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Time travel, slow travel and other African adventures

In the 21st century, life for many has taken on a pace that sometimes feels too busy and far too fast.  We are increasingly exposed to vast amounts of information, and although beneficial, this can lead to a sense of overwhelm.  Current trends towards ‘digital detox’ and ‘slow living’ are indicators of a growing need to steady the perceived lightning speed of time.  These five unforgettable African adventures provide unique opportunities to slow down, unwind, and even travel through time. 1. Rovos Rail Time travel really does exist.  Or, at least, travellers can adventure as if stepping back in time – to the 1930s on the Rovos Rail.  Each luxurious locomotive has a fascinating story originating in the early 20th century, setting the stage for an adventure reminiscent of a bygone era.  Guests are invited to switch off devices in favour of mingling in the Club Lounge, or sit quietly in the Observation Car absorbing the changing African landscape. The sleeper cars are beautifully appointed in a decadent late art deco style, yet have all the modern amenities to ensure deep lulling sleep as the train chugs towards its intended destination. Rovos Rail journeys cover most destinations in Southern Africa.  Explore Hwange to Vic Falls, revel in the vast landscapes of Namibia, venture through the South African Karoo, or travel East to West – right across Africa.  Ideal for singles, couples or even as a private charter for special events, The Rovos Rail provides a timeless way to travel and an adventure to remember. 2. Tusitiri dhow safari Tusitiri is a restored ancient dhow originally used for trade on the iconic Spice Route.  Stepping onto the dhow gives the sense of crossing a threshold into another era.  The fifty-foot wooden vessel has an extensive deck with canvas shade and comfortable antique chairs for lounging with a G&T in hand.  An outdoor shower hangs over the ocean, providing exhilarating views – an adventure in itself. Below the expansive deck, ladies enjoy dressing up in a ‘mirror room’ complete with antique fixtures and the perfect lighting to prepare for a world-class meal prepared by the chef and served at a long table with folding safari chairs and crisp white linens. At night, the real magic begins aboard the Tusitiri.  The canvas shades come off, revealing a vast African sky full of stars.  Lanterns are lit, and luxurious beds are rolled out on the deck for a night sleeping in the open air. For active travellers, the Tusitiri crew brings a litany of water toys along.  Guests can choose from kayaking, fishing, kite surfing, snorkelling, or diving – arriving at the ideal place for these activities with a dedicated dhow. Journeys aboard the Tusitiri can be tailored to individual clients, and they usually start in Lamu Town on the Kenyan Coast. 3. Odzala kayaking and gorilla trekking Odzala in Congo-Brazzaville offers the gorilla trekking adventure of a lifetime.  There are few wildlife interactions on the planet which rival the experience of witnessing a species so similar to ourselves, that we are inspired to reflect on our own humanity through their eyes. This primate adventure begins as an in-depth dinner meeting with the local research team to thoroughly understand primate behaviours, the way in which they have been habituated, and how to engage with the gorillas in a respectful manner.  After trekking with the gorillas through thick vegetation, there is ample time to relax then set out again on a night walk to observe nocturnal wildlife in the jungle at Ngaga Camp. Adventurous clients transfer themselves between camps on river kayaks, while guides transfer luggage between the camps.  Each camp offers a unique way to experience the gorilla habitat, the other smaller wildlife, and the flora of the thick jungle. 4. Okavango Horse Safaris Established in the 1980s, Okavango Horse Safaris has deserved its reputation as one of the best horse safaris in Southern Africa.  For experienced riders, it is pure magic to get out of the safari vehicle and onto the ground, witnessing game on horseback. The riding safaris are run with limited numbers in private concessions around the Okavango Delta, so the game viewing is undisturbed for the most part by game viewing vehicles.  Each day, riders will be on horseback for only 4-6 hours, leaving the rest of the day for leisure, swimming, or mokoro canoe rides.  For longer rides, a gourmet picnic is provided by a professional team of staff on hand to ensure guest comfort.  Evenings are spent at luxurious yet authentic camps, allowing time to recover with a good meal and possibly a glass of great wine after a day of riding. Horses and guides at Okavango Horse Safaris are amongst the best, ensuring guest safety and comfort within the context of an unforgettable riding adventure in Africa. 5. Tanda Tula Field Camp If you love walking, exploring subtle flora and fauna while also on alert for big game – Tanda Tula Field Camp would be the ideal way to experience your African safari. The guides at Tanda Tula Field Camp are amongst the best in the greater Kruger area, taking guests on a curated walking experience which brings the wild to life in a way that cannot be rivalled from the confines of a game viewing vehicle.  Situated in Timbavati, a private concession, guests will be spoiled with far fewer crowds compared with staying in the national park. Each night during the point-to-point field camp itinerary, a dedicated team of staff creates a dinner and fire under the stars for an unforgettable evening of glamping.  For those who want a balance, it’s possible to do a few days at the field camp and the last day in the luxury safari camp at Tanda Tula. Tanda Tula Field Camp provides one of the best possible ways to get an intimate view on the wild and understand the surroundings in a deeper way – travelling slowly and savouring the full spectrum of wild things. Where would you most like to time travel, if you could imagine anywhere, any time? Willow Constantine is the Founder of Bespoke Safari Co. Bespoke Safari Co. is a boutique travel agency offering cutting edge curated travel experiences in Africa. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Willow Constantine

