The light at the end of the tunnel may only be a glimmer, but it's enough to keep us dreaming of adventure
Okay, wanderlusters of the world, I see you. You’ve spent the last year stuck at home, scrolling Instagram and getting FOMO from parts of the world that seem more desirable than the one you’re in, posting your own throwbacks to stay somewhat active or hopeful, and saving all the money you would have spent on travel (minus the online shopping sprees and takeout). All this while dreaming of the best possible trip you can have when it’s safe to explore the world again.
But the light at the end of this travel-less tunnel is getting brighter, and it’s beginning to feel acceptable to shift from dreaming to actually planning your next trip, even if it is in the not-so-near future.
And once it’s okay to venture out into the world again, you had better make sure your first post-pandemic trip is as amazing as you've been dreaming it to be.
When travel returns, we must not take it for granted; we must live each experience to the fullest, we must be present and appreciative, we must soak in every moment like it’s our last chance to see the world before another pandemic traps us at home again (not to put that out into the universe but hey, it could happen).
With this transformative, soul-fulfilling, go-big-or-go-home travel mindset in place, there is one adventure that stands out as the perfect choice for your first big post-pandemic trip... Mama Africa is calling. It's time to go on a safari.
If you would have asked me a few years ago—when I was working at my Monday to Friday office job in Vancouver—I would have said a safari was a pipe dream. So expensive, so far away, a once-in-a-lifetime experience if I should be so lucky.
At this time, I was also spending $300 on hair appointments, going on shopping sprees for outfits I’d wear once, going to Vegas almost every year, buying designer bags and shoes, and spending heaps of money on wining and dining.
Since then, my priorities have changed. I’ve been ridiculously fortunate enough to experience a number of safaris. Having visited Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa multiple times, and there are other safaris lined up in the near future (I'm currently based as a digital nomad in Cape Town). Trust me, I pinch myself on a daily basis. My line of work now includes planning and leading tour groups on safaris, as well as creating content for lodges and writing about them.
Don’t ask me how this is my life; all I know is I have a great relationship with the universe and I’m a relentless hustler when it comes to making my dreams come true.
If a safari is one of your dreams as well, this is for good reason. Spending time in the African bush is the best, most fulfilling experience you can possibly give yourself. We spend money on what we see value in, and if it means cutting out your morning latte, skipping out on that weekend of partying, dropping your nail or hair appointments, or maybe you’ve just actually been really great at saving during the pandemic, I promise you this travel experience will be so, so worth it. It knocks a million all-inclusive resorts in Mexico out of the park.
A safari is therapy for the soul: the most intimate and special way to experience nature, wildlife, and serenity. There is nothing to do—no Zoom calls to attend, no online workout classes to push through, no errands to run—except for relax and spend time in nature with the world’s most magnificent animals. It is a is truly life-changing experience and will deliver the ultimate reset and recharge after this challenging year.
Being in the presence of Africa's incredible wildlife puts everything into perspective, like no other experience can. Seeing an impala run for its life from a pack of wild dogs, staring into the hungry eyes of a leopard as it ravages a kill up on a tree branch, or seeing the petrified look in a giraffe’s eyes as a lion roars less than a kilometre away will sure make your day-to-day problems feel like worlds away. This is nature, this is the circle of life, and the ability to witness these scenes as a human is an honour and a privilege that will make most of your COVID-induced woes feel wonderfully insignificant.
On these trips, if you go with the right operators and companies like Simbavati Safari Lodges, you will be treated like absolute royalty. The rooms are stunning, clean, and comfortable. Much better than your couch you've been living on during the pandemic. And forget about those take-out meals you've become overly reliant on during quarantine—the food on safari is unreal. My biggest problem on safari is that I eat so much that I feel like I’m going to burst. The staff is always attentive and friendly and trained to ensure that your time is nothing short of spectacular.
Plus, coming out of a time where we get mad anxiety when people get too close to our bubble, being out in the bush is about as socially distanced as you can get. Safari companies like Simbavati have COVID protocols in place to ensure you stay safe and are comfortable. They are happy to arrange for pick up directly from the airport so you don’t have to navigate through crowds of people, they will take a temperature check upon arrival, staff wear masks and hand sanitizer is abundant, and the beautiful lodges allow for plenty of space to keep to yourself.
One of the major benefits to being a guest on safari these days, and even once travel begins to open up again, is that the lodges aren't overpopulated with guests—in fact, you might have the place to yourselves! This makes social distancing easy.
The downside is that lack of tourism has taken a heavy toll on the local businesses. Many African nations rely on safaris and other forms of tourism to survive, and the hit delivered by COVID-19 is in some senses more devastating than the virus itself. The loss of businesses and jobs, poverty and starvation that have resulted from the lack of tourism due to COVID has had severe effects on local economies, communities and lives. Visiting on safari will help reinvigorate the communities that are in desperate need of recovery from the pandemic.
I believe everyone should seek out experiences and spend money and time on whatever makes them happy. But after so much time of being stuck at home, stressing about the unknowns, not being able to do what we want and when we want, we all deserve to treat ourselves. We deserve an enriching, rewarding experience, the ultimate recharge that will deliver a fresh and appreciative perspective on life and our world.
Mama Africa is calling, and her animals are waiting.