It’s not often that I discover that something I’m doing is considered to be ‘on trend.’ So I am thrilled to report that according to the World Travel Market (WTM) Global Trends Report 2016, launched by Euromonitor in London last week, ‘wellness in the wilderness in Africa’ is considered to be an up and coming thing.
According to the WTM team:
The idea of “wellness in the wilderness” also resonates with travellers seeking unique and authentic experiences, resulting in a demand for spiritual travel with an adventure component.
Furthermore, the Global Wellness Summit found that in 2014, wellness travel – defined as travel with a purpose of improving health and wellbeing – was growing at 74% more than regular global travel.
Another factor in the rise of Africa’s tourism is the emphasis on sustainable and reduced footprint holidays, with increasing importance placed on ensuring the benefits of tourism are directly and indirectly shared with the local economy.
While conducting their research, the WTM’s research agency, Euromonitor, called me to ask about Mindful Safari. I feel very privileged that they quote me in the report, pointing out that some destinations lend themselves to mindfulness more than others, and that there’s nothing more naturally mindful than being on the back of a Landrover, going through the African bush, wondering what might be around the next corner – a herd of elephant? A pod of hippos? A pride of lion?
If you’re interested in reading a WTM media briefing about Africa and wellness safaris, you can find one here: http://news.wtmlondon.com/safaris-and-spas-create-a-sweet-spot-for-africa/
And you can download the full report here: http://go.euromonitor.com/WTM-London-2016-Trend-Report.html
Since getting back from this year’s Mindful Safari, I’ve had time to think further about what makes the experience such a unique and powerful one. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the combination of several factors:
Twice daily guided meditations – It’s rare for even the most well-intentioned of us to be able to arrange our lives to include two meditation sessions a day. Every day. For several days in a row. But on Mindful Safari, it’s all part of the program. And we feel the benefits, especially cumulatively, over the course of the week.
A supportive group – We’re all in this together. We’re here to see the animals, practice mindfulness and have some time for reflection in an extraordinary place. We’re not here to network or to try to impress anyone. The only rule on Mindful Safari is to ‘Be Kind’ – and it’s amazing to see how a group of people from different parts of the world arrive as strangers but leave as friends with very special, shared memories.
Removed from everyday demands – When you arrive, you can put away your wallet. You have already paid for everything up front and you won’t need cash. You also don’t need to think about what you will be doing at any point for the next 6 days – we have developed a schedule that seems to suit most people very well, and we will remind you at any point, what will happen next. Not having to make any decisions is wonderfully de-stressing in itself, especially for people who work in jobs where relentless decision-making can lead to burnout.
Constant reconnection with nature. Human beings are animals too, and yet during the past 200 years, we have become increasingly disconnected from our natural environment. On Mindful Safari we wake up in chalets with our own private view over the bush – and their own, outdoor showers (don’t worry – there’s an indoor one in each chalet too if you don’t fancy being fancied by a giraffe). We meditate in an open, thatched rondavel – if not outdoors. And we spend hours a day in open Landrovers. We also have coffees, teas and sundowners outside. When we are back where we belong we can feel it – we are in our element!
Extraordinary animals. Just to cap it off, there is nothing like having a 7 tonne African elephant stroll up to where you are sitting in the back of a Landrover and scanning you with his trunk. Or watching a pair of lion eating their dinner just a few metres away, completely unfazed by your presence. Getting so close to these iconic animals on their home turf is not only a privilege. It is truly awe-inspiring – it makes our hearts beat that bit quicker and our eyes shine. It also creates a memory we will carry with us for a very long time.
Combine all these things together and what we get certainly is ‘wellness in the wilderness’!
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