Cultural Travel Destinations and Experiences
In our experience, our clients are most excited about the wildlife, accommodation, and landscapes when they plan their trips. But when they return, most share the same highlight – the people. Combining immersive culture and travel experiences is part of our core values, as we want our client to return home with a real sense of the people and the places they visited. Some of the best cultural destinations are where you might least expect them! Here are some perspectives and planned and unplanned opportunities for you to consider.
Cultural intersections most naturally occur through interaction with the lodge or hotel staff, who are most often local to the area. However, taking time for a cultural travel experience, like incorporating a visit to a non-profit, volunteering with a conservation organization, or simply visiting local towns and villages that don’t get a lot of tourist traffic are also good ways to learn about local, life, celebrations, issues and projects in the regions you’re visiting.
For travelers wanting a more in-depth, authentic cultural travel experience, beware! Not every property is able to offer authenticity when combining delicate local culture and travel experiences together. Many operators “create” experiences that can feel artificial and even uncomfortable.
At Extraordinary Journeys, we have invested a lot of time into identifying properties that offer authentic cultural exchange, where travelers are able interact with and learn from locals in a relaxed and genuine way.
What makes the best cultural travel destinations?
Curiosity and leading with an open mind helps us connect genuinely with various cultures and individuals who graciously host us as tourists in their home countries. Understanding the history and the local and regional political and economic issues before we arrive helps us better communicate with locals in a relaxed way.
Some of the best cultural travel destinations are the best because of the commitment of tour operators, local guides and lodges, and travelers themselves to protect and respect the people and places we visit. For example, visiting Peru’s Lake Titicaca, home to the Uros-Aymara community who live on floating islands, opens your eyes to a way of life rarely seen in the Western world. The community, said to live at the intersection of land, sky, and water, is home to skilled reed raftsmen and expert weaver women famous for ancestral techniques used to keep their islands afloat, and they welcome cultural travel visitors to learn about their trade and history.
On safari, mixing culture and travel can be as simple as a day trip to one of the villages near our favorite safari camps, such as Tanzania‘s Chem Chem, Kenya‘s Saruni Samburu, Zambia‘s Tongabezi, and Zimbabwe‘s Bomani Tented Camp. At camps like these, you might have a guide or chef who is from the nearby village, so your “village visit” feels more like a happy reunion, with familiar smiles and a welcoming attitude.
In Australia‘s Queensland, stay at the gorgeous Silky Oaks which has a strong relationship with Daintree’s indigenous people. Along with your indigenous guide, walk the rainforest, learn of traditional uses for plants, visit shelters, hear stories of local legends, and participate in a ‘smoking ceremony’. These cultural travel offerings help the indigenous people protect their traditions by sharing them with international travelers.
Botswana‘s Makgadikgadi is home to San Bushmen, whom you can meet and spend time with during a stay at Jacks or San Camp. From a single afternoon to a multi-night camping trip, you will have the opportunity to learn about their traditional way of life in an authentic manner.
Ecuador‘s Napo Wildlife Center in the Amazon is completely community based, employing locals and reinvesting in the Kichwa Añangu people. Visitors can see the benefits of this partnership, and learn about the indigenous community during their stay.
We strive to support properties which invest in ongoing and mutually beneficial relationships with their neighboring communities, creating lasting positive impact fueled by sustainable tourism.
Our top camps for cultural travel and community exchange
Silky Oaks Lodge
Dera Amer Camp
Napo Wildlife Center Ecolodge
Bomani Tented Camp
Sun City Camp
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
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