NOTABLE WILDLIFE-VIEWING DESTINATIONS AROUND THE WORLD

Appears in RESIDE Magazine.

Rare is the global traveler’s bucket list that doesn’t include a safari. And while many nature lovers associate world-class wildlife viewing with Africa, a growing number of international operators and destination resorts offer compelling alternatives. Here’s a look at notable options around the globe.

Australia

A walaroo in Northern Territory, Australia

Australia’s Northern Territory lures adventurous types with untouched nature and close, respectful access to aboriginal culture. A pair of environmentally friendly safari operators provide a range of wildlife-viewing experiences in the northern, tropical Top End region.

Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris focuses on Mount Borradaile, an aboriginal sacred site owned and managed by its custodians, the Amurdak people. Options include bird-watching expeditions and a wetlands cruise with crocodile spotting. Guests can also spend the night in an eco-lodge or cabin located in a natural bush setting.

Bamurru Plains is an eco-friendly, luxury safari lodge with exclusive access to 74,000 acres of floodplains and savanna woodland around the Mary River, on the edge of Kakadu National Park.Ten bungalows overlook the floodplains and feature mesh walls, providing close access to ever-present wildlife.

A safari in India’s Baghvan

India

Taj Hotels—India’s most iconic luxury hotel brand—maintains four safari lodges, each offering twice-daily safaris and unique, culturally minded guest experiences. Each is dedicated to conservation and eco-friendly behavior.

Mahua Kothi offers a variety of nature-spotting experiences. Animal lovers hop into open 4×4 vehicles to cruise around looking for Bandhavgarh National Park’s famous Royal Bengal tigers, white tigers, and leopards.

Baghvan attracts travelers drawn to Pench National Park, which inspired Rudyard Kipling’s iconic The Jungle Book. Guests explore Pench’s teak-filled jungles in search of tigers and other elusive creatures.

Tucked into a rocky outcrop near Panna National Park, Pashan Garh offers views of the Vindhya Hills and 200 acres of private jungle. When not relaxing in the dozen well-appointed cottages, safari-goers enjoy sightings of tigers, crocodiles, and wildly colorful birds. Cultural-minded travelers take a break from nature to visit the Khajuraho group of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples, one of India’s most fascinating Unesco World Heritage sites.

Banjaar Tola overlooks Kanha National Park and offers an opulent glamping experience in one of 18 tented suites. Kanha is one of the largest and best-maintained of India’s national parks, as well as one of the first Indian tiger reserves aimed at protecting the fierce felines and their ecosystems.

A view of Intrepid Travel’s Borneo safari

Borneo

Intrepid Travel, the world’s largest adventure-travel company, offers a 12-day Sabah Adventure, which packs in the many natural wonders found in Sabah, a Malaysian state located on the northern portion of Borneo. Besides visiting some of the region’s hot springs and tribal villages, participants catch glimpses of rainforest wildlife, such as tigers, elephants, and orangutans. Also included is a visit to Turtle Island Marine Park, where sea turtles come ashore to lay eggs every night.

Norway

Intrepid’s Spitsbergen Explorer thrills adventurers who jump at the chance to visit arctic Spitsbergen, the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway. Beyond exploring windswept polar deserts, cliff-lined shores, and imposing fjords via hiking, snowshoeing, or kayaking, participants keep an eye out for polar bears hunting along the ice sheets, plus walruses, reindeer, Arctic foxes, and vast colonies of rare seabirds.

Angama Mara in Africa

Kenya

Towering above the Maasai Mara—arguably the most famous safari destination in Africa—Angama Mara contains two separate camps, each with 15 tented suites, on the edge of a scenic escarpment, where some of the most famous scenes from the 1985 film Out of Africa were shot. Suites feature 30-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling windows, and guests can use binoculars to view elephants and water buffalo. And guests rest easy knowing that part of their payment goes toward conservation.

THE ‘BRILLIANCE’ OF RANCH HOMES

THE SINGLE-FLOOR HOUSES HAVE A CASUAL AIR, AND MELD THE OUTSIDE AND INSIDE SEAMLESSLY

Appears on  sothebysrealty.com

Ranch living keeps it on the level. Spread out over one floor, these homes are more casual than other styles, often lacking the symmetry of more classic designs. Buyers are attracted to that casual air, and the style maximizes indoor-outdoor living that adds to the feeling of ease. The homes can also allow for privacy, with clever layouts and landscaping.

