8 Places to Interact Authentically with Locals
April 17, 2013
Maddi Higgins, WWF Travel
The opportunities to engage on a cultural level with local communities may seem less prominent as wildlife is often the focal point of the WWF trips. But it's often the local communities and guides who can spot the rare bird hidden in the thick of the forest canopy. It's the community that is bound tight to the history of their landscape; they know the stories that illustrate how nature has shaped their culture or perhaps how culture has shaped nature. It is almost impossible to understand and appreciate wildlife without also understanding the people and cultures that live under the same expansive sky.
Our photo slideshow highlights eight WWF trips that engage with the keepers of this intimate knowledge.
Monks at the Monkey Temple
The mystical Swayambhunath temple in Bhutan is nicknamed the “Monkey Temple” for the hundreds of monkeys that scamper about the grounds. It is also home to devout monks, who you may encounter chanting or praying.
Andean Weavers' Cooperative
In the Sacred Valley of the Incas, visit a weavers' cooperative and see the traditional textile work of the locals. You can explore traditional Andean villages on our Discover Amazon and Machu Picchu tour.
Luang Prabang was the former royal capital of the Kingdom of Laos until the Communist takeover in 1975. Tucked into an elbow of the Mekong River in remote and mountainous northern Laos, Luang Prabang is packed with cultural treasues. This UNESCO World Heritage Site showcases prisms of culture, from golden-roofed Buddhist temples and French colonial villas to the traditional Lao wooden houses that line its peaceable streets.
Villagers of Omalo
The residents of Omalo in the Republic of Georgia are the progeny of 2,000 years of conquest and survival, a challenging heritage that has molded these former mountain tribes into a hardy and proud people. In a local guesthouse, listen to poets regale you with polyphonic songs and revel in lively supras (feasts).
Tibetan Village of Jiuzhaigou
Tibetan culture is dominant in the Jiuzhaigou National Park, evidenced by the prayer wheels and chortens that dot the landscape. On our China tour, we stop at an authentic Tibetan village and learn more about life and customs within this deeply traditional culture.
Maasai Guides in Kenya
On our "Hiking in the Footsteps of the Masaai" tour, local Maasai tribesmen will guide you through their homeland on foot, offering an intimate discovery of the forest, waterfalls and birdlife.
Otavalo Indian Market
This 400-year-old site of regional commerce is the largest and longest continuously operating market in South America, a lively collage of intense colors, sounds and aromas. Famed for its textiles, the sprawling bazaar sells everything from freshly picked bananas to armadillo-shell guitars. Visit this market before flying to the Galapagos Islands.
Arctic Cultures of Churchill
Native cultures have been flourishing in Churchill against the harsh arctic climate for thousands of years. Explore their heritage on a dogsled ride in the boreal wilderness, during a visit to the Eskimo Museum, and through cultural programs featuring the arts and traditions of the Inuit and Dene peoples.