There are a few special places around the world where old habits and routines can’t find you. Somewhere remote, for instance. Somewhere like Royal Chundu in Zambia, with its private slice of the quiet upper reaches of the legendary Zambezi River offering you a chance to disconnect from everything.
It can take a brief moment, a glimpse of that river through the entranceway of Royal Chundu River Lodge and Island Lodge. The sound of a fish eagle calling from high up in the trees or an Africa skimmer swooping over a sandbank. Or it can take time, practice, before you truly surrender.
Whatever your reason for wanting to disconnect (to recharge, to overcome, to realign), Royal Chundu works its magic in several ways. There are many we could share with you, but here are five of our favourite:
1. Unplug and switch off
Many of us struggle to be alone with ourselves. To sit alone in a room or outside, without clutching for something. Cigarettes, coffee, croissants, calling a friend or scanning a feed...
Sometimes we need to be forced. Here to help are Royal Chundu’s limited WiFi access, absence of televisions in the rooms and the threat of international roaming charges.
Sometimes we need to be lured. By the view of a river from an outdoor bubble bath surrounded by lanterns, perhaps, and the tranquillity of the gentle flow, the occasional harrumph of a hippo or passing of a traditional mokoro. Put down your phone, they urge.
Sometimes we need a little help from a friend… Like a wellness therapist and a massage on the deck of your villa, while the masseuse heals aches, releases tension and calms body and mind with local treatments using pure distilled water drawn from the Zambezi, scrubs with sand cleansed by the river, and African tree aromatherapy oils like mongongo, baobab and mafura butter oil.
If you have ever watched Tim Robbins in the film, Noise, you’ll see the allure of a place this quiet. Where the sounds you hear emanate, almost exclusively, from nature. Delight in it. Acknowledge it. Do not judge it or get up to photograph it. Do not Boomerang the birds.
This is called mindfulness.
2. Where is my mind?
Disconnecting requires us to not only unplug all things tech, but also our minds. From the continuous monkey chatter. Detach from the virtual and reconnect with the real. Throwing yourself into the action has a way of helping us do just that. Lose yourself in the moment while flying through the deep gorge of the Zambezi and over the Victoria Falls in a helicopter, canoeing over rapids in hippo and crocodile territory, meeting locals in the neighbouring community – learning how other cultures live, watching the wild things of the riverbank, the elephants and monkeys, playing effortlessly.
This is what being present feels like.
3. Mindful dining
Dining on the banks of the river at a picnic table or a table on the deck, worlds away from the slog ‘n grind, you can give food the attention it deserves. The unique flavours and ingredients of Zambia served at Royal Chundu demand it. Notice the details – the scent of warm bread, the taste of fresh bream, the touch of baobab fruit, the sound of wine being poured into your glass, the joy of the sweet and savoury, and the sight of it all before you. African Time* demands you go slow, take your time. Listen to the stories the dishes are trying to tell you. No photos allowed. Let the swallows do the tweeting here.
*African time or Africa time is the perceived cultural tendency, in parts of Africa and the Caribbean toward a more relaxed attitude to time.
4. Ground yourself
Wake up naturally, not as dictated by devices. Wake up when your body – and the winged vagabonds outside your window – tell you to. Lying in your four poster bed, staring out at the slow-moving water, let your body dictate what to do next. Listen to its rhythms, feel its moods, how they change with the temperature, the passing of a day, the different interactions that take place. Instead of handing over your time to checking in and checking up online, check in and up with your body.Feel each step over the dirt paths winding through the private island in the middle of the Zambezi on a walk under ancient baobabs and jackalberry trees. Feel the breeze on your skin while cruising into the sunset on a boat of your own.
Reconnecting with the elements, with the earth and with our bodies helps to remind us of what’s most important.
5. Attention, please
With the virtual far from touch and sight, you’re free to have uninterrupted conversations with the new people around you, with your traveller kin, with yourself.
On a sundowner cruise, sitting with the birds and your guide, listening to the chef or waiter present the tastes of Zambia, or while visiting the children of the local Royal Chundu Foundation School, give your whole attention, eye to eye. Heart to heart. Listen and engage and feel the deeper connections that are created as a result. This is the real world. This is Africa, rich and diverse. You’ll find yourself more transformed by your journey by being present for it.