Happy Valentine’s Day! Love it or hate it, it’s here and it’s difficult to ignore. So whether you’re happily single or you’ve been married for 50 years (a milestone celebration – check out our anniversary gift ideas here), why not make the most of it and treat yourself, or your special someone, to an adventure … and a reconnection … you’ll never forget.
Let’s face it. Unless you live in a remote little cabin deep in the woods, then it’s safe to assume that you’re as guilty as the rest of us of connecting too much with the wifi and not enough with yourself and your loved ones. We all live in a state of constant digital distraction. We allow our cell phones, laptops, social media accounts, internet, Netflix, online shopping sites and selfie sticks to force us deeper and deeper into isolation and further away from the human connections we all need with each other and with the natural world.
Be honest. How often do you check your emails and whatsapps? Do you look at your cell phone more than you look at each other? No one wants to be ‘that’ couple (or family!) in restaurants that stare at their phones because they have nothing to say to each other. How many hours a day do you spend falling down the social media rabbit hole? And perhaps most importantly, do you actually say good morning to your loved one when you wake up, or is your knee-jerk reaction to immediately pick up your cell phone and scroll through the drivel that you missed from the night before?
As technology, cell phones, social media and wifi access continue to dominate our lives, both personally and professionally, the need to truly disconnect is paramount.
The advice is simple, but are you willing to act on it? Slow down. Take a step back. Breathe. Set time aside. Disconnect from technology. Focus on what matters. Travel far. Meet different cultures. Laugh often. See through your eyes and not your snapchat story. Learn more. Give back. Reconnect with what means the most to you.
You know what they say: life is not a dress rehearsal; YOLO and all that. Cliché though it may sound, it’s sage advice, and yes, it’s far easier to give than to act on. But life is short, we all know this. So make it count and make a conscious effort, as often as you can, to deflect the constant barrage of mind-numbing digital distractions and simply take the time to truly enjoy the people, wildlife, scenery, food and beauty that surround you. Who knows, they may not be there tomorrow.
We encourage you to disconnect to reconnect.
Just you, some swaying palm trees, a gripping beach novel, the warm, gentle breeze, silky soft sand and an inviting hammock with an impossibly turquoise ocean view in the paradisiacal Maldives.
Wander quietly through ancient monasteries, breathe in the fresh mountain air, trek the nearby hills, pray with Buddhist monks, witness time-honoured traditions and participate in intriguing cultural festivals in Bhutan.
Find inner peace and harmony in the soothing ashrams, temples, spas and yoga retreats of India. Relax and clear your mind in quiet meditation halls, linger in lush gardens, mingle with renowned yogis, philosophers and gurus, and detox the mind, body and spirit.
4. Atacama Desert, Chile
Explore the dusty dunes, aquamarine lakes, snow-capped peaks, bursting geysers, steamy hot springs and salt flat mirages of Chile’s Atacama Desert and return to a luxurious, pampering desert oasis after the day’s adventures.
Image © Tierra Atacama.
5. Easter Island, Chile
Who needs wifi and Netflix when you can browse the world’s largest open-air museum and one of the most remote communities on the planet? Puzzle at the 800+ eerie moai (giant monolithic human figures) that were carved by the Rapa Nui and mysteriously strewn across Easter Island more than 800 years ago.
6. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Mingle with gigantic tortoises, curious sea lions, marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies on the Galápagos Islands. This ecologically diverse chain of volcanic islands is where Darwin developed his theory of evolution.
Image © Ocean Adventures.
7. Namib Desert, Namibia
Lose yourself in mother nature’s masterpiece. Like a real-life Renoir painting unfolding right before your eyes, the Namib Desert is absolutely breathtaking. Climb some of the world’s highest dunes, float amidst the sunrise in a hot air balloon, witness the unique desert-adapted wildlife, gaze up at a gazillion stars that seem close enough to touch, and most of all, enjoy the indescribable and powerful silence.
8. &Beyond Mnemba Island, Zanzibar
Best described as a barefoot beach paradise, &Beyond Mnemba Island is a small, private island off the warm, tropical shores of Zanzibar. It boasts just 12 beachside bandas and you can walk the entire circumference of the island in a mere 20 minutes. This (literally) heart-shaped island nirvana is by far one of the most romantic, relaxing and carefree places in the world.
Image © De Waal Rautenbach.
9. Masai Mara, Kenya
The world-famous, game-filled and undeniably breathtaking Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya remains an ongoing source of inspiration to writers, filmmakers and photographers alike. Romanticised around the world in the classic film ‘Out of Africa’, the Mara is home to the Great Migration and is the perfect place to disconnect and get back to nature.
Our beloved and iconic &Beyond Bateleur Camp, which is currently being completely rebuilt, will open its doors to guests in March. It’s going to be the envy of the Mara, watch this space!
10. Okavango Delta, Botswana
A breathtaking natural wonder, the Okavango Delta is a maze of sparkling lagoons, meandering channels and overgrown islands teeming with wildlife. A magical oasis with some of the most sensational sunsets you’ll ever see, the Delta was declared the world’s 1 000th UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best and most peaceful way to experience it is by mokoro (dugout canoe) as you gently glide past dainty waterlilies, colourful reed frogs and other curious creatures.
Come celebrate 20 years in Botswana with us! To commemorate two decades of creating extraordinary guest experiences in Botswana’s iconic Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park, we are offering the opportunity to experience a selection of our Botswana lodges at the rate we offered when they first opened! Click here to book this special offer.
Can’t quite decide on which escape to indulge in? Well, you don’t have to decide now. You could always surprise your loved one with an &Beyond gift certificate. They’re valid for three years from the date of purchase, so you can take your time deciding on the perfect place to disconnect from reality and reconnect with the world.