Willow Constantine is the founder and director of Bespoke Safari Co., a travel agency specializing in curated African experiences. Bespoke Safari Co. designs itineraries as a synergy of craft and travel, including private villa retreats in which clients escape the din of daily life to enjoy slow travel while observing wildlife in its natural habitat. As part of the Bespoke Safari Co. family, clients enjoy the privilege of travelling like a local. Whether exploring the hidden corners of Cape Town, camping with primates in Mahale, or quietly tracking leopard through the kopjes of Southern Tanzania, a Bespoke Safari experience will remain etched in one’s memory forever – we only curate the most unforgettable travel experiences. Willow researches each destination thoroughly for recent weather patterns, discovering any changes to wildlife migration and behavior. She also personally visits each lodge and villa she recommends, ensuring lodges are delivering only the best – at every price level.

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  1. I think Rovos Rail also do a golf option where you get to play some of spectacular golf courses too. A friend of mine was talking about it though I haven’t seen him recently and don’t know whether he actually did it. It must be a great way of seeing some of the countryside then getting back on the train for a gourmet dinner.

    1. Hello Jeff. The golfing is a great unique idea! The Rovos Rail makes several stops and they can curate your journey so stopping for a few rounds of golf is definitely possible!

  2. I think slow travel is going to be one of the trends of the 2020s. I predict that it’s also going to come with a sustainable tweak too. “Go slowly, see more” is going to be one of the mantras of the next decade. For what it’s worth that’s my take on the travel scene.

    I’ve done a lot of Christmas cocktail parties, mainly work things, and I remember talking to one journalist at a travel mag who said she was working on a sustainable travel special for sometime in the spring. Just can’t remember who she was, what the mag was called, have to keep my eyes open for it.

    1. Please let me know if you remember the magazine. Slow travel is the best kind, I agree we will see a shift towards a trend to really savor a few areas rather than rushing to see everything.

  3. I think you’re spot on with this because stress levels are going up at the same time as connectivity and busy-ness does, like we’re always on and yet never fully present. I think that’s how the year can zip by without us realising where the time has gone. I had to Google what a dhow was, so I’ve learned something new there. Such beautiful places in Africa and when you get so used to four walls and the concrete jungle, the lush outdoors really is incredibly appealing. Sounds like there’s plenty to do as well, but they’re things to be enjoyed at a slower, more relaxed pace, which I like. When I go away I find needing to constantly travel and sight-see and book in tours more exhausting than anything else. It’s like I want to do stuff, but I don’t want all the stress and time pressure that comes with trying to fit so much in during a short stay.

    I always think of safaris with Africa but far less about water sports, but it makes sense there are plenty of ‘water toys’ as you say to make use of with lots of marine life to appreciate.

    1. I’ve had this experience on my own travels. After many years of frustrating experiences, I finally realised I had to surrender. Take it slow. Allow the adventure to reveal.itself rather than checking off a list of things to see. Be quiet. Be present. Appreciate my surroundings. Thats when travel really reveals its magic!

  4. I really like the sound of the Tusitiri dhow safari, anything involving a G & T always arouses my interest. My only doubt is over sleeping out in the open air but I suppose that out on the water there’s not too much biting insect life and the compensation has to be views of the stars. I also hope that the night air temperature doesn’t drop too much. Otherwise it’s all good.

    1. Alison I asked the same thing when I looked at the dhow! Once you are out at sea, the breeze cools the air and there are really no mosquitoes. You sleep on a cosy roll out bed with fine linens and enjoy being rocked to sleep under the light of the moon and stars. True romance if you ask me!

  5. I’ve looked into seeing gorillas a few times know but in some of the locations the cost of a permit, which only lasts for a couple of days, is exorbitant. Is there any charge at Odzala?

    And the big question is how likely are you to see gorillas? Though it all sounds an amazing adventure anyway.

    1. Hello Ben! Our clients have always seen the gorillas when they go out…it is definitely an expensive experience, but when you get to know the high cost of conservation and logistics of running lodges in the secluded parts of the wild, it makes a lot more sense. I hope you can see the primates one day. Truly a special experience

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