“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory.
If C.S. Lewis was right when he wrote the above quote all those years ago, then not much seems to have changed since then. Millennials are said to be an overstimulated generation that switches incessantly between numerous electronic devices to check messages, view emails, make calls or browse social media updates.
If at all possible, Gen Z (the generation following in the millennials’ footsteps) is now said to be even more overstimulated. Whereas millennials have an attention span of 12 seconds, Gen Z can only concentrate for 8 seconds at a time. What’s more is that Gen Z watches 68 videos per day on at least five different platforms, according to the latest research.
It’s therefore hardly surprising that both these generations are looking for silence and calm when on holiday. A recent study conducted by Skift, The Future of Luxury for Overstimulated Millennials looks Serene, explains that millennials are turning to experiences that encourage silence, a disconnection to technology, and reintroduction to the outdoors nature as the ultimate luxury.
“In a world where we glorify how busy we are and over-schedule ourselves, people are willing to pay for silence. There’s tremendous scarcity around quiet-time, alone-time, having white-space, and doing nothing—therefore it’s incredibly valuable,” said Well+Good co-founder Melisse Gelula. As the entire world is battling with over-tourism and noise, what better place to find the ultimate luxury of silence and nature, than Africa?
Africa needs to take advantage of this growing trend and position itself as the luxury destination of choice for the overstimulated present generation, who need a reprieve from their overscheduled days. Our continent still offers ‘raw natural beauty’ and vast open-ended landscapes, making it the perfect destination for travellers who want to revive their senses.
Throughout Africa, several of SW Africa’s suppliers have already picked up on this new ‘luxury’ trend and have started offering activities such as ‘yoga safaris’, which allow travellers to meditate in some of the most beautiful, untouched wilderness areas. The simple act of being on foot in a remote area such as for example the Luangwa Valley in Zambia is yogic by nature. Travellers can’t help but slow down and synchronise to the rhythm of the wilderness. They can explore the meandering waterways of the Okavango Delta on a mokoro canoe, or traverse the Kruger National Park in a 4×4. They’ll witness herds of elephants, prides of lions and roaming antelopes, just as they should be, in the pure, untouched wilderness. This is an experience that no Youtube video will ever come close to conveying.
Tour operators can show these travellers a different way of life in a cultural exchange experience that will enrich their lives. Give them the option to live with the pastoral Himba in Namibia and experience what it feels like to live a humble and happy life away from Instagram, Facebook and Youtube.
Does this mean lodges around Africa should do away with Wi-Fi to offer their travellers a truly authentic and ‘silent’ Africa experience?
Probably not the best idea!
People will choose to include a few days in an extremely remote location where they are completely cut off from Wi-Fi to embark on a walking safari, but at SW Africa, we’ve found they don’t want to be isolated from the world for the entire duration of their trip.
Although the younger generations want a break from the noise in their lives, they still want the option to ‘connect’ not just as a safety net, but also to share their experiences on social media with their friends.
They want the best of both worlds. They want to enjoy the authenticity and silence of Africa, but after a rewarding day, they want to be able to stand on the deck of the game lodge and Skype with someone at home, showing them the scenery.