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Hotels

5 New Jungle Lodges Worth the Trek

Are you a nature lover at heart? It takes time (and effort) to reach this clutch of new rainforest retreats, but trust us—they’re worth every step.

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Awasi Iguazú, Argentina

Awasi Iguazú manages that impossible feat of matching the beauty of its surroundings with sustainable architecture that blends seamlessly into the landscape. Just 14 spacious villas, hewn from local pine, sit on stilts above the forest floor just outside Iguazú National Park, and are done up with earthy textiles, handwoven baskets, and private plunge pools and outdoor showers. The serenity you’ll find here is unmatched—to reach your villa, you follow winding stone pathways that snake their way through the jungle—but that’s not all you’re paying for. The full-board rate includes meals at the restaurant and your own private 4WD vehicle and guide, who can lead treks through the rainforest to spot toucans and capuchin monkeys, organize visits to local tribes and archaeological sites, and set up sunrise or sunset picnics at the base of the mighty Iguazú Falls, just 15 minutes upriver. After a day of adventure, the restaurant and bar at the low-slung main lodge is a gathering spot for healthy pours of Malbec and produce-driven courses like surubí ceviche and mushroom ravioli.

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Bwindi Lodge, Uganda

The safari world is slowly turning its eyes back to East Africa, where gorilla tourism is back on the rise. This year, Uganda is beginning to overtake Rwanda (where Dian Fossey famously conducted her research) as the destination of choice, thanks to its still-affordable park permits. You can’t get any closer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park—home to half the world’s remaining mountain gorillas—than Volcanoes Safaris’ Bwindi Lodge, whose picture windows look right out onto the dense vegetation. (Gorillas have even been spotted roaming the grounds.) Its nine standalone suites were just refurbished, while a new-build spa offers one complimentary massage for every guest.

RELATED: JS Travel Diaries: Just Back from Rwanda and Uganda

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Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Sri Lanka

Yala National Park, in southernmost Sri Lanka, is a wildlife utopia home to leopards and forest elephants—previously unexplored until now. From the minds behind Cape Weligama, the new Wild Coast Tented Lodge has opened up this corner of the world to discerning safari-goers for the first time. Its 28 cocoon-like suites (kitted out like old-world safari lodges with freestanding copper tubs, colonial-style furniture, and teak floors) straddle the border between beach and jungle and offset that ruggedness with luxurious creature comforts—think strong WiFi and air conditioning as well as access to a spa, open-air restaurant, and infinity pool looking out towards the Indian Ocean. Many of the suites have plunge pools, but you might prefer those that don’t, which instead overlook the watering hole and all the animals it attracts (sloth bears, peacocks, jackals).

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Capella Ubud, Bali

The highly anticipated Capella Ubud proves that over-the-top luxury can be delivered without cutting down a single tree. Instead, a natural ecosystem of rice terraces and lush rain forest sets the stage for its 22 tents pitched along the banks of the sacred Wos River, which each feature private saltwater Jacuzzi pools, indoor-outdoor bathrooms, and personal assistants—reached via your own complimentary smart phone and at the ready to arrange day trips to nearby Hindu temples or the Puri Lukisan art museum. It’s easy to see how Bali’s exotic past (namely, the 1920s explorations of its European settlers) inspired the design—from the hideaway nature of the property itself to its under-canvas digs. What else to expect? A local storyteller mans the campfire come nightfall, there’s an outdoor rainforest pool called The Cistern, a gym and spa occupy their own tents, and two restaurants prepare flavor-forward Indonesian cuisine.

RELATED: A First-Timer's Guide to the Best Spots in Bali, Indonesia

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Rosewood Luang Prabang, Laos

This year, Rosewood Hotel Group has taken the plunge into the realm of tented villas. World-renowned architect Bill Bensley was tapped to conceptualize the 23 accommodations at Rosewood Luang Prabang, found in the densely forested outskirts of Laos’s UNESCO-listed ancient capital. The result is a sophisticated take on the lodge experience: think intricately tiled floors, beamed ceilings, open-air showers, and wraparound decks that lend themselves to romantic candlelit dinners. After dropping your bags in your room (which are set by the river, on a hilltop, or next to a waterfall), we suggest heading straight to the spa for an in-tent treatment among the foliage before a meal at the Great House, whose menu features ingredients sourced from the kitchen’s organic garden.

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