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Junior's guide to yurts and tipis

Get down to the woods today and pitch up for a more stylish tented experience in an enchanting big-top yurt or tipi


Posted: 16 August 2011
by Junior

There are two elements to camping chic: where you go, and what you stay in. Among the hip, there’s a growing trend for yurts and tipi holidays. When it comes to yurts, only the real deal from Mongolia will do, which is what you’ll find at Strawberry Sky Yurts, set in the beautiful rolling countryside of mid-Wales. Each yurt is heated by a wood burner and decorated with exotic rugs and wall hangings, ethnic scatter cushions and futon bedding, with eco-friendly illumination from tea-light lanterns and solar-powered fairy lights. A large yurt for six costs just £60 per night.

Also in Wales is yurt-and-tipi site Ecoretreats in the Dyfi Valley. Situated on a 1,300-acre organic farm with, blissfully, no electricity, this retreat also offers evening meditation sessions and reiki healing treatments in the accommodation price, as well as tickets for the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth. Each yurt or tipi comes with a comfy double bed, sheepskin rugs and organic bedlinen. They are all heated by wood burners and have a composting loo. A yurt costs £359 for a weekend for two; under-fours stay for free. Tipi sites are springing up all over Britain or you could buy your own at www.tipi.co.uk; apparently it takes about an hour to put one up (if you know what you’re doing). Otherwise, try it out first. One of the original sites, run by Cornish Tipi Holidays, is set in a beautiful wood around a spring-fed lake in Cornwall and has tipis in three sizes and different clusters, so families can have their very own private area. 

There’s a lovely site in Herefordshire, Woodland Tipi and Yurt Holidays, with just three yurts and three tipis in a pretty woodland setting. There are two family-friendly pubs within walking distance of the site and plenty to do, from the Go Ape! Wire forest adventure in the Forest of Dean to kayaking on the River Wye. The site itself is fenced, so small children can run around, and there is a sandpit and swings to keep them entertained. The tipis and yurts have an air of decadence, with coconut matting floors scattered with rugs, sheepskins to loll around on, and in the yurts, a wood-burning stove.

For the real American Indian experience, which will go down a storm with young cowboys and injuns, you only have to travel as far as, er, France. Bonheur de Vivre, 30 minutes from Le Mans, is an authentic Indian-style encampment where traditional activities – including tomahawk and archery lessons – are embraced. You can even light a fire in the tipis. From £56 per tipi. 

Further afield, Lanzarote’s Eco Yurts at Arrieta come complete with hard-wood Mongolian fittings, marble flooring and a solar-heated pool. The site has a children’s play area, sand football pitch, trampoline and games room as well as mountain bikes, body boards and plenty of animals, including a resident donkey and free-range hens. 

If you really like the idea of getting close to nature, you can stay in an ultra-chic safari tent – essentially a wooden base with a canvas top and all the trimmings. Featherdown Farms is one of the pioneers of this style of camping in the UK – a network of 21 working farms in beautiful settings from Cornwall to the Lake District, with an area dedicated to a small group of safari tents, each one with a wood-burning stove. Each farm has a hen house, where children can collect eggs; a communal oven; bicycles for hire; and a farm shop. Children are encouraged to roam free (away from the working bits of the farm), play Poohsticks and build camps in the woods. 

Check out Junior's guide to Cool camping essentials in our Tips & advice section.


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Strawberry Sky Yurts, Ecoretreats, Cornwall, Herefordshire, France, Lake District, children, family, yurts, tipis
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