A few weekends ago I went on a hiking weekend with 27 other lovely people to a beautiful part of Mpumalanga.
We were all warned beforehand that there would be no electricity, that there was solar lighting and gas stoves but nowhere to charge any devices whatsoever.
I charged my phone, my Wi-Fi router, my battery pack and my camera to 100%. I was proud that I had been organised and prepared and was sure it would all last until Sunday but I wasn’t prepared for the signal to disappear as soon as we turned off the main road heading towards the camp. My well exercutioned plans of charging everything fell by the wayside.
As we unpacked and got settled in our dorms, it felt strange to not hear the ‘pings’ of messages and notifications, even stranger to not see anyone picking up their phone to type out replies.
That afternoon we went on a short but challenging 4km hike across rivers and slippery rocks and up and over gradual terrain. It was stunning to say the least and the silence that enveloped us, the quietness of everyone concentrating gave way to a new set of sounds. The bird’s chirped songs as they flew above us, the trees rustled their own notes in the gentle breeze, the waterfalls were thunderous and beat to their own rhythm, powerful and strong and the streams trickled a tune as they meandered on their way.
It was refreshing to say the least and made me stop, rooted to the spot, taking it all in, breathing deep breaths and marveling at what was around me. The sun shone brightly and the air was warm, no boiling hot though, which was welcoming after the showers of earlier that had left droplets all over the leaves and flowers.
The sun was setting as we made our way back to camp, the sky ablaze with the beautiful hues of fire changing to a hue of midnight blue as the rest of the party trickled in from their journeys.
The camp had a toilet/shower block situated away from the dorms which would make going to the bathroom at 3am a decision to ponder. There were good old-fashioned donkey geysers that are warmed by lighting a fire underneath them and keeping it burning until the last person had showered. I couldn’t wait for the water to warm up and opted for a cold shower which was pleasant and refreshing after the three hour hike.
Once we had eaten we gathered around the camp fire and played 30 seconds and card games. Laughter rang out throughout the evening and choruses of ‘You cheated’ and ‘That point is ours’ rang out. It was a delightful evening, filled to the brim with incessant chattering, stories told and discussions had.
We all slept like logs that night in a dorm that closed with only a flap. Nothing was locked, there were no gates or burglar bars or alarms. All our possessions had been left in the dorms while we hiked and were exactly where we had left them. It almost felt like we were in a different country, it felt safe being in the middle of a huge expanse of land.

We had hiked for the better part of 2 days, the second day was a 10km scenic over the mountain hike on Saturday, with stunningly beautiful waterfalls and views galore from the top of each peak.

As I gazed into the dancing flames of the fire on the last night we were there, I knew I would do this again. It was exhilarating being without technology and refreshing to see all the young adults participating in the group activities. The whole trip was good for my soul, a breath of fresh air and a chance for me to reconnect with nature, with great friends and exciting experiences, I enjoyed every minute that this weekend had offered me.

These are a few benefits of making a trip such as this one.

• Reduces stress
• Improves sleep
• Increases levels of Vitamin D
• Strengthens the immune system
• Increases happiness
• Inspires creativity
• Develops a deeper sense of gratitude and spirituality
• Good for your mental health

Try it, you’ll love it!!