We have a number of properties around the world where it’s possible to get involved, work alongside the locals and really get a feel for a place. From a cattle station in Australia to a rubber plantation in India, we present friendly family-run properties which introduce frontier life as it interacts with nature.
Visitors are welcomed to come and spend a night or two in one of the six traditional clay and grass guest huts. Each hut is very simple but spotlessly clean and cool with single or twin beds, mosquito nets and a small chair. You can visit the local school, where you might like to get involved with the lessons that day, you will also be able to see the village clinic and meet the local witch doctor. It is not usually possible to stay right in the heart of a traditional village. Kawaza is therefore a unique experience.
It is fascinating as you learn so much and see an aspect of life very different to a luxury safari camp.
The twelve modern ensuite guestrooms are spacious and set in the surrounds of the family home, and you are welcome to share the sprawling homestead and small swimming pool, ideal for washing off the dust after a day outdoors. Fresh fish and prime, grass-fed beef feature prominently on the dinner menus: barramundi cooked in paperbark over hot coals is an Aboriginal speciality and something of a Bullo trademark.
The owners, Marlee and Franz offer an informal, entertaining stay, recounting stories of the station life and its history, and we feel Bullo River Station certainly adds a colourful and fascinating dimension to a visit to Australia.
Set on a small hilltop among 25 acres of coffee, fruit and spice plantations in India, Serenity is a 1920's former planter's house on the Kanam Estate about midway between Thekkady and Cochin.
During your stay at Serenity, Lakshmi the elephant is a fascinating companion. You can feed him a bunch of bananas, go for a ride on him and visit some of the surrounding plantations, watch him at work, pulling and carrying large logs of wood, and finally share in his delightful bath time at the end of the day.
Bicycles are available to explore the local villages, while guided walks of the estate are provided to see how rubber is produced.
In the heart of northern Zambia is Shiwa N’gandu - "Lake of the Royal Crocodiles" that was made famous by Stewart Gore-Browne, an English gentleman.
He arrived at Shiwa N’gandu in 1911 when surveying the surrounding area for the military and consequently he decided to build his graceful English stately home there in 1928, far from any major habitation overlooking the vast lake, set in a 10,000 hectare estate.
Activities include exploring the grounds, walks or horse riding down to the lake, game drives in open 4WDs, plus boat trips on the lake and through the papyrus swamps along the Mansha River.
As the Phobjikha Valley is the most remote that you will travel to you on your trip to Bhutan please be aware that there are very few creature comforts here. There is no mains electricity in the valley so any power that is supplied is from a generator; power cuts are common and it can be cold at night as insulation is poor.
Catlins Farmstay B&B is located on a well established working farm home to sheep, deer and cattle in New Zealand. Situated close to Curio Bay, the farm is in a perfect position from which to explore the beautiful Catlins area with its fossil forests, dolphins, penguins and great walks.
Your hosts, Murray and June Stratford, delight in sharing their home with guests and are more than happy to take you on a tour of the farm or assist you in exploring the Catlins. There are three superior quality guestrooms, keeping the property small and full of character, and hearty home-cooked breakfasts each morning.
Mondo Challenge use a handful of local homes in the Kalimpong area of India which they then rotate to ensure an equal use for all families. Your accommodation will be very simple, with a bed and a drop toilet but the experience will be one of a kind. You will have the chance to cook with the women of the family and have breakfast with them before continuing on your walk.
Guests here are invited to learn about every aspect of the wine industry, of which perhaps the most rewarding part - amply featured - is the sampling process. Surrounded by grapevines, this rustic property enjoys the feel of the South of France, but mellowed under the antipodean sun.
The Hacienda Merida in Mexico is a lovely boutique option in the heart of Merida and both standard and executive rooms offer a high degree of comfort.
The decor is stylish, a mixture of the traditional and modern. All rooms have King sized beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, an outdoor terrace and air conditioning as well as a few individual touches. No two rooms are the same. Executive rooms are on the second floor and look out onto the swimming pool which has comfy sun beds, a fantastic spot to unwind in the afternoon.
The hotel also has a little spa which is rare for hotels in central Merida.
These Local Village House in Almora in India are classed as simple but they are very clean and comfortable and they provide a unique experience of mountain life.
The village houses you will stay in are lovely colourful little properties you see in this region but have been adapted to suit western needs. You will enjoy comfortable beds with pillows and duvets. The rooms are well kept and decorated in the local style but also retaining the charm found in the remote Kumaon Hills region.
You are encouraged to interact with the village families as you go along. They are happy for you to help particularly at the village of Jawalabanj or just watch in the kitchen. They are just as intrigued by you as you are of them and welcome the interaction.
La Plume is a Victorian-styled homestead dating back to 1902 which is situated in the tranquil surroundings of a working ostrich, alfalfa and vine farm. The décor is of the highest standard using high quality local materials, antique furniture and a hint of colonial extravagance. There is a swimming pool in the spacious garden at which you can relax in summer absorbing the uninterrupted views over the Swartberg mountain Range.
Nestled on a hill overlooking the Mekong River in Thailand, Lanjia Lodge is built in traditional
Hmong style and consists of four buildings each with four comfortable rooms. The lodge is a great example of community-based tourism with the staff all from local Hmong and Lahu villages.
Activity programmes such as batik making, tree planting and learning about the village ecosystem give guests an opportunity to gain an insight into tribal customs and life in northern Thailand.
It was built in 1930 and retains all the charm and character it had when first lived in. There is a cool stone veranda with lots of sofas and chairs and wonderful views of the lake. A cosy living room has a grand piano, big sofas, an open fire place, rugs on the floor and lots of interesting reference books on Kenya. A four minute drive up the hill there is the private cottage. This has three bedrooms, superb views and is ideal for families or groups of friends. The food at Loldia is also exceptional.
Set on a 40-acre organic farm amid the lush tropical greenery of Olavipe Island, Olavipe is a grand
heritage homestay which offers visitors a unique way to enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the Keralan backwaters.
As guests of the Parayil Tharakans, a well-connected and prominent Syrian Christian family, you will be staying in their 19th-century home where you can just unwind in a hammock, explore the farm or take strolls through the village. You can explore this region of India with the family boatman who can take you for a ride along the local backwaters or you can canoe on the peaceful
lagoon. And after a day exploring, you will be treated to a traditional Keralan meal taken
with your well-travelled and entertaining hosts around the large family dining table.
It had been gently crumbling, until 2001 when it was bought with the aim of restoring the ranch back to its original state of health and sharing it with visitors. The ranch now raises a variety of livestock, including boran cattle, Maasai red sheep, and galla goats. It is leading the way in this part of Kenya in reducing human-predator conflict and livestock losses by building innovative predator-resistant bomas. Other ventures include biltong and honey production for the ranch house.
The ranch works closely with the local Laikipiak Maasai and Samburu tribes by providing employment and allowing grazing during times of drought. In addition, Sosian has formed a water association with the local communities to save the river and swamp on the ranch and has started a tree nursery.