Things to do on a locally run vacation


Trekking & cycling

Exploring on two feet or two wheels is always a great way to get that bit closer to your vacation destination – but when combined with the intimate knowledge of a local tour operator, these activities really come into their own. Spark up conversations as you ramble around Andalucia (with a translator on hand), or take a detour to a small Nepalese village – your guide’s hometown, perhaps. Pedal along an alternative path when inclement weather threatens in Patagonia, or stuff your panniers with local produce at a weekly market in the French Alps – accompanied by your very own donkey.
Self guided walking and cycling vacations are best suited to the lower altitudes and milder weather of Europe – while accompanied tours are safer (and stress-free!) options in the Himalayas or the Andes.

Mix up your activities

Summer sees guests out on the water – rafting, sea kayaking and canyoning their way through delightful landscapes, with local fare waiting at the end to boost energy levels. Spring and autumn can be idea for hiking and biking, while winter brings wonders all of its own, with snow shoeing, cross country skiing and the thrill of mushing your own pack of huskies through a frozen forest.

Going local

Whether you’re going for full on culture shock in Ethiopia or China, or simply looking for the best place to watch a sensual and seductive tango, local operators open up a whole world of cultural possibilities. In Ethiopia, you’ll discover which days of the week are for fasting, and which gifts to bring for your community host. In Kerala, you’ll experience an authentic ayurvedic massage, and learn how to tip appropriately. And in Tibet, you’ll be shown how to drink yak butter tea – or how to politely turn it down!
But an authentic cultural encounter doesn’t have to mean traveling somewhere exotic. You might just be doing your shopping at the mercado in an Andalucian village, or taking a language lesson in Asturias. You could be paddling round a Croatian cove, while your guide tells you what it looked like when he was growing up there 20 years ago – when these waters were Yugoslavian. Or you could discover the right way to enjoy a sauna after a hard day snowshoeing in Finland – with an optional roll in the snow afterwards!

Weird & wonderful wildlife

There are many ways to head off on safari – but a local tour can reduce costs – meaning you might be able to upgrade to a fancier lodge or extend your trip – for the same price as a budget deal booked through a UK-based company. But local wildlife tours go beyond Africa; think wolverines and bears in Finland, bison in Poland and kangaroos Down Under.
Photo credits: [Local trek : Ninara] [ [Going local in Ethiopia: Vicki Brown] [Help desk box: Ninara]
Written by Vicki Brown
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