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Encountering Ancient Cultures on Trips

Interacting with locals is essential to truly experiencing any destination.  And most people realize that, I think.  Especially those within the adventure travel sphere.

However, beyond simply interacting, it is also just as important to respect local traditions and knowledge. That, too, may seem common sense. Yet, it can be rather surprising how many people still take this point for granted when travelling. But when we truly keep our minds and eyes open, we see evidence of thriving ancient traditions all around us. So many cultures in this world have extraordinarily beautifully ancient cultures and traditions. Generally, the less exposure to European colonization a culture has — such as, say, Nepal or Laos — the more prevalent these ancient customs.

For many of us, experiencing these vibrant cultures is what drives us to travel, to see the world… And the deeper off the beaten track we go, the more authentic our experiences. 

So, how can we make the most of these cultural interactions?

In many of these cultures, we will also have the privilege of meeting wise elders. These elders have varying names from one culture to another. In Cambodia or Vietnam, we may encounter them as Monks. In India, we may encounter them as Hindu Priests. Or, in Ecuador or Peru, we may encounter them as Shaman. No matter what their official names, these wise men or women are the purveyors of ancient traditions and wisdom and, generally, in their day to day lives, they embody a set of principles and practices based on this wisdom. As a result, they are very highly respected within their communities. So, it is important that we also remember to bestow the same level of respect upon them as would locals.

Nepal_blogThe more respect we show to these elders, the greater a connection we can develop with them as well. I’ve seen the most serious looking elders absolutely light up and smile ear to ear upon my simply expressing appreciation for their culture. After all, we must remember that for these elders, little is more important to them than having their ancient wisdom and traditions respected, by anyone and everyone, as part of their community’s historic and cultural legacy. So, showing our appreciation of the value of such traditions, even as a foreigner, really deepens our connection with them.

Finally, when we have the good fortune of witnessing a sacred traditional ceremony, or when we are lucky to be invited to participate in one, it is best to jump in and embrace it — all while realizing that in these places, it is hardly a “tourist spectacle”

When to Book Travel In Advance

Peru-Machu-PicchuEveryone love a deal, especially when it comes to travel. One of the most commonly used methods of getting discounts is waiting for last minute deals. Unfortunately, waiting too long is often a risky move, especially in the following situations.

If your vacation dates are set in stone, waiting for last minute deals may not result in anything during your window of availability.

In some situations, only a limited number of travellers are permitted to enter certain sites or partake in special experiences. The Inca Trail only allows 500 people to start the hike per day, with around 300 of those permits going to guides and porters.

By waiting for last minute deals in destinations that require a plane ride and not having already booked your ticket, you may find flights sold out, or at least, more expensive the closer to departure you get.

When planning to do a lot of activities on a trip, especially ones that may prove to be challenging, booking last minute doesn’t allow proper training, and may result in a poorer experience than if you had trained before the trip.

For anyone still looking to get a deal on travel, keeping an eye out for early bird discounts may prove to be the wiser choice.

What is Experiential Travel

Morocco-ScarvesIt seems that these days you can’t read an article about travel trends without coming across the terms authentic and local experiential or immersion travel. Everything about travel right now is about experiences, which is baffling. What’s baffling is that it comes as news that travel is about experiences.

The idea behind experiential travel is that travellers are not just tourists, but instead immerse themselves into the culture, history and lives of the people in any particular destination. They can do this by staying in locally owned and operated accommodations, eating at restaurants frequented by the locals, having local guides, attending a regional festival and more.

Because there is so much attention on local immersion travel, just about every company around is trying to figure out how they can take a slice out of the pie. This is great news for travellers, as long as the company isn’t all talk and no action. Having provided local travel experiences since we started 20 years ago, we have been told time and again how much our guests love real, non-fabricated experiences over made-for-tourist ones.

Vietnam-Homestay-Meal2The question now becomes what is authentic and real? For example, do luxury accommodations or gourmet meals mean something is not genuine? Do you have to rough it or eat simple meals for an experience to be authentic? So far, this seems to be a matter of personal opinion, which makes it very important to confirm that any company you are considering has the same definition of authentic as you do.

Sound off below with what you believe is authentic, experiential travel.

A Revealing Photo Tour of Panama

There has been a lot of attention on Panama this year with the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal. While most travellers to Panama don’t venture very far from Panama City and the Canal, there is so much more to the country than the engineering marvel.

The following is a brief photo tour of Panama capturing some of the different elements that you can find around the country.

Panama Canal

Panama-Canal

Wildlife

Panama-Animals-Monkey

Food

Panama-Food

Historical Forts

Panama-Fort

Locals

Panama-Locals

Beaches

Panama-Scenery-Beach

An Adventure Bucket List for Shark Week

Belize-SharkWith Sharknado 2 having just aired and Discovery Channels’s “Shark Week” set to begin next week, all the world’s attention is on one of the world’s most feared fish. While most people are happy to watch the infamous predators from the comfort of their couch, there are others who want to get up close and personal with them. If your buckle list includes swimming with sharks, the following are five sharks you’ll want to see and five places to see them.

 

Whale Sharks in Koh Samui, Thailand

A veritable gentle giant, whale sharks are the largest known fish in the world .

Nurse Sharks in Ambergris Caye, Belize

Calm and slow moving, nurse sharks are bottom-dwellers that typically live in shallow waters.

Hammerhead Sharks in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Hammerheads are aggressive hunters, but rarely attack humans unless provoked, possibly because of their strangely small mouths.

Basking Shark in Rhodes, Greece

The second largest fish in the world, basking sharks are largely harmless and fairly skittish, though young ones are often more curious.

Great White Shark in South Africa

The most infamous shark on the list, the great white shark is the world’s largest predatory fish, and the one shark on the list you’ll want to see from a cage.