| Outside Magazine, 1999 Annual Travel Guide|
Temple Tiger Jungle Lodge, Nepal
Milk and musk: That's what a Royal Bengal tiger smells like. So said Jitu, our expert naturalist guide, as he led us into the jungle on the back of a swaggering pachyderm. The broad viewing deck and 27 thatched-roof huts of Temple Tiger receded from view as we made our way into the bush, crunching through sal trees amid the scream of confetti-colored birds.
Temple Tiger Jungle Lodge sits within the boundaries of Royal Chitwan National Park, a 937-square-kilometer preserve that lies along Nepal's lush southern border. It perches on a long bluff overlooking a cinematic expanse of elephant grass, a mixed riverine forest, the Narayani River, and white egrets. One-horned rhinos graze in the near distance; langur monkeys parade up the trees.
Tigers themselves are very rare — there are fewer than 100 in the entire park, maybe half a dozen within Temple Tiger's 12-square-kilometer domain. Spying one demands perseverance. You'll be up at dawn for elephant safaris and jungle drives, boat rides and nature walks, all of which are included (along with meals) in the lodge's $200-per-person, per-night tariff.
Like any great jungle lodge, Temple Tiger is utterly unobtrusive. When Jitu finally sniffed out our tiger, it was devouring a deer in a thicket not one kilometer from the lodge's open-air dining veranda. Slugabed visitors heard the beast roar and couldn't believe how close it sounded. For those of us out on the elephant, however, the lodge seemed very distant indeed. Call Temple Tiger at 011-977-1-225780 or 221637; fax 220178; or E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bear Camp, Alaska
Not that we have any intention of studying ursine attack habits. We Bear Campers are happy to remain on the spruce-forested fringe of the mile-long meadow in which we have watched as many as 17 brown bears in one field of view. These coastal browns are the near equivalent genetically of their grizzly brethren who live inland, but are actually bigger than the griz. That the closest are perhaps 100 yards away is just fine with us. When it's quiet, they're like so many bison, hunched over among the supple shoots on which they fatten every summer. "They'll eat anything but granite," Scotty informs us.
Bear Camp is a satellite of Great Alaska Fish Camp and Safaris on the Kenai Peninsula. We've flown by bush plane from Anchorage across Cook Inlet to a strip of sand on the southern tip of Lake Clark National Park. Here Great Alaska has set up four tent-cum-cabins and an open-air cook tent where groups no larger than eight can hole up from mid-May to mid-September for a couple of days of brown-bear ogling.
Viewing sessions are irresistible, but with 18-hour days, there's time to chow down, to surround a beach campfire, to fish Horn and Clearwater creeks, and to dig dinner clams at low tide. Repasts are prodigious: steak, pasta, flown-in veggies, our freshly dug shellfish. Bear Campers share an obvious trait with our subjects: We'll eat anything. Just not each other.
The two-day, one-night package including bush-plane flight is $445 per person; it also can be booked as part of a seven-night safari package ($2,395-$2,795 per person). Call Great Alaska Fish Camp and Safaris at 800-544-2261.
Yacumama Lodge, Peru
You'll take a nonstop, 4.5-hour flight from Miami into Iquitos and then travel by boat 110 miles upriver to this solar-powered jungle camp. The complex of seven thatched-roof bungalows has a main lodge with a modern kitchen that serves river fish like pirarucu, piranha, and tiger catfish and vegetables from the organic garden. By day, you can set out with a local shaman and learn about medicinal plants, anacondas, and jaguar. Climb the 115-foot observation tower to get a bird's-eye view of parrots, toucans, and butterflies. Then slip into a harness and glide on a roller system through the treetops to another observation tower. At night, it's enough just to stroll down the walkways lit with oil lamps, listening to the sounds of creatures best left unseen. The $1,895- per-person tab includes round-trip airfare from Miami, transfers, seven nights' accommodation, all meals, and all activities. But bring the deet anyway. Call 800-346-6204.
