1. Follow the leaders in Myanmar (Burma)
Let the locals lead you into their culture on Audley Travel's bespoke Classic Myanmar trip. Not only will they welcome you into their homes, showing you how they live and work, you’ll see how your tour combines with charity projects to sustain their traditional way of life.
Along the way, you’ll cast nets with fishermen, sleep in stilted teak houses and canoe down Inle Lake at sunset. Then you can cook up a storm on a culinary class with a twist, sourcing your ingredients from Nyaung Shwe villagers, trying your hand at the lingo along the way, before sitting down to dine on your creation.
Who? Audley Travel (01993 833105)
How long? 16 days
How much? From £5,890 (including int’l flights)
2. Do some good in Peru
Help change the lives of Andean villagers on World Expeditions’ Huilloc Village Healthy Cook Stove Project. In this secluded corner of the Sacred Valley, see how the villagers have been inhaling toxic smoke with their open-fire stoves – then help fix it.
While you trade the stoves in for healthier alternatives, you’ll become part of the community, staying in local homes, trying provincial dishes, watching weavers in action and farmers paying tribute to Pachamama (Earth Mother).
Who? World Expeditions (0800 0744 135)
When? March to October 2020
How long? Four days
How much? From £700 (excluding int’l flights)
3. Explore marvellous mountains in India
Head deep Into the Pindar Valley and immerse yourself in the culture of rural settlements thriving under the support of Village Ways.
Travelling like a local, you’ll come across five mountain communities, while learning more about their daily work weaving baskets with ringal (Himalayan bamboo), sampling honey and learning more about tending the fields. As well as staying in converted traditional ‘Berklay’ longhouses, you’ll camp under the stars, surrounded by snowy peaks.
Who? Village Ways (01223 750049)
When? 15 March, 1 May and 1 October 2020
How long? 12 nights
How much? From £1,436 (excluding int’l flights)
4. Track primates in Uganda
Experienced rangers will lead you to Bwindi’s endangered mountain gorillas on Rainbow Tours’ Uganda Wildlife & Conservation Small Group Tour. They aren’t the only society you’ll encounter in Bwindi, though – poachers-turned-conservation staff are also on hand to share their stories.
Trek through Mgahinga Gorilla National Park’s rural countryside to visit the indigenous Batwa tribe, too, displaced from their traditional home in the forest. Your tour actively supports the trust resettling them, so you can see the work they are doing firsthand, while interacting with the tribe.
Who? Rainbow Tours (020 7666 1260)
When? 3 October 2020
How long? 17 days
How much? From £9,275 (including int’l flights)
5. Walk in ancient footsteps in Tasmania
Delve into the sacred homeland of the Palawa people on Tasmania’s Footsteps and Trails with AAT Kings and Inspiring Journeys. In the company of an Aboriginal guide, you’ll take on the Wukalina Walk: a two-day trek through the dramatic coastal landscapes of the Bay of Fires and Mount William.
Learn about their way of life, before making your way down to Hobart for a labyrinthine tour of the Museum of Old and New Art’s subterranean galleries and the city’s second-oldest vineyard.
Who? AAT Kings and Inspiring Journeys (020 8225 4220)
When? Selected dates, September to December 2020
How long? Seven days
How much? From £3,185 (excluding int’l flights)
6. Go with the flow in Haida Gwaii
Prepare for a stay in a floating community-owned eco-lodge on Discover the World’s Discover Haida Gwaii at Ocean House trip.
Soar over sprawling coastlines to get to this rugged Canadian archipelago by helicopter, before seeing black bears and orca in their natural habitats and listening to legends explained by Haida guides. The benefit of all this – you’ll be supporting the archipelago’s economy, providing locals with jobs and improving their quality of life.
Who? Discover the World (01737 886131)
When? June to September 2020
How long? Three nights
How much? From £3,154 (excluding int’l flights)
7. Meet safari saviours in Namibia
Help protect wildlife as you journey through community-owned conservancies on an Expeditionary Mobile Safari in north-west Namibia with Natural High Safaris.
No two expeditions are alike – expect changes in weather, wildlife movements, conservation activities and community events to shape your journey through this wilderness, protected by world-renowned conservationists. Search for black rhino, elephant and lions before relaxing in lodges in the Sossusvlei’s desert.
Who? Natural High Safaris (01747 830950)
When? April to November 2020
How long? 17 days
How much? From £8,350 (excluding int’l flights)
8. Find magic in Mongolia
Join the grassroots movement on the small Gobi Conservation and Research Expedition with Eternal Landscapes.
Collect data like a researcher, then track wildlife aplenty in the Gobi Desert’s vast wilderness, including falcons, eagles and the successfully reintroduced Przewalski horse at Khustain Nuruu National Park. You can even work alongside an NGO to help protect the endangered Mongolian khulan (wild ass).
