Few things in life get the adrenaline pumping more than an angry elephant charging your way. Few things are more fun than watching a herd of hippos wading in the river. And if you’re lucky enough to witness a real-life kill—the Safari equivalent of an Academy Award—well, jackpot!
But while you’re waiting for those things to happen, the safari experience can be a little…slow. The animals are spectacular; finding them is the issue. The typical safari routine, in general, goes something like this: Breakfast. Game drive. Mid-morning coffee and cookies. Continue game drive. Lunch. Siesta and high tea. Late afternoon game drive. Drinks and dinner. Repeat. Sure, it’s all very luxurious—so many lodges are throwbacks to a bygone era of well-worn steamer trunks and endless highballs—but you’re not exactly going to break a sweat.
“A lot of the traditional safaris involve sitting, eating and drinking,” says Beth McGroarty, research director at SpaFinder Wellness 365. “People who do safaris need to stretch, move and do something healthy.”
Your antidote? A number of safaris now offer yoga retreats, held in outdoor pavilions under the gaze of an elephant or giraffe. Talk about saluting the sun. Here, we explore the wildest places to get your Namaste on.
Who: Spiritual Quest Journeys
What: Fast becoming a popular safari destination, Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is the perfect setting for yoga, meditation and game viewing. The walking, yoga classes and various Zen meditations are led by Debs Carter, a Reiki practitioner who has been in the safari industry for over 23 years. The 8-day trip begins with two nights at Mfuwe Game Lodge, located smack inside the national park. Set beneath a canopy of ebony and mahogany, its thatched buildings are arranged around the banks of two lagoons where giraffes, buffalo, antelopes, crocodiles and elephants are frequent visitors. (They also make quite a ruckus in the middle of the night, so bring earplugs). From there you’ll head to Zungulila Bush Camp and Kapamba Bush Camp. Both are rustically elegant (think: Gilligan’s Island meets Out of Africa), and don’t be surprised if you wake up to a pride of lions lounging outside your front door.
How: Spiritual Quest Journeys. From May 18-25, 2015 they are offering a yoga safari for about $4,990 per person. If those dates don’t work for you, they’re happy to tailor a retreat.
Who: A Passage to Africa
Where: South Africa
What: A Passage to Africa is renowned for its custom-designed trips throughout the continent. This is good news for yoga enthusiasts. Their six-day Lifestyle or Conscious Living safaris include sunrise and sunset game drives, walking safaris, yoga and tai chi/qi gong. On-site acupuncture is also available. The trips includes a teacher and private guides, so be prepared to take in plenty of information between yoga sessions.
How: A Passage to Africa. The excursions run from May 24 to May 29, 2015, in the Djuma Private Game Reserve, which is located within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, alongside Kruger National Park. Rates start around $3,800 per person.
Who: Cheli & Peacock
What: You can do as much or as little yoga as you want—from an hour per day to a week-long retreat—at one of Cheli & Peacock’s custom yoga safari’s. C&P will hire a private yoga teacher, and you decide how often you want to get your qi on. If you arrange it in advance, the company is also happy to provide detox menus and other fitness activities.
How: Cheli & Peacock. There are plenty of adventures to choose from within Kenya: Lewa Safari Camp, Elsa’s Kopje, Joy’s Camp, Kitich Camp, Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp, Elephant Pepper Camp, and Tortilis Camp. Fees start around $5,500.
Who: andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve
Where: KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
What: andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve is happy to design yoga retreats led by local teachers. Set near the Indian Ocean coastline and the famous iSimangaliso Wetland Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal, the reserve is known for its abundant wildlife and diversity of habitats. In addition to yoga classes, you can enjoy fresh smoothies and raw vegetable and fruit juices. There’s also a spa and a pool.
How: andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve. You can completely customize your trip, from what you’ll see to where you’ll stay. Rates start around $2,000 per person.
Who: Explore, Inc.
What: In between yoga sessions, you’ll explore the wildlife in Hwange National Park, Victoria Falls and the Lower Zambezi National Park. You can canoe down one of Africa’s fiercest rivers, and visit a local village. The company can also whip up another program for you elsewhere in Africa if you’re so inclined. Just ask.
How: Explore, Inc. From May 14-24, 2015 they’re holding a ten-day yoga retreat through Zimbabwe and Zambia. Costs are about $8,200 per person.