Passport to Purpose: Why We Travel

The opportunity to travel is a precious gift, providing a roadmap for spiritual discovery, a compass for compassion, and a bridge to humanity. Through travel, we are better equipped to step back from the enormity and meaning of not only our own lives, but the lives of others as well. This depth of experience brings clarity to the daunting question of what it means to be human, whole, renewed and joyful.

The answer to this question becomes clear when you travel in nature.

Deborah Calmeyer, CEO and Founder of ROAR AFRICA, knows firsthand the physiological and psychological benefits of spending time in nature as a prescription for the soul. Growing up in Zimbabwe, Calmeyer has a deep connection to nature. Her childhood was marked by intimate and personal experiences with wildlife; from swimming with hyenas in the pool to waterskiing on a crocodile-infested lake; to her family’s beloved pet lioness (Carmel) who thought she was a Labrador.

She started ROAR AFRICA 16 years ago with the vision of organizing retreats that harness the power of nature to facilitate deeply spiritual journeys for participants. Over the years, she has gained a deep understanding of how experiences in nature can positively impact the human psyche and inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves.

“What has become apparent is that the western world’s obsession with self-improvement, self-optimization and self-indulgence misses this most sacred and ancient bond – that between all living beings,” says Calmeyer. “I call this ancient connectedness ecological intelligence, and I have seen how it can awaken the discovery of peace, purpose, and a deep sense of self that is vital to every journey we create. Those who travel with us come to understand the wonder and recognition of how nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and spiritual satisfaction, and the creation of this shared philosophy about the power of nature to heal and nurture life-changing.” She adds.

The upcoming “Into the Wild with David Whyte” retreat in Kenya (February 2023) is just one example of the life-changing experiences designed by ROAR AFRICA. Calmeyer will co-host the trip with world-renowned poet, philosopher, author and lecturer David Whyte. Designed to move guests in unexpected ways, the retreat will allow participants to see nature as a portal not only to their aesthetic and intellectual well-being, but also to their cognitive and spiritual satisfaction. The six-day retreat incorporates the elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether – woven together through the poetry of Whyte and practical experts in sound, breath, touch and energy to open the mind and the body.

There is a cathartic shift taking place in nature that can rewire our own inner landscape and ground us to something much bigger than ourselves. Being kept in the calm of vast natural landscapes allows us to really absorb time. The silent language of nature is that of transformation, with the strength to release vitality and rediscover oneself. Humanity is fragile and ripe for this reconnection at this time. We don’t really know all of the unseen effects of the pandemic on humanity yet, but what we do know is that many of us are burnt out and suffering from nature deficit disorder, a term coined by Dr. Richard Louv, author of several books on the subject.


Group photo from the 2018 Roar & Restore Retreat at Segera Game Reserve. We spent a week in the beautiful landscape of northern Kenya in the Laikipia Hills region, going on daily game drives through millions of acres, watching and feeling the natural rhythms, sounds and sightings of large animals in Africa.

Nature deficit disorder is not a medical diagnosis, but as he puts it, it is “a useful term — a metaphor — to describe what many of us believe to be the human costs of alienation from nature: reduced use of the senses, attention difficulties, obesity conditions and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. We spend less time outdoors than human beings in the past. Research like Dr. Louv’s shows that it is detrimental to our health and well-being.

Calmeyer believes that enabling travelers to experience the world’s remote and truly untouched places first-hand is essential for the good of humanity.

“So few people realize that we are nothing without nature. This is where we can breathe, just be, absorb time and get lost,” says Calmeyer. “Our senses are activated; we feel the impact of silence; are moved by the change in visual field; and enjoy the peace. Calm is a resource. When we stop moving, we can be deeply moved, and beautiful places are where we are at our best. This is the gift the desert gives us when we are given the space to be there. A sweet appreciation and gratitude for a way to make sense of the world and how we fit into it, fueling a new awakening occurring within us.

When I reflect on my own travels to Africa, I remember something Dr. Ian McCallum, a highly respected psychiatrist, poet, writer and conservationist from South Africa, said to our group during our retreat.

“Human nature does not exist. There is only nature,” he told us.


#Passport #Purpose #Travel

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