Who? Eternal Landscapes (07810 280403)
When? 6 June 2020
How long? 11 days
How much? From $1,700/ around £1,300 depending on booking numbers (excluding int’l flights)
9. Check off a community trek in Ethiopia
Get an insight into how locals live on the Ethiopia: Easter Explorer trip with Wild Frontiers. Taking part in a sustainable future project, you’ll hike through villages and across farmland, soaking up the culture as a house guest along the way.
You’ll also spot UNESCO-stamped attractions, including the Simien Mountains National Park, where gelada baboons and the elusive walia ibex operate. The sacred landscapes of Tigray and Lalibela are on the agenda, too.
Who? Wild Frontiers (020 3925 9623)
When? 12 April 2020
How long? 13 days
How much? From £3,645 (excluding int’l flights)
10. Trek to a lost city in Colombia
Empower local women and indigenous tribes on G Adventures’ Lost City Trekking trip through Sierra Nevada. Working with Wiwa Tours (an indigenous tour agency), this trip opens your eyes to Colombia’s ancient worlds, with an expert guide taking you to remote Wiwa camps, where women trade in plant-dyed bags and beaded jewellery: a new source of income created by the tour.
Best of all, you’ll head to the jungle to spy the lost city of Teyuna, only found a few decades ago. Cleanse your energy before you enter, then beat a path that few others have taken.
Who? G Adventures (020 7313 6953)
How long? Seven days
How much? From £519 (excluding int’l flights)
11. Go on an eco-safari in Kenya
Set up camp with Expert Africa on this bespoke trip that takes you face to face with the real Kenya – and the communities and critters at the heart of it.
Not only will you stay in small, independent lodges that directly profit the people and work to conserve wildlife, you will be able to track black rhino on foot and witness the work of Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, dedicated to rescuing orphaned elephants and returning them to the wild.
But there’s also opportunity to interact with the Samburu community and admire the scene of the ‘singing wells’, a hypnotic tradition in which locals dig deep wells to collect water for their livestock, singing all the while beneath the sun.
Who? Expert Africa (020 3405 6666)
When? No set departure dates
How long? Nine days
How much? From £5,795 (including int’l flights)
12. Raft to the rainforest in Costa Rica
Raft the depths of Costa Rica’s Pacuare River on this thrilling adventure with Rios Tropicales. During your stay at the award-winning rainforest lodge, you’ll be able to offset your footprint with the chance to plant trees in a community-supported reforestation project that rebuilds habitats for endangered wildlife.
Then trek through remote villages to observe the lifestyles of indigenous families, before hiking up to Pacuare canyon for a chance to go horseback riding to the Bajo del Tigre community, where you can learn about sustainable farming projects and lunch at a butterfly garden.
Who? Rios Tropicales (+506 2233 6455)
How long? From three days
How much? From $399/around £307 (excluding int’l flights)
13. Head to the fields in Romania
Find simple pleasures on this trip through Rural Romania with Ffestiniog Travel and find a land where time stands still. Immerse yourself in rural life by staying in family-run homestays and exploring Saxon villages, where you’ll lunch with the locals and find plenty of fortified churches and the painted monasteries of Bucovina to catch your eye.
If that’s not enough, you’ll get the chance to visit the Sighişoara Medieval Fortress, the bloody birthplace of Vlad the Impaler – better known as Count Dracula – before riding the rails on steam narrow gauge railways, passing a scenic backdrop of bucolic fields and mountains along the way.
Who? Ffestiniog Travel (01766 512400)
When? 27 September 2020
How long? 12 days
How much? From £2,250 (including int’l flights)
14. Go back to grassroots in Iceland
Leave a mark to last a lifetime on the land of Fire and Ice on this unique trip with Contiki, which aims to combat the effects of Iceland’s historical deforestation with travellers planting five trees in Haukadalur Valley.
Hot springs, mud pots and erupting geysers will also greet you here, but you’ll also find yourself soaking in the Blue Lagoon and visiting an Icelandic farm to learn more about how food makes it from farm to table while sampling dishes unique to the region.
Who? Contiki (0808 281 1120)
How long? Six days
How much? From £1,375 (excluding int’l flights)
15. Rebuild a village in Croatia
Help to write the future of a small Croatian village on Regent Holidays’ City and Lakes: Zagreb & Plitvice Lakes trip.
On your way, you’ll uncover a place still healing from the conflict of the Balkan War in the village of Ličko Petrovo Selo – but you’ll get the opportunity to make a direct impact on the locals’ lives by staying at a unique eco-hotel that funds a foundation that reconstructs bomb shelled buildings, empowers Serbian women to trade their knitted goods and supports local crafts projects.
But you’ll also get to coast through Zagreb to find the UNESCO-stamped Plitvice Lakes, where you can trek through the rich flora and fauna of the national park to find a slice of untouched paradise.
Who? Regent Holidays (020 7666 1244)
How long? Seven days
How much? From £1,175 (including int’l flights)