It’s Valentine’s Day, and with that, my thoughts have turned to the importance of love and connection. The isolation and loneliness of the pandemic have taken a toll on human connection and have renewed our dependence on social media — a poor substitute for genuine relationships. I saw a quote recently that said:

“In a world of algorithms, hashtags, and followers, know the true importance of human connection.”

So, how do we rebuild those connections that have slipped away, rekindle relationships, and strengthen the ties that bind? Well, there are countless ways, but since my specialty is crafting your ideal African escape, I’d like to share my favorite recommendations for reconnecting through travel to Africa.

I hope you find inspiration, and I hope we can reconnect soon!

STAY: TINTSWALO MANOR HOUSE

IDEAL FOR: RECONNECTING WITH A GROUP

If you and your family or group of friends want to spend time together, sharing new experiences, Tintswalo Manor House is a perfect option. You and nine of your friends or family members can stay together in comfort at this five-bedroom estate, located within the Tintswalo Concession. You’ll enjoy quiet nights by the fire, refreshing swims in the private pool, plus game drives with your private guide and tracker in your exclusive safari vehicle. During your down time, keep an eye out for the large variety of big game that frequents the watering hole in front of Manor House.

DO: UTHANDO EXCURSION

IDEAL FOR: RECONNECTING WITH THE GOOD IN THE WORLD

In addition to feelings of isolation, the past several years have brought about a feeling of doom and gloom for many. Break out of the cycle of negativity and reconnect with the good in the world by joining a Philanthropic Educational Excursion hosted by Uthando South Africa.

These excursions take visitors to the townships in the eastern part of Cape Town to witness inspiring stories of the community development projects and activists working to create positive social change, triumph over adversity.

You’ll get a comprehensive look at the role of apartheid and inequality played in the creation of these communities, as well as insight into the challenges that continue to face those who live here. But the story doesn’t end there, as the excursion moves on to show several of the diverse community projects that are actively solving these problems, by focusing on urban agriculture, animal welfare, youth development, education, refugee assistance, the environment, economic empowerment, prisoner rehabilitation, and much more.

End your excursion filled with a sense of renewed faith in the good in the world.

VISIT: CROFTER’S KITCHEN

IDEAL FOR: RECONNECTING THROUGH FOOD

There is something magical about gathering around the table for a meal. Conversations flow, memories are made, and, of course, bellies are filled. Crofter’s Kitchen enhances that experience by connecting diners not only to each other but also to the land and the history that shape the food they are eating.

Crofter’s Kitchen is not a restaurant, but an experience. Chef Nicky Gibbs opens her home to an intimate group of guests for an intimate six-course meal in her home, featuring a seasonal menu crafted from ingredients supplied by Nicky’s own garden and the nearby surrounds. Connect to the story of the food as Nicky personally introduces each course and frames the experience through global cooking techniques, local ingredients, and stories of the past.

Herbal and floral teas flow, as does the conversation, as you and your group reconnect over an exquisite meal.

STAY: MARATABA CONSERVATION CAMPS

IDEAL FOR: RECONNECTING WITH NATURE

Conservation is at the heart of everything we do at Hills of Africa, and it’s important to us for our clients to feel the importance of preserving the land and wildlife that makes Africa so special. That’s why we love Marataba Conservation Camps. These three intimate camps, located north of Johannesburg (3.5 hours by car or 45 minutes by private charter), go above and beyond to help guests reconnect with and appreciate the world around them.

Above and beyond the normal driving and walking safaris, Marataba Conservation Camps offer a variety of up-close-and-personal experiences with wildlife. Guests are encouraged to participate in elephant management, predator management, rhino conservation, area protection, camera trap setup, ecology experiences, and more.

These hands-on activities give you a firsthand look at what it takes to protect the flora and fauna of Africa and allows you to reconnect with the wild world around you.

Plus, take your experience a step further and spend a night or two at Star Camp Out, four tents located miles away from anything and anyone. Disconnect from the modern world so that you can reconnect with the people you love in this secluded spot. With no Wifi, no cell signal, and no electricity, it’s just you, nature, and the endless starry sky above.

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