Some family, friends and I got together recently in the Kruger National Park (KNP). It was to celebrate a special occasion and to experience Africa in its most real form – on foot. The KNP consists of nearly two million hectares of land made up of an unrivaled diversity of life forms that fuse with historical and archaeological sights. The sights, sounds and smells are all enhanced by the minutest amount of pollution in one of Africa’s largest game reserves that’s home to a high density of animals, a diverse species of birds and of course the mountains, bushveld, trees and plains.
The KNP is one of our favourite destinations and if possible we try to make at least one annual visit. I say it is not a relaxing holiday because of our FOMO (fear of missing out) disease and we are on the go from long before first light until long after the sun goes down. This time we had booked a few nights at one of the main camps before embarking on the three-day walking Nyalaland Wilderness Trail. This wilderness trail is one of seven that SANparks offers in the KNP and it was our eighth trail – we have repeated some.
Besides experiencing all that is wonderful about the KNP, mostly on foot and ‘in the middle of nowhere’, it also offers us as a group, some quality time together. A great aspect of the experience of where the trail base camps are located is that there is no electricity and no connection with the outside world at all. Such bliss and well done for KNP on insisting on this!
You are transported to the camp by vehicle – which we regard as a game drive – and there is gas for cooking etc. and there is emergency communication equipment, so you are not completely isolated.
One of our group on this trail is in his late 20s and his business is all about IT and connectivity. In fact his company’s revenue is derived from the monthly subscriptions collected for connecting people to fiber etc. He did struggle for the first few hours but once the realisation set in that there was no connectivity at all he was really able to enjoy what was around him, including the company of some of us older generation, by not having his face buried in a smartphone or similar.
It was therefore interesting on my return to see a release about: ‘Dumb phone’ sales on the rise as smartphone users hope to switch off. Recent research showed that people check their phones every 12 minutes on average – maybe they also suffer from FOMO – or they may be afraid to miss out on anything that may be happening on their social media channels. But some people are stepping back in time by ditching their smartphones for older, more basic models – so-called dumb phones. All they do is give owners the ability to make and receive calls and send and receive SMSs. They say that while global sales of smartphones rose by just 2% last year, feature phone sales went up by 5%.
The escape from constantly being connected to social media and apps will be a relief for many of us. The escape from constantly being bombarded with unsolicited communications that are forced upon us has really become irritating. I can’t deny that smartphones and the Internet are fantastic tools but why do I have to have some video start playing automatically when I visit a page. Like many of us I don’t have the time to watch these videos and will only do so in my time and if it is a subject I am interested in. Nowadays if you visit a site there is this popup chat person wanting to get in your space. A big black cross against these companies.
My trip made me realise how important communication is – but rather by the good old fashioned method.