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Benguerra Island, Mozambique. Source: www.theluxurytravelexpert.com

20 heavenly hideaways you’ve probably never heard of – Part 3

Benguerra Island, Mozambique

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Aerial view of Benguerra Island. Source: www.classicafrica.com

The second largest island of the Bazaruto Archipelago, Benguerra is characterized by its towering sand dunes, inland lakes and idyllic beaches. It comprises an eclectic mix of forest, savannah and wetland ecosystems that allow it to sustain a diverse population of flora and fauna.

A National Park since 1971, there are over 140 bird species that inhabit Benguerra, which detached itself from the mainland some thousands of years ago. The local islanders make for fascinating and cultured encounters.

The Azura offers heavenly accommodation for those that wish to stay overnight – and with so much to see, you’ll have no reason not to! Renowned for its traditional Mozambican cuisine, guests can tuck into some of the finest seafood and local produce around, with a team of butlers on hand to cater to your every whim.

Manaus, Brazil

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Manaus City, Brazil. Source: 7wonders.org

The Amazon ought to be high on any bucket list. Manaus isn’t just a starting point for Amazon trekking, its an incredible city in its own right: when you can trek through monumental rainforests in the morning and lose yourself in a tear-jerking opera in the evening, you know you’ve found a magical place.

The Amazon’s largest city, Manaus is surrounded by vegetation, however the city itself is thriving, with a population of 2.5 million. Many of its most notable sights are clustered around the Centro (town centre) and the river, the Rio Negro. There are both site-seeing tours around the city and around the jungle. And both are worthwhile and of course starkly different.

If you tire of taking in the local culture – there are some great museums – and want a day of relaxation Manaus boasts white sand beaches as well as options to cruise down the river.

The Tropical Manaus Hotel is a sprawling eco-resort perched on the gateway to the Amazon. It has a host of restaurants and bars as well as a swimming complex and even its own zoo, meaning it’s fun for all the family.

For a truly Amazonian tree-top experience the Juma Jungle Lodge is located 100km from Manaus in a completely remote and untouched area of the Amazon. The voyage there is an adventure in itself! Each of the 20 jungle huts are integrated into the jungle canapé, looking down over the rainforest and Juma lake.

Krapina – Zagorje, Croatia

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Krapina-Zagorje County. Source: www.insightdesignguide.com

A spectacular region of undulating hills, Krapina-Zagorje is home to ripe vineyards, plush orchards, thermal spas and ancient historical sites. A sure-fire candidate for the title of Croatia’s most idyllic county, the numerous small towns and villages are perfect for agriculture and holiday homes.

Bordering with Slovenia, this region was a part of the Austrian Empire, and from those times originates the majority of castles spread around the county. Desenic’s Veliki Tabor Castle, dating from the 12th Century, is particularly striking.

Though small in scale, its central hub of Krapina has a surprising amount of culture to keep you occupied. Hundreds of Neanderthal remains were unearthed in the area, many of which are on display at Krapina’s popular Neanderthal Museum located in the midst of the excavation site.

Billed as a “wellness hotel”, Villa Magdelena lies at the heart of the sleepy town of Krapinske Toplice. All of its suites boast private therapeutic mineral Jacuzzis and complete spa and honeymoon packages can be purchased in advance.

The Musandam Peninsula, Oman

Zighy Bay, Oman. Source: www.sixsenses.com

Zighy Bay, Oman. Source: www.sixsenses.com

The Musandam Peninsula is both striking and rugged, from 2000m mountains to wild ocean fjords, earning it the title of the ‘Norway of the Middle East.’ This remote and utterly peaceful corner of Oman is a million miles away from its glitzy neighbour Dubai, but its only luxury resort, the Six Senses Zighy Bay, may be just as glamourous.

The 82 villas vary in size from one to four bedrooms, but each has its own private infinity pool and traditional Arab summerhouse situated on the grounds. The largest and most exotic Private Reserve is often the resting place of Arab royalty, and accommodates up to ten people.

Absolute Adventure based in the little town of Dibba, provide a range of outdoor activities, from trekking and climbing to mountain biking and kayaking, while the diving possibilities are seemingly endless.

Australia – Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island from above. Source: www.australia.com

Lord Howe Island from above. Source: www.australia.com

No cars, no transport and no phone reception? While this may sound nightmarish to some, you’d be hard pressed not to fall in love with this island getaway. Just a two hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane, exclusivity is guaranteed as only 400 visitors can lap up Lord Howe’s natural beauty at any one time. They join the 300 or so residents who live in the minute village year-round.

Hailed as one of Down Under’s premier bird watching spots, over 130 species inhabit this World Heritage-listed site.  Those who seek adventure can climb the 875 metres to the summit of Mount Gower, a challenging hike complete with dizzying drop-offs and rope-assisted climbs. If relaxation is your principal aim, tranquil white sand beaches, coral reefs and awe-inspiring marine life awaits.

The Capella Lodge boasts unmatched vistas of ocean and mountain, as well as a seasonally driven restaurant and an outdoor spa where you can treat yourself to the aptly named “Gower’s Foot Therapy” upon return from the climb.

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