Modern examples incorporate features like open-floor plans, floor-to-ceiling windows, and the latest technology into the build, but they are still centered on indoor-outdoor living.

The style flourished in places like California, where the weather allows for the outdoors to be an extension of the home most of the year. Many of these were built as suburban developments in the years immediately following World War II.

0593275

$4,995,000

Property ID: 0593275 | sothebysrealty.com

Sotheby’s International Realty | Santa Barbara Brokerage

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“In the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, most of the very good residential architects here in California were designing ranch houses; it was just part of their portfolio,” explains Irvine, Calif.-based architect Alan Hess, author of The Ranch House. “They are just excellently designed.” Architect Cliff May popularized the style, inspired by the adobe ranch houses owned by his family near San Diego, according to a 1986 New York Times article.

“I rebelled against the boxy houses being built then,” May, who died in 1989, told the Times. “The ranch house was everything a California house should be—it had cross-ventilation, the floor was level with the ground, and with its courtyard and the exterior corridor. It was about sunshine and informal outdoor living.”

$5,800,000

Property ID: Y7M5JS | sothebysrealty.com

Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty

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Y7M5JS

 

May built the first home in this style in 1931, and, over his career, designed more than 1,000 custom houses. The bulk of them were in California, but he also had projects as far away as Ireland, Australia, and Switzerland.

Modern architects are also melding cutting-edge design with one-level living. In Santa Barbara, Calif., local architect Ken Radtkey and his team at Blackbird Architects created a ranch-style home there in 2016. It incorporates a modern kitchen, dining, and living area as the center of the home, with the master suite and office separate from the additional bedrooms. Guests and residents can access the outdoors from almost anywhere in the home.

The home has modern sliding doors and floor-to-ceiling windows, and its curved roof creates a shaded outdoor living space. And the outdoor areas are just as well planned, with native and drought-resistant plantings, grass terraces, an orchard, a pool, gardens, and a koi pond with a stone waterfall.

The owner’s imported Moroccan doors have been incorporated throughout the house, creating a unique contrast to the home’s clean lines, according to the architect. There’s also a separate garage with an artist’s studio. Recently listed for just under $5 million, Montecito-based Sotheby’s International Realty agent Joe McCorkell is representing the property.

The Rancho Santa Fe home, has an open-foor plan
The Rancho Santa Fe home, has an open-floor plan.

Homes by May are still in demand, as well, according to Clara Yang, an agent with the Beverly Hills Brokerage of Sotheby’s International Realty. Yang is currently marketing a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home designed by May in 1948. Located in the lower Mandeville Canyon area in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood, the home is listed for $3.6 million.

The kitchen and bathrooms of the 2,322-square-foot home have been updated, but much of the design remains the same, Yang says. “Wherever you are, there’s a door to walk outside,” she notes. “And there are windows throughout to let the light in.”

The home, built in a U shape, surrounds a courtyard with a firepit and mature landscaping. There are also two patios with fountains, a pool surrounded by a glass fence, and a pocket garden.

“It’s not like a modern house with an open-floor plan. It’s like a treasure hunt; there’s something different around every corner, ” Yang says. “It’s perfect for staying home, because each person can have their own space and everyone can meet up in the middle.”

Other May-designed properties do offer that open plan, however. A four-bedroom, five-and-a-half bathroom home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., boasts a flowing layout, as well as abundant natural light and a central courtyard that connects seamlessly to the indoor living areas.

Landscaping is key to ranch homes, and May is known for having brought in mature trees to plant on the grounds of his projects. This property is no different, note agents Eric Iantorno and Beth Van Boxtel of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty. The home, built in 1973, sits on almost three acres and is currently on the market for $5.8 million.

“Cliff May used adult trees and plants at the time, and these days they are giant,” Van Boxtel explains. They include olive and pepper trees, plus a small fruit tree orchard, a vegetable garden, several kinds of berries, and a variety of tropical plants.

“The olive trees make it feel so romantic,” Iantorno notes. “And the details of the space—things are small and then expand, and that play on proportions makes it feel very special.” Single-level houses have gained in popularity as the baby boomer generation looks to retire and relocate to places without stairs. But Yang says she’s seen more interest in ranch-style homes from buyers of all ages.

People are attracted by the informal ease of living there, as well as the integrated indoor-outdoor experience. Others are drawn to the deceptively simple architecture. “They’re just brilliant little designs, and people are appreciating them,” Hess says.