DIGITAL DETOX IN THE EASTERN CAPE
Monday, 6th January 2020
Smartphones. Most of us are glued to our mobile devices; we rely on our screens to tell us the time, to give us advice, to stay connected with friends and family and to guide us into the right direction not to get lost. And more than often, with eyes fixated on a phone, we mindlessly scroll past the hours and miss out on the beauty that is right in front of us. We miss out on connecting with people, and strangers, and the notion of letting the road or day craft your itinerary is a concept long lost and forgotten.
Maybe it is time for a digital detox?
The Eastern Cape is a haven for anyone looking to switch off and reconnect. You are in for a treat of tranquillity with beaches promising endless hours of walking pleasure, bush and wilderness escapes that will make the city a distant memory and the promised silence of the Karoo.
Pack away the devices and take a much-deserved digital break.
Image: Amathola Hiking Trail
Into the Amathole Mountains
If a green escape – into a forest that is known for its mystery and magic – is calling your name, then Hogsback and the rest of the Amathole region is your answer to get away from it all. Immerse yourself in nature, relax in front of a cosy fireplace and watch as the mist rolls and transforms the village into a land of wonder.
Do this: Go hiking, sit under a waterfall, play golf at the Katberg Eco Golf Estate, do a homestay in a Xhosa village and clear your mind at the labyrinth situated at The Edge.
Looking for an active digital detox? Sign up for the 6-day Amathole Hiking Trail and forget about the outside world.
Image: Lady Grey Tourism
Head to the Eastern Cape Highlands
Journey along the Friendly N6 into the highlands of the Eastern Cape at the tail end of the Drakensberg and you will find a sanctuary in and around the small towns of Rhodes, Lady Grey and Barkley East. With some of South Africa’s highest altitude passes you are in for one scenic trip.
Do this: Go fly fishing, view the world from the seat of a bicycle, build a snowman in winter, do a 4x4 trail or tackle the passes on a motorcycle.
Looking for an active digital detox? Do the Ben10 Eco Challenge where the goal is to summit ten high altitude passes within seven days. There is also the 3-da Eastern Cape Highlands Camino Route.
Image: Oldenburgia Hiking Club
To the Frontier Country
With its rich heritage the Frontier Country is a vibrant mix of all the best South Africa has to offer. Here you can lose yourself in art, in history and nature as its diverse and abundant fauna and flora make way for incredible outside experiences.
Do this: Experience the diverse fauna and flora in one of the malaria-free big five private game reserves.
Looking for an active digital detox? The Oldenburgia Hking Trail is a 17 km walk (with two shorter loops) just outside of Grahamstown/Makhanda and there is also the two-day 20 km Two River Trail in the Assegaai and Kariega Valleys.
Image: Compassberg Camino
Keep Calm in the Karoo
The Karoo is a treat for the mind, body and soul. It is the quietude, the scenic vistas, friendly locals living close to the earth, peaceful humble atmosphere and the dry arid soil kicking dust clouds of nostalgic memories into your heart that draws visitors time and again back to the Karoo.
Do this: Stroll through the small towns of the Karoo Heartland, meet the people and find out what makes each town so unique, go on game drives, do a farm stay and travel back in time through fossils.
Looking for an active digital detox? Soak in the Karoo on the 100 km, 5-day Compassberg Camino which starts and ends in Nieu-Bethesda.
Image: Leopard Trail
A Baviaans Bush Break
Leave the hustle and bustle of your day to day behind and head into the Baviaanskloof, a World Heritage Site with a mix of farming and conservation. Between the sandstone rock formations, cliffs, wildlife and passes and poorts your phone will quickly become a forgotten memory.
Do this: Hike, bike, go birding, test your own and your vehicle’s 4x4 capabilities and take a plunge in nature’s swimming pools.
Looking for an active digital detox? Switch off on the 4-day Leopard Slackpacking Trail in the heart of the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve.
Image: Chokka Trail
Beach time in Kouga
If the agenda of rest and relaxation calls for beach time, schedule a stroll along the coast stretching from the mouths of the Van Stadens and Gamtoos River, all the way through to Jeffreys Bay, St Francis Bay and Oyster Bay.
Do this: Stroll along the beach, hike and surf.
Looking for an active digital detox? Set off on the 62 km Chokka Trail, a slackpacking walk giving you the opportunity to experience the best of the area on foot.
Image: Nukakamma Canoe Trail
Meet the Big Five in Addo and the Sundays River Valley
Nature lovers, grab your binoculars and camera lenses as you explore the greater Addo region with its abundance of wildlife; watch elephant families at waterholes and feel on top of the world at Zuurberg. But don’t forget to make a detour into Sundays River Valley where the smell of citrus fills the air.
Do this: Explore the fertile Sundays River Valley on a river or dune adventure, go on a self-guided or guided game drive and hike the Zuurberg Mountains.
Looking for an active digital detox? Paddle your worries away on the Nukakamma Canoe Trail up the Sundays River.
Image: Woodlands Cottages
Up the Sunshine Coast
Go to a place where the sun is (almost) always shining and find your own summer in the middle of winter. Let the Sunshine Coast, with its small towns, pristine beaches and scenic rivers take your soul on a spa treatment of warmth, adventure and ultimate bliss.
Do this: Navigate up the Boesmans and Kariega rivers in a canoe, take long walks on the beach, do some kitesurfing and see the big five in one of the private game reserves.
Looking for an active digital detox? Combine your love for walking and paddling, and the beach, river and bush on the 5-day Castaway Hike (a two-day option is also available).
Image: Janet Middleton ©
Take some time out in Tsitsikamma
It is easy to lose track of time in Tsitsikamma; hours can go by just watching the stormy waves crash against the rocks as the smell of coastal fynbos lingers in the air. And between the dramatic coastline, waterfalls and coca-cola-coloured rivers hide limited phone signal, adventure and the fact that doing absolutely nothing can mean experiencing absolutely everything.
Do this: Tap into the laid-back lifestyle of Storms River Village, do one of the many hiking trails in the area, go snorkelling, head to Eersterivier to get away from the crowds and go inland to the Langkloof for a farm stay or a wilderness getaway.
Looking for an active digital detox? Find tranquillity on the 5-day Otter Trail, South Africa’s oldest (established in 1868) and most renowned multi-day trail.
Image: Wild Coast Meander
Wander through the Wild Coast
Remote. Rugged. Real. The Wild Coast is all this and more. Between the rolling hills with its thatched-roof huts, goats and cows having the right of way, difficult roads and nature putting its most scenic foot forward you will most certainly feel isolated from the outside world, removed from all the modern-day worries.
Do this: Explore the caves, waterfalls and interesting geological rock formations of the area on foot, do a home stay in a traditional Xhosa village and go surfing or fishing.
Looking for an active digital detox? Do the 6-day hotel-to-hotel Wild Coast Meander hike from and experience the beauty of the area, and Xhosa culture along the way.
SO, BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY OR CLOSE YOUR LAPTOP, STARTING THAT DIGITAL DETOX, WHERE WILL YOU BE TRAVELLING TO AND BOOKING?