They say there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Well, at &Beyond, we are firm believers in the power of three. We have been operating for nearly three decades and now create tailormade journeys on three different continents. There are three islands in our portfolio, our 3Cs impact model is three-tiered, and everything we do is aimed at leaving our world (the third rock from the sun) a better place. So, in keeping with tradition, I’d like to propose a third certainty in life, and that is the unencumbered joy of travel.
The only certainty is uncertainty…
In today’s turbulent times, it seems the one certainty in life that we all currently face is actually uncertainty. From volatile international trade wars to the apprehension over Brexit, to devaluing currencies, an uncertain political climate and an ever-fluctuating global economy, we live in the stressful, ongoing state of worldwide uncertainty.
Add to this our wildlife, which is critically endangered, our oceans that are indeed in peril, and the very real effect climate change is having on the environment, as is evidenced by the onslaught of fires, floods and droughts.
… or is it?
Yes, our world is indeed in turmoil, and when faced with uncertain times, most people do away with travel and opt to stay closer to home. But if you think about it, travel really is the most beautiful and always-reliable antidote to uncertainty. It forces us to momentarily forget all of the doom and gloom, it enables us to truly escape and it gives us a fresh, new perspective on life, on ourselves and on our priorities.
I think when you’re bogged down with too much reality and uncertainty, the best possible remedy is a holiday to a faraway place to help press that all-too-necessary reset button.
Vincent van Gogh said it best, “I know nothing with any certainty, but that the sight of the stars makes me dream.” Travel gives us those cotton candy sunrises, blazing sunsets and impossibly starry skies. It allows us to explore, and while it (temporarily) closes the door on all the stresses, pressures, deadlines and uncertainty in our everyday lives, it enables us to take a step back in order to dream. I’m all for that kind of therapy.
So, in a world of uncertainty, here are my 10 favourite certainties of travel in Southern Africa. And I’ll let you in on a little travel hack, every single one of these soothing certainties can be experienced on our brand new Fly Me at a Fixed Price (3-night Cape Town, 4-night safari) special offer.
1. The certainty of a much-needed digital detox
We live in a technology-dependent, time-starved and social media addicted society. We have too many social platforms, a plethora of unanswered inboxes and more devices than we actually know what to do with and the need to disconnect to reconnect is ever present. When was the last time, if ever, you put your cell phone away for a few days?
I’m not suggesting you do away with it completely. But why not leave it behind in your safari suite and take only your camera on game drive? You can always come back and update your loved ones and beloved social media outlets afterwards. Then, leave the phone behind when you venture out for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Enjoy each other’s company. And replace your morning rush hour traffic with an elephant roadblock. Like any detox, it will rejuvenate your mind, body and soul.
2. The certainty of epic wildlife sightings you’ll talk about for years to come
Whether it’s your first safari, or your 101st, the wildlife never disappoints. You might see the Big Five (click here for your 101 guide to safari lingo) all on one drive and you might focus on the smaller wonders on another drive, but regardless, Mother Nature puts on a constant show.
If you’re extremely lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of a recently reintroduced and successfully rehabilitated Temminck’s ground pangolin on &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve. Or you could be fortunate enough to witness not one, but two, of the world’s only three naturally-occurring white lions living in the wild at &Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve.
Even if you don’t catch sight of these extremely rare and elusive creatures, the wildlife sightings in South Africa and Botswana will have you on the edge of your seat. And believe me when I say that the safari bug bites. Hard.
3. The certainty of African sunrises and sunsets that will take your breath away
Whether you’re on safari, climbing ancient sand dunes, strolling velvety beaches or indulging in city life in Cape Town, each and every sunrise and sunset is an invitation to pause, admire and reflect. Those who know me will confirm that I’m no morning person, but when I’m travelling I wake up for every sunrise and pause for every sunset. They’re that spectacular.
4. The certainty of unforgettable coffee stops and sundowner celebrations
At &Beyond, we take those mind-blowing sunrises and sunsets a step even further with our ‘theatre on safari’ experiences. Those morning coffee stops and sundowner toasts are made all the merrier with our new bush cappuccinos (I highly recommend the Amarula cappuccino with a sinful dash of hot chocolate), premium evening cocktails and hot snacks. The perfect start, and end, to every day on safari.
5. The certainty of seeing what lies beyond with world-class Swarovski binoculars
These are a bona fide safari game-changer. Guests visiting our &Beyond safari lodges in Africa enjoy the exclusive use of a complimentary pair of Swarovski Optik CL Companion 8×30 binoculars (and the Swarovski Optik EL Range 10×42 at &Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge in Botswana) for the entire duration of their stay (one pair is allocated to each room).
In the world of safari, once you go Swarovski, there’s no going back. Ever. They are the holy grail of binoculars and they truly take game drives and nature walks to the next level (and then some).
6. The certainty of indulging, guilt-free, at every meal
I feel like a broken record here, but calories don’t exist at our lodges. It’s one of the seven unsolved &Beyond mysteries. When you’re on holiday, there’s no such thing as a blasphemous diet. Our meals are healthy, wholesome and moreish and our feeding times are plentiful (again, the lucky number seven plays a role here).
So bring those turkey pants (you know, those super comfy, loose-fitting ones with the elastic waist) so that you can indulge comfortably and unashamedly. I like to think that ‘lodge podge’ is a myth, so give in to temptation and have that glass of wine and generous dollop(s) of dessert.
7. The certainty of a city so beautiful you’ll want to return
South Africa’s Mother City, Cape Town, is enchanting. Consistently (and accurately) ranked one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it boasts jaw-dropping natural beauty, the iconic flat-topped Table Mountain, picturesque and fertile winelands, golden sunny beaches, world-class restaurants and an energetic, cosmopolitan vibe.
For more than two decades, the beloved Cape Grace Hotel has earned a prestigious name for itself and is the perfect base for those wanting to explore the captivating buzz of Cape Town. I was fortunate enough to stay there once and I would go back in a heartbeat (read more about my experience here).
8. The certainty of learning something new
While on safari, you’ll spend approximately eight hours a day on a vehicle with your guide, but I guarantee those hours will fly by thanks to the undeniable charisma and encyclopaedic knowledge of our &Beyond guides.
We are globally renowned for the extremely high standard of our guides and trackers, who make each game drive (and city tour too!) come alive through their expert knowledge, contagious passion for nature, down-to-earth charm and compelling storytelling. We have a legendary team of full-time ranger trainers stationed across the continent, and not one, but three &Beyond ranger training schools. Read more about our guides here.
9. The certainty of contagious smiles and endless memories
Whether you travel alone to find yourself and appreciate some solitude, or you travel to share experiences with loved ones, Africa will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. You’ll smile, you’ll laugh, you’ll share stories, and you might even cry (our guests arrive as friends and leave as family, so tears are often shed when it’s time to bid farewell).
These are the stories you’ll tell your children (and grandchildren) of blissfully carefree and happy days spent exploring new landscapes, witnessing extraordinary wildlife and meeting different African cultures.
10. The certainty of helping to leave our world a better place
No matter where you choose to travel with &Beyond, your hard-earned travel spend is helping to make a meaningful difference to our planet’s land, wildlife and people. So while you indulge in an escape and a much-needed digital detox, you can rest assured, and guilt-free, that your decision to travel is indeed helping to leave our world a better place, not only for the creatures and local communities that inhabit these vast, wild landscapes, but also for future generations to enjoy.