USA & Canada | People & Stories

These 6 Trafalgar tours uplift, celebrate and respect Indigenous communities 

Indigenous tourism is about respect, acknowledgement, and support for Indigenous peoples, and we’re so proud to have been featured among the winners of Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2024 Global Vision Awards for our tours that support indigenous communities in the US, an accolade that spotlights organizations that are helping to make travel better for the planet and its communities. Supporting Indigenous communities while traveling helps to recognize their histories and cultures, celebrate and preserve their traditions, promote education and awareness, and provide economic opportunities.

Winning this award gives us the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at 6 Trafalgar tours that engage with Indigenous communities in meaningful and responsible ways. From the Dakotas of North America to the Brazilian Amazon and the Australian Outback, here’s how these tours uplift and celebrate Indigenous communities.

RELATED CONTENT: How this tour brings to life Native American culture in a completely new way

1. Native Trails and National Parks of the Dakotas

Native American girl in traditional regalia in the Dakotas

Developed in collaboration with Trafalgar and the Indigenous communities of the Dakotas, this tour is a first of its kind. A 9-day journey across North and South Dakota, this tour offers an authentic insight into Native American history and culture and directly supports Tribal Nations in the United States.

You’ll travel through the beautiful Badlands to meet members of the Oglala Lakota Nation at the Pine Ridge Reservation. Visit the Oglala Lakota Living History Village, meet local artists while enjoying a traditional lunch at Lakota Artist Studio, and hear the personal stories of local storyteller Warren Yellow Hair at the Wounded Knee Memorial. 

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Next, spend the day with members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (properly known as Sicangu Lakota Oyate) at the Rosebud Reservation. Visit the Turtle Creek Crossing Supermarket and learn about Rosebud’s food sovereignty projects. Listen to insightful presentations by Lakota elder, Victor Douville and Marla C. Bull Bear, Executive Director of Lakota Youth Development. You’ll also enjoy a delicious meal, and witness a traditional storytelling performance.

We’ll travel along the beautiful Native American Scenic Byway to Standing Rock Indian Reservation where you’ll meet members of the Lakota and Dakota Nations. Hear about the legend of Sitting Bull and learn about the power of medicinal plants. You’ll also create your own medicinal plant tea mix. 

The final reservation we’ll visit is the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation where we’ll meet members of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation). We’ll visit the Earth Lodge Village with the community’s elder women, enjoy a traditional dinner and watch an incredible performance of song, dance and traditional regalia. 

RELATED CONTENT: In their own words: How tourism is making a difference to Indigenous communities in the Dakotas

2. Southwest Native Trails

Native American woman in Monument Valley

This 12-day tour of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado is a celebration of Indigenous communities in the United States, from the prehistoric era to the modern day. This captivating journey not only showcases the beauty of the American Southwest but also offers a unique opportunity to learn about the Native communities that have called this region home for centuries. 

You’ll discover ancient stories etched into stone by Ancestral Puebloan peoples at the Petroglyph National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and the Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites at Mesa Verde National Park. You’ll also tour Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with adobe buildings constructed around 1,000 years ago. About 150 Puebloans still live in the Pueblo today and you’ll hear stories from the locals.

RELATED CONTENT: The indigenous experiences that make our Southwest USA tour so memorable

You’ll also get to know the legacy of the Navajo people, with visits to Window Rock, the World War II Navajo Code Talkers’ Memorial, and the Hubbell Trading Post National Historical Site. Meet a Navajo Local specialist and take 6X6 vehicles to the bottom of Canyon De Chelly. You’ll marvel at the canyons, cliffs and ancient pictographs, petroglyphs and ruins.

Explore Monument Valley National Park with a Navajo Local Specialist. We’ll travel the backroads and trails unavailable to the public while learning the history and culture of the Navajo people. Visit an authentic hogan (the primary dwelling of the Navajo) and a traditional summer shelter and underground home, and get a real sense of the everyday lives of the Navajo people. 

RELATED CONTENT: Discover the indigenous history of Navajo Tribal Park

3. Icons of South America

Quechuan women showing weaving techniques in Peru

South America is home to dozens of Indigenous cultures and communities. You’ll connect with just a few of them on this 24-day tour through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil and the Amazon.

Your first MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience helps to preserve traditional pre-Columbian weaving techniques in Sacred Valley. You’ll meet Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, a master Quechua weaver and the first person from her village to attend university. As an ambassador for Andrean traditions, Nilda will show you the traditional weaving practice using natural dyeing techniques.

