Dream of watching the sun rise over the Great Barrier Reef? Or falling asleep under the stars of the Serengeti? Plenty of our National Geographic Unique Lodges are located in or near the planet’s most amazing places, making it easy to tackle your bucket list. At these lodges, the hospitality is as epic as the surroundings.
Matetsi Private Game Reserve, Zimbabwe
One of the world’s greatest waterfalls, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Victoria Falls plunges as much as 354 feet. Just 25 miles upstream, on a private game reserve along the banks of the mighty Zambezi, Matetsi River Lodge pairs access to the falls with a safari experience by river and land. Venture into the bush on game drives and walking safaris, spot elephant herds congregating at the water’s edge, and take a guided tour of Victoria Falls, capped off with high tea at a historic hotel.
Machu Picchu Pueblo, Peru
To get to this haven hidden in the mists of Andean cloud forest, guests first travel by train on a magnificent journey through the Sacred Valley of the Inca. Once at the lodge, the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is just up the hill. Explore the legendary ruins on your own or with a guide, then continue pondering its mysteries back at the lodge in the Andean eucalyptus sauna. Plus, learn about the rare spectacled bear, spot exotic birds and orchids, and follow trails to hot springs and Inca petroglyphs.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Framed by the corals of the Great Barrier Reef and set upon a white-sand stretch of coast amid 2,500 pristine acres, Lizard Island resort offers coveted seclusion and unparalleled access to one of the planet’s most important marine treasures. Encounter the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef by snorkel or scuba; enjoy remote beaches and sweeping views; and discover the gentle turquoise waters by motorized dinghy, glass-bottomed kayak or paddle board, or on a sunset cruise.
Big Sky, Montana
Just north of Yellowstone National Park, in the mountains near Big Sky, a cluster of charming cabins hewn from lodgepole pine provide a cozy retreat—and a little piece of Montana's history—to those who come to explore the great wilderness of the West. See the wonders of Yellowstone, from Old Faithful to the park’s “big five”—elk, grizzlies, black bears, bison, and wolves—with a naturalist, and discover the magic of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem whether it’s blanketed in snow or wildflowers.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
On the rim of the Earth’s largest intact caldera, andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is a crossroads of African architecture and old world elegance. Far below, on the crater floor, an astounding assortment of creatures intermingles, from leopards and hippos to some 500 bird species. Walk along the rim with the resident naturalist, drive across the crater floor with an expert ranger, and engage with the people who live in this incredible place. At sunset, soak up the views over the crater while relaxing in a hot bubble bath.
Nestled in the hills outside Paro, Zhiwa Ling is an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st-century comforts. Bhutan’s most famous pilgrimage site—the iconic Taktsang Lhakhang, famously called Tiger’s Nest monastery—is visible from the lodge’s meditation house on a clear day. Take in the views, or challenge yourself to a steep, vigorous hike through the surrounding Himalaya to reach the cliff-hanging temple.
Against the backdrop of the Mongolian Gobi Altai mountains, the Three Camel Lodge celebrates the traditions of Mongolia’s nomads while seeking to preserve its awe-inspiring surroundings. The lodge provides a full spectrum of activities to experience the Gobi, from visits with nomads in their homes to throat-singing performances to opportunities to participate in the excavations at the Flaming Cliffs with leading paleontologists.
Northern Territory, Australia
The 15 luxury tented pavilions that make up Longitude 131° rest in the curve of a sand dune within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park—a perfect launch point for discovering the sacred geography of the Australian outback. Experience the magic of Uluru, once known as Ayers Rock, on a sunrise walk or sunset drive (pausing to toast the changing colors with a cocktail), or approach the mystical monolith on a camel’s back or bicycle.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Sayari Camp is one of the few safari lodges permitted in the remote northern Serengeti, where migrating wildebeests make their dramatic crossing of the Mara River. Whether or not you dwell here during the massive migration, Sayari presents an intimate and breathtaking encounter with East Africa’s iconic animals. Head out on game drives and guided walks with seasoned naturalists for encounters with lions, leopards, cheetahs, rhinoceroses, giraffes, elephants, and more. Each night, fall asleep beneath countless Serengeti stars inside your elegant tented suite.
Built by the Normans some 800 years ago and owned for nearly a century by the Guinness family, Ashford Castle is a medieval gem set amid the fabled Irish countryside north of Galway. Step into the centuries-old story of this fairytale castle: Take afternoon tea, sample wines with the sommelier in a secret passageway, schedule a hot stone massage, and enjoy access to all kinds of activities that befit the Irish countryside: falconry, horseback riding, archery, fly-fishing, zip-lining, and much more.
As iconic for its wild volcanic landscapes as it is for its whitewashed cliff-top villages, Santorini is steeped in ancient myth and bursting with natural beauty. High above the island’s caldera, Kapari Natural Resort elevates Greek culture and the timeless architecture of the Cyclades. From your cliff-side perch inside meticulously refurbished, centuries-old cave dwellings, experience Santorini like an insider. See its stunning caldera from a variety of angles, explore ancient ruins and volcanic beaches, and enjoy the overflowing bounty of this one-of-a-kind place.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galápagos Islands still look much as they did when Charles Darwin first stepped ashore in 1835. Tucked into a secluded bay on Santa Cruz Island, Finch Bay provides myriad ways to experience the wonders of one of Earth’s most extraordinary wildlife sanctuaries. Days here can be as busy or as relaxing as you desire, with opportunities to snorkel, kayak, bike, dive, and venture to neighboring islands aboard the lodge’s yacht. And when you’re not seeking out sea lions and giant tortoises, the lodge offers a welcoming waterfront oasis.
In a secluded valley near fabled Shangri-La, traditional Tibetan farmhouses have been stunningly rebuilt and restored, offering an inspiring immersion in ethnic Tibetan culture deep in the mountains of Yunnan. Discover the enduring soul of Tibetan culture on visits to local farms, villages, and important Buddhist sites, and breathe in the spirit of Shangri-La on leisurely walks through this dramatic landscape ringed by the Himalaya.
Just steps from Tierra Patagonia, on the banks of Chile’s Lake Sarmiento, Torres del Paine National Park beckons adventurers, nature lovers, and beauty seekers. Aquamarine lakes reflect jagged pinnacles, wild rivers and waterfalls cut through forest and steppe, and glaciers pour into valleys. Explore this geological wonderland on guided hikes, driving tours, and horseback rides, then return to the lodge for excellent meals and ultimate relaxation in one of the most remote places on the planet.