Four escapes for adventurous souls


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Temple of the senses

Ryosokuin Temple in Kyoto
Ryosokuin Temple in Kyoto

April marked Six Senses’ maiden foray in Japan: the 81-room Six Senses Kyoto opened a few weeks ago, in the old-world, low-rise Higashiyama district. This puts it in easy striking distance of both the National Museum and a handful of important temples (Toyokuni Shrine, built in 1599, is just across the road).

The private garden of one of the premier suites at Six Senses Kyoto
The private garden of one of the premier suites at Six Senses Kyoto
The new hotel’s bath house
The new hotel’s bath house
The master bedroom of the Six Senses Kyoto’s three-bedroom penthouse suite
The master bedroom of the Six Senses Kyoto’s three-bedroom penthouse suite

For the refined building and spare, serene interiors Six Senses tapped Blink Design Group, a Bangkok- and Singapore-based studio with decades of form across Asia. The root of their story here is miyabi, a many-centuries-old Japanese version of biophilic design, expressed with lots of ash and horse-chestnut timber, woven hikihaku foil, woven copper light fixtures and sudare screens. Plus windchimes, private rock gardens for some of the suites, and even a signature scent diffused throughout the hotel. sixsenses.com, from £881


Norway’s great snow safari

Walrus in Svalbard
Walrus in Svalbard

Svalbard, the frozen archipelago far north of mainland Norway, is home to spectacular ice landscapes and around 3,000 polar bears (there may be more of them here than there are people). The world’s largest land carnivore, as well as some charismatic marine megafauna – humpback, minke and beluga whales and walrus – are what Natural World Safaris, one of the ablest operators in these parts, specialises in getting their guests thrillingly close to (in ways that don’t infringe on the animals’ wellbeing).

The NWS yacht RV Kinfish sails among icebergs in Svalbard
The NWS yacht RV Kinfish sails among icebergs in Svalbard © Chloe Brown
A polar bear in Svalbard
A polar bear in Svalbard © Tor Langmead

The “safari season” starts now, and there are still places on a handful of NWS’s June and July expeditions aboard the ice-class yacht RV Kinfish. The 11-day expeditions start and end in Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen; weather and ice-floe activity permitting, the Kinfish will circumnavigate the island. naturalworldsafaris.com, from £8,395pp


Dune, the Brazil episode

The terrace at Oiá Casa Lençois near Santo Amaro in Brazil
The terrace at Oiá Casa Lençois near Santo Amaro in Brazil

Lençóis Maranhenses, in Brazil’s far north-east, is one of South America’s more extraordinary landscapes: more than 1,500sq km of tall sand dunes that fill seasonally with rainwater lagoons – turquoise pools fringed with green on a vast white canvas that stretches as far as the eye can see. The town of Santo Amaro sits inside Lençóis Maranhenses National Park; just outside Santo Amaro is Oiá Casa Lençóis, an old farm-turned-new guesthouse near the edge of the dunes, with a handful of suites spread across the original house and two bungalows.

The villa at Oiá Casa Lençois
The villa at Oiá Casa Lençois
The terrace of the villa at Oiá Casa Lençois near Santo Amaro
The terrace of the villa at Oiá Casa Lençois near Santo Amaro

By day, guides will lead you – in a Jeep, on a quad buggy, or on foot – to the clearest, coolest, most photogenic lagoons (June is post-rainy season, when they’re at their fullest). Come evening, you’ll dine family-style on menus created by Michelin-starred chef Cedric Nieuviarts, formerly of Château de Lacan in southern France. The decor is low on frills and high on colour and charm, with whitewashed walls, poured-concrete floors, and tons of outdoor, hammock-strung spaces. plansouthamerica.com


Race across the world

A herd of Sri Lankan elephants
A herd of Sri Lankan elephants

Aiming to prove that family travel can have the thrill of real adventure, Wix Squared – the boutique travel designer founded in 2017 by James and Alex Wix, owners of Marrakech’s Le Farnatchi – is about to launch the Wix Squared World Challenges, a series of itineraries peppered with surprises designed to educate while they delight. With culture, gastronomy and, yes, adventure among their themes, the challenges launch in Sri Lanka this summer.

The Sri Lankan coast, which will host the first Wix Squared World Challenge
The Sri Lankan coast, which will host the first Wix Squared World Challenge
Tea tasting on the Wix Squared World Challenge
Tea tasting on the Wix Squared World Challenge

The 11-day itinerary begins with a tuk-tuk tour of Colombo to sample as many street delicacies as possible; adventurous palates will be rewarded with arrack cocktails at a secret bar. It moves on to videography in the Hill Country, a blind tea tasting (a signature tea blend for whoever guesses the best quality), wildlife-spotting contests and a race across Galle by boat, bike and tuk-tuk that culminates in a hopper-making class. More destinations will come online every two months, among them Bhutan, Morocco, Indonesia and Nepal. wixsquared.com, from £4,300 per person for 10 nights, internal flights and all activities included 

@mariashollenbarger





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