The best yoga breaks in Africa for 2023

The best yoga breaks in Africa for 2023

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We’ve found five African countries — South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Botswana and Tanzania — that offer some of the best all-inclusive yoga breaks in the world

The beauty of Africa lies in its diversity. Geographically, culturally, linguistically, socially, and many more adverbs mean that you can combine yoga with whatever else you’re looking for. We’ve got yoga retreats across Africa with added surfing, safaris, cookery courses, trekking, history, festivals, cycling, swimming and more.

South Africa

South Africa is the most popular country for yoga holidays on the whole continent, so it seems a sensible place to start. 

The Western Cape region is where a lot of yoga retreats are based, and for good reason. The entire 130,000 square kilometers is wonderfully varied, with mountains and lush valleys, rugged coastlines, arid regions and dense forests. Garden Route, the 300-kilometer stretch of coast that contains some of the most beautiful scenery in Africa, is a major draw.

As for the yoga retreats themselves, you’ll find them in all different types of places, from hideaways in the mountains surrounded by wildlife, luxurious yoga spa hotels near Cape Town, Buddhist retreats buried deep in the valleys, and beachfront wellness hotels where you’ll be practicing yoga with penguins!

The range of other activities that South Africa offers is as wide as its range of landscapes: cage diving with sharks, hot air ballooning, week-long cycle tours, surfing, hiking and visits to local vineyards can all be arranged, so whether you’re looking for absolute peace or want to add a sprinkling of spice to your trip, it’s all here.

Kenya

Every year, the Lamu Yoga Festival brings hundreds of yogis from around the world to this little corner of East Africa. To most travelers, Kenya is still only synonymous with safaris and Maasai dances, but the country is also home to a passionate and fast-growing yoga community. In the past few years, yoga studios and retreats like the one in Lamu have begun popping up all over Kenya, from luxury beach resorts to downtown Nairobi.

Lamu isn’t an obvious destination for wellness tourists. It’s around an hour and twenty minutes by plane from Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, but during the week of the festival, the island feels like a sub-Saharan Woodstock as hundreds of yogis take over the beach for sunrise meditation, while others sip coconut juice and watch teachers showing off their skill by getting into impossible acro-yoga poses.

If you don’t come to Kenya for the festival, you can go to the other, more luxurious end of the scale and combine yoga with glamping and exclusivity. By booking an all-inclusive yoga trip you’ll visit Nairobi, get private passes and tours of the Laikipia and Samburu wildlife and conservation areas, luxury camping under the stars in the Maasai Mara National Park, excursions with picnics and delectable evening meals, as well as morning and afternoon yoga sessions.

Morocco

Man sat in yoga pose in Atlas Mountains — Getty ImagesEscape far away from the stresses of everyday life, to the Atlas Mountains — Getty Images

Morocco has been a favorite for travelers looking to “find themselves” since the hippies discovered Marrakech in the 1960s. Modern tourism is, naturally, a lot different, with hotel resorts along the coast and low-cost flights from across Europe, but it’s still a place that holds a mystique for many.

With mild winters and lots of sun, it’s a year-round destination, so it’ll be about what else you want to see. There are monthly retreats overlooking the ancient center of Marrakech itself, coastal retreats near the small fishing village of Taghazout that combine yoga with some of the best surfing opportunities on the continent, and places high up in the Atlas Mountains for clean air and stunning desert views.

We’d also advise treating yourself to some time outside of your yoga experience. There are accessible walking trails in the mountains for hikers of all ages and abilities, wonderful beaches all along the Atlantic coast, and the less-visited capital city, Rabat, is built around a huge, 12th-century fortress.

Botswana

A haven for wildlife and one of the main countries in Africa for both safaris and wide-reaching conservation efforts, Botswana might not be a massive tourist destination, but that means you get more chances to see this wonderful country undisturbed.

The African Wild runs yoga safaris across three national parks in Botswana — Okavango, Savuti, and Chobe — calling them “spiritual safari retreats”. The Okavango Delta is perhaps the most well-known of these, a dramatic collection of islands, lagoons and forested wetlands covering 28,000 square kilometers that’s home to everything from elephants, hippos and lions to 450 bird species and over 60 types of reptile.

If you’re looking for a luxurious base camp, Muchenje Safari Lodge includes sunrise and starlit yoga sessions, massage therapy, one-on-one instruction and more, all provided by local teachers who can tell you about the landscape and the country besides giving you yoga pointers.

You could also choose to combine yoga and aerobic fitness with a week-long walking safari, staying in tents and traditional huts as you make your way across the plains in small groups of up to eight people. As a way of getting up close with the local people and wildlife, there are few better.

Tanzania

 

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If you’d like to split your trip between your yoga retreat and one of Africa’s greatest adventures, Tanzania might be for you. The country is home to Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain on the continent with a peak almost 6,000 meters above sea level, and a genuine challenge.

Let’s begin with the relaxing part. Like in the countries mentioned above, there are a number of locations and activities to choose from, with adventures that range from the white, sandy beaches of Zanzibar, to trips incorporating visits to coffee plantations and those including cultural trips to local villages and wildlife reserves.

Then comes the big one — Mount Kilimanjaro. There are a number of tour guide companies that run trekking operations staffed by experienced guides, and that can supply gear and medical equipment. Each of the seven routes to the summit and back will take between six and 10 days to complete, depending on skill level, speed and fitness, but Kilimanjaro is a ‘walk up’ mountain, meaning there’s no technical climbing involved. All it needs is determination, patience and willingness — all things your yoga course should (hopefully!) bring you.

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