So many cultures, so many tribes you could visit! How about basing your trip on the visiting the different tribes across the world? Learn about different customs and discover the similarities we share.
As our western culture becomes increasingly homogenised, exotic travel evolves into something ever more accessible. Ancient tribes and traditions are diminishing and travellers want to meet tribes people before they disappear. Seeing different cultures gives us a different perspective on the world and can teach us new ways of life and ultimately demonstrates the similarities we share.
If you identify with Bruce Parry or Bear Grylls and you don’t mind a few injections before leaving, why not travel that little bit further into the unknown? It may involve some long uncomfortable journeys, suspect toilets and bizarre food which may be intimidating however throwing yourself into the unknown is the best way of making the most of your time away.
When I travel, my most memorable moments have been in the jungles of Fiji searching for pineapples with locals; being shown the most incredible stars atop a rice paddy terrace; hearing a frog chorus in the background whilst with hill tribes people in Northern Vietnam and staying in a Sri Lankan home-stay where no English was spoken.
It’s good to keep in mind that when going to visit indigenous communities you must be aware of minimising your impact on them. You don’t want to be a reason for their decline so it's often best to support tours which actively help the communities being visited and remain sensitive to their privacy.
I’ve compiled a round the world itinerary which visits an array of destinations where you can get in with the locals and enjoy the experience of a life time!
London – Ethiopia – Burma – Chang Mai – Papua New Guinea – Solomon Islands – Vanuatu – Cook Islands - Amazon Jungle – London
From £3,300 per person including pre-payable taxes and fuel supplements. Taxes fluctuate regularly, and price is based on the best availability, therefore this price cannot be guaranteed.
This trip is not set in stone and is there to inspire you, if you want to change the trip to suit you, no problem! If you'd like any more information about this trip or you fancy using some parts for your trip, just get in touch with Sara.
Ethiopia’s population is very diverse with over 80 different recognised tribes. It’s also home to the Mursi people who stretch their lips with clay discs and enjoy a bit of tribal stick fighting. Then there’s the Karo and Hamer Tribes who practice scarification and have amazing hairstyles.
Other tribes in the Omo valley can be seen with the most striking body paintings. Going to Ethiopia to visit remote tribal groups would be hard to organise alone, so we have a number of tours designed with visiting these people in mind, here is one of our favourites:
This 14-day adventure through a less-visited part of Ethiopia offers travellers willing to go without some western conveniences an opportunity to interact with ethnic communities.
Some of the highlights include indulging in sweet Ethiopian coffee in Addis Ababa, visiting the remote tribes of the Omo Valley, spotting crocs and hippos on Lake Chamo and stopping by the 'singing wells' of Dublock. As far as exotic, intercultural encounters go, this is a trip as fascinating as it is mind-blowing.
Myanmar is the home to the Moken people also known as ‘Sea Gypsies’. They are nomadic folk living more than half of the year in boats called ‘Kabang’ and only settling on land during the monsoon season. These extraordinary people are master fisherman and expert divers, more at home in the sea and catching fish with spears than living life on land. Due to their lifestyle they can be hard to visit which is why this sailing tour is a perfect way of encountering these unique people who have mastered sea living:
Discover Myanmar (Burma) on an Intrepid sailing adventure and dive into an aquatic playground that is truly one of the world’s best-kept secrets. Whilst the backpackers, honeymooners and day-spa crowds have swarmed to the beaches of Thailand and Bali, Burma’s remote Myeik archipelago has remained almost frozen in time since the days of the early colonial explorers.
Difficult to reach and well-off the tourist trails, sailing through these islands offers the chance to glimpse back to a time before the internet, phones, convenience stores and even denim existed. Explore the traditional clothing, local foods and martial arts of Burma’s virtually untouched island cultures.
If this tour interests you we can offer a slightly better price than online if booked with flights.
Northern Thailand is a melting pot of Hill Tribe communities from Tibetan, Chinese and Burmese origin. Renowned for their colourful embroidered clothing, beautiful silver jewellery, as well as the slightly shocking ‘long neck’ tribes and opium smoking - there really is a lot to discover here.
