et par vaux
Place a finger on the wild heart of Argentina, equidistant between Chile and Uruguay, and you’re there, in the province of Córdoba, land of saltwater lakes and sierras older than the Andes, ancient rocky outcrops and grassy valleys. The dirt road could go on forever, but here it forks toward a 2,300-hectare estate (in other words, a small garden) and a hundred-year-old farm, with walkways sheltered by dark-tiled roofs, varnished floorboards and white rooms pink-tinged by the sunset. The monturero, the room where they prepare the stirrups, saddles and cinches, is as much an attraction as the outdoor pool and the home-baked bread in the morning. With an endless number of tracks to choose from, you can do a different ride each day: ambling upstream to the source of the river, trotting through the shady Ongamira valley, or up on the ocher cliffs, nostrils flaring, where the condors circle.
Alto Ongamira, Córdoba. Tél. +54 911 2637 5123.www.doslunas.com.ar
This organic farm on the edge of the Mata Atlântica, or Atlantic Forest, has adopted permaculture and biodynamic agriculture, with a vegetable garden, an orchard with 40 fruit varieties, and cereal crops all around. The stables house 25 horses, the perfect way to explore the 450 hectares of this estate or the old Gold and Coffee Trails. Life at these five villas located two hours by plane from São Paulo is adapted to nature, with water and waste recycling, light pollution reduced to a minimum, and phone, TV and Internet banished. But the DVD collection has feature films and documentaries, and there are seven lakes to swim in. Those who want can work in the vegetable garden or milk cows. Children can learn how to drive a carriage, make cakes or paint. Since 2008, at the Fazenda, the beauty of the Catuçaba (“the land of good people”) has been preserved as well as shared.
São Luiz do Paraitinga, São Paulo. Tél. +55 11 2495 1586.www.catucaba.com
Emerging from the morning mist, the curved roofs of Lijiang cling to the mountainside while its feet soak in the Blue River. This is how the caravans on the old Tea Horse Road found it as they climbed the 2,000 km to Tibet. Two years ago the LUX* hotel group opened its first address in Yunnan, in this town now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This boutique hotel with just 10 rooms encourages enlightened tourism in contact with the Naxi minority: cooking lessons after market trips, tea ceremonies, tutorials in Dongba pictograms and hikes to villages are all available. On the mule tracks, raise your eyes to gaze at the mountain peaks; the mounts are no longer weighed down by the precious cakes of Pu-erh tea, but, like their ancestors, they know every bend in the track.
A comme Afrique. Impressions d’Afrique Avec un peu d’imagination, avec quelques accessoires aussi, avec une allée et des palmes, la Sicile, c’est aussi l’Afrique. Il ne s’agit pas d’arpenter la ville. Ailleurs est ce qui arrive.
A as in Africa: Impressions of Africa With a bit of imagination and a few accessories, such as a path and some palms, Sicily can also be Africa. You don’t have to amble all over the city. Afar is what appears.
182, Xingwen Lane, Qiyi Street, Lijiang. Tél. +86 (0)888 559 6666.www.luxlijiang.co
Mas de la Fouque
The Camargue, listed as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, is sandwiched between two arms of the Rhône. White dominates in this aquatic land: on the walls of houses, in the light, the silver of the water and the hide of the horses. After a ride over the wetlands amid wild ducks and herds of wild horses and bulls, the Nuxe spa, library and cosy open fire at the Mas de la Fouque provide a prelude to the menu of chef Grégory Van de Wege, connoisseur of Camargue flavors. The hotel helps to conserve this fragile environment, sponsoring the care of young pink flamingos, helping to reforest and keeping its carbon footprint to a minimum. Hidden away are white wood cabins, a pretty gypsy caravan and two heated pools, one of them outdoor.
Mas de la fouque
Route du Petit-Rhône, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Tél. +33 (0)4 90 97 81 02.www.masdelafouque.co
Four Season Hotel Hampshire
In the county of Hampshire, southern England, the three wings of this 18th-century Georgian manor house are home to 111 rooms and 22 suites, with views of the verdant grounds teeming with game. This is picture-postcard England, where dogs are welcome and guests are invited to go fishing, shoot pigeons, play tennis or discover falconryand that’s when they’re not bathing in the pool heated by an extraordinary glass roof. To top it all off, there are stables with 14 horses for guests to ride, while the “Own a Pony for a Day” program offers 7- to 16-year-olds a chance to look after their mounts before and after a ride. After all that fresh air, deep armchairs in the library and the spa pamper body and mind. The high point: a day trip to Highclere Castle (where Downton Abbey is set) in a Rolls-Royce. But those who prefer to escape the clichés might choose to visit Hartley Wintney instead, a village of 5,000 souls just 15 minutes away, which boasts one of the country’s oldest cricket pitches and no fewer than nine antiques shops. It’s not so easy to escape the postcard, but how pleasant it is.
four seasons hotel Hampshire
Dogmersfield Park, Chalky Lane, Dogmersfield. Tél. +44 1252 853 000.www.fourseasons.com
Every day, on the Laikipia plateau, the sun recommences its dazzling course, jumping over the obstacles of Mount Kenya and Aberdare Mountains. At Solio Lodge, with its five thatched-roof bungalows and stables, hidden away in a 20,000-hectare game reserve, the first rays of sunshine tempt you out for a ride. As the savanna awakes, horseback safaris get under way. The first sound the rider hears is that of still-damp grass brushing under hoofbefore that of galloping giraffe or rhino by the dozens.
Solio Game Reserve, Laikipia. Tél. +254 20 502 0888.www.thesafaricollection.com
Auberge du Jeu de Paume
You can take your horse with you when you stay at this five-star Relais & Châteaux establishment in the prestigious equestrian centre of Chantilly. Your mount is housed, fed and groomed in the stables while you luxuriate in a special treatment at the Valmont spa. For the less adept, the hotel offers the chance to explore the estate astride a docile Henson; unless you yield to the temptation of the signature Mille & Une Chantilly treatment (wrap plus dessert!): a sensorial immersion. Exceptionally, in early October the racecourse hosted the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the flat race contested by the cream of the world’s thoroughbreds.
Auberge du jeu de Paume
4, rue du Connétable, Chantilly. Tél. +33 (0)3 44 65 50 00.www.aubergedujeudepaumechantilly.fr
Sometimes it doesn’t take spectacular effects to impress us. The great plains of southern Hungary are a perfect reflection of this science of surprise, revealing its endless expanses of fields, forests and shallow lakes inhabited by game and water buffalo. In this region of Europe, somewhere between the Eastern steppe and agricultural meadow, Birgit and Oliver Christen have created a place of tailor-made simplicity, with comfortable yurts or elegant rooms in a long rammed-earth building. Instead of a television there’s a library, a wood-fire sauna and lavish meals of Hungarian food featuring paprika, flowers and saffron. And Hungarian half-breds, trained to follow sandy tracks uninterrupted by roads or fences.