If you’re guilty of checking your emails while on vacation, you’re not alone. In today’s hyper-connected world, we often forget to “unplug” from our daily routine and truly “be” in the moment. This is even true on holiday, when our bodies are present, but our minds are somewhere else.  

What is mindfulness? 

Loosely defined, mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment. It’s the willingness to experience that moment without your attention drifting to the past or future; to be more present and less reactive. 

Benefits of mindful travel

Imagine the thrill of an open-vehicle game drive in the African bush; the hush that suddenly sets in as an elephant matriarch ambles past, leading the herd to the edge of a watering hole. Imagine the quickening of your pulse when you spot a pride of lions, resting in the shade of a rocky outcrop…  

Before you pick up your smartphone on safari, consider the benefits of being in nature: it reduces stress, boosts immunity, improves creativity and enhances concentration. Being in nature makes us happier. 

Why Mindfulness? Our guide to taking it all in on safari
Yoga retreat at Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Stay in the moment on safari with these mindful travel tips: 

Tips for mindful travel 

Mindful travel involves devoting your full attention to each travel experience as it happens, without being distracted by thoughts about what might be happening back home or the next attraction you will visit that day. This is how you do it: 

Slow down 

Picture this: you’re on a game drive and you’ve stopped to look at a rare bird; it’s pretty, but the guide has informed you that there are elephants further down the road. You snap a photo or two of the bird, but your mind is already on the elephants.  

Why Mindfulness? Our guide to taking it all in on safari
Outdoor spa experience at Tswalu Motse Lodge, Kalahari

Rushing from one moment to the next makes it difficult to focus on what is happening now. Slow down – take a deep breath and take the time to truly appreciate each moment as it happens. 

Use your senses 

Ground yourself in the present by engaging all five senses and focusing them on the moment.  

Hear the distant cry of a fish eagle as you feel the ground crunch under the weight of your boots; breathe in the rich smell of soil and fynbos. You’re on a guided walk through the African bush. Allow your senses to fill with the moments around you – these impressions can linger as memories long after your trip is over. 

Why Mindfulness? Our guide to taking it all in on safari
Rest and relaxation at Londolozi, Sabi Sands

Put down your phone 

In your rush to snap photos and share them with your friends and family on social media, you’re missing out on the experience itself. Take a picture or two, but then put down your phone and simply soak up the scene. Also, keep your phone on silent. The constant message, email or app alerts are distracting. 

Keep a journal 

Often, the practice of recording your experiences by writing them down helps to tune you into your surroundings in a more meaningful way. Carry a notebook with you to record the moments that happen, as they happen, or write about them before bedtime. 

Why Mindfulness? Our guide to taking it all in on safari
Recreation at Tswalu Motse Lodge, Kalahari

Start practicing mindfulness at home 

If you are new to the idea of tapping into mindful travel, you may find it easier to do so if you’ve been practicing mindful thinking in your everyday life. One of the best ways to do this is through daily meditation. 

A safari in Africa is a lifelong dream for many. If it’s on your bucket list, keep these tips in mind to truly take it all in on safari; every sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.  

Source: adapted from “7 Mindful Travel Tips for a More Meaningful Trip” with insights from Diana Winston, Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. 

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