Digital detox on safari
Escaping the reaches of WiFi or a mobile phone signal is quite a challenge these days. For those keen to enjoy a holiday without interruption there are still pockets of Africa where you can – though even here, evading the mobile is becoming increasingly difficult. Here are some of the best ways to switch off from the digital world.
Take a mobile safari
We love a mobile safari here at Aardvark – you can’t help but feel a little smug travelling through the bush with your own guide and camp. You might get WiFi at the start or finish but there won’t be anything along the route apart from some very patchy mobile signal. Options in Botswana include private mobile safaris with Uncharted Africa and Drumbeat Safaris or joining a set departure trip with Letaka. They’re all superb and you’ll get to traverse areas that many other visitors never see.
Walking safaris in Kenya and Zambia would also fit the bill. Head to Kenya and Karisia where you can walk alongside Samburu guides through the glorious Matthew’s Mountains, with camels carrying your luggage. Also in East Africa is Wayo Safaris’ exciting multi-day walking among the wildebeest herds as they pass through Tanzania’s Serengeti. With so much going on here you won’t have time to look for a signal.
Zambia is another great destination for a digital detox walking safari and among the possibilities here are the lovely, remote trails between the rustic bush camps at Bushcamp Company or joining a Robin Pope walking safari in the South Luangwa Valley.
Head off the map
Chada Katavi and Greystoke Mahale will almost certainly feature in any Aardvark Safaris’ chat about remote camps. Chada Katavi is a classic, expeditionary-outpost style bush camp in a gloriously remote national park which receives fewer than 1,000 visitors a year. It’s an epic spot for walking and fly camping with its ethos little changed from ‘private guides looking for the next frontier’ which it started with. While WiFi and mobile signal don’t get a look-in the wildlife is remarkable with massive pods of hippo, and buffalo in extraordinary numbers.
Katavi is often partnered with Greystoke Mahale which is, if anything, even more remote. Described affectionately by its founder, Roland Purcell of Nomad Safaris, as a ‘ludicrous fantasy camp,’ it’s a place that will blow your socks off! The iconic lodge is sandwiched by chimpanzees in the forest behind and the gin clear waters of Lake Tanganyika in front – safari and beach all in one go. Spend a week or more combining these two and you’ll have seen masses of wildlife, plenty of primates and hundreds of colourful cichlid fish. For an adventure far beyond the madding crowd (and the reaches of the digital world) there’s probably nowhere better.
Choose your camp
Whether a deliberate policy or the vagaries of location and logistics there are plenty of camps and lodges where WiFi won’t disturb you. Some of our favourites include Kwando’s camps in Botswana where guests enjoy wild Africa in luxurious vintage-style camps. Choose Kwara or Splash for an all-round Delta experience, Lebala for wild dogs, predators and large elephant herds, or Nxai Pan on the grassland plains bordering the Kalahari where zebra gather in their thousands January to March.
Malawi is a good shout for remote, wild and out of contact. On the safari-front, Mkulumadzi on the banks of the Shire River has eight stunning chalets where you can relax and fall under the spell of the sights and sounds of the river. Or if rustic charm on Lake Malawi takes your fancy, then Mumbo Island’s timber, thatch and canvas cottages perched on high rocks overlooking the water provide peace and privacy in a lovely setting.
Namibia and Zambia have their fair share of off the grid camps with Camp Sossus in the former and Takwela, Tusk and Mane and Tena Tena good bets in the latter. Madagascar too, has a host of camps where you won’t be disturbed – though that’s sometimes infrastructure falling over, rather than by design.
Plan an adventure
One of Africa’s very best adventures is to fly along the wild Skeleton Coast of Namibia’s Atlantic seaboard. Once you leave Swakopmund and head north up the coast there’s almost no signal for three days. Your phone is only useful as a camera, and you can engage fully in the dramatic scenery, hardy wildlife and mesmeric stories of life here.
Riding and canoe safaris are other great African adventures sure to take you away from the trappings of the 21st century. The absence of mechanical noise amplifies the sounds of this incredible continent adding a layer of depth to any visit, with birds, insects, animals and the breeze all adding their melodies to the rich tapestry. It’s surprising how close you can get to the wildlife too – birds are a particular delight while canoeing, and among riding highlights are cantering alongside plains game.
Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. If you are keen to include any of these experiences, or indeed anything we haven’t mentioned here, in a safari itinerary do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.