Four essential indigenous tourism projects that are sustainable for both the country and its people

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Much of the world’s 350 million indigenous peoples live in areas of the world that are inundated with beautiful landscapes, unique traditions and unparalleled cultural history.

This makes them an attractive offer for tour operators and travel companies. But there are many sensitivities and subtleties in indigenous tourism and tourism it has to be done respectfully.

Ecotourism in indigenous areas should “facilitate the participation and experiences of indigenous peoples as an integral part of the travel experience by using and recognizing their role as stewards of the environment,” as explained by the advocacy group Cultural survival.

As today marks International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2021, we’ve looked at best practices for tourists looking to explore the world’s oldest communities.

The potential problems with indigenous tourism experiences

For example, fast scrolling through thousands of years of culture and history is not the way to go. It will not be educational or enjoyable for tourists or the indigenous community. Even the monetization of their lived experiences will not be done for the sake of an Instagram story, rather than the story of. really understand the lives of the people who host you.

There is also a growing environmental undercurrent of these trips. Regions that are home to thriving groups of indigenous people are often teeming with biodiversity as the land is better maintained, as well as energy resources that have not yet been touched by modernization and unsustainable tourism practices.

To keep it that way, the experiences should be of mutual benefit to the country, its people and the tourists involved.

We have compiled a list of indigenous travel experiences curated by indigenous peoples who respect people’s wellbeing land responsibly.

Canadian Coastal Adventures curated by members of the Abegweit Mi’kmaq Nation

The guests of this 12-day crossing of the Canadian coast are welcomed on Prince Edward Island, one of the smallest provinces of Canada, by members of the Abegweit Mi’kmaq Nation – often translated as “weighs on the waves”.

You will then be taken on a personally guided tour of the reserve by the Chief Junior Young, whose original ideas for aspects of the Abegweit culture that the trip celebrates will continue to be the focus.

We love this trip because Chief Junior Young contacted the UK company Insight vacation, and not the other way around. He wanted to develop tourism as a source of income and share the Abegweit culture.

Together they worked on developing a program that would both enrich the cultural experience of visitors to the island and give something back to the indigenous community. This is in line with two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – Reducing inequalities in underrepresented population groups and educating people about the preservation of this vital culture.

Guests have the opportunity to attend a smearing ceremony, an ancient custom used to harness positive energy. There is also an opportunity to learn about the Seven Sacred Doctrines – the guiding principles that are central to the restoration of indigenous cultural values, beliefs and practices and that were banned by the government in 1885.

Prices start at € 4,200, but you can secure a spot with a deposit of € 117.

You can find out more information about the trip here.

Award-winning days of hiking led by Chihuahua, the Mexican Rarámuri community

Chihuahua’s spectacular Copper Canyon is home to a number of indigenous people who make up the region’s Rarámuri community, famous for their hiking skills and cave culture in the “natural wonder”.

They have worked for years to develop a range of experiences that honor their culture with the help of the Responsible Travel Center (COMB). That Project has since won national community tourism awards in Mexico for adhering to respectful, sustainable practices.

Two groups, Huetosachi and Bacajipare, have coordinated itineraries that include a variety of hiking and storytelling in the canyon, led by licensed guides who know each trail inside out. These hikes range from the three-hour Giants Trail, which stretches for several kilometers, to the smaller tour to the rock art, which focuses more on immersing visitors in indigenous art that has grown over generations.

Those less inclined to physically immersive activities can book cooking classes, where traditional meals are prepared using organic materials from the country, along with craft classes taught by Huetosachi women.

Prices vary depending on travel costs to Gen Fierro Villalobos Airport and local accommodation, but the excursions and courses organized here are conveniently in the range of € 15 each.

You can find out more information about the trip here.

Plant hunting and art classes in Queensland, Australia’s Daintree Rainforest

Intrepid Travels Queensland Experience is a no-frills endeavor that includes local businesses, pristine rainforests, and the ancient stories that stretch through the history of the state’s Kuku Yalanji people, who have inhabited the Cairns and Port Douglas areas for over 50,000 years.

That to travel Bring a maximum of 16 people and you will stay in the same accommodation throughout so that you really get to know the history of the area. Guests can meet with members of the Kuku Yalanji community to participate in activities focusing on the Harmony between people and their local environment. You will meet an indigenous family in the Daintree Rainforest who once hosted David Attenborough and his film crew and who have an extensive knowledge of the natural area.

Other activities on the program include javelin and painting classes, foraging for edible plants, learning about First Nations stories and art against the backdrop of the water and the canopy of the breathtaking Mossman Gorge of the rainforest.

Prices start at € 1,700 for a 5-day stay.

You can find out more information about the trip here.

Support one of the sustainable tourism projects of the Boa Foundation

This non-profit organization has connections with over 40 indigenous groups around the world and is building ways to meet the needs of these communities while promoting sustainable tourism.

In 2018 they raised € 97,000 for the population of the village of Yawanawa, a culture full of stories, ethnobotany and art that fell victim to the development in the state of Acre in the Amazon rainforest that threatened the borders of their country.

A rare demarcation victory means it now has 600 international visits a year for both ceremonial and educational purposes that can be arranged through the charity. The Boa Foundation plans to have a similar impact through the Yorenka Tasorentsi land conservation project, another Amazon travel initiative led by Benki Piyãko from the Ashaninka community.

The plan is to buy back over 2,000 hectares of deforested land to restore biodiversity and attract ecotourism that benefits the Ashaninka peoples. These include a museum of indigenous wisdom, a sanctuary for threatened species, a sustainable fish farm, an essential oil distillery, an organic farm, and a craft center.

You will receive prizes and donations in direct contact with the foundation here.

Find out more about the company and its indigenous travel projects here here.


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