Raja Ampat, Indonesia
The remote Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat has remained virtually untouched and has “one of the most pristine and biodiverse marine areas on Earth,” says Melissa Biggs Bradley, CEO and founder of the members-only, boutique travel-planning company Indagare. And with Aqua Expeditions’ new ship, Aqua Blu, travelers will “have access to some of the best snorkeling and diving sites in the world, [explore] hidden jungle caves and giant sea caverns, and experience ancient Papua traditions” all while traveling in style. The refurbished yacht—which was originally built as a British Royal Navy explorer and later became a private vessel for a European aristocratic family—offers 15 plush sea-facing suites, four decks with communal spaces to relax and mingle with fellow explorers, and is equipped with Quantum Zero Speed stabilizers to provide the utmost comfort while sailing. And with a crew-to-guest ratio that’s nearly one to one, top-notch service is guaranteed.
Following its horrific genocide in 1994, the East African country has made leaps and bounds to recover from its tragic history, becoming a destination that’s focused on protecting its lush vegetation and precious wildlife. Rwanda’s immense strides in conversation are continuing with Gishwati Mukura, its fourth national park that will open for tourism next year. The biggest draw here is undoubtedly the opportunity to observe the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, and now with the highly anticipated Singita Kwitonda Lodge on the edge of Volcanoes National Park and One&Only Gorilla’s Nest in the foothills of the Virunga Volcano Range recently opened in August and November, respectively, there are some seriously posh digs for lounging between life-changing treks. But don’t forget that the country’s Akagera National Park is also home to the Big Five, including the elusive and critically endangered black rhino. With the arrival of Magashi Camp earlier this year—which is operated by Wilderness Safaris, the same masterminds behind the exquisite Bisate Lodge near Volcanoes National Park—discerning travelers finally have a well-appointed safari accommodation to call their home base while keeping their eyes peeled for lions, leopards, and the rare swamp-dwelling antelope known as the sitatunga.
Semuc Champey, Guatemala
For those in search of a more untrodden locale, bespoke luxury travel operator Black Tomato recommends a location tucked deep in the Guatemalan jungle. “This almost paradisiacal hidden gem lies largely undiscovered except for locals in the know,” says Tom Marchant, the company’s cofounder. “Semuc Champey is home to a swathe of out-of-this-world turquoise pools that are formed atop a naturally formed limestone bridge—truly an untapped world wonder. It’s not the easiest place to get to, but well worth the trek.” While the area has lacked comfortable accommodations, Black Tomato has teamed up with their partners on the ground to exclusively offer their clients mobile, safari-style tents complete with beds so that “they can soak up the natural beauty in comfort.” Marchant adds that travelers must go “spelunking in the subterranean, cathedral-like caves” while out in this remote part of Guatemala. It promises to be an adventure unlike any other.