Cultural Tours

The most unique and best kept secret places around the world that you can visit for a Cultural experience of a lifetime.

The Mysterious Location of Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a mystery that many theorists have tried to understand. The mysterious location of Stonehenge haunts us to this day. There is the temple theory originally  presented by William Stukeley, a man who studied pieces of the past and felt that the mysterious stone circle was a place for Druid ceremonies. Then there is the theory that the stones have healing properties and were brought the long distances to cure people. Then in 2005, everything changed. Mike Parker Pearson, a passionate archeologist, opened the portal to Stonehenge through a project called, “The Riverside Project.” This excavation project changed the whole scope of Stonehenge, and how we now perceive the place. How? Mike and a team of Archeologists found evidence in an ancient ditch in what is called, “the southern circle.”  This ditch contained evidence of nine small houses that held bones and pottery. The exciting part was that these nine houses were a part of a larger settlement with as many as 1000 houses.

The southern circle revealed a place of the living, one of the largest Neolithic settlements in northern Europe. An avenue originally made of flint, linked Stonehenge with the southern settlement. This passage, or roadway, links the light of the sun setting to the Southern Circle. Sunrise at Stonehenge, and sunset at the Southern Circle. Then, on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, the pattern reverses with the sun setting through the great trilithon of Stonehenge. In other words, the two places on the earth marking time at the two most important days of the year.

What the Riverside project revealed was Stonehenge within a context of a larger place, and the positioning of that place having meaning through the placement of the large stones, and the positioning of the living, or settlements.

Stonehenge- Photo by garethwiscombe Wikipedia Commons

Stonehenge- Photo by garethwiscombe Wikipedia Commons

 

If you want to read how our perception of Stonehenge changed based on Mike Parker Pearson’s “Riverside” project, then go to amazon and get this book, “If Stones Could Speak.” To understand the ancient past requires a relentless curiousity and creative mind. Stonehenge holds the mysteries of people thousands of years ago. Mike Parker Pearson, and Ramilisonina, a retired archaeologist who was born in Madagascar, cracked open a whole new way of looking at the mysterious location of Stonehenge.

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Cultural Travel for Women to Bhutan

Some people want fast cars, some want fancy houses, while I continue to want a trip to Bhutan. Cultural travel for women to Bhutan is special because Bhutan honors women in a way that most cultures do not. Weaving is still a sacred tradition in Bhutan, and women who are weaving are not bothered , as they are considered to be in communication with the Divine. I discovered this while doing some research about cloth and textiles around the world. In addition to their textile honoring, the Bhutanese are a people that have long been disconnected from the world until the late 1980′s. This fact alone makes me want to get on a plane tomorrow. In the spring, there is the Paro festival which is the unfurling of a giant cloth (banner or Thangka). To witness this unfurling, in the wee hours of the morning, is to relinquish all sins of a lifetime. (Another reason to go). If you’re considering going, know that in Bhutan, the government requires that you spend a minimum of $200.00 per day while there. It is also my understanding that you cannot just wander about. Instead, it is required that you have some sort of guide while there. Speaking of guides, you might want to check out cultural travel for women only to Bhutan with Beth Whitman. In 2013, she is offering a tour of Bhutan during the Paro festival. This sounds pretty wonderful to me.

This 12-day tour gives participants the rare chance to witness the Paro Festival which features the unfurling of the country’s largest thongdrel(banner). Occurring in the middle of the night, this sacred event is attended by thousands of Bhutanese. It’s believed that just witnessing this festival, you’ll rid yourself of a lifetime of sins!

Other  unique cultural aspects of this Buddhist Kingdom featured during this tour are visits to impressive dzongs (temples), ancient villages, monasteries and a nunnery. In addition to the Paro Festival, a highlight is the hike to Tiger’s Nest.

 

Taktshang_most famous temple in Bhutan photo by Pierre L

Taktshang_most famous temple in Bhutan photo by Pierre L

If you are considering a cultural trip for women to Bhutan, read this book first, ( Matthieu Ricard’s Bhutan: The Land of Serenity), then call or email Beth Whitman. She has been 8 times to Bhutan and really knows the ropes. Read about her trip to Bhutan for women only next year and the Paro festival here.

 

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A Cultural Voyage Around the World

I don’t know about you, but a voyage around the world is  something that I would like to do before I die. An interesting article that I read recently is about a cultural voyage around the world. This is a Russian ship with a mission to educate people of the world about Russian culture and Russian Heritage. In an article in the “Voice of Russia,” the mission of the voyage is made clear.

