Why wellness safaris are the way to go

With health and wellness being a priority for many travelers, safari lodges and camps have started offering several new health and wellness activities to add an extreme element of connection to your typical safari experience.

While it’s true that a typical safari vacation can involve a fair amount of time spent being stationary in a game vehicle, how many game drives you go on per day and how you choose to structure your free hours allows for plenty of other activities in between.

Here’s a round-up of our top five healthy activities and experiences to add to your next safari itinerary:

  1. Walk on the wild side

Plenty of camps offer the option of trading in your game drive for a guided walking, hiking and/or cycling safari. Not only does this give you a very welcome chance to stretch your legs and get active, but it also offers up entirely different game viewing and bird sighting opportunities. Often a short walk can even be added during or after your game drive. 

On our radar:

  • Singita’s Sweni or Lebombo Lodges, in a private reserve within the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Follow an expert guide and tracker as they teach you how to track animals on foot and identify the magnificent plants and landscapes that surround you.
  1. Slot in a gym session or yoga flow

A lot of the safari lodges we recommend now equip guests’ rooms with yoga mats and weights. Pull a mat out onto your deck and practice a vinyasa flow while the sun comes up or download your favorite YouTube workouts and do them in the privacy of your own suite or at the lodge gym (where available).

Some camps even go so far as to offer private yoga instructor sessions, personal instructor appointments, and group classes.

On our radar:

  • Dulini River Lodge in the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve in South Africa. It offers a spacious on-site gym, equipped with a selection of training equipment, weights and floor mats. There is also an outdoor training pool equipped with an elastic swim tether.
  1. De-stress with a massage

There’s nothing like indulging in a massage to de-stress after a long flight or a dusty game drive. Our favorite lodges have various offerings – either in-room massages, or some have small on-site spas that offer limited treatments, and others boast large spas that offer a full spectrum of treatments. Because availability can be limited, we prefer to book spa appointments ahead of time for our YPA clients.

On our radar:

  • Mwiba Lodge, in the Mwiba Wildlife Reserve in Tanzania. It boasts a wonderful spa and an expansive pool set on a rocky outcrop overlooking natural springs below. Guests can enjoy amazing, up-close wildlife drinking from the springs while they swim.

  1. Indulge in healthy culinary delights

Health-conscious travelers will be happy to know that safari lodges and camps are going to greater lengths to cater for different dietary requests. Healthy, low carb alternatives, gluten-free dishes, fresh salads, and grilled vegetables – often made with ingredients sourced locally or grown in the camps’ own gardens – are readily available, as are fresh juices and mocktails (for guests who are opting for alcohol-free).

Most camps offer safe drinking water which is filtered using reverse osmosis, and it’s great to see them gifting their guests with reusable water bottles on arrival that can be regularly refilled at various points around camp. 

“We’re happy to see that many lodges are scaling back a bit on food,” says YPA’s founder Ashley. “That might sound strange to some of our travelers, but in the past, there would be an abundance of snack time and mealtimes, so much so that you end up sitting and eating for huge chunks of the day. Food wastage is a real concern, as are healthy portions, so it’s been great to see some lodges offering one generous brunch instead of two, time consuming meal opportunities in the morning. That means there’s more time for fun and/or relaxing before your afternoon safari activity.”

On our radar:

  •   Xigera Safari Lodge, in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. It has an off-site garden in Maun to cater to all of its fresh produce needs. We also love Angama Mara, a luxury safari lodge in the heart of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, with its one-acre ‘shamba’ (Kiswahili for vegetable garden) of fresh produce. Also Ol Malo, perched on the cliffs of the Laikipia Plateau in Kenya. They make their own yogurt and offer guests the opportunity to learn traditional Samburu cooking techniques with ingredients fresh from their kitchen garden.

  1. Make time for your mental health

Use your time in the wild wisely. It’s heartening to see lodges starting to offer natural retreats that offer traditional experiences combined with other programmes that cater to physical and mental relaxation, rejuvenation, and healing.

On our radar:

  • Habitas in Windhoek, Namibia. It offers a range of wellness programmes and experiences, from bushveld meditations, sound healing sessions, and art workshops to calabash tension release massages and outdoor yoga classes.

A safari holiday really is what you make of it, and the opportunities for adding a healthy spin to your itinerary are endless. Let us help you plan your dream trip.

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