High Above the Panamanian Pacific

Are you a mountain or beach person? Why choose when you can have both. Set at an elevation of 3,116 feet above the Pacific Ocean in a forest with rivers and lakes, Luxury Camping: Altos del Maria has the best of the mountains with panoramic views to the seas. Altos del Maria is an exclusive community 60 miles south of Panama City that has recently opened this boutique Glamping property for those looking for a taste of the good life.

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Luxury Camping: Altos del Maria is set on 7,000 acres in the El Chamo region with trails ascending its peaks and dipping into the cloud forests of the Continental Divide. The average temperature here is a pleasant 75 degrees keeping the flowers in bloom and the wildlife thriving year-round. The Audubon Association even gave a nod to the area for its incredible biodiversity and 276 species of birds! Bird watchers get your binoculars ready!

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Keeping the property intimate and maximizing guests’ contact with nature, Luxury Camping: Altos del Maria has five free-standing suites. The luxury tents open up to views of the Valle Maria and the Pacific. Two double beds and an en-suite bath make them ideal for families.

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Perched on its own little hill and garden, the Camping Suite. Tucked away on its own little hill and garden, the Premier Camping Suite is a yurt for the modern nomad.

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The Yurt’s circular walls with lattice pattern and woven cupola make for a truly stunning space. Further enhanced by chic furnishings and a luxurious bath, it’s where every couple wants to be.

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Walk out to the private terrace for 360-degree views of the Valle Maria, mountain peaks, and ocean. Add coffee and it’s the perfect way to wake up.

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Senderos Restaurant is the culinary heart of Luxury Camping: Altos del Maria. The name translates to “trails” and is the pinnacle of international cuisine in the area. The menu takes inspiration from Europe, Asia, the Americas, including the surrounding region. Panamanian dishes to try are the Sancocho stew and a dessert of wine-marinated pears.

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Take a picnic to one of the six panoramic viewpoints or take nature walks along the property’s five trails, including one to the impressive El Chorro waterfall. Tennis and mini golf are also available if sports are what you crave. Plus, rappelling is coming soon!

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If the beach beckons you closer, the Panamanian Rivera is only 30 minutes away, starting with the curving coastline of Coronado Beach.

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Easy to access from Panama City airport, but a world away, Luxury Camping: Altos del Maria makes choosing between the exotic beaches and lush mountains of Central America an easy decision.

Anne and Mike Howard are creators of the around-the-world honeymoon blog HoneyTrek.com and Long Term Travel Coaches for anyone looking to travel the world safely, affordably and off the beaten path. You can follow @HoneyTrek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Anne & Mike Howard

Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in 2012 and have been traveling the world ever since. HoneyTrek.com chronicles their adventures across 7 continents, 44 countries, and counting! Their writing, photography, and the story of the “World’s Longest Honeymoon” can also be found on Condé Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, The Knot, Los Angeles Times, CBS, and dozens of other international publications. Connect with @HoneyTrek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Extreme Outdoors

Sitting on a beach. Walking tours. Visiting Museums.

Did simply reading that first line nearly put you to sleep? I nearly feel asleep writing it. Let’s try this again.

Helicopter rides. White water rafting. Off-roading.

If reading that line spiked your heart rate, I’d reckon you’re longing for a good old fashioned outdoor adventure. But not just any romp in the wilderness, you fancy something a little more extreme. Well my thrill-seeking friend, you are far from alone.

In fact, more travelers than ever before are ditching their Mai Tais, walking shoes and audio guides for water bottles, hiking boots and helmets as they seek out the thrills of adventure travel. This thirst for heart-pounding activities has turned adventure travel into a $263 billion a year industry (that doesn’t include the $82 billion spent on related adventure gear, apparel and accessories) and the fastest growing segment of the leisure travel industry according to a 2013 study conducted by George Washington University.

While extreme outdoor adventure can, in some cases, be found near traditional hotels, why would you just dip your toe into the great outdoors when you could jump all the way in? Why drive into nature for only a few hours when you could stay, eat, sleep, and play in nature 24-hours a day?

That’s where glamping comes in. With glamping, you can experience the comforts of a hotel, all while being within the epicenter of the outdoor adventures you’re seeking. And the sounds of crickets, babbling brooks and crackling campfires, those won’t be coming from a sound machine.

So to get you thinking about your wild escape, here are just a few epic outdoor activities and a sampling of properties that’ll let you release your inner adrenaline junky like never before.

Helicopter Adventures

PHOTO 1 Image Credit “Nimmo Bay Website”

For the ultimate in helicopter adventures, look no further than Nimmo Bay, a tiny, family-owned wilderness resort located in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. Here, you can heli fly fish, heli kayak, heli stand up paddle board, heli hike or just heli picnic. What exactly does that mean? It means you and your provided gear will be picked up by a chopper and flown to remote and pristine locations to fly fish, kayak, paddle board, hike or dine. Now that’s extreme!

Rappelling

PHOTO 2 Image Credit “The Resort at Paws Up Website”

Picture this: you’re standing on the edge of a 170 foot cliff, the Blackfoot River tumbles by below and beyond that, a picture perfect Montana valley-scape. This is the scene for your rappelling adventure at The Resort at Paws Up. With harness and ropes secure, you turn around, back facing the 170 drop below, and take your first step off and down the cliff. A few leaps and bounds later, you’ll be at the bottom smiling from ear to ear ready to do it again.

