Camping in Comfort

Camping needn't be the soggy tented, carbon-coated-dinner nightmare of your childhood where the only entertainment after dark was your Mum's warbling and Dad's fear inducing stories. No, today there aren't just camps, there are five star luxury camps, where the only comfort you're giving up is a proximity to the incessant hum of the city, and in many cases your tent will be more luxurious than the home you left behind. These are the World's Most Comfortable Camping Experiences.

Camping Safaris are some of the first examples of camping with the kitchen sink. In most cases if you could afford to go on safari you were well and truly used to the finer things and not expecting to have to give them up just because you wanted to go out to Africa and see an elephant or two, by jove! And those luxurious traditions prevail in some camps. The ten vast tents of the Gumeti River Camp in the Western Serengeti, are in prime position for the Great Migration, with their wooden floorboards, dinky wooden bathrooms and wide, hand built beds, all arranged over looking a private stretch of the hippo filled Grumeti River. Palmwag Rhino Camp goes one step further, furnishing its eight tents with full en-suite bathrooms. Despite the luxurious appeal of this style of camping it's still the rhinos spotted on the game drives, and the zebras, giraffes, springboks, lions and cheetahs seen strolling the spectacular desert panorama from the dining tent that will make a stay here.

The Paperbark Camp in Australia's Booderee National Park borrows from these luxurious traditions, setting up vintage African safari tents in an Aussie bush setting. As well as the privately arranged and carefully presented vintage tents on their raised platforms, and rustic, but carefully chosen and restored original furnishings, this site has 88 acres of National Park land running to the coast at sandy perfect Jervis Bay to explore.

While these safari tents may not quite be the definitive lap of luxury, Pansea Ksar Ghilane, a drive out of Djerba, is definitely five star. This Saharan desert oasis camp has built its 60 canvas tents on a site where there once stood a Berber castle. The paradise-landscaped pool is fed by a natural spring and the air conditioned tents are decked out with four poster beds and wrought iron furniture – perfect for playing desert princesses and warriors.

The fact that you sleep in what is referred to as a tent at the Oberoi Vanyavilas, in the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, and Baja Camp, on marine reserve Isla Espiritu Santo, is the only thing that really makes these 'camping experiences'. At the Oberoi the en-suite bathrooms are made of marble and each tent has its own sun deck and walled garden, and after the guests at the Baja have finished snorkelling with sea lions they retire to their luxury tents to sleep in proper beds, after eating proper meals cooked by proper chefs, then sip proper after dinner cocktails.
The Longitude 131 Camp in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has similar standards – "Why see the world's natural wonders in anything less than delux surroundings? These are 15 five star hotel rooms under fabric, equipped with a private view of the sunrise and sunset over 'The Rock': a marriage of luxury and landscape.

Le Brévedent in Normandy couldn't have a more different view from the desert vistas and panoramas of quiet bush used as comfortable camping backdrops so far on this list. This is one of chic France's classiest campsites, on the green grounds of one of Louis XVIth's hunting lodges, just back from the historic house between the apple trees, glassy pond and a little wood. For the kids there's a maze, a stylish, in the French way, pool and facilities wing, and for grown ups there's quiet, beautiful surrounds and a whole lot of history.

For comfort in really remote locations these camps are the only way to go: Mowani Mountain Camp in Damaraland has its luxury tents nestled between huge red granite boulders, all with priceless views across the vast, game and elephant inhabited plains. One of the highlights of staying in one of these lux tents is the open air bath tub - great for stargazing while shampooing. Whitepod eco-camp may look like a group of nine giant gold balls planted in the snow half way up a hill in the heart of the Swiss Alps, but these golf balls are comfortable “pods” and at an altitude of 1400 meters, Whitepod is only accessible by foot or ski, so very private. Each pod is supplied with organic bedding, oil lamps and sheepskin throws for that rustic feeling, the views are amazing and all kinds of snowy entertainments are thrown in.
Banjara Camp is even higher, at an altitude of 2700m, climbing up the Sangla Valley and surrounded by the white peaked mountains of the Himalayas. Banjara was built so far from civilisation as a way to get dyed in the wool city folk out into the great outdoors. Swiss-Style tents with their own bathrooms and well equipped kitchens make it easier, as does the huge bonfire that's lit in the chilly evenings.
Patagonia is another remote and beautiful area made for camping in, but hot water addicts need not miss out, at the Patagonia Eco-Camp you can camp in comfort within the Torres del Paine National Park. Resembling igloos, the tents are built on raised decks and are powered by sun and wind so you don't even have to feel guilty about wrecking the serene beauty or having your peace invaded by the sound of a generator.

Camping in comfort doesn't have to mean five stars, and doesn't have to come with a five star price tag. The Otter Creek Tents is a campsite with only three tents sleeping a maximum of two people each - in muslin draped four poster beds - but it has its own private beach lined with coconut trees and an onsite cook. Guests do have to share with the resident sea turtles but at less than £20 a day many people will be able to make the sacrifice. And while the Pyranees might not be as romantic a location as an Indian beach, the four tipis in the Tipis Indiens Campsite are quite reasonably priced considering the décor – American Indian but with the addition of fluffy duvets – the views of the Saugué Plateau and the Cirque de Gavarnie, and the fact that kids are welcome and will think it's a million dollars!

More of the World's Best Camping

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