There’s an off-grid luxury, and then there’s navigating out of your comfort zone and into primitive surroundings, which is both exhilarating and possibly rough. We discovered wild hikes, excursions, and group outings that demand a bit more muscle, sweat, and spontaneity when researching The World’s 10 Best Off-the-Grid Hotels for Total Digital Detox for our Fathom Travel Awards. Because there will be manual work, composting toilets, and the occasional cold shower, these are not the kinds of activities you want to bring your high-maintenance friend on. The memories, scenery, and cultural interactions, on the other hand, are awe-inspiring and memorable.
Join a Russian Reindeer Expedition
Russia and Siberia are the locations.
What’s to love: Intrepid Expeditions, a venerable worldwide adventure firm, provides a unique 15-day journey that is not for the faint of heart or mind. The four- to twelve-person small group trip begins in St. Petersburg with a Wi-Fi-free 47-hour train ride (25 on the Trans-Polar Railway), bus adventure, and Russian six-wheeled amphibious all-terrain vehicle joyride to the Yamal Peninsula, where travelers are welcomed into a nomadic reindeer herder tribe known as the Nenets. On the snowy tundra, there’s reindeer sledding, fishing, and snowmobile. Not to mention the friendship with the nomads and the life-saving skills learned, such as how to remain warm in -50°F temperatures.
It’s worth noting that there are no flushing bathrooms, no mobile service, and no Wi-Fi. To say I was roughing it would be an understatement.
Slumber in a Field of Lightning
New Mexico is the location.
What’s to love: In an off-the-grid artwork in a secret desert site in Catron County, New Mexico, at 7,200 feet above sea level, life imitates art. A party of up to six people gets picked up at a predetermined location and taken to a hidden cabin to participate in an overnight Land Art adventure led by American artist Walter De Maria. The Lighting Field is a one-mile-by-one-kilometer grid of 400 polished stainless steel poles stretching across the high desert.
Visitors are urged to roam about the field, particularly around dusk and dawn, whether or not there is a lightning storm, to experience the mind-altering impact of the sun’s rays on the metal poles and the burned dirt from lightning strikes. Simple food and accommodation, as well as books and an emergency phone, are available back at the cabin. Other gadgets are not permitted.
It’s worth noting that since the project’s inception in 1977, visiting slots have swiftly filled up. Book ahead of time and wear sturdy footwear.
Go Back to Ground Zero at the Ranch, Malibu
Malibu, California is where you’ll find this event.
What’s to love: Get back to the fundamentals in the quest for a healthy mind, body, and spirit. The old boys’ summer camp has been renovated into eighteen well-appointed private cabins with common rooms, indoor and outdoor eating areas, two gym facilities, and a year-round organic garden on the expansive 1920s hacienda-style estate, which lies on 100-plus acres. There is no mobile service available, and Wi-Fi is only available in the rooms. Make this a personal excavation boot camp that isn’t connected to the internet. In addition, either on a mammoth hike or doing morning chaturanga, you’ll need to pay attention to your water demands. Days will be packed with workouts, wellness assistance, and a monastic meal plan, depending on whatever program you choose.
The trip begins 30 days previous to your visit with a series of prescribed workouts, food restrictions, and living assignments to prepare you for the massive detoxifying on site, whether you visit the ranch for four, seven, or 10 days.
Get Cozy in a Private Island Yurt
Nova Scotia, Canada is the location of this event.
What’s there to like: A little private island just off the shore of Blue Rocks fishing hamlet, near Lunenburg on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, is ready to welcome explorers seeking to get out on the ocean. Pleasant Paddling’s Private Island Yurt for Two trip includes guided kayaking to a seal colony and secret inlets great for snorkeling, a bicycle trek, and a picnic lunch, as well as an overnight stay on a private island in a hand-crafted yurt with a skylight for stargazing. The tour also includes locally-sourced mussels and charcuterie meals.
Good to know: Because you’ll be completely immersed in nature, the experience will be significantly influenced by the elements. Fortunately, if the weather does not cooperate, you will receive a full refund.
