Digital Detox in Africa – Places You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
When was the last time you didn’t use your phone/tablet/computer for a couple of hours? Or a day? Or a few days even? If you can’t remember, it’s clearly time for a digital detox. This means: no Instagram, no Facebook, no smartphone, no computer, not even Netflix. For a set period of time you refrain from using any digital devices and try to focus on real life. While the lines between our virtual and actual reality are getting more and more blurry, this is your chance to redraw the marks of what is truly important to you. As with any big change or break in life, you should never feel like you are being forced to do something, however. It should be something you want to try and enjoy. Ideally you go to a place where there is plenty of real-life distraction, where you simply won’t even miss your phone. Nature is the number one ingredient for your digital detox and what better place is there to switch off than the remote and untouched landscapes of Africa? Here are three of Africa’s top destinations for a digital detox:
The Damaraland region in the northeast of Namibia is one of the most underrated destinations in Southern Africa. There are few places that are as ideal for a digital detox as this otherworldly array of landscapes. Stand still, breathe in and listen. All you will hear is the whistle of the wind, as if it wanted to tell you something. As if it wanted to agree with you about the stunning scenery you are admiring in complete silence: this mountainous semi-desert with its surreal rock formations, hidden oases and wide, dry river beds. Should the purity of this untouched paradise not be enough to keep your mind occupied – which we highly doubt – there are a range of activities on offer: the Damaraland treasures some of Southern Africa’s oldest rock art and engravings. This ancient form of expression and story-tellling might put things into perspective; comparing memorandums that last millions of years on the hand with an endless flow of unnecessary information we nowadays receive on the other? The region is also home to some of Africa’s rarest species like the critically-endangered black rhino and desert-adapted lions and elephants. You certainly won’t miss your phone when you witness these completely wild and beautiful creatures in their true natural habitat. Besides the tranquility of the Damaraland, our favourite part about a digital detox here is the light. The soft, orange, almost hazy brilliance of the sun, especially in the evenings, is simply magical.
Top Tip: A guided walk to the ‘White Lady’ rock paintings. A 3-hour evening hike through the most beautiful valley: an oasis with small streams and lush vegetation in the middle of the desert.
Top Property: Damaraland Camp (Wilderness Safaris)
Cederberg Mountains, South Africa:
Just three hours north of Cape Town a true hidden gem awaits. The Cederberg Mountains can easily be combined with a ‘Mother City’ trip and are ideal for a few days of ‘digital detoxing’. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this wilderness area is characterized by unique rock formations, mountains, rivers and fynbos vegetation. Did you know that Cape Town and its surroundings form the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest of only six kingdom worldwide? Go out for hour-long hikes into the wilderness and look out for the various species including proteas and rooibos that can only be found here. Take a deep breath and let the fresh air and fynbos scents reinvigorate all your senses. As this area could still be considered an antidote of ‘overtourism’, you will probably not see another soul for hours. One of the most famous hikes take you to the Maltese Cross: a unique rock outcrop looking like, well, a cross. After an active and energizing day in nature (without any digital baggage), you can look forward to the magical evenings in the semi-desert. After the sun has set, the area becomes a hotspot for spotting nocturnal wildlife. The Cederberg mountains are home to porcupines, aardvarks and even the extremely rare Cape leopard. When retreating to bed, maybe you should consider listening to the nothingness of the wild while falling asleep and letting your mind truly rest with a good night’s sleep.
Top Tip: A hike to the Algeria Waterfall. It’s a relatively short and easy hike to a hidden waterfall with a natural pool in the mountains.
Top Property: Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge
Sao Tome & Principe:
A nice contrast to the desert landscapes of Namibia (and easily combinable with by the way) offers the second-smallest country in Africa. What better place for a digital detox than a destination most people have never even heard of or would never be able to locate on a map? The two islands of Sao Tome & Principe just off the Central African coast can easily keep up with their Indian Ocean Island peers such as the Seychelles and Mauritius, but they have one major advantage: tourism is fairly undeveloped and there is only a handful of eco-lodges, literally. You are very likely to encounter almost no other travellers: all those pristine sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and the lush, uncharted jungle are yours to explore. Sao Tome & Principe is also one of the safest destinations in Africa and locals will welcome you with this raw happiness so many Westerners are looking for today. Life here is basic, but people are content. What better way to reconnect with yourself and experience what it means not to have everything at first hand and that instant gratification all the time – especially when it comes to digital devices. Real social interactions means meeting locals, speaking to them, going foraging for fresh ingredients in the rainforest or learning about the islands’ former status as the world’s number one cacao producer. Popular activities are hikes, snorkeling and birdwatching, all of which will make you forget about any devices that connect you to the rest of the world.
Top Tip: Take a stroll through the main town on Principe, Santo Antonio, and go for lunch or dinner in one of the unofficial restaurants, which are run by locals in their private homes.
Top Property: Sundy Praia, Principe Island
Are you ready for a digital detox in Africa’s most remote places? Get in touch with our travel designers now!
Image Courtesy (in order of appearance): Tintswalo Atlantic, Wolwedans, Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge, HBD Principe
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