On the 20th of May, the Russian sailing ship Sedov will set off from St. Petersburg on a round-the-world voyage. During the 14-month tour, it will call at 32 ports to carry out an educational and cultural mission which aims to remind the international community about great Russian geographical discoveries and educate it of Russian cultural heritage.

ccording to the organizers of the voyage, an ambitious cultural programme will be put up throughout the tour. Ethnographer and film director Leonid Kruglov will present a photo exhibition and a documentary film he has made. The photos and the film sum up of his six expeditions which followed trail of Russian explorers. Now, Leonid Kruglov and his team are setting off on another expedition, this time on board the Sedov. This will be the last in a series of round-the-world tours they have carried out.

A cultural voyage around the world is a great way to experience culture through the lens of those who bring the cultural heritage to your doorstep. What a wonderful endeavor that seeks to enlighten the rest of the world to Russian Culture. You can read the whole article about this voyage here.

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Cultural Travel to Australia’s Eastern Seaboard

There are few places in the world still beaming with life, and wildness. Cultural travel to Australia’s eastern seaboard is on of those places. There, the wildness and the beauty are astounding. Queensland coast is so rich in natural wonders. One example of a gem on the Queensland coast is the Mareeba wetlands. This place consists of 5000 acres of wildlife sanctuary. In an article in the Telegraph, Mark Chipperfield says:

And try a trip to the Mareeba Wetlands, a 5,000-acre wildlife sanctuary, home to 204 species of birds and mammals such as echidnas, wallabies, kangaroos and possums. I believe this magical place should be on every itinerary.

After your tour, you can enjoy some “native tucker” (croc, roo or emu) at the city’s Red Ochre Grill.

You’ll soon realise why so many people come to this part of Australia for a holiday and never leave. “I’ve lived here for 20 years and never owned a jumper or an overcoat,” one expat told me. “We call it God’s own country.”

Cultural travel to Australia’s eastern seaboard can include all sorts of wonders.  There are magical places such as Byron Bay.

You might want to linger at one of the major tourist honeypots along the coast, such as Byron Bay, Port Macquarie or Coffs Harbour — easy-going resort towns that offer great beaches, whale- watching tours, fishing charters and a good choice of restaurants; this part of Australia produces fine organic meat, seafood and some of the country’s best fruit, nuts and vegetables.

For a real flavour of country New South Wales, I suggest leaving the Pacific Highway and driving across the Great Dividing Range to marvellous old-school towns such as Gloucester, Mudgee and Orange.

Byron Bay- Photo by Judith Tepper

If you’re going, better make some plans in advance. There is so much to see. Cultural travel to Austrailia’s eastern seaboard includes everything you can imagine about beauty and wonder. Read the full article in the Telegraph here.

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Cultural Travel in a Buick

Ok, so I’ll confess, I love Buicks, especially old ones. This week is a special week for Buicks, and the people who drive them. In fact, people who drive old buicks are an interesting culture in and of themselves! Cultural travel in a Buick starts in Michigan and goes on a tour to Tallahassee Florida this week.

The week is all about the Buicks, fellowship and exploration – that magic combination of great cars, the interesting people that surround them and the fascinating places we go in them. Lynn and her able team of organizers planned visits to museums, cultural destinations, and even a student-run circus at nearby Florida State University. A central element of these biannual tours is to explore and soak up the history, culture and ambiance of the particular region where it is held. Here, we’ll find out about the central panhandle of Florida, including the aboriginal peoples, the first European explorers and settlers, great entrepreneurs, wars, politicians and other facets of what makes this area unique.

1936 Buick Sedan

1936 Buick Sedan

Let’s face it, sometimes it is a country, sometimes a four legged animal, and sometimes a four wheeled Buick that brings a culture of people together. If you’re into Buicks, perhaps cultural travel in a Buick is right up your alley.  Check out all of the Buicks on tour and the story about the culture behind them here.

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Cultural Tours Locally and Globally

It is challenging sometimes to find just the right cultural tour when you’re planning a trip. Cultural tours locally and globally can be discovered in your own community, or half way around the globe.  First, it is important to determine what you would like to do, and then to focus on companies that specialize in tours that are oriented in your area of interest.  The Seattle Times has a great article geared for the cultural traveler who longs for local or global travel.

Local companies offer everything from cultural adventures in Central America to Himalaya treks and Africa safaris, and in styles (and price ranges) from backpacker to luxury. Group sizes usually range from a dozen to 18 travelers, although they can be a smaller. Many companies also will arrange private trips.

Crooked Trails: Community-based trips that include homestays or service projects in indigenous communities in Bhutan, Peru, Kenya and more. www.crookedtrails.com.

 

Whether you are planning travel in your own city or community, or traveling around the world to Asia, cultural tours locally and globally can help you to galvanize your plans into a week or two week journey that is filled with everything you love. The article in the Seattle Times has a great resource for tour companies that offer cultural tours locally and globally. Go here to  read the full article in the Seattle Times.

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Cultural Indian Heritage

There is so much about indigenous people of the Americas that is still unknown to most people. Cultural Indian Heritage is history that we could all learn more about because it is so rich in story and diversity and true wisdom. In my own hometown, near Asheville, N. C., the Cherokee’s cultivated the earth, and named what is now known as the “French Broad River,” the “Antiqua.” It was the Europeans that named the river that runs through Asheville, the French Broad River.