Makalali Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Outside are the animals you expect: Hippos snort in a pond. Rhinos lurk in scrubby trees. Giraffes peer over thornbush. Elephants cross the road just in front of your open Land Rover. It's all part of what you might see as your guide drives you around the 15,000 hectares surrounding Makalali Private Game Reserve.
Between game drives, cool off in the pool or try out your big-enough-for-a-party private bathtub or outdoor shower. Lunch-dishes like Algerian baby chicken with avocado sesebo-is served in your own private sala, a sort of tree house full of pillows. Your bed is monumental, enveloped in a mosquito net the size of a parachute. Rates are $366 per person per night, double occupancy, including all meals and two game drives. Call Makalali Private Game Reserve at 011-27-11-883-5786, fax at 27-11-883-4956, E-mail at email@example.com.
Explora en Patagonia, Hotel Salto Chico, Chile
Guests have a choice of five guided activities daily, including hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and boating on Lago Pehoe and the Río Paine. On daily guided hikes you'll see pink flamingoes flit among icebergs, flightless black ±and”es (relatives of the ostrich) sprint down the trail, and Andean condors scouting for lunch. But your most common sighting will surely be the docile guanaco (rhymes with taco), a woolly llamalike creature. Less easy to spot is the reclusive puma. And when the Spanish-speaking driver excitedly yells "íZorro!" while pointing out a figure moving across the plain, he is not referring to a swashbuckling Latino do-gooder, but rather a prowling fox.
Most of the lodge's 30 rooms have a view of the Cuernos del Paine-the "horns" on the range's spectacular southern face. Four-day/three-night packages cost $2,080-$3,546 for two; eight-day/seven-night packages, $3,888-$6,738. Rates include transfers to and from Punta Arenas-a six-hour drive-and all food and activities. Call 011-56-2-206-6060, fax 56-2-228-4655, or E-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canaima Camp, Venezuela
Well, you might need a few cups of coffee first. We started our day with breakfast in the Canaima Camp on Canaima Lagoon, where the roar and spray of three powerful falls (though relatively minor compared with mighty Angel Falls) was disrupted by the squawking lunacy of courting macaws. Later that morning, an excursion down the Carrao River by dugout canoe took us past screeching howler monkeys and three-toed sloths.
Angel Falls is the showstopper, but most visitors see it from the comforts of a flight-seeing prop plane. Those brave enough to make the three-day round-trip jungle trek to get there might see armadillos, giant anteaters, tapirs, and the elusive jaguar.
Packages to Canaima Camp include the round-trip flight from Caracas, two nights in a thatched bungalow, all meals, two canoe excursions, and a flight-seeing tour of Angel Falls. The cost is $499 per person, or $650 with the three-day trek to Angel Falls. Call Sabrosa Adventures at 800-843-4778.
Damaraland Camp, Namibia
Toward evening, when the red hills are luminous, they'll take you for a hike or a game drive in a Land Rover. Wildlife is as sparse as the shadows of the thorn trees in the broad sandy bottom of the Huab River, but it's choice. You'll see graceful antelope species like springbok, gemsbok, oryx, and steenbok, and herds of desert elephants. The cost is $200 per person per night, double occupancy, including all meals and activities. Call Namib Travel Shop/Wilderness Safaris in Windhoek at 011-264-61-225178, fax at 239455, or E-mail at email@example.com.
Friendly Beaches Lodge, Tasmania
Hidden among casuarina trees at the north end are three simple buildings made of Tasmanian oak. The communal building houses the kitchen, dining room, and library, while the other two each contain four spacious bedrooms filled with huge, overstuffed pillows. You can go swimming and fishing (the staff will cook up whatever you catch for dinner), and go for hikes through the bush, where you'll see Tasmanian devils, wallabies, black cockatoos, and opossum-like eastern quolls.
The four-day, three-night package costs $706 per person, including all meals, transfers to and from Hobart, activities, and equipment. Call Freycinet Experience at 011-61-3-6223-7565, fax at 6224-1315, or E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 1998, Outside magazine