Why Choose a ‘Primitive Trail’ in 2021 and Beyond?

10 February 2021

Words of wisdom from the team at Africa Trails Co – leading the charge in regenerative travel.

If nothing else, COVID-19 has been our inescapable reality check. It almost feels as if we’ve been sent to our room to think about our self-destructive actions. One would hope that this imposed moment of reflection has helped us to realise that our behaviour is failing people and the planet. Perhaps it is just what we need to remind us that the fate of humanity and Nature is inextricably linked.

If we choose to rediscover our place in the web of life and take responsibility for our actions, our behaviour in 2021 (and beyond) will have to be fundamentally different. This includes the way we choose to travel.

If there is one thing that we are certain of at Africa Trails Co. it is that immersive experiences in wild places changes the way that people think and behave. We are proud to be driving a travel option with a positive impact. Primitive Trails can improve the ecological integrity of a landscape while increasing participant’s well-being and support for Wilderness conservation. It’s not just tourism, its regenerative travel.

What is a ‘Primitive Trail’?

A Primitive Trail is an alternative way with which to explore and conserve. It’s a completely immersive experience during which participants carry everything they require for the duration of the multi-day Trail (walking safari) in a backpack. With no fixed camps, no tents, no technology and no extras, each night is spent under the stars with participants sharing the responsibility of watch duty. Primitive Trails permit participation in Nature as opposed to the traditional spectatorship. They expose you to the fine detail, the grandeur of the landscape and the thrill of moving among large, iconic mammals.

What do you mean by ‘Regenerative’ Travel?

Nearly 78% of the land on Earth has already been modified by the direct effects of human activity. Although wild areas are of vital importance globally for maintaining biodiversity and large scale ecosystem services, they are under critical threat. These ‘untrammeled’ areas offer resilience against climate change and pandemics. Protecting the undeveloped spaces that remain will be a good start, but it will not be enough. We need more space for ‘wildness’ and wildlife to return across the world in order for natural processes to provide us with clean air and water, health and well-being. What is required in the travel industry is a rewilding of sorts. We use the term ‘regenerative’ as it relates to the positive improvement of a landscape or system, as well as the well-being of human beings. Primitive Trails provide a circular and regenerative travel model, with benefits on an ecological, social and psychological level.

rwanda akagera africa trails co walking safaris grassland

What are the benefits of ‘Primitive Trails’?

Ecological Benefits

Primitive Trails do not require any infrastructure such as roads and accommodation that would transform natural, in-tact landscapes. In-fact, they could provide support to ‘rewild’ areas by removing man-made infrastructure. The product therefore restricts the ongoing use of fossil fuels and replaces a physical ‘footprint’ with greater ecosystem service efficiency. It’s an economic justification for wild “unutilized” landscapes that provides Nature with the time and space it requires to apply natural services such as carbon sequestration. Primitive Trails is one of the least consumptive travel options with which to generate funds that can be ploughed back into the conservation at landscape level. This enables sustainable access to one of the most endangered phenomenon of our time – the experience of Wilderness.

Social Benefits

Evolutionary psychologists suggest that many of our present-day social characteristics were shaped during our 250 000 year history. This is when our biological ‘software’ was programmed. The past 200 years of urban dwelling is merely a fraction of our evolutionary history. Our minds are adapted for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Hunter-gatherers lived in small, tightly knit bands with a strong sense of community, resulting in loneliness and privacy being very rare. Civilization is getting in the way of our human being. More than a third of the people on earth suffer from a feeling of loneliness. This is the loneliest humans have ever been. Primitive Trails recreate the social conditions to which we are aligned. In a small group we feel purpose, we feel that we are part of a tribe, that we belong. In the wild we listen to and respect each other more, which builds community and restores faith in our humanity. We are defined by our relationships. Primitive Trails are a great way for family and friends to reconnect.

Psychological Benefits

Throughout our evolutionary history, we have formed an integral part of the natural ecosystem. Over the past 12 000 years however, since the Agricultural Revolution, we have drifted away from Nature, collectively and individually. This progressive loss of direct human-Nature interaction in wild places has become known as the ‘Extinction of Experience’. The removal of humans from their natural habitat negatively impacts our well-being. There is conclusive evidence to show that knowing and experiencing Nature makes us generally happier, healthier people. Engaging in activities such as Primitive Trails will not only build resilience and manage stress, but help us shape decisions that positively benefit people and the ecosystem on which we depend. It jogs our genetic memory, aligns with our human being, meets our subconscious psychological needs and rewards us with a flood of feel-good neurochemicals.

When the time comes, we must travel like humans, not like tourists. We must engage in responsible, determined and purpose-driven travel. We must travel as soon as possible for as long as possible. We must travel for small businesses, the people they support and the environments they protect. We must travel for our own sanity.

The experience of walking through a wild African landscape in a small band carrying only essential belongings on your back is to become a hunter-gatherer of the 21st century. A Hunter of Meaning and a Gatherer of Values.

Click here to for more information on Africa Trails Co’s primitive trail in Rwanda.

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