Travel to transform in your own backyard

To experience travel is one thing, to be transformed by it is something completely different. The new big buzzword in travel is transformative travel and, by the looks of it, it will be one of the next big travel motivators in 2018.

Perhaps best described as experiential travel at full throttle, transformative travel really boils down to travel for the purpose of self-reflection and engaging with a new culture and nature. It empowers travellers to make meaningful, lasting changes in their life. This desire emerges in many of us, especially if we have travelled before, explains Sharmila Ragunanan, Head of Marketing at Dream Hotels & Resorts.

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“Transformative travellers want to go beyond the brochure and really explore the world for a greater purpose. This type of travel not only provides a new perspective on life, it transforms us so we are no longer just a brief visitor in a destination, but are changed through the experience we have enjoyed,” says Ragunanan.

Think Eat, Pray, Love, but unlike Julia Roberts, there’s no need to visit far-flung destinations to transform yourself through travel. “We are fortunate in South Africa to have a range of destinations and experiences that can be described as transformative in our own backyard. Here are a few of Dream Hotels & Resorts’ top transformative destinations for 2018.”

The simple life in Bilene

South Africans have long flocked to the beautiful beaches of Mozambique and the seaside town of Bilene offers visitors that, with a taste of the simple life. Here visitors have an opportunity to reconnect with nature and themselves, while immersing themselves in a different culture.

A local village cultural tour takes you away from the main village and out into the rural areas to see how the local population live and survive off the land. Experience how these villagers make a daily living with the barest of necessities and sit with them as they prepare a delicious meal prepared with ingredients grown and prepared in their own traditional way.

Worldwide research suggests that swimming with dolphins can help travellers de-stress and relax; alleviate depression, assist with insomnia and help with a wide variety of disabilities.

Besides the obvious therapeutic experience of submerging yourself in the warm Indian Ocean, swimming with dolphins is believed to offer enlightenment, with participants left feeling content for hours after an encounter with these friendly ocean creatures.

On a Big Blue dive in Bilene, you will be dropped to a depth of 15m and suspended next to a guideline running from the boat. This creates a unique platform to have your opportunity to meet the friendly dolphins, as well as whales, and even perhaps sharks and mantas.

From earth to table in the Western Cape

We are all familiar with the saying “you are what you eat”. Add new meaning to this by taking an African cooking safari in the Western Cape.

Interactive cooking safaris allow guests to join local chefs in their kitchen or around the campfire or to even join locals at the local markets, farms and vineyards as they share their prized knowledge on how to select the best African food and beverages. Listen to their unique stories as they explain in detail the origins of their culinary traditions and inspire you with a lesson in traditional cooking.

Learn the art of blending spices and creating your own unique curry mix at Masala Dosa. Not only will you be on your way in becoming a spice expert you will get a little recipe booklet and your spice blends to take with you.

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Cape Malay cooking in Bo-Kaap is synonymous with Cape Town. Cape Fusion Tours offers a variety of cooking experiences, including this experience. This is half-day course is unique in the sense that is starts off with a visit to the District Six Museum and a walk through the Bo-Kaap to visit Atlas Spices, plus two other community projects, before heading to a local Cape Malay home to cook. Not only will it give you an insight into the local culinary traditions, but you will learn more about the people and their varied backgrounds.

Into the wild in the Kruger

Walking through the wilderness, the real world may be a million miles away. Embark on a walking safari in the Kruger National Park – treading in the footsteps of the wildlife with whom you’ll share this transformative experience.

Walking safaris typically take the form of a short bush walk. With Mthimkhulu Wilderness Trails, your first-hand encounter with the bush spans several days. This transformative experience will allow you the freedom to move with the pace of nature as you discover often overlooked species, the medicinal uses of plants and trees and the secret habits of mammals in the wild and how you can play a vital part in their protection and conservation.

The Kruger Park is much more than just our own famous wildlife park, it also forms part of the cradle that gave birth to our species. Visiting the park is also actually an opportunity to connect with cultures past and present, a chance to discover fragments of your history.

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