Roughing it in Luxury
While thousands of people were mourning the premature burn of Burning Man's namesake in the Nevada desert this Labour Day Weekend, we explored the California wilderness with a little camping of our own. Let me preface this by saying that although we travel frequently and have done our fair share of backpacking in the past, we are not avid 'campers'. In fact the last time we set up a tent Seth spent a good portion of the night sleeping in our Jetta.
So, in an attempt to ease into our long weekend at Big Basin with friends we drove down the coast to Santa Barbara for some 'luxury camping' at El Capitan Canyon. We had visions of secluded cabins, luxury cooking facilities, outstanding views, ipod speakers, walks on the beach, etc. We were disappointed to find that for the price of an outstanding B&B we had a fairly basic cabin, located 30 feet away from another basic cabin that was overflowing with kids, that featured a run down picnic table, an empty barrel for a fire (without wood), no views and definitely no iPod dock. It took a day of wishing we'd chosen the luxury B&B up the coast before it dawned on me... El Capitan was a great idea for true campers who just wanted an extra touch. It was not a good choice for people like us who were looking for a luxurious entry to the campground. After spending two nights on a lopsided tent floor in Big Basin I realized that the small luxuries El Capitan did provide (clean bathroom, jacuzzi, comfortable bed) were a valuable proposition. Just a bit too pricey for my vacation expectations. A closer look at the website shows that they do not actually describe themselves as a luxury campground - this is a term that was used in an article we'd read way back when.. The site more accurately describes the campground as "Enjoy services and amenities typically found in a traditional resort, yet it’s minimalism without deprivation…comfort without over-indulgence. The glories of nature without the overbearing manufactured hand of man."
Travelers to Peru can now take advantage of a similar luxury. Mountain Lodges of Peru has just launched its Lodge to Lodge Hike to Machu Picchu, which allows travelers to hike the Inca Trail with the luxury of finishing your day at a beautiful lodge located on private land. The six day guided trek costs US$2,500 per person (including lodging and meals) - a significant premium to the traditional Inca Trail Trek, but may be just the thing for those who want to rough it in luxury.