Solitude and Wellbeing: travelling in the desert

04.08.23 04:16 PM Comment(s)
“The Karoo has a breath-taking beauty. A peculiar characteristic of this great inland plateau is that the scenery possesses a primeval solitude and silence…the primitive simplicity of a country just come from the hands of the Creator.” ~ James Byrne

There is no doubt that the Karoo is a particularly unique desert. A meld of flat valleys and sharply delineated hills, it exudes a dry durability untouched by time, sculpted by the wind; an obdurate endurance that locks history into place, leaving a clear view into the past wherever you pause to survey this ancient landscape.

And it is exactly this combination of time to pause and the silence of eons of creation that stills the mind, and brings the soul into balance.

How solitude helps us heal

There is so much evidence, experience and research that has served to convince us that a walk in the desert where there is ultimate silence and nothing much else, is very, very good for us.
  • The desert helps to calm emotion and improve our mental functions, especially attention, focus, and memory.
  • The dusty quiet of the desert benefits people suffering from depression; people suffering from mild to major depressive disorders have shown significant mood change when exposed to the dry desert stillness. Not only that, but they also felt more motivated and energised, keen to recover and get back to normalcy.
  • Just being outdoors reduces stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol – but the desert has a curious ability to erase the stresses of modern life entirely.
  • A study at the University of Kansas found that spending more time outdoors in open, empty and quite spaces and less time with our electronic devices (ha, ha) can increase our problem-solving skills and improve creative abilities. Who knew?
  • Breathing in the vast silence of the desert undoubtedly gives us greater sensory awareness. In the desert, particularly the Karoo, we are made more mindful of our sense of being and spiritual energy simply because we absorb the quiet and stillness.

The benefits of the desert as a place of solitude and contemplation

The Karoo is one of the most fascinating places on earth. With a dry climate, vast scrubland and curious trees, and dusty obstinance built by time immemorial, this is a desert that is a veritable panacea for people who suffer from health problems.
  • The scarcity of water and the almost total absence of moisture make the desert immune to mould or bacteria that bring respiratory problems, and therefore it’s a perfect place for those suffering from allergies or asthma. Desert plants lose their leaves at different times, reducing the risk of exposure to allergies.
  • In addition, arthritis sufferers feel huge benefit because the lack of humidity is very helpful to mobility – heat can assist with loosening the muscles and joints, improving movement and decreasing pain – and an abundance of sunlight brings Vitamin D, which contributes to bone and tooth health, strengthens the body’s immune system, improves mood and helps fight depression.
  • Because the population density is low, there is less traffic and more space, and life tends to proceed at a different, slower pace, and therefore stress levels are much reduced. Not to mention that reduced pollution levels assist those suffering from breathing problems. In the relaxed quiet of the desert, blood pressure is also positively affected.
  • Bring your trials and your troubles to the Karoo, and relax in the solitude, the silence and the sun. Enjoy the extraordinary health and psychological benefits that are guaranteed to lift the spirits and restore the soul.

Heuningland: African & Karoo tours to stir the heart and lift the soul

We are proudly South African and have a fervent love of the Great Karoo, its people and its unique vegetation and animals. We are passionate conservationists of nature and would like to share our knowledge acquired through years of travel and touring experience. We are therefore able to offer custom-designed and distinctively different tour options:
  • Hiking/camping trails or guided self-driving tours through the ancient landscape of the Karoo.
  • Tailor-made safaris to any destination in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and Botswana.