PURE AWARDS 2016: TRANSFORMATIONAL TRAVEL

When it came to Transformational Travel, our panel were looking for immersive, perspective-shifting itineraries that challenge and inspire the sophisticated traveller on a deeply personal level, creating emotion through the powerful medium of storytelling and transforming their life for the better.

Discover this year’s shortlist below and remember to vote for your winner by 12 September. The winners will be revealed at the Awards Party in Marrakech on Tuesday 13 September, brought to you by Tourism Australia and hosted by Sofitel Palais Impérial.


BUTTERFIELD & ROBINSON

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OBJECTIVE

Traveller Daphne Pirie was born in Burma in 1933 to a Burmese mother and British father. Her father died just before the Japanese invaded in 1942, when Daphne and her mother fled. With the borders of Burma (now Myanmar) finally open, Butterfield & Robinson’s job was to help Daphne return and reconnect to her birth country some 70 years after fleeing to see what, if any, traces remained of the life she remembers.

WHY WAS THIS TRANSFORMATIONAL?

Daphne’s mother wrote a book in the 1980s describing their family’s life in Burma. Butterfield & Robinson managed to get a copy and used it as the basis for the trip, designing it around the experiences of her young family. Thanks to decades of stagnation because of Burma’s sanctions, so much of what Daphne remembered was still intact. They introduced not just her, but her daughter, to a home not known for 70 years.

RESULTS

Daphne is planning to return with three generations of family because of this trip. The family discovered a new history that was fading and made connections to an exotic land. “I can’t tell you what a fantastic, emotional, intense three weeks this was. Whether it was digging up old government records or arranging tea with some locals, this trip was truly a life-changing journey.”


CONGO CONSERVATION COMPANY

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OBJECTIVE

Ngaga Camp’s aim is about much more than selfies with silverbacks. With 24 groups of gorillas in a 40km² area (two habituated groups), this is as much about learning about yourself as it is learning about these animals. Guests explore the world of these intelligent beings, not only through their own eyes, but also through the eyes of gorilla researchers whose credits include being the first people on the planet to habituate a group of Western Lowland Gorillas.

WHY WAS THIS TRANSFORMATIONAL?

Spending time with a group of gorillas is an emotional affair. From the adrenaline of your first glimpse to absolute terror as the youngsters carelessly defy gravity. Most guests feel that they connect on an emotional level with the animals. With storytelling around Ngaga’s campfire, guests often want to see a specific character, whether it is Roma, the grumpy old female or Turno, a young silverback with years of wandering the forest as a solitary male ahead of him.

RESULTS

Through watching the trials and tribulations of two groups of gorillas, an emotion that many guests share around the dinner table is that life in the forest goes on, come rain or shine. This naturally leads to the realization that we as humans are responsible for the future generations of each gorilla, tree, terrapin and tinkerbird. Ngaga Camp feels privileged, through an immersive introduction with Mother Nature and all her characters, to be a catalyst for conservation.


GREAT PLAINS CONSERVATION

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OBJECTIVE

The drought conditions gripping the whole of southern Africa forced Great Plains Conservation to rethink how their Selinda Canoe Trail would operate, due to less water entering Botswana’s river systems. This resulted in the birth of the new Selinda Adventure Trail! This experience explores some of Botswana’s most amazing areas of the Selinda Reserve – predominantly as a walking safari, camping under the stars.

WHY WAS THIS TRANSFORMATIONAL?

There is something magical about walking through the middle of a 320,000 acre private reserve in Botswana. Knowing you’re in the middle of nowhere, following the course of the ancient Selinda Spillway. Trekking the spoor of wildlife and spending time just quietly observing their movements – this is a gift that every human should experience. Could it be any more real than this in Africa?

RESULTS

The Selinda Adventure Trail aims to return you to an age of exploration where there is no set routine or wildlife to be observed. It is about as close to nature as one can get. It definitely changes your soul as you breathe in the air of the African wilderness. The experience starts with a helicopter transfer from the Selinda airstrip setting the scene that there are no roads, no other camps. No one.


ORIGEN EXTRAORDINARY ESCAPES

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OBJECTIVE

The objective was to introduce the traveller to a unique conservation effort, The Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund, created by Professor Daniel Janzen, and to provide access to a natural wonder in Costa Rica, the Cacao Volcano Crater.

WHY WAS THIS TRANSFORMATIONAL?

Origen created a unique day where through a direct donation to the fund, their client was able to access an extinct volcano crater covered by a cloud forest – the only one in the province of Guanacaste. This destination is not open to public visits and is used by university groups and scientists to study butterflies.

RESULTS

Origen had 4x4s to climb into the crater. The fund had a biologist guide, a visit to the science station in the cloud forest and a visit to the DNA lab where taxonomists catalogue and prepare samples for DNA barcode added to the global database of species. This day was a huge success. The client had a special experience in Costa Rica, the NGO had exposure and funding and Origen received their gratitude.


SAFFIRE FREYCINET

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OBJECTIVE

Help this worthwhile cause in Saffire Freycinet’s community that allows guests to learn and have an authentic connection to a unique wildlife experience. Enable guests to give back as part of their holiday and enhance the “Saffire Experience”. By following “’small deeds and small actions change worlds…. every little thing helps” and to ensure the survival of the Tasmanian devil.

WHY WAS THIS TRANSFORMATIONAL?

  1. Surprising – must exceed guests’ expectations, a once in a lifetime experience
  2. Genuine – authentic connection for guests to the Tasmanian devil and place
  3. Luxury – a high quality and emotionally valued experience

At the centre of the guest experience at Saffire is giving guests truly memorable experiences and also for guests to be able to learn and give back to the community.

RESULTS

In May 2016, 85% of guests engaged with this activity, five star reviews on TripAdvisor, increased guest awareness about the plight of the Tasmania Devil, global media coverage that enhanced the appeal of Saffire. A total of $13,500 has been raised for the Save the Devil Fund. Saffire has a three-year $25,000 annual agreement to Wildcare Saffire Devil Fund to raise awareness, advocacy, education and conservation.


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