14 places to get off the grid
Most of the issue is about how to get more digital and how being connected makes business easier. But there can be a downside to that. With connectivity everywhere, there seems to be no escaping work calls and emails, even when you’re 30,000 feet in the air. We already don’t take enough vacation time, but sometimes you just have to unplug. These are the places to go when you need to get off the grid.
About 200 kilometres outside the Sydney CBD is the Capertree Valley, where three bubbles (Leo, Virgo, and Cancer) are set up to help you get away from it all. To preserve the privacy, Bubbletent doesn’t even reveal the exact location until two weeks before your trip, and you’ll likely need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get there. Once you’re there, it’s all about relaxing. Watch the sunset, gaze up at the night sky through your bubble or through a telescope, and spot animals. Remember those?
This is not your grandfather’s version of camping. This is true luxury glamping at a desert basecamp in the shadow of Uluru. Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park covers more than 300,000 acres, and you can soak in many of them first thing in the morning as your bed faces the big red rock, or enjoy the cool night air with a glass of wine by the fire on your private deck. The 16 suites also feature plunge pools to take a dip in the desert heat.
Get off the grid with a different kind of safari on British Columbia’s Pacific Coast. Located on Vancouver Island, the Relais & Chateaux property offers sustainable access to the UNESCO-listed Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve. There’s plenty to marvel at from high promontories, and plenty of ways to get up to them: rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and heli adventures. You’ll be awestruck and unplugged from the time you board a float plane to get there.
Haven’t you always wanted to snuggle up in a fur blanket on a bed of ice? Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, is about 200 km north of the Arctic Circle and the perfect place to do just that. Whilst there is a permanent structure up the whole year, the main attraction at Icehotel is temporary rooms rebuilt every year going on three decades that feature unique designs and art installations made of, you guessed it, ice. It doesn’t get more off the grid than that!
The vast Atacama Desert in Chile is full of dunes, salt pans, volcanoes, and wide open skies. Explora offers more than 40 guided excursions to explore the high desert more than 5,000 m above sea level in some cases. Unique flora and fauna thrive in this inhospitable locale, including a variety of birds, plus brine shrimp and the flamingos that feast on them. The elevation and isolation make the Atacama one of the best places in the world to observe the night sky.
Greenland’s east is truly off the grid, isolated even from the rest of the remote island. At Natural Habitat’s Base Camp Greenland, you’ll find a deluxe safari-style camp with eight tented cabins. The interior of the heavy-duty vinyl cabin is equipped with a heater for chilly nights and en-suite odourless dry toilet. On the outside, each raised cabin has a veranda overlooking the bay and long summer days are typically mild and dry. Hot showers are available in the gender-segregated bathhouse. Every effort is taken to minimise the environmental impact of the camp on such a pristine landscape yet make for comfortable guest accommodations.
A private island resort off a larger island in Cambodia, Song Saa has wellness and detox retreats designed to revitalise the world-weary. Wake up with morning yoga and go SCUBA diving, snorkeling, or on a nature treasure hunt before keeping the peaceful vibes going with some afternoon meditation. Worn out after that? Take in a private movie screening in your villa complete with complimentary popcorn.
Up in the Rocky Mountains of Montana in the Western US, nestled between Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier national parks, Triple Creek is everything a ranch ought to be, with log cabins and horseback riding everywhere you look. With a seemingly unending list of activities, it’s proof that getting off the grid doesn’t have to mean being completely idle. Be sure to work up an appetite, because the menu and wine list are light years beyond what the cowboys of old ate and drank.
Morocco is great for exploring its cities and deserts, but not many visitors make a foray in the Atlas Mountains outside Marrakech. Sir Richard Branson, however, is an expert at retreats that get you off the grid, and Kasbah Tamadot is no exception. It’s a lush mountain oasis complete with spa treatments, gold, movie nights, and trekking. Stay in a Berber-style tent and learn to make traditional meals or just laze by the pool, a sapphire against a backdrop of emerald.
Billing itself as “The 5 Million Star Hotel,” Buubble is a collection of clear tent bubbles in Iceland. Excellent for catching the Northern Lights in Northern Hemisphere winter or taking in wildlife and perfect temperatures in summer, Buubble is a great base for exploring the Golden Circle and Iceland’s South Coast. As with Bubbletent Australia, the exact location is kept a secret until just before you arrive.
When Bora Bora gets too crowded for you, there’s The Brando, a private island formerly owned by Marlon Brando and now a resort in a spectacular lagoon. The villas are made with local materials and built so as to blend in with the natural surroundings. The air conditioning is powered by seawater and the resort uses solar power and biofuel whenever possible. There’s no shortage of water activities, from snorkelling in the lagoon to deep-sea fishing, and ample opportunity to soak in the Polynesian culture.
In northern Thailand on the border with Myanmar and Laos, this jungle escape is all about elephants. You can bathe, feed, and walk them as you get to know the basics of what it takes to be an elephant whisperer. You can even watch the sunrise with an elephant companion or dine among the herd as traditional musicians play. You can also admire the beauty of Chiang Rai and venture into the other countries that form the Golden Triangle.
Greet polar bears in the Norwegian Arctic just as they wake from their long winter’s nap. Onboard the National Geographic Endurance, you’ll be able to dart through Svalbard’s fjords and go where the wildlife is. Step off the ship and onto a Zodiac to zip among icebergs and even set foot on the frozen ice. The expedition is all about the wildlife, with the flexibility to go where the most activity is. Life’s a rat race even when you’re off the grid!
If all the above is not off the grid enough for you, Black Tomato will straight up drop you in the middle of nowhere and leave it to you to find your way out. Not to worry, they are monitoring you at all times and will step in if necessary. The experience truly allows you to let go, as you show up at the airport without knowing where you’re going. Black Tomato provides all the supplies you’ll need, but it’s self-reliance that will get you out.