Later, you’ll explore the iconic Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. Then head to Cusco, stopping en route at a local chiceria. Here you’ll meet the local Indigenous women who brew chica, a Peruvian corn beer. Discover their traditional brewing techniques and sample the different types of chica. Next up, we’ll visit the village of Maras and see the stunning salt terrraces. You’ll meet the local villagers who use ancient salt mining techniques passed down for centuries since the Incan era.

We’ll then head deep into the Brazilian Amazon where you’ll meet the Caboclos, the Indigenous people of this region of the Amazon. You can try piranha fishing and learn about the culture of the native Amazonians. Your visit will directly support the preservation of the culture and lands of the Amazon. 

RELATED CONTENT: The Peruvian women keeping ancient textiles alive

4. Outback Adventure

Aboriginal Australian traditional dance Indigenous communities

Any trip into the Australian Outback should respect the Indigenous communities as the traditional custodians of the land. This 15-day journey from Adelaide to Darwin does just that, providing real insight and appreciation for Aboriginal Australian history, culture and spiritual sites.

You’ll go deep into the spectacular Flinders Ranges, staying at the Wilpena Pound Resort. It’s owned by members of the Adnyamathanha community, the original owners of the land. You’ll be warmly welcomed by an Aboriginal Elder and your stay here will directly contribute to the preservation of this community and their land.

Next, the journey leads to the iconic Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Red Center. You’ll enjoy a special Stays With Stories experience at the Desert Gardens Hotel. Owned and run by the local Aboriginal community, the hotel is the perfect place to get connected with the vast beauty of this land. Witness the awe-inspiring sunsets and sunrises over Uluru. Learn about the area’s ancient rock art and walk through Kata Tjuta’s Walpa Gorge.

In Alice Springs, meet a local Arrernte guide at the Alice Springs Desert Park. You’ll learn about their traditions and knowledge of the desert’s flora and fauna. Visit the mysterious Karlu Karlu (Devil’s Marbles), said to be the fossilized eggs of the Rainbow Serpent in the Dreamtime stories of the Warmungu Aboriginal people. Take a boat cruise along the ancient Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge with an Indigenous Local Specialist. They will share stories of the Jawoyn landowners and their connection to the gorge. You’ll also visit the renowned Aboriginal rock art site of Ubirr in Darwin, and reflect on the rich cultural heritage experienced throughout this journey. 

RELATED CONTENT: 7 spots in Darwin for discovering Indigenous Australian art

5. New Zealand Panorama

Maori cultural performance Indigenous communities

This 7-day tour of New Zealand places a strong emphasis on uplifting Māori culture through meaningful interactions. These experiences enrich the lives of our guests while helping preserve and celebrate Māori culture and traditions. 

We’ll head to Rotorua, the center of Māori culture, where you’ll get a real insight into Māori traditions. Meet members of the community and enjoy a traditional hangi dinner. We’ll also watch a remarkable cultural performance in the wooden carved meeting house, Te Aronui a Rua. Later in the evening, head to a geothermal wonderland to witness the powerful Pohutu Geyser shooting water into the air. You’ll sip on delicious hot chocolate as you soak up all the sizzling geysers, bubbling mud pots, and native bush. 

You’ll get further connected with this beautiful nature in Rotorua. Go on an adventure through Ruakuri Caves to witness the stunning glowworms illuminating the cave walls. Later, we’ll visit the Living Māori Village, Whakarewarewa, and get a deeper insight into the traditions of the local Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people. Wander by the geothermal fields and steaming lakes, where the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people have been living since 1886, and learn more about the sacred bond they share with their country, Aotearoa.

RELATED CONTENT: Introducing Hangi: the traditional Maori cooking technique

6. Iconic Rockies and Western Canada

Cree Warrior Woman in Canadian Rockies Indigenous communities

This 13-day tour of Western Canada takes in so much more than the breathtaking beauty of the Canadian Rockies. You’ll get immersed in nature and meet some of the traditional owners of these beautiful lands. We’ll walk through the wilderness to Maligne Canyon. Here, we’ll board a cruise across the stunning Maligne Lake, pausing to soak up the magic of Spirit Island. 

We’ll then travel to Jasper where we’ll meet Matricia Bauer, a Cree woman, for a special Be My Guest experience on First Nations land. Matricia will share stories about her life and knowledge about the local flora. You’ll learn how to forage for ingredients and make a curated bitters cocktail from these ingredients. Later, you’ll enjoy storytelling and drumming during a delicious dinner. 

In Whistler, you’ll learn about First Nations history and culture at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. We’ll meet Aboriginal Ambassadors who will share their personal stories and cultural experiences. You’ll also get a first-hand look at artifacts and artworks showcasing their traditions and customs.

Have you visited any of these Indigenous communities on our Trafalgar tours? Let us know in the comments below… 

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