Berenty Reserve, Madagascar
The low-key safari is something of an endangered species, but it thrives – like most peculiar fauna – on Madagascar, a once isolated island nation off the southeast coast of Africa with a bounty of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. The Berenty Reserve, one square mile of privately owned forest along the Mandrare River near the white-sand coast, offers visitors the chance to bunk down in the middle of the wilderness without breaking the bank or wandering too far afield. The place is also singular because of the country's abundant native species (90 percent of all plants and animals on Madagascar are endemic), including 50 types of (pre-primate) lemurs, such as the friendly white sifakas (pictured), that fill the trees during the day and the massive fruit bats that come screeching out of them at night while visitors down beers in the forest's bar.
The most stripped-down of our recommended trips, the voyage to Berenty is less about magnificent catering than it is about enjoying the pleasures of a singular place. Getting there is most of the fun. The 15-hour drive from Antananarivo, the capital, weaves through jungles, villages, and savanna across a significant portion of a truly extraordinary ecosystem and country. Though Madagascar isn't always particularly safe, the locals are happier than anyone to see tourists – something of a rarity – rolling through town.
More information: The best spot to stay is the Berenty Lodge. The digs aren't luxurious, but the location more than makes up for it.