The past decade has seen a surge of interest in travel activities where indigenous people are directly involved in educating people about their traditions.
And the reasons for engaging with indigenous communities while travelling are manifold; meeting people from a different culture, absorbing their history, music, and art, and having the chance to support their wildlife conservation efforts.
With this in mind, here are the world’s top five destinations that explore, support, and celebrate indigenous cultures around the world.
Austronesian tribes in Taitung City, Taiwan
A traditional boat in use at Orchid Island
Taiwan is believed by anthropologists to be the origin of the majority of Austronesian cultures, and these tribes were in Taiwan up to 15,000 years before the Han Chinese population arrived. Taitung City on the eastern coast of Taiwan has become a focal point for exploring the history of tribes like the Puyuma and Amis Aborigines.
Each summer the city hosts the Festival of Austronesian and Formosa Indigenous Cultures, and acts as a gateway to other areas with indigenous populations like Orchid Island and Green Island. Visit The Natural Museum of Prehistory, originally built to save a Puyuma archaeological site, then spend by a few days at the Mata Taiwan Indigenous Cultural Resort.
Tacana communities in Madidi National Park, Bolivia
Tourists explore the Bolivian rainforest with a Tacana guide
The Bolivia Madidi National Park is over 2 million hectares of protected land, and home to thousands of species of birds, mammals, and amphibians. The Park’s commitment to preservation and ethical tourism extends to the locals, with the only people allowed to lived inside the park being Tacana Aborigines.
The Tacana have centuries of experience protecting and maintaining the parkland, and some of the tribe members have also branched into tourism. Many of the local hotels and hostels are owned by Tacana Indians who act as interpreters and conduct regular tours of the park.
Aboriginal communities in Broome, Western Australia
In an attempt to boost tourism, authorities in Western Australia have begun collaborating with Aboriginal tourist industries, and the coastal resort town of Boome is a great example of how this approach has paid off. Traditionally known for its beaches and scenery, today Boome is increasingly popular among travellers who wanting to learn more about Australia’s history and traditions.
The Aboriginal community runs tours of Boome include the 82km-long walk along the coastline, from Minyirr to Minarriny, known as the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail. It’s organised by the Goolarabooloo Aboriginal community and focuses upon traditional activities like bush hunting and jewellery making. There are also multiple shorter tours on offer, while the Waringarri Aboriginal Arts Centre — run by and for Aboriginal artists — and Kooljaman at Cape Leveque is an Aboriginal-owned campsite.
Maasai communities in Kenya and Tanzania
A stretch of preserved wilderness along the southwest Kenyan/Tanzanian border, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is designed to help protect the savannah’s wildlife. And the Maasai communities are a vital part of these efforts as they are employed by the park as security guards, helping to protect the animals from poachers.
Aside from their conservation work, Maasai people are also known for their crafted jewellery, and regular demonstrations are held for interested visitors. Stay at the Maasai Lodge Tanzania, at the foot of Kilimanjaro.
First Nations in Vancouver, Canada
Totem poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park, Vancouver
Just over 2% of the population of Vancouver identify themselves as belonging to an Aboriginal group, making it a popular destination for indigenous tourism. The city’s Museum of Anthropology and the Skwachàys Lodge, decorated with artwork by local indigenous artists, are popular with visitors. And many tribes offer history and culture tours of the area, including the Tofino’s T’ashii Paddle School, and Talaysay Tours through Stanley Park.