This hilly area offers an opportunity to visit a number of different tribes and taste some of their amazing cuisine. Be sure to find a good tour as some have been criticised as being ‘staged for tourists’ and are not so authentic - we recommend:
Trek through the hills surrounding Chiang Mai and meet the local people, known collectively as hilltribes, who have made their homes on these slopes. They have lived in peace and without modern conveniences for many years so a visit to these traditional communities is like travelling back to a simpler time. Learn about jungle food and the local way of life then after all that exertion, recline on a bamboo raft and float downriver, giving the friendly locals a wave as you drift past them going about their daily lives.
This really is a destination off the beaten track. Untouched by mass tourism and with limited infrastructure, you'll find the easiest way of getting around is by light aircraft. There are pristine rainforests, hundreds of indigenous species and over 700 tribes - many who have never been in contact with the outside world.
Being slow on the tourism scene and lacking in infrastructure means planning a trip here will require some leg work, but the rewards will be unbelievable. Seeing the impossibly high tree houses, being greeted with awe and fear and cannibalism stories are things you can expect if you manage to reach this remote destination.
Be warned - it is expensive here. But staying in rural villages and booking accommodation before arriving (to avoid the 10% VAT) will help with the budget.
Not far from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands is an archipelago of 992 islands with plenty to explore. These undeveloped islands are unhurried and untouched and well worth a visit. It’s recommended that you contact the local authorities before rocking up on a far flung island as some islands are very welcoming and others not so, so be polite and make sure you will be welcomed by pre-planning your visits.
Isabel is one long island you can visit to experience traditional dance, guided bush walks and visit a village built on stilts. The people here are relaxed and friendly and have beautiful leaf houses.
Another pristine pacific island with plenty to be discovered is Vanuatu! A unique local tradition not be missed here is seeing the ‘land diving’ or ‘Nagol’ festival, every Saturday between April and June.
The ceremony is a fertility rite for men - a unique experience to behold. You will arrive and be awed by the ground vibrating under the dancing feet of the villagers and the makeshift 20-30 metre high platform.
You will then have to squirm watching these men and boys (some as young as seven) jumping off this perfectly good wooden tower with just a vine attached to their ankles!
15 groups of volcanic islands and coral atolls, the Cook Islands are the stuff daydreams are made of! These islands offer an insight into Maori traditions which were brought to the islands 800-1000AD, they are well known for big ceremonies of traditional customs with lots of feasting.
One of my best memories of the Cook Islands is being invited to a traditional feast of around a hundred locals all in traditional dress. I was the only westerner and the invites was all thanks to the generosity of a woman I had met only two days before – a common hospitality in these islands.
Finish off your trip with a visit to the Amazon jungle - home to the world’s largest rainforest and is the ancestral home to 1 million Indians, from about 400 tribes.
Each tribe has its own language and culture. Whilst many have been in contact with the outside world for almost 500 years, others remain ‘uncontacted’.
Indians have no communal land ownership rights with in Brazil and suffer with many land problems. The Brazilian government don’t necessarily appreciate the Indians’ right to live where they have lived for thousands of years without the threat of their habitat being taken away and destroyed. One way this can happen is through awareness, lobbying and Brazil realising the positive impact on responsible tourism the Indians can have.
From Manaus you can organise visits to tribes and here is a suggestion for a unforgettable jungle stay - Ariau Amazon Towers Lodge - the Amazon's only treetop hotel. Spend four days and three nights here and you'll get to see Squirrel monkeys and macaws who are frequent visitors to this unique hotel that features raised walkways though the jungle. Roam the jungle paths or explore by boat, or simply turn your chair and enjoy wildlife-filled Amazon views from your unique hotel.
If this has sparked an interest in you to discover remote locations and given you a bit of wanderlust then I can help you create your own unique trip just get in touch with me. We specialise in complex flight itineraries and can source accommodation and tours, so we're ideally suited to helping you realise your next dream. You can call us or get a quote by email.