Hot Air Ballooning

PHOTO 3 Image Credit “Mahali Mzuri Website”

The views on the ground at Sir Richard Branson’s safari camp, Mahali Mzuri, in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve are legendary (from the comfort of your tent’s balcony you’ll see giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and more). But gently and quietly float hundreds of feet above the ground in a hot air balloon at sunrise, and this landscape, one of the world’s most awe-inspiring, will truly get your heart racing like never before.

Hunting

PHOTO 4 Image Credit “ Brush Creek Ranch Website”

If your idea of a extreme outdoor adventure calls for a little more firepower, then hunting at Wyoming’s The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is for you. Amidst massages and fine dining, you can head out into the 30,000 acre property with expert guides to hunt for ducks, deer, antelope, elk and more. The trill of the hunt never felt this good.

River & Ocean Kayaking

PHOTO 5 Image Credit:Credit “Clayoquot Wilderness Resort Website”

While Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, located on west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has it all (from heli adventures, to rock climbing, to fishing and horseback riding), don’t pass up the opportunity to hone your kayaking skills under the supervision of expert guides. Whether you want to learn to navigate small rapids or paddle in search of bears, whales and eagles, you’ll end your day feeling even more confident for tomorrow’s extreme adventures.

Trevor Morrow is a Los Angeles based travel who runs the experiential, adventure and luxury travel blog TrevorMorrowTravel.com. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @trevormorrow.

Main Image Credit:“ Brush Creek Ranch Website”

Pine Mountain Camp California

If you’re looking for a great glamping option for a group retreat or get-together, a peaceful place for an intimate wedding, a place that’s relaxing and allows guests to reconnect with nature, a place that not only provides tranquility and seclusion but also great recreational opportunities if a guest should be so inclined,
I have a couple of places to present to you. Each of these places is great for family gatherings, religious and corporate retreats, weddings, and both have had their share of high-powered celebrity guests. I would also consider both as exquisite glamping locations.

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If you have a minimum of 16 people in your group, may I suggest to you the ultimate glamping playground, with two private beaches, tennis courts, a wide selection of water-sports equipment, personal chefs, swimming pools, stunning views, spa treatments, and an aero-submarine that travels 100 feet below the ocean’s surface. The place, you may ask? It’s Richard Branson’s Necker Island, yours for a mere $62,000 per day. Yowza!

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If however your family, group or business doesn’t have that kind of coin, then I have the perfect suggestion for you. It’s the Pine Mountain Camp near Lake Arrowhead, California, where you can have the entire property starting for a mere $1800 a night (2 night minimum) with all the seclusion, nature and recreational opportunities that forty acres of pristine wooded beauty perched high above a picturesque mountain lake can offer.

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In fact, for a true group outing experience, one that provides connection and rejuvenation, I have to say that Pine Mountain Camp is by far the better of the two.

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I do not mean to suggest that you would not enjoy a stay at Necker Island, but it is more likely to cause group distraction than connection. A place that has it’s own submarine is not going to inspire me to “regroup with others” or “restore my inner resources.” I’ll be too busy playing Captain Nemo!

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And how could you possibly “relax with a book” at a place that costs $62,000 a day? Wouldn’t you feel the pressure to do everything the place offers all at once? Sounds like a vacation that requires a vacation from vacation- we’ve all had one of those. So, relax. There’s no risk of that kind of stress with a group stay at Pine Mountain Camp.

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The Pine Mountain Camp website makes the claim, “Be in nature, within luxury accommodations,” which succinctly sums up the essence of glamping. Guests enjoy “wireless internet and flat-panel TVs” at a resort set deep in the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest, and can instantly step away to smell the mountain pine and feel the breeze.

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Remember, it’s not just a retreat- it’s a resort. Hiking, biking, boating, swimming, water-skiing, fly fishing, hot springs, there’s plenty to do in the summer, and you can even catch a movie nearby or shop if you can believe that! I’d like to be here for one of the weekly summer concerts at Lake Arrowhead Village.

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With activities like skiing and sledding, wintertime group outings are a great option, too.

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Stay in the luxurious Ponderosa Lodge, which sleeps 13 with a main floor master suite, a bunk-room for 6, and 2 upstairs private bedrooms.

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The lodge has a fully appointed kitchen (cooking classes available with advance reservation!) and a cozy, spacious central living area set with a warm and inviting stone hearth fireplace.

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If you want to get away from the group a bit, you can always opt for one of the two “enchanting” cabins, or even “brave” the tepee. It’s a pretty cool tepee, on an elevated deck, with 2 futons inside and is nicely appointed with a nearby eating area and restroom. The tepee is described as a “Lakota-Sioux design, but with more durable and weather-resistant fabrics.” Kids dig the tepee, and you might, too.

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I’ve been to plenty of lodges, and many of them are way too “lodgy,” over crammed with deer and moose antlers and woodland tchotchkes in every possible space. While the lodge décor here isn’t subtle, it isn’t over the top, either.

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I don’t want my lodge to be subtle. A place like this has to be confident in it’s identity, and Pine Mountain Camp understands it’s character, a beautiful woodland retreat perched above Lake Arrowhead nestled in 40 wooded acres and the décor strikes the right balance. (Thank you, Pine Mountain Camp).

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I’m sorry, Necker Island, I didn’t mean to bash you. I’m sure you’re amazing but you helped me make my point- for a place for groups to get their glamping rejuvenation on, Pine Mountain Camp is the place to be. I do hope, however, that Glamping.com will send me to review you someday. Wish me luck!