A Look Back At An Extraordinary Year and A Look Forward To A Hopeful New One
From March of 2020 onwards most of us haven’t travelled farther than the neighbourhood grocery store or a friend’s front yard for a socially distanced chat.
Although The Divine Destination Collection had to postpone its much anticipated trip to the Sacred South of France – the Mystery of Mary Magdalene, and put future trip planning on hold, co-founders Deb Niven and Allison Frame knew they had to do something to keep their community of travellers engaged.
“We knew our people were really missing the chance to experience different cultures, ways of life, and amazing wildlife and scenery – so we reached out to our teams around the world to see how we could continue to offer some incredible adventures,” says Allison.
The result was Divine Live and Online, a series of virtual experiences that took participants everywhere from a boat ride on Nimmo Bay in the heart of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, to Sue Kenney’s Life Lessons from walking Spain’s famed El Camino de Santiago paired with a tasting of fabulous wines from the region.
“We were thrilled with the success of Divine Live and Online. People really responded to the opportunity to continue exploring the world even though we couldn’t jump on a plane and travel together as a group,” says Allison. “It was also good that we were quick off the mark. We got to work planning these adventures as soon as the COVID-19 lockdown began.”
New Challenges for a New Type of Travel
Although Allison and Deb are used to taking guests to some of the most exotic and remote places on earth, creating virtual adventures that can truly captivate people while they sit at home in front of their computer screens had its own unique challenges.
“It was a real learning curve,” says Allison. “Not only did we need to select destinations that would work well virtually, but we also had to ensure the technology wouldn’t let us down.”
Bringing a producer on board helped ensure each call went as smoothly as possible. “I think the best advice our producer gave us was to let go of trying to create a super polished, perfect production. The cracks are where the magic happens.”
As a result, last year Divine Live and Online participants had the chance to experience three speaker-driven presentations, and three guide-led action adventures.
An intimate conversation with Zelda la Grange, who worked with Nelson Mandela for more than 19 years, proved to be timely, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement for freedom and justice, as well as inspirational, as she talked about the ability to change not only yourself, but others.
Later on, participants returned to South Africa to visit Boyd Varty, who spoke about spending 40 days and 40 nights by himself in the wilderness of the Londolozi Game Reserve. “People became very emotional when Boyd told his story of encountering a leopard and an elephant and how the experience literally changed the way he saw himself and his place in the world,” says Allison.
Then there was the opportunity to get up close to gorillas in Uganda. “The point of view was incredible – and we didn’t have to hack our way through the forest to see the gorillas,” laughs Allison. “The same holds true for the polar bears in Churchill. We didn’t have to brave the minus 40-degree weather to meet these beautiful animals.
“What makes these adventures even more amazing is the fact that some of our participants were able to experience places they wouldn’t normally be able to because of physical challenges.”
In fact, Deb and Allison were so happy they could take their fellow travellers on such amazing adventures they decided to continue offering Divine Live and Online as a permanent part of The Divine Destination Collection – even after it is safe to travel again.
Another Year Full of Exciting Destinations
For 2021, Divine Live and Online is venturing even farther afield to provide first-hand explorations of exotic locations most people may have not been to, or even thought of travelling to, such as a visit to see migrating butterflies wintering in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán, Mexico, and a boat trip on India’s Ganges River at Varanasi to witness sacred rituals that have brought the faithful to the shores of this holy river for centuries.
“These virtual experiences could be potential trips for when we can travel again,” says Allison. “Divine Live and Online is a great way to check out the desire of our travellers to visit these diverse and incredibly fascinating destinations.”
And just like the physical trips The Divine Destination Collection plans, each virtual trip contains a spiritual element. In fact, an emphasis on the spiritual has become even more important.
“The events of the past year have made us all become more mindful of our actions and the consequences and impact of those actions,” explains Allison. “We are thinking more deeply about where we want to travel to and why, and to find ways to make meaningful connections when we get there.
“We will also continue to be committed to leaving a place better than when we found it by making a donation to a local charity – even on our virtual trips.”
Where To Next?
You can feed your sense of adventure and wonder on Sunday, January 31 when the 2021 edition of Divine Live and Online kicks off with a trip to Pyramid Power in ‘DeNile’ – Inside Egypt.
Besides a visit to the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, we’ll take a journey through the ancient streets of Cairo to where three of the world’s oldest religions meet – the Ben Ezra Synagogue, which dates back from the 9th century AD, The Hanging Church, where Mary, Jesus and Joseph hid from King Herod, and the El Refai Mosque, one of the most fascinating Islamic architectural structures of its time.
In February we will be visiting the migrating Monarch butterflies in Mexico, and in March we will be heading to Varanasi, India for our trip down the Ganges River.
Then we will follow in the footsteps of Darwin with a trip to the Galápagos Islands in April for an up-close look at the unusual plant and animal life that helped Charles Darwin form his theory of evolution, and in May we will travel through the markets of Marrakech and experience the Berber way of life in the High Atlas Mountains.
To learn more about all these upcoming adventures, visit Divine Live and Online. These virtual experiences are available by subscription and you can choose one, three, or all five. Each call is recorded, so don’t worry if you have subscribed and are unavailable for the live call. It will be available to you for private viewing at your leisure.
“We are hopeful we can travel again soon, especially now that vaccines have been rolling out around the world,” says Allison. “But until then, these virtual adventures keep us safe while still helping to connect us to the world, and to each other.”
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