Choosing a safari itinerary where you can keep in shape is becoming increasingly popular among discerning travelers who don’t want to arrive back home carrying excess baggage. At least that’s what our clients are constantly telling us. Indeed it’s what we’re demanding ourselves having been on so many incredible safaris across southern Africa, and in our beautiful destination Zimbabwe But then again what constitutes a healthy safari for some is not necessarily the same for others. Let’s explore where the balance is.
The Traditional Safari
The traditional safari has always placed a strong emphasis on ensuring that guests never go hungry. There is food literally all day long, starting with muffins and rusks at sunrise, then a full English breakfast mid-morning, a lunch fit for a king, then a slap-up high tea including rich cakes and pastries. Wait there’s still a warm three course dinner to come, often plated, which means limited choices. Not forgetting to mention the delicious array of often fatty snacks that come out during activity times. And if you are still hungry after all that there is always something to munch on, close at hand. Phew! The feeling often from the safari guest is “well I’ve paid for it, so I ain’t gonna waste it!” And so one’s stomach is unwittingly expanded to compensate. More and more people however, are speaking out and those camps and lodges that are savvy enough are responding positively. We’ve decided to delve into the key specifics of what the modern safari traveller wants and then find out how the accommodation providers in our wild areas are responding to this increasing wave of ‘well-being demands’.
People want less starch and less sugar
Whilst it’s considered a treat to indulge when on holiday the majority of safari travelers nowadays don’t want their diets drastically changed for the few weeks they are away from home, where world influences have dictated the need for a balanced diet that seeks to cut down on starch and sugar. So when they make a booking with us they typically raise a few flags that give us a good indication as to what they want. Some people have regular allergies and state “no nuts please” or “no seafood” :- But we are seeing more and more requests from people that don’t necessarily have an allergy and have made a lifestyle choice that involves avoiding gluten and lactose, the things that can make you feel heavy and potentially influence susceptibility to major illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Check out the delicious platter prepared by Bumi Hills Safari Lodge for example.
People want to exercise
In the same way that people are becoming conscious about keeping their diets when they go on safari many are also demanding that they maintain their level of fitness. Again traditionally the only way to get any exercise on safari was to ensure you got up for the morning walk. Even then breaking a sweat is unlikely to happen because there is so much to see along the way that the last thing you want to do is rush. So beyond that you had to get rather creative about where and how you could work up your heart rate or simply give in to the fact that it just ain’t gonna happen till you finish the safari. The Big Cave Camp in has started to offer yoga classes, where better to try out Yoga than in the Matobo Hills.
How are the clever safari camps and lodges responding?
Whilst the traditional safari ‘order of the day’ described above is still quite prevalent more and more safari accommodations are realising that there is a strong competitive edge if increasing health needs are properly catered for. Lighter meals, gluten and lactose free foods, better designed menus, buffets with a wide range of organic foods, freshly squeezed fruit juices, smoothies…..you name it…..chefs with a bit of savoir-faire are wising up to their guests needs and whipping out some incredibly healthy, gourmet style meals in the middle of the bush.
On top of this some safari lodges and camps have come up with novel ways and activities that allow their guests to stay fit yet still remain safe whilst on safari. Al fresco bush gyms are starting to catch on. How cool to be on a stationary bike spinning away whilst elephants play in the mud at the waterhole in front of you! Spas have been extended, going beyond a few massage options to being able to host full on yoga retreats. Swimming pools are now built not just with a view in mind, but many have a lap lane too. Running, mountain biking and horse riding trails are designed safely and in big game areas are escorted by a guide trained and fit enough in all aspects.
When one starts to think about it there are so many ways that a safari can be made more healthy and whilst some camps have invested huge capital to do so there are many ways to go about it that don’t require a big money injection.