The world holds many timeless, puzzling secrets that continue to entice and mystify travellers from every corner the globe. How were the 800+ giant, eerie moai (monolithic human figures) on Easter Island carved and why did their sculptors abruptly abandon their unfinished work, and, their island too?
Why have so many aircrafts and ships inexplicably disappeared without a trace in the Bermuda Triangle? How were Egypt’s famous Pyramids of Giza constructed? For what purpose did the ancient Incan civilisation build their breathtaking Machu Picchu high up in the swirling cloud forest of the Peruvian Andes?
And what on earth causes those strangely symmetrical fairy circles in the Namib Desert? Are they the work of UFOs and dancing fairies, or are they just the result of duelling termite colonies and parched vegetation?
Thanks to the world of travel, these time-honoured mysteries are revealed to curious minds full of wanderlust and wonder. Revealed, but not explained. Travellers can witness these unexplained phenomena and attempt to form their own far-fetched theories, but alas, these captivating travel mysteries remain, to this day, (arguably) unsolved.
Frustrating to not have the definitive answers, perhaps, but therein lies the allure of actually witnessing these fascinating stories and mystifying creations in person and trying to solve the puzzle for yourself.
I have been fortunate in my travel writing career to explore many peculiar and enchanting places. I have clambered up and down the ancient stone steps of the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, wondering how and why it was built. I have flown over the magical fairy circles of the achingly beautiful Namib Desert and chuckled at the thought of extra-terrestrials hard at work.
However, great mysteries of the world aside, my travels have uncovered many &Beyond mysteries too. Here are seven unsolved mysteries of &Beyond that many a guest has puzzled over. Sometimes there’s no need to find the answer, but rather to just revel in the mystery and appreciate the journey.
1. Why calories don’t count on holiday
One item you’ll never see on our suggested packing lists is a diet. It’s a blasphemous four-letter word, so leave it at home! For some reason, calories just don’t count when you’re on holiday, which is why there are seven official mealtimes at &Beyond.
Look, we’re not saying you have to try all seven, but you only live once and since the calorie counter has mysteriously switched to holiday mode anyway, why resist temptation?
2. Why &Beyond beds give you the best night’s sleep
I never miss a sunrise (or sunset) when I’m on safari and my FOMO will never allow me to miss a game drive, ever. But I’m not a morning person and dragging my zombie self out of those indulgent, suck-you-in &Beyond beds for a 05h00 wake-up call is near impossible.
Somehow the pillows just seem fluffier, the duvets cosier, and you sleep, blissfully uninterrupted, like a bear in hibernation mode. I’m not sure what makes these beds so impossible to resist (something about seven different layers of &Beyond comfort), but I’m more than happy to turn a blind eye (and an extra forty winks) to this alluring mystery.
3. Why g&t’s taste better outdoors, as the sun is setting
Have you ever noticed that a simple gin and tonic, the iconic safari sundowner of choice, just doesn’t taste the same when you’re at home? No matter how you try to recreate the special moment, a classic g&t just tastes infinitely better when it’s poured by a ranger and shared among new friends as the sun gently sets over the wild African horizon.
4. Why resisting fresh bread (and cheese) at every meal is impossible
No matter which &Beyond lodge you find yourself in, be prepared for freshly-baked, still-warm-from-the-oven bread and a selection of moreish cheeses at every meal. Consider it carb heaven.
I’m a sucker for the mini, melt-in-your-mouth loaves made in little clay pots at &Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge, but if you are a bread and cheese addict, &Beyond Vira Vira in Chile will make your carb (and dairy) dreams come true.
I’m talking 14+ different types of bread (from brioche and croissants, to focaccia and pan de leche) in countless different flavours, accompanied by a platter of homemade cheeses from the in-house quesería.
With leftover food guilt still haunting you from your previous meal, you’ll try (in vain) to resist the bread and cheese combo at your next meal. I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s impossible. So, give in to the mystery. Have the bread … and the cheese. Oh, and the Chilean wine too.
5. Why the Africa safari bug is incurable
You must have heard the famous quote, “Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is the worst of all.” Who knows why, but this is mystifyingly accurate. Once you have been to Africa, it just sneaks deep into your heart and never leaves.
Be warned. That safari bug bites, and it bites hard. Once you’ve been bitten and caught the safari bug, there is no cure. You will long to return, again and again. To experience the continent’s countless landscapes, to witness even more of its curious creatures and to meet its many different cultures. Africa steals a piece of your heart and occupies your soul forever.
6. Why khaki fever inflicts so many
The dreaded khaki fever. Is it just an exaggerated urban myth or is it another unexplained safari ailment for which there is no cure? We definitely think it’s the latter, but we’ll let you be the judge. There’s an undeniable mystery and charm that comes with the khaki, so don’t say we didn’t warn you!
7. Why roses smell better at the Crater
It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of today’s modern world. The constant traffic, ever-present technology and multiplying to-do lists certainly take their toll, which is why it’s so important to take a timeout from the constant hustle and bustle to truly appreciate the little things.
Figuratively and literally, one must always stop and smell the roses. But if you do this at &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania, you may just miss your game drive. There are literally roses everywhere! And for some strange reason, they just smell better amidst the swirling mist and unapologetic luxury and romance of the Crater.