What is a “Healing Safari”?
Talk Wellness spoke with Tanya Pergola – the creator of the Healing Safari – to find out more about what happens on a healing safari in Africa. You may just want to book your next travel destination now now…
TW: How did you come up with the idea for the Healing Safari?
TP: Well, it was something that was in the back of my mind since my own first adventure in Africa. I had just finished the monumental task of completing a PhD degree back in 1999 at the University of Washington in Seattle. My father, who I was very close to, had passed away just a year and a half prior to my graduation and I had not properly grieved his passing. Instead, I somehow distracted myself from the true work of healing from that loss with a combination of over-work, over-drinking and not getting enough sleep.
To celebrate completing my doctorate, I booked a trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and to go on safari, for the first time in my life. I loved nature, wildlife, and native cultures – at least what I had learned about them in school. Nothing though prepared me for the deep, cathartic and liberating experience I had when I was in Africa. It was truly beautiful. And I couldn’t wait to share it with others.
TW: That was a number of years ago…why did it take so long to launch the Healing Safaris?
TP: I take my time when I am creating big things. Maybe too much time sometimes (laughs). It took me years to get my book out Time is Cows: Timeless Wisdom of the Maasai. I really try and turn over all stones, especially when working with people and creating lasting relationships.
I ended up living in Tanzania for over 7 years, establishing a humanitarian organization there – Terrawatu – that still operates to this day. My business partner is from Tanzania and helped me to gain deep respect in communities there. This was important to me. I believe in lasting partnerships, where both sides benefit, even when they are at first, on the surface, so unequal. The safaris we first started leading were actually educational ones. For university students from the States and Europe.
These are traditional wildlife safaris with the addition of lectures and discussions on conservation, socio-economic realities, and cross-cultural understanding. We have been leading these for over a decade. My business partner, Ole Sululu, has been a safari guide for almost 40 years. The Healing Safari evolved from the educational safaris and our shared passion for traditional medicine and healing.
TW: Tell us a little more about that…traditional medicine and healing…
TP: All indigenous people had or still have an aspect of their culture that focuses on health and wellbeing – of both individuals and their tribe or community. You can call it their “traditional medicine system”. A lot of people are aware of the system of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that includes acupuncture and herbal medicines. And the Indian system of Ayurveda, which includes the now very popular techniques of yoga and meditation.
If you look at the programmes and treatments at spas, hotels and wellness centres around the world today, you will find these traditional techniques on their menu, often modernized or amplified for global, more urban-dwellers. African systems of health and wellbeing are not as well known. This is what I set out to discover when I first started working in Tanzania. Being trained as a Sociologist and Social Psychologist myself, I quickly learned that there was something about the viewpoint of the Maasai people I worked with that afforded them the peace, strength and clarity of thought and emotion that I realized was lacking in a lot of people these days.
And it wasn’t just the habitat that was to blame…there was something deeper…I would say now, a spiritual element. All the tribes in Africa I have spent time with have a view of the world that is very strong on relationship, community, and very present, zen-like. We can learn a lot from this way of life, I believe.
TW: So do we learn about all this on a Healing Safari?
TP: Yes! The itinerary for the Healing Safari has been created so you can be immersed in the healing energies of the land, the stunning wildlife of Africa, the trees, the people, the cultures. I integrate the ancient wisdom traditions of India – the yoga and meditation – and teach classes throughout the safari, overlooking amazing views of course, like Mt. Kilimanjaro and sunrise on the Serengeti.
We teach about traditional medicinal herbs and you can sample some yourself. When you book your safari, you share any information you feel like about your own current state of mind and emotion and if there is anything we can do to encourage your own healing while on safari. We have organized a grieving ceremony for a client in a Maasai community to help her recover from the loss of her mother. We have helped other clients heal relationships with their children, their spouse, and even help people sleep better. It is difficult to put words to what actually happens when you are in the African bush. This is why I call the Tanzanian trip “A Heart Healing Safari in Soul-Soothing Tanzania”, because it really is that.
TW: Do we get to see the animals too?
TP: Of course! We go on many game drives and have the chance to witness the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti. We talk a lot about the healing energies of lions, elephants and how awesome it is to wake up to the sounds of birdsongs. The places we stay on the safari are magical. I selected them myself after years of exploring all the options. They are places that nurture healing and wellbeing. From the energy of the location to the food we eat. You cannot help but go home completely rejuvenated and transformed.
TW: This sounds amazing. And I heard you are expanding into South Africa as well in 2018?
TP: Yes! The next Heart Healing Safari in Soul-Soothing Tanzania is in December of this year, 2017. And in May of 2018, we are launching our first Healing Safari in South Africa. I am very excited as I used to live there as well. Our itinerary is fabulous.
TW: Can anybody join a Healing Safari? How do they find out more?
TP: I recommend looking through the trip pages for the Healing Safaris to get a better idea of schedule, what is included and the cost. Then it is best to contact us and find out if the experience is perfect for you or not, and whether it is something you want to do with a friend or family member. I’m always available to answer questions so feel free to connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TW: Thank you so much for sharing all this. We can’t wait to join you on one of these Healing Safaris!
TP: Karibu sana! You are warmly welcome.
Tanya Pergola, PhD, RYT, C-IAYT is a Social Psychologist and Deepak Chopra Certified Vedic Master Educator. Based in Miami, Florida, Dr. Tanya is an award-winning author and internationally acclaimed yoga and meditation teacher. Dr. Tanya shares her wisdom and expertise at retreats and events around the world and maintains a well-established private practice guiding individuals on all levels of their health and well-being.