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Digital detox tourism: What you need to know

Lifestyle
 A smartphone tied with a chain and lock. [istockphoto]

If you intend to visit the Finnish island Ulko-Tammio this summer, be prepared to switch off your phone for the duration of your trip.

The small island has declared itself a ‘phone-free’ zone, where visitors will be ‘kindly’ asked to keep smart devices in their pockets and to disconnect from social media though the island has a functioning mobile network.

“We want to urge holidaymakers to switch off their smart devices and to stop and genuinely enjoy the islands,” Mats Selin, from the local tourism board, told Euronews.

In a fast-paced world characterised by screens, constant connectivity and busy schedules, the allure of digital detox has become a beacon of respite for the weary soul seeking a break from all the digital noise.

Detox tourism is the new craze within the travel and tourism space that prioritises one’s well-being, as opposed to travelling to the country’s holiday hotspots to engage in a vast repertoire of activities.

Apart from physical gratification, detox tourism promises many benefits, including stress reduction, improved mental clarity, enhanced physical health, and increased energy levels.

Those engaged in it report feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle their daily lives anew as they immerse themselves in yoga, meditation, spa treatment and mindfulness workshops.

Kenya, with her captivating landscapes and rich cultural heritage, is emerging as an unexpected destination for those yearning to reconnect with nature by disconnecting from the virtual world.

Stephen Soita, a leisure and travel manager at Hemingways Travel says the growing popularity of digital detox retreats in Kenya is not only a testament to the increasing demand for such holistic experiences but also a transformative journey that leaves a lasting impact on travellers.

“With smartphones becoming extensions of our hands and notifications perpetually clamouring for attention, the need for a break from the digital tether has never been more pronounced. Many of us yearn for moments of solitude and peace, free from the constant barrage of emails, social media updates, and digital distractions,” says Soita. 

Soita says despite Kenyans having been long captivated by wilderness adventures, the trend of digital detox retreats is slowly transcending the usual safari experience.

Such retreats are nestled in picturesque landscapes within private conservancies in Masai Mara, Samburu, Msambweni, Laikipia, Lamu, and Kilifi. They are made of sustainable materials and powered by renewable energy sources that leave little environmental footprints.

In most retreats, the number of guests is kept low by having a handful of tents or rooms. In addition, many lack modern conveniences such as television sets while Internet or phone connectivity is only available in the main lounge.

“One of the many charms of Kenya's digital detox retreats lies in their locations. Remote and uncharted territories beckon travellers to embrace a different kind of luxury that celebrates the raw beauty of nature and the simplicity of life.

"Whether it is the untamed wilderness of the Maasai Mara, the soul-stirring serenity of the Kenyan coast, or the mystical allure of Mount Kenya's slopes, these retreats offer a chance to unplug and immerse oneself fully in the moment,” says Soita.

Therefore, whether it is a short digital detox or an extended wellness retreat, the allure of detox tourism will continue to lie in its ability to provide a renewed sense of vitality and a holistic approach to well-being.

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