Disconnect to Reconnect: Take a Tech-Free Holiday

Traipsing through the golden Gobi Desert sand dunes | Loren Winstanley
Traipsing through the golden Gobi Desert sand dunes | Loren Winstanley

We've all seen it. A group of friends out for dinner and half of the dinner party is on their smartphones. Or a couple enjoying a sunset view through the lens of their camera phone, making sure they capture the perfect shot for Instagram.

In today’s technology-driven world, it’s becoming increasingly hard to disconnect and unwind. We are less engaged and missing out on the present. With Wifi so easily accessible, holidays no longer offer the same opportunity to disconnect. We really do have to be disciplined...or just travel further afield where a digital detox is possible.

If you're in need of a tech-free holiday, unplug your devices and recharge your soul in these remote destinations where we can guarantee you the scenery is far more exciting than your screen!

Feature image - The sparse lunar landscape of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Image credit: Tim Cope

1. Mongolia | Gobi Desert

A young Mongolian boy herds Bactrian camels |  <i>Cam Cope</i>

There are few places where you can completely drop off the radar like you can in the Gobi Desert. It is one of the last few true wilderness areas on earth, with immense windswept sand dunes, ancient dinosaur relics and solid ice-filled canyons. The Gobi is a treasure chest full of unique and untouched jewels that enthral even the most avid travellers.

Drop-off the radar in the Gobi Desert

Switch-off for 15-days on the Gobi Traverse.  You will travel through the desert with local herdsmen in true nomadic style on camel back to explore the hidden treasures of the Gobi Desert amongst the vast wilderness.

2. Ethiopia | Simien Mountains

Simien Mountain range, Northern Ethiopia |  <i>Janet Oldham</i>

The Simien Mountains in northern Ethiopia are without a doubt one of Africa’s most stunning mountain ranges. Its huge plateau is filled with gullies and pinnacles, with ridges that drop to the plains below. The scenery is stammeringly unique and beautiful, making it a top trekking destination. Walking the remote trails to the upper flanks of the Simien Mountains is a sight to behold with enormous cliffs and dramatic escarpments. You'll be too memorised by the vast wilderness scenery to reach for your phone!

Disconnect in the mystical Simien Mountains

Trekking through the mystical world of primeval forests and along foggy peaks that are filled with exotic plants and animals on the 11-day Ethiopia Explorer is a wonderful way to switch-off. Consequently, you’ll become totally engaged in the enchanting world surrounding you. Spot unique wildlife, such as the endangered Walia ibex and the rare gelada monkeys which live only in Ethiopia’s high mountain meadows.

3. Ecuador | Galapagos Islands

Sea lions resting, Galapagos Islands |  <i>Ian Cooper</i>

Few places in the world can rival the Galapagos as a prime wildlife destination. Well over 804 kms west of continental Ecuador, the isolated islands represent a spectacular and striking world of volcanic landscapes and fearless animals. It is no wonder Charles Darwin developed his ‘Theory of Evolution’ on this wildlife sanctuary. More than 875 species of plants and 289 types of fish can be found around this Pacific Ocean archipelago of untamed beauty.

Escape to the Galapagos Islands

Discover the landscapes and land-forms that inspired Darwin’s ‘Origin of Special’ accompanied by a specialist naturalist guide on the 8-day Galapagos Islands cruise. You’ll feel a million miles away from the daily grind as you snorkel with sea lions, search for giant tortoises and see iguanas basking in the sun!

4. Russia Far East | Kamchatka Peninsula

Kamchatka is a land characterized by vast wilderness, turquoise volcanic lakes and rare flowering plants of indescribably beauty |  <i>Sue Fear</i>

The barely touched Kamchatka Peninsula is a sub-arctic 1250 km stretch of land in Russia Far East. It's a wilderness of stunning bays, sculptural stone birch forests, boiling geysers and mineral hot springs, snow-capped fuming volcanoes and blue clear crater lakes. However, despite the fact it's covered with snow and ice for the majority of the year, the region is still abundant with wildlife.

Lose yourself in the unexplored Russia Far East

The 21-day Kamchatka Expedition is a new remote trek, designed for those who have been everywhere and would like to try a path less travelled. You'll discover inimitable landscapes of outstanding beauty, including the spectacular chain of craters of the Mutnovsky and Gorely volcanoes and unique crater lakes as blue and clear as the sky.

5. Antarctica | Ross Sea 

Video thumbnail image: Peter Walton

The Ross Sea is one of the most remote regions in the world. It is only accessible for two months each year when the ice thaws. Steeped in history, many of the most famous explorers traversed the Ross Sea.  They included Borchgrevink, Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen, Richard Byrd, Sir Edmund Hillary and others. Relics of their exploration remain. The most stirring of all is Robert Scott's and Ernest Shackleton’s wooden huts. Additionally, the Ross Sea is also the breeding ground for millions of Adelie and Emperor penguins.

