A few years ago, everyone was worried about whether they would be able to connect whilst on holiday, for work, for social media or to call home. Today we have the opposite problem: where in the world can we completely disconnect for a full digital detox?
Most of us know that when there’s WiFi, the temptation to log on is just too great. But when there’s no signal and no WiFi, you’re forced to disconnect. And trust us, you’ll feel so much better for it. The lack of notification pings, no work emails to distract you, no Instagram feed to blankly scroll through: bliss. There are studies that show how bad our digital addictions are and how it contributes to stress.
It’s a challenge to find hotels and lodges that are totally off the grid, but there are still some special places that necessitate ditching the devices. Africa, with its vast wildernesses, is a perfect place to switch off. Here are some luxury safari camps at which you can simply be in the moment, feel at one with nature and get your mind back on an even keel.
Jack’s Camp, Botswana
Jack’s Camp is located in the middle of the Makgadikgadi salt pan, miles from anywhere. There is no signal here and no WiFi. It’s difficult to feel more removed from the modern world.
The luxury tents are decked out in nostalgic furnishings, like the plush, old world safari camps of the 1920s. Dark wood décor is combined with deep red fabrics and various artefacts from the area – lion skulls, ancient San Bushmen tools and so on – are scattered around the tents, with a proper museum in the mess tent.
You can explore the great salt pans on quad bikes or on a game drive, which will reveal much more wildlife that you could ever imagine living in such a hostile environment. Chill by the pool with a book. Go walking with the San Bushmen, who will reveal many of the land’s little secrets they’ve amassed over the thousands of years they’ve lived here. Spend the evening star-gazing and absorbing the absolute silence of the salt flats.
Chongwe River House, Zambia
This exclusive-use lodge for between four and eight guests is located in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. Perched on the river banks, local wildlife, such as the big elephants the area is famed for, wander down here to drink and eat, so you can spot game right from the lodge. There is ‘limited WiFi’, but that’s best to translate to ‘no WiFi’.
As it’s designed for private use, you can be the master of your own time, designing a schedule to suit you and your friends or family best. The lodge is an excellent place to reconnect with your loved ones and spend some quality time together, without the distractions of laptops and smartphones.
Aside from game drives, you can go on walking safaris, spot wildlife from the hide, head out on a river cruise or canoe trip, try your hand at tiger fishing, or sleep out under the stars.
Serian the Original, Kenya
Ok, Serian does have WiFi – WiFi the dog, that is. But that’s the only kind of WiFi you’ll find here. The camp has remained resolutely off-grid, determined to provide guests with a true escape from the everyday.
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The first of Alex Walker’s Serian camps, this tented camp is located in the Mara North Conservancies. The five roomy tents are set on decking above the Mara River. Serian means ‘peaceful’ or ‘serene’, which is exactly the vibe this camp exudes.
Each tent gets its own vehicle, so you and your guide and tracker can search for whatever type of animal it is you’re most keen to see and decide when and for how long you’re out in the bush. You can take a picnic lunch with you and spend all day exploring, if you like. Or if you’d rather spend the hottest hours of the day lounging at the camp around with a good book, that’s equally fine.
Somalisa Acacia, Zimbabwe
The family-friendly sister property to Somalisa Camp, Somalisa Acacia is in the brilliant Hwange National Park. You won’t miss the connectivity here, because you’ll be too busy discovering the wildlife of the private concession.
The tents each have copper bathtubs and wood-burning fireplaces for winter evenings or fans for when it’s hot. There are two family units, which have walkways connecting the adults’ and children’s rooms, and there’s a small communal plunge pool for when the heat of the day is at its most intense.
The camp overlooks a waterhole that attracts elephants, giraffes, zebras and lions, so even when you’re relaxing, the game viewing will come to you. You can head out on foot with a guide to explore the area from a more intimate vantage point or stick to traditional game drives.
DumaTau Camp, Botswana
Botswana as a country is probably the best place to disconnect, as many of the camps are so remote they have no signal and weak, if any, WiFi. DumaTau – meaning ‘roar of the lion’ – is up in the Linyanti Reserve, surrounded by water. Wildlife is all around the camp – and the lack of WiFi means you won’t miss a moment by having your head bent over a screen.
The ten raised tents overlook the lagoon in which hippos wallow. Spot lions and wild dogs on a game drive. The camp is tucked between two elephant ‘corridors’, so there are always plenty of these massive mammals to see. Birders can spot a plethora of species here, such as southern carmine bee-eaters, southern ground hornbills, wood owls and plenty of eagles and raptors; the area is recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA).
Take advantage of the watery setting by exploring by boat, perhaps trying catch-and-release fishing or enjoying sundowners on the water. The Savute hide allows you to watch animals such as eles come and go and you can also partake in walking safaris and night drives.