If you’re feeling on the verge of digital burnout, the best remedy is going off-grid and getting back to nature. Jenny Southan explores the latest and greatest off the grid travel excursions
It’s almost impossible to go on a regular beach holiday and ignore your emails – and checking your phone in at reception on a digital detox retreat is little better, as all you end up doing is feeling anxious about being separated from it. Heading into the outdoors, where you have to focus on physical tasks such as building a camp fire, putting up a tent or finding your bearings on a hike through a pine forest, is guaranteed to prove the most effective distraction. Plus, there is no wifi or 4G anyway.
Earlier this year, a new startup called Off the Grid launched ten-day group tours to various destinations around the world, the proviso being that participants all have to leave their smartphone at home. Instead, you are given a basic burner phone that can be used to make calls but can’t access the internet. Upcoming trips include Tulum in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Morocco. Although there will be activities and sightseeing opportunities, the itineraries have been deliberately “under scheduled” to allow for personal time to write, read, socialise or sleep.
Ready to put your “out of office” on? Do the North offers wild camping adventures in Scandinavia, where you can undergo self-guided kayaking expeditions around Sweden’s Saint Anna and Gryt archipelago, spotting birds of prey and eating meals under the stars. Head further up country and you can check into the peaceful Treehotel, which has seven luxury treehouses dotted throughout the woods. There’s one designed like a UFO, another called the Bird’s Nest and a third in the shape of a mirrored cube; the most recent addition was designed by Norwegian architectural firm Snohetta and opened at the beginning of last year.
Heading into the Australian outback or Amazon rainforest, for example, isn’t of course, recommended if you’re without an experienced guide and equipped with all the necessary kit. Going off-grid alone, even in places that are relatively close to civilisation, such as Joshua Tree National Park in California, tends to be unwise too. You only have to twist an ankle or run out of water to find yourself in trouble so be sure to inform people of your routes and timings in advance as safety is paramount.
For those who thirst for a challenge but are sensible enough to seek out support, Niquesa Travel presents a number of signature journeys including “Lost and Found”, where participants will spend a week alone in the wilderness after being dropped by helicopter in a mystery location (Black Tomato’s “Get Lost” is similar). Back-up will be provided intermittently by Dr Raj Joshi, a professional explorer and extreme medicine specialist who will be tracking you from a distance, but most of the time you will be going solo. The idea is to learn how to tap into your inner resources and confront fears and anxieties that may be holding you back.
Finally, connecting with remote indigenous people is a fascinating and powerful way to gain a fresh perspective – with this in mind, G Adventures, along with its non-profit partner, Planeterra, have recently made an agreement with Colombia’s Wiwa community to allow travellers to explore a new route through the Lost City of Teuyna in the Sierra Nevada and visit a village that is only just opening its doors to tourists. Upon arrival, they will undergo a traditional “soul cleansing” ceremony. Meanwhile, Western Mongolia Tours specialises in teaching you how to hunt with golden eagles, just like the local nomads do. Just remember to pack a camera.
Main image courtesy of Signature Journeys. Images courtesy of Getty Images