Top 5 Local Experiences
Northern Territory’s East Arnhem Land is home to the Yolngu people. This vast land has remained unchanged for more than 40,000 years and will touch you with its strong sense of tradition. Journey to one of the homelands with Lirrwi Tourism on a five-day adventure and you’ll be welcomed by a family and immersed into the Yolngu culture. Women will be guided through activities such as weaving, cooking and crafts, while spearfishing and didgeridoo making are available to the men. An exploratory hike along the coastline will bring home just how pristine this land is. By night, Dreamtime stories, passed down over generations, are told by a crackling fire. It’s an experience that will move you to your core.
In the jungle, learning to live and survive as the indigenous Penan is a journey back to basics. Taking visitors deep into the heart of the jungle, exploring the national parks and trekking beneath a tangled rainforest canopy to the traditional homes of the Penan tribe, Adventure Alternative offers travellers the opportunity to learn from the indigenous people about their way of life on this epic 16-day adventure. You’ll identify medicinal and edible plants, undertake jungle survival skills and craft traditional gifts, as well as shower in waterfalls, light fires and sleep in a hammock. Once you’ve completed your time with the Penan, you’ll be expertly equipped to embark on a wetland river safari, take a visit to an orangutan rehabilitation centre or search for the native proboscis monkey and Irrawaddy dolphin.
Culture is alive in New Caledonia, with an estimated 40 per cent of the archipelago’s total population still made up of the Kanak people. Dedicated to Kanak culture is the architecturally spectacular Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Nouméa. Nestled between Magenta and Tina bays in the Tina Peninsula, the curved wooden structures rise above surrounding woodland and mangroves in this preserved natural site. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the Cultural Centre was designed to replicate the island’s traditional architecture and houses a museum, performance spaces, a library and art centre. Inside the monument, which is named after Kanak leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou, visitors will find sculptures, paintings, photographs and regular dance performances that represent Pacific culture. Outside the hut-like buildings is a botanical garden that outlines the importance of nature to the Kanak people and the myth of the creation of man. Get the timing right and you’ll even be treated to a performance by the We Ce Ca group, proving the Tjibaou Cultural Centre is a totally immersive cultural experience.
As you traverse the plains near Lake Eyasi in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa, you can almost hear the rhythmic footfalls and pulsating chanting of the Hadzabe people. One of the last ancient tribes of hunter-gatherers on the planet, whose way of life has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years, the Hadzabe live in harmony with nature, finding everything they need to survive within the arresting landscapes they call home. A stay at &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania offers the opportunity to meet the Hadzabe and immerse yourself in their way of life. Here, you’ll learn hunting methods and how to forage for tubers, honey and berries in the surrounding shrubbery. After a day of dancing, practising the intricacies of beadwork and listening to stories, you can unwind in your banana leaf-domed stilted suite, inspired by the Masai mud and stick manyatta and decorated with rich fabrics and African antiquities.
Convention centres generally don’t come to mind when imagining indigenous cultural gatherings and celebrations, but Manito Ahbee is an event unlike any other. Held annually in Winnipeg, the festival draws its moniker from the sacred site in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park, where First Nations people gather to share their traditions and teachings and perform ceremonies (its name means “where the Creator sits”). The celebrations kick off with the lighting of the sacred fire, held at The Forks National Historic Site, which signifies the opening of its numerous events. Witness Pow Wow – the celebration of culture and friendship among First Nations communities – where more than 800 dancers come together to show off their skills. See the square dance exhibition and the jigging competition in honour of the Métis community. Discover the myriad trinkets and traditional artworks at the Indigenous Marketplace and Tradeshow. Marvel at artists as they put brush to canvas in live art challenges. Manito Ahbee takes place in May each year.
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