Unplug on a voyage into the heart of Antarctica

The 30-day Ross Sea Explorer is the ultimate polar voyage to the very heart of Antarctica. It pulls together the history of Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton, linking all of the great Peninsula Explorers. You will visit five historic huts which capture the history of these explorers and their achievements. The expedition also includes Subantarctic Auckland, Campbell and Macquarie Islands and aims to visit Cape Adare at the tip of the Ross Sea, home to the largest Adelie penguin rookery in Antarctica.

6. Peru | Cordillera Huayhuash 

Yerupaja Peak in the Huayhuash range |  <i>Matej Mejovsek</i>

The Cordillera Huayhuash is a spectacular mountain range in the Andes of Peru that is 30 km's from north to south and includes seven peaks of 6000 metres. The Huayhuash Circuit trek is the best way to fully appreciate the snow-capped summits, including Yerupaja, the second-highest mountain in Peru.

Explore the dramatic peaks of Cordillera Huayhuash

Huayhuash Circuit is an exhilarating trek around the dramatic peaks and over the high passes of the Cordillera Huayhuash - all in the vicinity of 5000 metres. Each day provides an ever-changing backdrop of soaring peaks including the distinctive needle-like peak of Jirishanca and the impressive summit of Yerupaja at 6640 metres.

7. Nepal | The Kingdom of Mustang

Stopping to chat with the local people in Nepal |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

Situated on the border of Nepal and Tibet, north of the Annapurna range, the Upper Mustang is one of the finest Himalayan destinations for both its rugged mountain landscapes and rich cultural legacy. The Upper Mustang is one of the most preserved regions of the world, as it was a restricted area until 1992. This remote part of the world makes for an excellent trekking destination.

Reconnect in one of the Himalaya’s hidden gems

Spend 16 days exploring the long forbidden ‘Tibetan’ Kingdom of Mustang along trails to villages that once served a thriving trade between Nepal and Tibet. Walk up several passes around 4200 meters and soak up the striking terrain of a semi-arid desert with deep ravines and rock shelves, flanked by snowy peaks.

8. Papua New Guinea | Kokoda Track

Crossing a makeshift bridge along the Kokoda Track |  <i>Ken Harris</i>

The Kokoda Trail has become a pilgrimage for many Australians and offers an incredible mental and physical challenge. You’ll journey through dense jungle, following the footsteps of our ANZAC soldiers. Furthermore, the trail is an amazing challenge for thrill-seekers, set in the midst of beautiful jungles with no phone reception or WiFi.

Switch-off  on the challenging Kokoda Track

Escorted by an expert guide on the 11-day Kokoda Track, traverse the deep wilderness of Papua New Guinea along the historic Kokoda Track. Embrace the local history and culture, staying in secluded jungle camps to share experiences with villagers.

9. Canada | Chilkoot Pass

Yukon Train on the White Pass |  <i>Nathalie Gauthier</i>

The Chilkoot Trail is a 53 km trail that stretches from Dyea in Alaska in the United States to Bennett in British Columbia, Canada. In 1898, during the Klondike Goldrush, thousands of men and women made the journey over the Chilkoot Pass and down the Yukon River to the Klondike Goldfields. Today, it’s more about the journey rather than the destination; the reward being the spectacular scenery along the way.

Take a break from technology on the Chilkoot Trail

Take a break from technology for 7-days on the Chilkoot Trail. You’ll retrace the stampeders’ route one-way over the Chilkoot Pass, carrying only a day pack so you can fully enjoy the stunning scenery and interesting historical sites.

10. Tajikistan | The Pamirs Fann Mountains

The alpine lakes of the Fann Mountains are aqua blue |  <i>Chris Buykx</i>

The little-visited Fann Mountains are part of the Pamirs that run along the southern edges of the Central Asian republics. The rugged and remote wilderness of jagged ridges, alpine lakes and snow-capped peaks stretch and fold towards the Hindu Kush and the Karakorum. The stunning mountain range has numerous snow-capped peaks above 5000 meters and makes for a very beautiful trekking destination.

Unplug in the rugged Fann Mountains

On the 14-day Pamirs Fann Mountains Trek, we combine a trek in the impressive Pamirs Fann Mountains with the fabled Silk Road cities of Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara. In the company of our guides and mule handlers, we pass through deep valleys with crystal clear lakes. We also walk through flowering alpine meadows where we may see the summer camps of the Tajiki shepherds.


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