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Travel - Hot List 2012 (Part 3)

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Wildman Wilderness Lodge – Mary River Wetlands Northern Territory

Description: the World Heritage Site of Kakadu National Park

the World Heritage Site of Kakadu National Park

A comfortable two- hour drive from Darwin, Wildman Wilderness Lodge is a gateway to the raw, compelling beauty of Australia’s tropical north at a reasonable, half- board price. Its mission is to give travelers an insight into the cultures, communities and environment of this ecologically sensitive region, just 12 miles from the World Heritage Site of Kakadu National Park. There is plenty of wildlife (crocodiles, water buffalo, wallabies, monitor lizards, dingoes; flying foxes and prolific birdlife) and the lodge is in a prime spot from which to enjoy the spectacular Mary River wetlands ecosystem. Activities include Aboriginal cultural tours, cruises across the flood plain in air- boats (wet season) or four- wheel- drives (dry season), day tours to Kakadu, scenic helicopter fishing. The homestead and cabins may give some visitors a sense of déjà vu: after the recent closure of Wrotham Park Station, its lodge infrastructure was transported 2,800km from the Cairn hinterland to Mary River. The 10 air- conditioned cabins salvaged from Wrotham offer the most luxurious accommodation; there are also 10 double safari tents and five family tents sleeping up to four. All the tents have ceiling fans and en- suite bathrooms. Three- course dinners and full breakfasts are included in the price and are served at the very stylish homestead.

Swim at Kakadu National Park

When to go

Wildman is open from 1 March to 30 November. The dry season between May- September is most comfortable, but the wet season is when the flood plains are at their most scenically beautiful.

Room to book

One of the air- conditioned cabins 00 61 8 8978 8955; www.wildmanwildernesslodge.com.au. Cabins (sleeping two) from a $630; tents (sleeping two) from $503. Price include breakfast and dinner

Cambodia – Song Saa Private Island

Description: Song Saa Private Island

Song Saa Private Island

Occupying two diminutive isles off the Cambodian coast, Song Saa Private Island enjoys splendid isolation. Your neighbours in the archipelago are a few fishing villages, and the animals of the rainforest. We visited before the official opening (floods in Thailand had delayed construction by three months), but despite initial mishaps, Song Saa looks set to seduce. Its 27 thatched villas are scattered variously over a forest- covered hill, along the water’s edge, and above the water on stilts; they all have secluded terraces and private pools. Original artworks and individual design details add a distinctive touch (such as a glass floor in the lounge area of one villa, with an aquarium view of fish in the sea below). Meals are served at the over- water restaurant, beside the infinity pool (or even in it), in your villa, on the beach- and chef Neil Wager’s cuisine is superb. There is a sap, and activities include snorkeling, kayaking, and boat trips to villages on neighboring islands. This really is dotting away from it all, and to add to Song Saa’s honeymoon appeal, a tiny temple on a nearby island can be used for civil wedding ceremonies or Buddhist blessings. There is a serious environmental remit, too: a marine reserve extends 200 metres from the outer edge of the coral reefs that fringe both islands, and a highly qualified conservation team can fill you in on projects through which Song Saa is blazing a trail for responsible development in the archipelago.

Description: Song Saa, Private Island Resort.

Song Saa, Private Island Resort

When to go

The cool part of the sry season: November to February.

Room to book

Villa 22 offers not only a private pool, but its own little stretch of sandy beach- terrace.

00 855 236 860360; www.songsaa.com. From US$ 1,902 per villa per night, including transfers from mainland, meals, drinks (house wines, spirits, beers and soft drinks), laundry and use of kayaks, snorkeling gear and other resort equipment

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