Escaping civilization, in a civilized fashion

By Felicity Long
If you haven't heard the term "glamping" yet, don't worry; you will.

Basically, the term refers to a trend in upscale camping opportunities designed for that breed of well-heeled traveler who likes adventure and luxury in equal measure.

Singita Mara River Tented CampThese toney camps are a logical byproduct of two markets that have been increasingly cross-pollinating in the last few years, especially for today's younger luxury traveler.

An example is the new Singita Mara River Tented Camp in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, situated in the Lamai Triangle, an area known for its dense population of wildlife. There are six tents in all, two of which were designed for families and all of which run exclusively on solar energy.

The camp design departs from the traditional safari look of polished and woods and brass in favor of a more clean-lined, modern decor using natural fibers and local patterns. Luxe touches include a bar tent, a plunge pool and an indoor/outdoor dining area serving fresh, locally sourced meals, such as grass-fed beef, homemade ice cream and vintage French champagne and wine.

Rates start at $1,275 per person, per night, land only, and are inclusive except for the premium alcohols.

In all, Singita runs 11 ecofriendly luxury lodges in four African destinations: Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand in South Africa; Tanzania; and Zimbabwe.

Far and Away Adventures, an adventure travel company in Sun Valley, Idaho, that specializes in luxury river rafting, kayaking, hiking and fishing trips on Idaho rivers and Yellowstone Lake, adds luxury touches to its guided, high-adrenaline excursions.

Participants receive warm towels delivered to their tents, they take solar-powered showers, and they sit down to chef-prepared meals with wine and French linens.

In addition to scheduled river and lake trips, including fishing outings and rafting excursions, Far and Away offers private charter trips that traverse the Middle Fork of the Salmon River with a variety of themes, priced at $2,750 per person for five nights.

Cresto Ranch Colorado's San Juan Mountains will debut in summer with eight canvas safari-style tents. Interiors will include heated wood floors, hot stoves and tricked-out bathrooms, and the common areas -- including a restaurant and screening room -- will be located in a restored farmhouse.

All-inclusive rates start at $1,400 per night, including lodging, meals, activities and entertainment. The ranch, which offers guests access to the Dunton Hot Springs resort nearby, will be open from May through October.

Sometimes glamping means exclusivity, high-tech gear and top expert guides in situations where pampering just isn't possible.

Hurtigruten, for example, added an overnight camping option to its Antarctica sailings priced at about $500 per person for the night.

Those familiar with the company, which offers expedition voyages to such remote destinations as Antarctica and Greenland as well as trips along Norway's coast, know that Hurtigruten vessels aren't luxury cruise ships. In fact, they aren't cruise ships at all but function more as expedition vessels designed to ply waters where cruise ships fear to tread. Instead of upscale cuisine and high-end toiletries, passengers get eye-popping views and unique experiences that can't easily be duplicated.

"The idea is to offer our guests an authentic experience in the spirit of the great explorer, Amundsen," said Mona Ringstrand, explorer product manager at Hurtigruten ASA, referring to Roald Amundsen, one of Antarctica's earliest explorers.

The camping option includes state-of-the-art tents and cold-weather gear as well as the services of two expedition guides for every 15 participants. Activities vary depending on the conditions but would likely include short walks, hot drinks and a group White Continent sunrise viewing. The overnight was designed in collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute and abides by all of the requisite guidelines for visiting Antarctica.

There are five different Antarctica itineraries on tap for 2013, all aboard the MS Fram expedition ship, priced from $5,327 to $10,321 for nine to 18 nights, respectively.

Discounts of up to 25% on regular fares are available on select departures.

Passengers should know that the overnight camping option is offered on every Antarctica sailing but might not be available if weather and land conditions don't cooperate.
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