Remember when things were ‘normal’? Yet here we all are, plodding our uncertain way through 2021, with nearly a full year of pandemic life now under our belts. We’re all longing for our seemingly carefree, pre-pandemic lives and the grossly overused concept of ‘new normal’ has become a cringey four-letter word.
Normal no longer exists. We’re all just doing our best, being kind to ourselves (and each other) and simply getting through each day as best we can—without judgement or criticism. Eventually, as vaccines are rolled out, some form of normalcy shall return and the juicy, forbidden fruit of travel will make its grand and long-awaited return.
Our once universally-accepted (and widely taken for granted) joy of travel is suddenly being challenged, questioned and, ultimately, redefined. With all of the uncertainty and anxiety that surrounds travel during a pandemic, it’s time to dispel some myths as travellers start planning to dust off and reclaim their neglected wanderlust.
Myth: all destinations are created equal
A common assumption made by holiday-makers is that all destinations are created equal. Even at the best of times, no two destinations deliver the same overall experience, and most certainly not during a pandemic. Research and careful planning are crucial when it comes to selecting your preferred destination.
As you start researching, planning and booking your first well-deserved adventure of 2021, here are a few factors to consider while we all continue to navigate life and travel amidst a pandemic.
1. Clear Covid protocols
Research a destination’s Covid protocols, from its testing and quarantine requirements to its social distancing and general health and safety measures.
Select a travel organisation or property that provides convenient, on-the-ground assistance with understanding and adhering to the destination’s unique Covid requirements.
2. Abundance of space
Hone in on lesser-travelled/populated areas that boast an invigorating abundance of wide open spaces and breathtaking natural vistas. Less crowds = less anxiety.
From vast wilderness areas and private safaris, to expansive deserts and blissfully remote islands, there are countless destinations where inherent social distancing is the norm.
3. Mother Nature’s healing
Isolation and quarantine haven’t been good for our souls. Travel bans and lockdown restrictions have forced an unanticipated and unhealthy disconnect from the great outdoors.
Seek destinations that boast natural beauty and allow you to get back to nature. The healing, restorative powers of the natural world are guaranteed to repair and recharge forlorn souls.
4. Natural phenomena
If you have the means and the confidence to travel right now, there are some extraordinary experiences to be enjoyed (almost) all to yourself.
Mother Nature stands still for no one. While humankind has been forced to retreat, adapt and readjust to pandemic life, our beautiful planet continues to showcase its sheer magnificence with some out-of-the-ordinary occurrences worth witnessing.
Normal is a myth. Seek space, solitude, serenity and safety and you’ll be guaranteed a restful and soul-restoring adventure during these difficult-to-navigate times. This, too, shall pass and travel (the souped-up 2.0 version) will be back—bigger, better, dreamier and more sustainable—soon.
What’s happening in Namibia?
In other parts of the world, Mother Nature is putting on a surprising display. Recent torrential rains and a mini flash flood in the Namib Desert (the second driest desert on earth) have resulted in a colourful carpet of flowers and greenery on the usually desolate desertscape.
Images © Norman Walker.
What’s happening in Botswana?
Over in Botswana, after enduring the strain of an unprecedented drought last year, the Okavango Delta is now gearing up for what is already turning into a dramatic flood season of epic proportions.
Image © Sean Fandam.
What’s happening in South Africa?
And in South Africa, wildlife abounds. Two of the world’s only three naturally-occurring white lions are roaming back and forth between &Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park. The country’s first-ever acoustic recording of orca whales was recently made in Cape Town’s picturesque False Bay, and two mighty Big Tusker elephants, as well as a new population of rehabilitated pangolins, have recently been reintroduced to &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.
Image © Simon Naylor.
What’s happening at Machu Picchu?
Following an unforeseen Covid-forced closure in 2020, the architectural marvel of Machu Picchu is currently only operating at half capacity. Imagine exploring (and photographing) the ancient ruins of one of the seven wonders of the modern world without the crowds—that’s bucket list material.
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