Spend the Night in a Skybed in the Okavango Delta
Where: Botswana’s Khwai Private Reserve
What’s to love: Through the safari collection Natural Selection, two lodges in the center of the African bush may be united for a multi-night sleeping trip. Sky beds are three-story rustic platforms in the treetops with views of a watering hole where giraffes, wildebeest, and elephants congregate. Travelers can relocate to sister camp Sable Alley after a night or two under the stars, a more comfortable (but less digitally connected) lagoon side tented lodging with an Afro-chic interior lounging area, double bed, and writing desk for documenting animal sightings and sensations of wonder.
Paddle to Your Heart’s Content in a Frozen Ocean Canoe Trek
Where: Canada’s Kejimkujik National Park
What’s not to like: A hands-on camping experience. Travelers may explore the wildness of eastern Canada’s marine region over three days in canoes and at several campsites. Each morning, paddlers are provided a tent, camping supplies, easy-to-make meals, and freshly ground coffee. Days are spent traveling between scenic lakes and rivers that link excellent campsites, providing a fun experience for adventurous families and groups of friends.
It’s worth noting that trips only depart on Mondays and Fridays. Only individuals who are willing and capable of engaging in physical activities for several hours are eligible to participate.
Sleep on the Greenland Ice Sheet
Greenland is the location.
What’s to love: Natural Habitat Adventure’s premium safari-style camp at the ice sheet’s edge is one of the world’s most remote locations. Up to 12 passengers can go to isolated locations that only a few people have ever seen. The region, which was previously only accessible by kayak, is now Greenland’s sole luxury basecamp. Feel the fresh wind of the big icebergs and keep your eyes out for whales. In their fishing settlements, rub shoulders with the indigenous Inuits. Arctic naturalists who also serve as guides give evening presentations. Because there is no Wi-Fi or mobile connection, you’ll have to wait until you come home to share your activities and photos.
Traveling across the rapidly changing Arctic and other environments endangered by climate change necessitates a high level of environmental sustainability. Natural Habitat, the world’s first carbon-neutral travel firm, will offset all of the trip’s emissions by 100 percent.
Take a Kimberly Coast Cruise with the Pioneers
Where: The Kimberley, Papua New Guinea
What’s not to like: Coral Expedition’s fleet of three tough ships, all of which are Australian-flagged, was purpose-built for exploration. From April to September, the Kimberley coastal cruise needs a minimum of ten nights and takes tourists on a thorough tour of the old, difficult-to-access region. Waterfalls, historic art sites, and expert interpretations of scenery, ecology, animals, and history are all on the itinerary. With a land size of over 400,000 square kilometers and a population of barely 30,000 people, it is one of the world’s largest undeveloped wilderness places.
It’s important to note that this is a considerably smaller ship than a typical cruise ship, which adds to the allure. There are three different types of ships, each with a somewhat different design and size. The biggest can hold 120 people, while the smallest can only hold 44.
Walk on the Wild Side in Zambia
Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is located in the country’s south-central region.
What’s there to like about it: Robin Pope has been taking small parties into the African bush for decades and was an early pioneer of the guided walking safari. Guests walk six kilometers each day along the Mupamadzi River on this seven-day journey, with guides putting up a full-service, temporary tent after each day. With native guides who are adept at navigating on foot, tourists hunt for elephants, leopards, buffalo, uncommon birds, and giraffes.
Good to know: Meals (and wine) are served on tables with tablecloths that may be moved around. Under lamps and the moonlight, full bedding is put up in walk-in tents. Despite being cut off from all electronics and having to shower indoors, the experience is pleasant. The shower is in a tree, and the toilet is a bush loo with a wooden throne for those who are curious.
Indulge in Your Blue Period in Verana
Where: Verana, Yelapa, Mexico
What’s to love: Perhaps you only need a temporary home. Blue Cottage, a private waterfront house on the grounds of the remote boutique hotel Verana, is the perfect place to unwind after a boat trip and a hike. Six people can sleep in three bedrooms, so you won’t be lonely if you don’t have your laptop with you. A private pool looks out over the lake, terraces allow for al fresco hammock swinging, and the interiors are decorated in a variety of soothing blues. Fruit, milk, and beverages may be replenished in your mini-fridge upon request.
There is no Wi-Fi, a weak phone service, and no alarm clocks. You’ll have to trek up the mountain to find a working phone.