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Pantanal, Brazil

The vast waterlogged plains of the Pantanal stretch for over 50,000 square miles—some estimate much more—across Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay and host the largest concentration of flora and fauna in South America. Sadly, however, the world's largest freshwater wetland is threatened throughout by deforestation, hydropower projects, water pollution, overfishing, and poaching....

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KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

In the 1980s, the land that is now Phinda Private Game Reserve was ravaged by the ill effects of pineapple plantations, big-game hunting, and cattle ranches. Safari company CC Africa, now known as &Beyond, bought the land and, with the help of its conservationists and scientists, painstakingly resuscitated it over 17 years. Now the 57,000-acre reserve, sandwiched between the Indian Ocean and...

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Santo Domingo, Costa Rica

These days, you can't swing your new-fangled, hydration-compatible backpack without hitting an ecolodge in Costa Rica, which is great news for eco-minded travelers. The vexing question is how to choose one. Rafiki Safari Lodge, a luxury tented camp 20 miles south of the tourist hot spots of Quepos and Manuel Antonio, is one of the best, particularly for wildlife-watching junkies....

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Clanwilliam, Western Cape, South Africa

Safaris may be synonymous with spotting charismatic cats and marquee mammals, but you won't see any predators at one of the best and most distinctive safari lodges in South Africa, Bushmans Kloof. Situated in the Cederberg Mountains about 170 miles from Cape Town, the lodge is a pinnacle of luxury surrounded by unique wilderness.

It wasn't always so. This area, part of the Western...

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Chyulu Hills National Park, Kenya

It has perhaps the most spectacular view in all of Kenya: From Ol Donyo Wuas Lodge, a casual viewer can see Kilimanjaro, the continent's loftiest peak, stretching a full 100 miles from end to end. Beneath it, elephants lumber through the grasslands; in the other direction, tropical mist forests lie beyond the Chyolo Hills, lava outcroppings studded with succulents.

In business for...

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Mpumulanga, South Africa

Founded in 2004 by Lisa and Warrick Goosen, Tintswalo feels like a private family bush retreat, probably because the Goosens have personally attended to every detail, from the prints hanging in the suites to the books on the coffee tables in the main lodge. The sum is a chic neo-colonial lodge that is extravagantly luxurious yet eminently welcoming.

Connected by boardwalks, the seven...

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Namib Desert, Namibia

What perhaps strikes visitors most upon arrival at the NamibRand Nature Reserve, a 445,000-acre desert conservation area the size of some small countries, is the quiet solitude and utter enormity of the desert, one of the oldest in the world.

The four camps on the reserve share one overarching philosophy: exist in harmony with this landscape. At the tastefully posh Dunes Lodge, which...

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South of Maguga, Tanzania

At Sanctuary Swala, guests barely need to lift a finger to witness some of Africa's most stunning wildlife: Right from the decks of its 12 tented suites, they can spot lions, kudu, impala, and herds of as many as 50 elephants frequenting the watering hole just a few dozen paces away. The tents are so close to the pond that it's not uncommon to hear an elephant's stomach gurgling as she slurps...

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Kanha National Park, India

Visitors to Banjaar Tola typically come seeking one thing: glimpses of the area's celebrity species, the tiger, of which only about 4,000 remain in the wild. But after the long journey there, which requires a five-hour drive from the nearest airport, it's not uncommon for travelers to be pleasantly surprised by the tented camp's ample charm itself.

Situated on the banks of the Banjaar...

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Deception Valley area, Botswana

With relatively few people, a preponderance of diverse public lands, and a government sympathetic to conservation, Botswana is an ideal location in which to witness thriving populations of wildlife. One such spot is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, a 12-million-acre tract of desert and plains that is the largest conservation area in the country and one of the largest in the world. In years...

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