Wildly Luxurious

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Brazil’s southern Pantanal—gateway Campo Grande—is one of the world’s most mesmerizing wetlands, alive with easy-to-see (there is no canopy in this part of Amazonia) bird and animal life and dotted with ranches that welcome visitors. For nature-loving travelers who want one of the finest wildlife experiences in South America, consider Refugio Ecologico Caiman, a vast (131,000 acres) working ranch located 147 miles from the air gateway at Campo Grande. Accommodations are offered in two, equally fine, 6-room lodges: Pousada Cordilheira and Pousada Baiazinha. They are located in different areas of the ranchland and both offer air-conditioned rooms with private bath and terrace, swimming pool, an excellent cook, observation tower for wildlife viewing, and top guides offering daily outings. But the highlight of everyone’s stay will be the wildlife safaris, exploring by truck, canoe, bike and horseback. The birdlife in particular is spectacular, and the Refugio supports an interesting Hyacinth Macaw Project. The lodges are now accepting FIT bookings only during July and August (the dry season); at other times the lodges must be booked for groups of families, friends or even executive meeting guests.

A 3-night package of $1,800 is all-inclusive, covering roundtrip transfers from Campo Grande.

amazonia & patagonia Recommend clients tour Amazonia aboard Aqua Expeditions’ cruise vessel, M/V Aqua, plying Peru’s upper Amazon River and tributaries and exploring the pristine areas of Pacaya-Samiria Reserve. This most deluxe of all crafts in Amazonia—think five-star luxury hotel in one of the earth’s most remote corners—Aqua is 140 ft. long and is fitted with 12 spacious and luxurious guest suites, including four master suites and eight suites, measuring 230 to 240 sq. ft., and featuring king-size beds, en-suite sitting areas and outward facing picture windows bringing the rainforest and river up-close and personal. Fine dining with a choice of South American vintages is in place in the dining area, while a separate indoor lounge and bar is reserved for relaxing, briefings and lectures. The best view in the house is the observation deck and no matter where guests congregate, the crew service is top-notch, competent and friendly. A fleet of four excursion boats launches twice daily to explore the river system and flooded forests of Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, which teems with wildlife and aquatic life. Offered are High Water itineraries (December through May) and Low Water itineraries (June through November).

Launching in April 2011, is a second Aqua Expeditions luxury vessel, the M/V Aria, featuring 16 specially designed cabins with floor-to-ceiling picture windows, fully air-conditioned top deck with observation lounge, as well as an exercise room, outdoor jacuzzi with sun deck, reference library and multimedia room. The boat’s itineraries will vary from those of its sister ship, exploring remote areas of the Amazon River on different days. The 24-crew members include four expert nature guides.

Rates on the 7-night cruise, based on two sharing, aboard the Aqua are $5,250 (suite) and $5,600 (master suite); for the 4-night cruise it’s $3,000 (suite) and $3,200 (master suite); and for the 3-night cruise it’s $2,250 (suite) and $2,400 (master suite). Prices include deluxe cabins, all meals and beverages, excursions, transfers, and park entrance fees.

To explore Patagonia, clients travel by air, land and sea with Nomads of the Seas and set sail from Puerto Montt to embark on some very special, week-long cruise experiences aboard the Atmosphere, which carries 28 passengers in 10 deluxe twin cabins, two deluxe kings and two presidential cabins and 32 crew members. The Atmosphere cruises by night and anchors during the day in fjords and channels for a full day of activities that utilize dozens of different small excursion boats (ocean kayaks to zodiacs) and a helicopter. On board, passengers find a living room, dining room, bar, spa and helipad. They can choose from the 7-night Fly-Fishing expedition for trout and salmon; the 7-night Patagonia Heli-skiing; the 4-night Tasting Chile culinary program; or the 7-night Wildlife Adventures that includes trekking, kayaking in rivers and fjords, horseback riding, rafting, jet boating and other outdoor pursuits. Guided bird- and whale-watching excursions are also available, as well as photo safaris and helicopter flights. At the end of the day, they can relax with a spa treatment, soak in a hot tub, listen to a lecture or indulge in the fresh gourmet cuisine prepared on board.