Aug. 10, 2011
-- As the UN’s World Tourism Organization has acknowledged, tourism can play a vital role in promoting cultural understanding, tolerance and respect. Through mindfully operated cultural tours, indigenous groups have something a great deal to offer – and to gain! – from exchanges with tourists. Here we share a roundup of some of our favourite indigenous culture tours found in the whl.travel network of local tour operators.
Visit the Embera Indigenous Community of Panama
Apart from rapidly paced globalisation, there may still exist a place where you can break from modernity and ‘progress’
. In Panama (http://www.thetravelword.com/
panama/), the traditional Embera maintain a careful distance from global influences and a deep respect for their environment. A memorable day with this tribe begins when your hosts paddle you down a river in a traditional dugout canoe to their village to witness traditional dances, feast on typical foods and learn local crafts. A walk through the village and the botanical surroundings further helps you understand the wild diversity of their natural environment. At the end of the day, you leave with tender memories of a remarkable cultural exchange with the indigenous Embera, a uniquely beautiful community.
Explore the Malekula Island People of Vanuatu
As part of a special seven-day island safari in Vanuatu (http://www.thetravelword.com/category/countries/vanuatu/
), whl.travel local partners John and Silvana Nicholls include a visit to Malekula and a taste of life with the local Namba people. The tour begins at the capital city of Port Vila and proceeds to Malekula, where you stay in the locally operated Nawori Seaview Bungalows where you will have the chance to visit nearby tribal villages and even take a canoe trip to ex-cannibal Rano Island. Another highlight is a visit to the Big Nambas tribe, which is distinct from all other tribes in Vanuatu; their red-dyed textiles are a highly prized and much photographed artifact of indigenous Vanuatu island life.
Trekking to the Hilltribes of Northern Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand is an exciting gateway for tours of the hilltribes of northern Thailand (http://www.thetravelword.com/
thailand/), which offer fascinating encounters in sharp juxtaposition with the pace of contemporary urban life. On a trip into the lush scenery of rural northern Thailand, you reach the mountainous region near the border of Myanmar and encounter the small communities of several different tribes, like the Lahu, the Karen, the Hmong (or Meo), the Lisu and the Akha, each with its own distinct costumes, language, traditions and livelihoods. You can arrange a trip to the hilltribes of northern Thailand through Hilltribe Holidays, a tour operator dedicated to exploring areas near Chiang Mai in a respectful, culturally sensitive and sustainable way.
Discover Angel Falls with a Pemon Guide in Canaima Park, Venezuela
The waters of Angels Falls in Canaima National Park in Venezuela (http://www.thetravelword.com/
plunge 2,648 feet (807 metres) from top to bottom, inspiring photographers with its roar and mists set against lush green forests and glistening gray rock faces. For those who wish to take full advantage of these remote and pristine natural surroundings where indigenous culture thrives, there is also a two-day tour led by an aboriginal Pemon guide. During the tour, the Pemon guide explains the indigenous people’s symbiotic relationship to the land. Over dinner, he shares some of the myths and beliefs of the tribe before you retire to sleep in hammocks under a brilliantly starlit sky and within earshot of the roar of the Angel.
Experiencing the ‘Teranga’ of the Bassari People of Senegal
In Senegal (http://www.thetravelword.com/
senegal/), the Wolof word teranga describes the warm welcome that Senegalese people are known to bestow upon their guests. One way of receiving teranga is to head straight into the heart of the country’s local villages, some of which are inhabited by people indigenous to the land. Tours like the 12-day Great Unknown Senegal or the nine-day trip to Park Niokolo Koba and the surrounding area take you inside the daily life of several villages in Bassari country near the border with Guinea. The Bassari are subsistence farmers who speak a local language from the Tenda family and adhere to a belief system that is, at its root, animist.
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The Travel Word is the online mouthpiece of the WHL Group and draws on a vast pool of ideas generated by local tour operators, partners, suppliers and more. Our blog - http://www.thetravelword.com - showcases responsible, sustainable and local travel. We are committed to inspiring mindful and independent travellers headed off the beaten path with local businesses making responsible and sustainable decisions about their destinations. Through anecdotes, articles, profiles, opinion pieces and news, our local voices aim to inform travellers about unique and ethical ways to experience a destination, travel responsibly and help sustain the distinctive qualities of a place.