We have generator power in the event of Loadshedding

Prioritise time out in nature this year: Here’s how

The first quarter of the year is almost over, which makes it a good time to reassess where one is tracking with those lofty plans for the year. 

Spending more time outdoors is always a popular resolution but the reality is probably that the hustle and bustle of daily life simply hasn’t allowed for much time out in nature, however adamant you were about the intention.

It’s well documented that time out in nature is good for our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. It takes approximately 120 minutes of weekly exposure to natural settings, such as woodlands or coastlines, to boost well-being and a healthier mindset. A 2019 study of 20,000 people by the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter, revealed that the two hours of time spent in nature could be spread out over the course of a week or done in one go.

And while 120 minutes a week may sound very doable it’s important to be intentional about it as the first step to ensuring it actually happens.

“One of my favourite things about working in the hospitality industry is seeing what a magical effect being in nature – in our case in Kruger National Park – does for people’s wellbeing. You can almost see people relax and recharge when they’re here enjoying the tranquillity of nature and the magnificence of the flora and fauna that surrounds the property,” says Anton Gillis, CEO of Kruger Gate Hotel.

And while the ideal is to take time out and really embrace nature, it is not always possible. Consider the tips below for taking small steps to getting outdoors more.

Expand your definition of nature

Time out in nature may be associated with bush retreats or seaside escapes, but even when we’re confined to a city nature still surrounds us – it’s just about adjusting our perspective. “A walk around an urban park may not be a game drive in Kruger National Park but it’s still a way of being in nature. And if that is what is accessible to you, make the most of it, and do so regularly,” Gillis advises.

Having said that, the distance from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park, for those based there, does make it viable for a weekend break so if time constraints are what’s holding you back, consider a shorter stay.

Make a point of finding great public parks in your area or discovering easy hiking routes nearby that the whole family can enjoy.

Go it alone

Too many people wait around until their would-be travel companions are ready to join them on that bucket-list holiday in the great outdoors, but coordinating travel plans can be so complex that the holiday goes no further than the list.

The solo travel trend is on the rise and has been for a while now, which means getting out in nature by yourself is not only acceptable but also highly recommended.

“Rather than wait on others, the solo traveller knows the time to travel is now and that while they may be on their own, they’re not alone as they can meet like-minded people at the hotel and, for example, discuss what they saw on a game drive that day. This kind of travel offers travellers the flexibility to be part of a group when they want and to go off on their own when they need a bit of ‘me-time’,” says Gillis.

Solo travel also allows room to embrace the calm-cation trend, whereby people are looking for opportunities to truly relax. A calm-cation is more likely when one is alone, unshackled by the need to consider the preferences of others.

What’s more, with solo travel you’re free to embrace your own interests – whether that’s the rare birds of South Africa or the animals found in Kruger National Park.

Nature needn’t be uncomfortable

The idea of being in nature, or close to nature, may be very appealing but for some being too close to nature can also be off-putting, especially if you equate nature to camping.

Opting for luxury accommodation in Kruger National Park, for example, is simply a way of enhancing the experience. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting your creature comforts and enjoying nature at its finest. You don’t have to sleep in a tent, forsake your morning brew or be without electricity to embrace and appreciate nature. At Kruger Gate Hotel, for example, we’re very proud to offer all the luxury amenities guests need and want – from WiFi and room service, to generator power and a fitness centre – while also offering world-class guided safari experiences and the possibility of seeing the Big Five from the comfort of your sun lounger on the pool deck,” says Gillis.

Nature is many things, and different things to different people at various times. Make sure to embrace it regularly – sometimes in your own backyard and sometimes as part of ticking a bucket list item.