Asia | Inspiration

Make Travel Matter experiences that give insight into local culture

Recently updated on July 31st, 2023 at 04:18 pm

Immersing ourselves in unique cultures is why we travel. How wonderful it is to get to know locals, taste their food and get a first-hand insight into local culture and tradition.

But have you ever stopped to think about the impact your travel has on them? And that this cultural immersion can be even more special when it positively impact communities and the people within them?

At Trafalgar, we love to travel with this in mind, which is why you can find ‘MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences’ on 63% of our tours.

What are Trafalgar’s MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences?

Himba tribe

MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences are conscious travel experiences – in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – that strive to achieve community benefit.

Guests who enjoy these experiences on-the-road learn about sustainable development issues and the local community actions being taken to address them. As well as the positive impact their presence is making. For example, continual Trafalgar visits to the Namibia’s remote Omapaha village (home to the Himba tribe) means the community has now set up a fund that assists the tribe during times of hardship like when there’s a drought or illnesses call for doctors and medicines.

RELATED CONTENT: Read about Trafalgar’s 5 year How We Tread Right strategy

3 ‘Make Travel Matter’ experiences that give incredible insight into local culture

It wasn’t easy to narrow down Trafalgar’s 45 MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences (look for this sign on our tour itineraries). But here are three that recently gave our guests goosebumps.

Get to know Malaysia’s Orang Asli Tribe

Away from Malaysia’s tourist trails and touching lush rainforest, lies the Orang Asli Pos Raya village – home to the Temiar community. This peaceful group form part of the Orang Alsi population (one the largest of Malaysia’s 18 indigenous groups).

Famed for their warm hospitality, you’ll meet them on Trafalgar’s Malaysia tour, where a tribal representative and Local Specialist lead you through the village and introduce you to traditions like bamboo cooking, weaving blow, piping, puzzling solving games and lively traditional Sewang dances (performed to music made from bamboo flutes).

The Temiars are also known as ‘Bumiputera’ (meaning children of the earth) because of their proud connection to nature. And you’ll discover the simple bamboo huts they live in, plus their belief in animism that plants and other living things have a soul.

You must also try their traditional tapioca (made from a starchy root vegetable called cassava) and lemang (sticky white rice made with coconut inside a bamboo tube) for ultimate nourishment. Before exploring the Orang Asli Museum – packed full of local crafts, art, blowpipes, hunting and fishing traps, musical instruments and wood carvings of masks and animal-like figures that provide a brilliant insight into local culture.

RELATED CONTENT: Beyond the tourist traps: How Trafalgar helps you feel connected to local culture

GET INSPIRED BY: Colonial Singapore and Malaysia tour

Discover traditional rug-making in Armenia

This Make Travel Matter walks you into a cosy village in the Syunik province of southern Armenian called Verishen. Home to 2,110 residents that continue the age-old tradition of Armenian wool rug-making and pass the skill down to their children.

Armenian rug making

These beautiful rugs (or carpets) are made from sheep’s and/or goat’s wool and crucial items in Armenian homes. Kept on floors and often hung on beds, sofas, chairs, tables and walls. They are cultural symbols more than functional carpets. For example, family members lie on them when they are sick in the hope of healing. And even when the Soviet Union took over Armenia in 1920 and forbid carpet making at home, many continued it in secret to continue their art.

They often feature a distinctive red colour (obtained from a cave insect native to the Armenian highlands). And Many designs show animals and flowers and the ‘Wheel of Eternity’ (depicting Armenia’s Eight Ancient Gods). Locals in Verishen village also make the Vishapaqagh (‘the Dragon Rug’) that shows the god of war and power. They believe owning one will protect your home from evil because Vishapaqagh translates to “the conqueror of dragons and evil”.

At first, they were presented as gifts, commemorative pieces and for dowries until 19th century merchants bought them by inch – enchanted by their unique patterns and colour combinations. And today, they are popular in many other countries too.

Get to know this beautiful practice on our Georgia and Armenia Uncovered tour.

Immerse yourself in Namibia’s Himba Tribe village

insight into local culture at Himba village

In remote northern Namibia’s Kunene Region (or ‘Kaokoland’), 50,000 members of the Himba tribe enjoy their humble existence

Their distinctive leather skirts, patterned clothing and heavy jewellery stands them out, as well as the red glow on their their skin: created by the ochre paste they lather on daily for its protective and cleansing qualities. Fascinatingly, the women traditionally mix this ochre with cow fat and spices and attach it to their hair.

On Trafalgar’s Namibia Adventure, guests get wonderful insight into local culture with the helping hand of an experienced tribal representative. They shine a light on village life, including their sturdy mud huts, hunter-gatherer traditions and ‘okoruwo’ (sacred fire) rituals, which celebrate the connection between living and dead. Plus how the community sustainably survives in such a remote area.

Trafalgar’s visits are conducted in a sensitive and respectful manner and thanks to our visits, the village has been able to set up a community fund that assists the tribe during times of hardship like when there’s a drought or illnesses where doctors and medicines are required.

GET INSPIRED BY: Namibia Adventure tour

RELATED CONTENT: 9 ways you can travel more sustainably in 2022

Are you craving an authentic insight into local culture? Read more about Make Travel Matter experiences on our tour itineraries.

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