Gone glamping: roughing it with luxury in mind

The word glamping, or glamorous camping, found its way into the Oxford English dictionary in 2016, but the concept of glamping has been around since the 16th century when the Scottish Earl of Atholl orchestrated an ultra-luxurious glamping experience in the Highlands for his guests, King James and his mother.

The earl, or more likely his servants, outfitted lavish tents with all the comforts of the home palace.

In that same century, a diplomatic summit in France in 1520 between Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France set the standard in political glamping with 2,800 tents and marquees, and fountains running with red wine.

Meanwhile, in the East, the Ottomans were transporting their palatial tents, richly decorated and embroidered with silk and metal thread, from one military mission to the next. Teams of artisans travelled with the army to pitch and maintain the imperial tents.

In the early 20th century, the African safari became the preferred glamping experience for moneyed Brits and Americans. Those forays into the wilds included electric generators, folding baths and cases of champagne.

Today glamping can give the vacationer the best of both worlds. Some suggest that baby boomers who have put in decades of traditional camping, who have pitched tents, battled bugs and coped with less than ideal washroom facilities, yet still want to vacation in the great outdoors, deserve to glamp.

Glamping opportunities are available in yurts, teepees, igloos and treehouses, as well as the more traditional tents. Prices range from around $100 per night to thousands of dollars per night, depending on amenities.

For people who want to “live like the fanciest cowboy on Earth,” as it states in the resort’s literature, Paws-up in Montana might be just the thing.

The resort offers a variety of tents as well as ranch-style homes, electricity, heated floors and butlers. Guests can go horseback riding, fly-fishing, cattle herding and to the spa tent for a massage. Come suppertime, they can have a traditional outdoor chuckwagon grill or they can opt for a gourmet restaurant or even room/tent service.

Prices go to US$2,225 per night for a two-bedroom suite. Learn more at pawsup.com/glamping.

If an African safari appeals to you, the Greystoke Mahale camp in Tanzania “combines the amenities of glamping with the isolation and connection with nature of a safari. On a site reachable only by a several hour journey on boats and small planes, the camp offers a spectacular view of Lake Tanganyika, luxurious wooden bandas or huts and excellent food and drink.

But the main attraction is the chimpanzees. The area is rife with them. Each morning there’s a chimp trek to observe the creatures as they go about their daily lives.

Prices start at $4,583 per person for a four-night stay, including airfare from Arusha, Tanzania. For more information, check this glamping experience out at nomad-tanzania.com.

Several locations such as Bodrifty Farms at Cornwall in the south of England offer a historical twist along with the glamping.

At Bodrifty Farms you can sleep in an Iron Age-style round house, complete with a thatched roof. You can stroll across moors scattered with ancient monuments.

You can dine on fresh veggies grown on the farm and it’s on the coast so beautiful beaches are just an amble away.

“The lack of artificial light on the farm makes it perfect for stargazing,” (a statement from the farm’s website) sounds like a tactful way of saying there is no electricity.

A night at the roundhouse will cost up to $436 per night. Their site is at canopyandstars.co.uk.

Back in Saskatchewan, you can head for Christopher Lake and one of Flora Bora’s fully equipped yurts. No worries about the electrics here. You will also have a private bathroom, kitchenette and deck, and you will find nature trails and fruitful gardens just out the front door.

Flora Bora was chosen by the Huffington Post as one of the “seven best places to go glamping in Canada” and by Readers Digest as one of “10 great places to go glamping in Canada.”

During the low season, you’ll pay $196 per night, per yurt. That rises to $223 per night in high season, May through to Sept. 15.

For more information, visit florabora.ca.

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