Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Celebration of Cultures - World Indigenous Peoples' Day

A visit with the Batwa people in Uganda delves into 60,000 years of history

August 9th marks the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. We represent companies and destinations with a kaleidoscope of cultural backgrounds and traditions. This week we present a sampling of a few of our favorite cultural experiences in Africa and Latin America. . .

Dolores Ratzán will immerse visitors to Lake Atitlan 
into Mayan culture. Watch a video of Dolores here.
Maya Trails: With 12 indigenous villages dotting its shores, Lake Atitlan is a cultural highlight for any visitor to Guatemala. But travelers who visit Lake Atitlan with Maya Trails' guide Dolores Ratzán experience an even greater immersion into the culture, rituals and traditions of the Mayan people. Dolores has an amazing life story including 13 years exile in the USA where she learned English. She still lives a very traditional Tz'utujil Maya lifestyle and is particularly passionate about Mayan art, traditional weaving and natural dyes. Meet Dolores in this video

Proceeds from a Tengeru visit benefit the local orphanage
Albatros Travel: Few people think past the Maasai on a cultural exploration of Tanzania, but there are over 120 ethnic groups in the region, and a visit with one is a great way to enhance a safari. The country is thick with diversity, from the hunter-gatherer Hadzabe tribe near Lake Eyasi to the animist culture of the Sandawe, and Albatros Travel has unique cultural experiences available to your travelers. A visit to Tengeru near Arusha allows travelers to get a glimpse of local Meru culture, whether for an hour or a full day. It's the perfect activity for an arrival 'rest day' before setting off to the parks.

One of the Amazon's Sani women demonstrating
local cooking techniques
Tropic Ecuador: Sani Lodge in Ecuador's Amazon has the mod cons that travelers need (fans, wifi, great food and comfortable cabins), as well as access to incredible jungle wildlife. In addition, insight into the Sani culture is interwoven into every stay. Guests learn how to shoot a blowgun, how to identify plants in the forest that have medicinal or culinary properties (they have the chance to sample some edible forest delights, too!) and how to cook using local ingredients, all while accompanied by a skilled Sani guide. Tropic Ecuador is offering 30% commission on 4 or 5-night Sani bookings when combined with one of their Galapagos land-based itineraries.


Imvelo guests enjoying the walk to school with local children
Imvelo Safari Lodges: At the core of Imvelo Safari Lodges' ethos is their commitment to local communities near their lodges. They work closely with the communities and in particular with schools, focusing on improving education by providing tools to teachers to help create fun and interesting learning environments. Guests at Bomani and Camelthorn can see Imvelo's philanthropic efforts firsthand on their community-based activities - village, school and homestead visits - now with a fun new element where guests are given the opportunity to accompany groups of children on their walk to school!

Learn more about Uganda's 'Forest Keepers,' the Batwa
people, in this video
Classic Africa Safaris: There's more to Uganda's Bwindi area than gorillas. The Batwa people are the forest's longest-standing residents, going back 60,000 years or more. Classic Africa Safaris offers an activity allowing travelers to experience Batwa culture on a walk through their village and surrounding area. Seeing (and sampling!) beer brewing operations, visiting the local medicine man and talking with residents to learn about their daily lives gives a glimpse into Batwa culture and their efforts to keep it intact after losing their ancestral lands when Bwindi was created in 1991.

Ultimate's Birgit Bekker sharing a laugh with Himba women
Ultimate Safaris: Namibia's Himba are a semi-nomadic pastoral people, many of whom live in very remote areas. Ultimate Safaris offers the only truly authentic Himba visit in Damaraland. While it's a long, rough drive to the village, the scenery is amazing and the journey adds to the experience. There's nothing contrived here - spontaneous things happen, whether it's shared amusement over a hair color (hope you didn't miss this story in our webinar! Replay available here), or a demonstration of otjize application, a visit is enriching and special.

The somber but beautiful site of the Battle of Isandlwana
New Frontiers: Clients can trace the footsteps of brave Zulu warriors on the battlefields of KwaZulu Natal. A day tour from Zulu Lodge immerses travelers in fascinating history - the war was the greatest defeat in British colonial history. Zulu Lodge is one of Isibindi's four lodges in KZN, each in unique destinations including Kosi Bay Nature Reserve, iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park. New Frontiers  recommends combining Zulu with a Kruger Lodge like Rhino Post or Rhino Walking for a culture and wildlife adventure! Isibindi offers long stay discounts of up to 15% for 5-8+ nights.

Welcoming hosts Don and Doña make sure guests
have a memorable visit
TOSEA: Todos Santos Eco Advetures offers an active exploration of the ranchero culture of Baja California Sur with hosts Don Catarino, Doña Luz and their son Rogelio who have one of the prettiest ranches in the Biosphere Reserve. They are great fun, and love sharing the many wonderful activities at their ranch. Famous for their encyclopedic knowledge, they offer workshops on a range of skills including traditional leatherworking, cheese making, traditional tortilla-making and candy creation. Guests can set off to explore on foot to view rock art paintings, waterfalls and more!

Watch a video of Ethiopia's faithful on the streets of Axum
Travel Ethiopia: A trip with Travel Ethiopia to the country's historic north is akin to stepping back in time, and a visit to Axum transports travelers to the dawn of Ethiopian Orthodoxy. The Orthodox faithful believe the "lost" Ark of the Covenant resides in Axum and several times a month, the monks of Saint Mary of Zion bring out a replica for a pre-dawn procession. Faithful pilgrims dressed in white robes carry flickering candles and sing traditional hymns while following the Ark through the city's ancient streets, creating a goose bump-inducing scene.

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