Native Americans from various tribes

Portraits of Native Americans from the Cherokee, Cheyenne, Choctaw, Comanche, Iroquois, and Muscogee tribes in American attire. Photos date from 1868 to 1924.

There are these small hidden details of stories that exist all over the country with various tribes and places. Perhaps you know a story in the place where you live. Cultural Indian Heritage is a worldwide mystery to most people in other countries. At the ITB 2012 show in Berlin, Indigenous people from the Americas are there to tell their tales, and bring awareness to the world about cultural Indian Heritage.

“The most surprising question for me was: Do Indians still exist?” said Kody Bedoni, a Navajo graphic arts student whose family owns and operates Monument Valley Tours on the Utah/Arizona border portion of the Navajo Nation.

Read more:http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/03/12/indian-country-markets-tourism-at-world%E2%80%99s-largest-show-102527 http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/03/12/indian-country-markets-tourism-at-world%e2%80%99s-largest-show-102527#ixzz1oxHsaPu4
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Cultural Tours to Guatemala

     There is nothing that parallels real authentic experience. Cultural tours all around the world offer dance, smells, tastes, sounds and visual wonder of of a place that embed’s itself in memory. Cultural tours to Antigua, Guatemala are no exception. There are learning experiences that one can never access through a book. The sensory wonders that accompany cultural tours, are a way of “knowing” a place in the sense of the experiences being embedded in one’s whole being.

 

The University of Texas Continuing and Innovative Education is but one place that offers cultural tours and cultural exchanges. This cultural tour to Guatemala changes a student’s life, the accompanying educators, and the people who they encounter on their journeys. This is like a ripple effect, offering a story that travels from one student to another, to a family member to another, until a whole culture is illuminated with differences that exist between cultures. Read the whole article including what the students have to say here….

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Cultural Travel to Bali

One of the greatest trips I ever made was a month long vacation to Bali and Indonesia. Cultural travel to Bali is a once in a lifetime experience. Bali is one culture with the beliefs and practices still intact, and when you arrive at the airport, you feel as if you have stepped into a dream. The offerings to the good spirits and the bad spirits are created each day, and offerings of food, incense, and rice are given on a beautiful woven palm frond. There is no other place on earth where the beliefs and rituals are embedded in the daily lives of the culture. From the temples, to the extraordinary crafts, the Balinese people are unique in their way of creating community for almost every event. Here is a link to a video that I created about bali. There are numerous tours that are heading to Bali. If drumming is your passion, you might want to learn more about a trip to Bali that features meditation and drumming. Tribal Music Tours offers the tour below.

Bali

Bali

 

Guests stay in jungle villas in Ubud where exploration begins by foot to the Monkey Forest and the village. During the trip, participants jam with gamelan masters during a drum workshop, visit drum craftsmen and master healers, take a Balinese dance workshop and experience a men’s kecak trance dance by night. The itinerary also includes a snorkeling excursion and visits to Tirtenganga, Tenganan and Amed.

A cultural tour of Bali will be an experience that you will never forget. Whatever your passion, you will find a piece of it in Bali. There are so many festivals that take place, and you might get lucky and witness wedding preparations which are beyond belief. Take the plunge and make your plans to visit Bali. For more information on the tour leaving this spring, check it out here.

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Cultural Tour of Alaska

A cultural tour of Alaska is filled with a rich collage of landscape, history, culture, wildlife, art, Indigenous culture, and more. Travel to Alaska can change a person’s life forever because the memory of the wildlife and the beauty can restore a person’s soul. There are very few places where one can experience the fullness of a place so wild and so beautiful. A cultural tour of Alaska can be directed at seeing the wildlife, or the artwork of the Tlingit, an Indigenous tribe which have a rich tradition of beliefs and beautiful textiles. The Tlingit create ceremonial textiles called “dancing robes” which are intricately woven with long fringes that dance during the movement in ceremony.

Dancing Blanket-(courtesy of the american musem of Natural History) Dancing

 

Alaska is a spellbinding destination, no matter how widely you’ve traveled. Alaska tours allow you to explore the rugged landscape which is alone a draw for sightseers and those who enjoy outdoor pursuits. Though, the state offers much more including a thriving wildlife population sure to thrill visitors of all ages. You will also experience a rich cultural heritage which provides food for thought, as well as remarkable artistic achievements.

 

A cultural tour of Alaska can be oriented in any direction of interest. Alaska’s diversity of land, sea, and culture offers a once in a lifetime experience to see the wonders of nature that are gifts to us all. Plan to see Alaska before you die. You’ll be so glad you did. If you are planning  a trip to Alaska, you might want to read more about the places and possibilities for travel here.

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