 (€1,329) per person sharing and include four breakfasts and three lunches and dinners. A seven-night scuba package costs from $2,645 (€2,127) with seven breakfasts and five lunches and dinners.