Wilderness in waiting: Bringing safari home
Wilderness in waiting: Bringing safari home
“Wilderness in attendant” is a weekly series in four parts, highlighting Africa’s proud wildlife heritage during the COVID pandemic.
The good news is that we are starting to see movement in African countries reopen tourism. In South Africa, various tourism organizations work around the clock to make sure we have the right frameworks of protocols in places to safely welcome guests soon. Until that happens, several lodges harness the power of technology and other creative means to ensure that we are able to stay in touch with nature.
Londolozi and the art of storytelling
Before even starting to find out why some lodges have adopted the digital safari, it is important to understand the safari psyche: at the heart of this sensory experience is narration. I knew that my starting point would be Londolozi, a lodge whose ethics fully embrace the narrative. Amanda Ritchie (from Londolozi) told me a little more about this.
“The ancient art of storytelling is a way to share a nuanced combination of ancient wisdom and modern technology. Good stories are felt and lived in the body – they are almost a set of codes that stay with you. ”
Indeed, those who have participated in a safari will testify that these kinds of stories are felt. Amanda continues: “Nature has a way of showing you how to weave truth and adventure together; it must be authentic and truly lived. This is what we do every day … hoping that somehow we can inspire the awakening of a shared humanity, animal kinship and planet. It’s a very long way of saying “it’s like breathing for us”. ”
It is clear that the team has gone to great lengths to ensure that the narrative legacy continues despite the current challenges. In addition to offering live safaris via social media, the Londolozi family has brought us incredibly unique projects.
“Over 38% of our customers return. When the global pandemic hit the world and slowed everything down, we got together as a team and decided that we needed to find a way for our Londolozi family online – and anyone who felt anxious or lost – to get back to nature. virtually through mindfulness, animal wisdom and meditation practices. Londolozi has been specializing in indoor safaris for many years. Led by Boyd Varty (a tracker and life coach in Londolozi), we have organized different retreats that combine wilderness emergence and interior monitoring in a very unique way. “A unique retreat was Boyd’s 40 days and 40 nights in the wild. Although it’s now over, you can follow the journey that starts here and glean daily episodes. You can sign up for their indoor safari for free – a 7 day animal wisdom challenge here.
“We wanted to generate a free gift that we could send to the world to say that we, the immediate Londolozi family, were thinking of everyone and creating an indoor space for people to go on their own indoor safari.” Even if they could only close in their office or their room for 30 minutes to meet the challenges of the day. ”
& BEYOND and Bringing Africa Home
Known to go above and beyond, the luxury group & BEYOND knew they wanted to do something for their loyal audience. Valeri Mouton gave me a glimpse of what gave birth to their & BEYOND Connect. “Global lockdown may have reduced people’s ability to travel to distant places, but the one thing it can’t quench is their appetite for new and exotic experiences. To relieve the boredom of isolation and bring the beauty of the natural world to our customers, our teams have been looking for ways to bring our destinations to life. ”
Live safari streams have already captured the hearts and screens of many people around the world. Thanks to these virtual safaris, in partnership with the WILDearth organization, viewers enjoyed their daily dose of wildlife. These are made possible by a group of guides who have stayed on the reserves to ensure the continuous surveillance of the fauna, while playing an important security function.
The team didn’t stick to what Valeri noted: “We explored how we travel through our senses and captured recipes, music, books, documentaries and organized videos that let you travel in your chair thanks to our #andbeyondathome campaign. ”
& BEYOND Connect offers virtual experiences, the possibility of booking a chat with a guide, a travel-inspired magazine, a podcast channel, a television service…. then my favourite – Bringing Africa Home. Here you can taste, hear, watch and read Africa (almost) fully embracing the sensory nature of the safari.
People have found the content useful in connecting them to nature. “The overwhelming response to our interactive content made us aware of the possibility of virtual safaris to provide access to wildlife for the global public in order to educate and inspire them. It also provides us with a fundraising mechanism for our community and conservation projects that need support right now. ”
The positive feedback from these projects testifies that, even in this short period of waiting wilderness, the significance of the African experience continues to be as powerful as ever.