Freediving in the Maldives
Amidst the dense foliage and turquoise waters of Baa Atoll in the Maldives, the Soneva Fushi luxury resort boasts of a pristine biosphere, Unesco-protected reef and 57 villas, each with its own private beach. Sign up for a two-day freediving course conducted by Ken Kiriyama—a meditation teacher and champion freediver adjudged the 16th best in the world in 2015. He’ll teach you how to hold your breath and plunge deep into the ocean without a tank of compressed air. Explore the world under water, all in a single breath, or as Kiriyama says, experience “underwater meditation”.
If freediving isn’t for you, choose to scuba dive or snorkel, and in the process, discover sea turtles, feeding manta rays and, if you are lucky, whale sharks. Price: On request
Ladakh almost always features on any traveller’s bucket list. And with Shakti Himalaya, that moonscape region of Jammu & Kashmir becomes a compelling option for the adventurous luxury traveller too. ‘Village walks’ are at the heart of the Shakti experience, where guests are guided through the foothills of the Himalayas, while visiting Buddhist monasteries and markets, and even hiking to mountain caves chaperoned by a monk. For accommodation, there are traditional village homes to which Shakti has added a luxurious spin, fitting them out with all amenities of comfort, including a private chef.
For the more adventurous, there are options such as rafting, trekking and camping in remote, ruggedly beautiful locations that are located at altitudes of 11,000 to 14,000 feet. Price: $6,000 per person for an eight-day trip
Adventures in Antarctica
White Desert’s eight-day excursion to the southern-most part of the world—billed as Antarctica’s first luxury camp—begins with a flight in a plush private jet. Fly from Cape Town in South Africa over icebergs, and pass into 24 hours of sunshine in Antarctica. Once there, you make your way to the Whichaway Camp, whose guest ledger boasts of Nasa astronaut Buzz Aldrin and UK’s Prince Harry.
Stay in heated, state-of-the-art sleeping pods, and partake in adrenaline-charged activities like trekking to blue-ice grottos, rappelling into glacial crevasses or kite-skiing. If you want something more sedate, you can hang out with Emperor penguins, unwind at the sauna or soak in Antarctica’s majestic scenery. An overnight excursion to the South Pole, which requires a flight on a prop plane and a trek in frigid temperatures, is also on offer.
Price: $78,000 per person for an eight-day ‘Emperors and South Pole Adventure’
Romancing the Road
For a motoring expedition that goes beyond the guidebook, Nomadic Road delivers. Chart Gengis Khan’s journey across Mongolia, drive through forested flatlands in Patagonia or explore remote routes in the Namib desert, all in a luxury self-drive vehicle. The “arrive and drive” expeditions are led by local cultural experts. Through intimate interactions and authentic encounters, each journey is designed to fully immerse travellers in local life.
A service support and hospitality team follows suit in a convoy of cars, making the journey easy and comfortable, and accommodation is set up in boutique hotels. The focus, says Nomadic Road, is on “finding unique experiences”, rather than the “mere physical trappings
of luxury”.Price: $5,000-$7,000 per person for an eight- to 10-day expedition
Tailor Your Own Trip
New York-based luxury travel specialist Absolute Travel pulls together its expertise, knowledge and personal relationships to create one-of-a-kind experiences.
Take, for instance, a South African-born, US-based client who wanted his children to better understand their South African roots. Absolute Travel arranged for a private visit to Robben Island, off Cape Town, early in the morning, before it opened to the public. There, Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Goldberg, both of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment alongside Nelson Mandela in the 1960s, gave the family a tour, recounting their story and the history of apartheid.
If you want something more adventurous, tailor-make your trips that can include trekking in Uganda’s mountains to see the gorillas, or taking a boat ride through the Pantanal wetlands in Brazil.Price: Depends on itinerary, budget and interests
Dune Climbing in Oman
Fancy sleeping among the sand dunes of Empty Quarter in the far south of Oman? How about an overnight hike through—and over—the dunes, followed by a freedive in the Arabian Sea to cool off?
Oman, once the centre of the frankincense trade, is more than just a desert country.
The north, on the Musandam Peninsula, is home to fjords reminiscent of Norway; to the east, the Arabian Peninsula offers dramatic views of the coastline, while towards the south lies the vast desert of the Empty Quarter.
Hud Hud Travels offers luxury, mobile Bedouin camps, allowing you to explore Oman’s diverse terrain, landscape and culture through bespoke experiences. They like to say “anything is possible”: In the past, Hud Hud has set up large copper baths, heated by a wood fire, inside its tents; shipped a grand piano to an abandoned village for guests to enjoy music as they dine under a blanket of stars; and even organised for some to jet ski from an island camp to one on the mainland.Price: On request, based on itinerary and references
(This story appears in the 13 October, 2017 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)