Wood: The Chinese New Year

Element of 2015

This week marks the festivities of the Lunar New Year, and this year’s element—wood—ushers in a focus on sturdy reputation, a variety of interests and pursuits, and a collaborative spirit. What better way to celebrate this vital element than to travel with Ker & Downey—a company rooted in collaboration and offering a variety of experiences—and to look to the famous woods and forests around the world as inspiration for your next adventure? 

Germany – The Black Forest

This famous forest is the setting for many of the familiar tales curated by brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and shared with a worldwide audience. The forest today remains one of the main attractions in Germany, and Brenners Park Hotel & Spa presents a refined Belle Époque atmosphere amid the verdant surrounds of the Black Forest and the Lichtentaler Allee park and arboretum. While the spa of renown is a draw, so too are the unique culinary experiences from the two-Michelin star signature restaurant. Set off into the woods with a gourmet picnic and an antique VW busdon’t worry, the big bad wolf is not invited.

Chile – Queulat National Park

There is plenty to explore in the Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia: fjords, glaciers, mountains, and impressive old growth forests within Queulat National Park. Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa is set against the blue waters of a fjord, surrounded by enchanting uncharted ancient forests, and enriched by the region’s plenteous hot springs, hosting the perfect combination of adventure and solitude. Whether you fancy a forest hike or simply soak in a thermal pool, moments of nirvana take many forms at this retreat.

Australia – Daintree National Park

Thought to be the oldest rainforest in the world, Daintree National Park has existed for over 110 million years. It has incredibly rich biodiversity, with rare species and over 430 species of bird making it their home. The guides at Silky Oaks Lodge, located on the edge of the rainforest and overlooking Mossmon River, take guests into the World Heritage-listed park for bike rides, treks, and aboriginal history lessons which use the lush surrounds as the classroom.

Peru – The Amazon

Spanning multiple countries and more than 2-million square miles, the Amazon River breathes life into the surrounding jungle and hundreds of thousands of species of plants and animals endemic to the area. While exploration with Ker & Downey is possible in Brazil and Ecuador, the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica in Peru puts visitors in the heart of a private ecological reserve, where guided explorations by land and water are possible.

Rwanda – Nyungwe Forest National Park

More than 25% of Africa’s primate species reside in the varying terrains and climates within Nyungwe Forest National Park. With species including L’Hoest’s monkey, owl-faced monkey, black and white colobus, and the chimpanzee all on the potential checklist of sightings, a trek here is a must for wildlife enthusiasts. Sitting in a tea plantation just outside the forest itself, the Nyungwe Forest Lodge gives explorers a front row seat to the action. The park’s primate residents sometimes make their way to the balconies here—an added bonus to the thoughtful fireplaces, Rwandan arts, and fine wood finishes in each suite.

Ecuador – Mindo Cloud Forest

The Mindo Cloud Forest is a bird-watcher’s paradise, home to hundreds of species of birds, including many in danger of becoming extinct. A Ker & Downey favorite, Mashpi Lodge is famous for its low environmental footprint, excellent design, and the fascinating ways by which guests can experience this unique habitat. Get a monkey’s eye view of the scene from the Canopy Gondola which travels through some of the most active areas of the canopy.

India – Pench National Park

Pench National Park is the paradise of Kipling. His tales of Mowgli and Shere Khan are a love letter to the jungles of Madhya Pradesh. Just beyond the park’s borders, Baghvan Jungle Lodge awaits. Visitors are surrounded by the wonders of the jungle by day and night, where a sleep out on the private machan platform— swathed in mosquito netting and accented with a hookah—is an unforgettable experience.

Contact us to begin collaborating with our destination specialists on your own unique journey in the new lunar year. To stay up to date on all of our online content, follow us on Facebook and Twitter