Making Sustainable Travel SimpleLokal Travel Connecting Travelers to Communities Around the World
I’ve teamed-up with Lokal Travel, an online booking website for sustainable travel experiences around the world. During their “Ultimate Sustainable Travel Sale” on Indiegogo, they’re offering discounts up to 40% off travel gift cards and select bucketlist trips to Nepal, Thailand, Peru, Costa Rica and more. Proceeds from the sale will help Lokal expand around the world and support 1,000 local businesses. Landscapes on the Run readers can receive a special discount available until December 14th. Check it out here.
There’s a certain feeling that strikes during the best moments of your travels.
The hair stands up on the back of your neck. Goosebumps. Stupid amounts of smiling. Maybe the faintest bit of eye-welling.
It’s the feeling that you’re in the midst of an experience that you’ll remember forever. Reminiscing for the present moment.
In the past year, I’ve experienced this most frequently in small communities – in places not easily accessed – that challenged my assumptions about the world. That floored me with uncontrived experiences with individuals, families, and ridiculously beautiful scenery (in both rural and urban settings).
These far-flung communities have been difficult to find for a long time. Today, there’s a company that’s making it much easier to experience these places. Lokal Travel is a marketplace for booking local, sustainable adventures around the world that curates experiences with independent and locally-owned operators with an eye on quality, community connection, and environmental engagement.
Before I knew that Lokal was helping travelers connect in this way, I experienced some of the places and tour operators for myself in South America. Here are a few short examples:
Valparaiso is teeming with life and dripping with character and history. The mix of modern murals, UNESCO-designated monuments and buildings, collectivos buzzing through the city, old funiculars, and the friendliest street dogs you might ever meet make Valparaiso a must-visit in any Chile trip itinerary.
Like many places in Chile and Latin America, a tremendous amount of poverty and wealth polarization exists, and traditional “touristy” experiences keep travelers concentrated in only a few [wealthy] neighborhoods in Valparaiso.
Lokal works with walking tour company Ecomapu Travel, which focuses on showing travelers the real Valparaiso. Ecomapu works directly with the community members in Barrio Puerto, Cerro Cordillera, Playa Ancha and elsewhere to get their input and permission to conduct tours.
These neighborhoods are perhaps not as picturesque as “pretty” as Cerro Alegre and Concepcion, but they’re beautiful because they’re alive and real and gritty. The neighborhood is tied to its residents as much as to its buildings.
Check out Ecomapu here and and back Lokal through their Indiegogo Campaign. Get $100 in travel credit for just $50 through this link. (that’s $50 for free for you English majors out there). Their Campaign ends December 14th, so take advantage now!
Awamaki tours is a women’s empowerment and economic development organization that started offering tours as more of a secondary objective than primary purpose. They help connect rural Andean women’s associations to the markets for their handmade goods and further assists in developing women’s skills to help them “increase their income and transform their communities.”
The company now offers a few different tours, all done with 100% input from the weavers themselves, ranging from day-trips to learn about weaving, sharing a traditional pachamanca lunch, to a full weaving immersion weekend.
I spent a day learning about weaving and sharing lunch in Patacancha, about 1000 meters above Ollantaytambo. After a windy, bumpy drive up the valley past unnamed Incan ruins and small family dwellings, the women of Patacancha greeted us and welcomed us for some coca tea and a light snack. We learned some short Quechua phrases (hello, thank you, etc), since most of the women spoke only Quechua, with just a few having significant Spanish, and started to learn about the process of weaving, from pulling wool to the complicated art and skill of weaving itself.
My favorite and most empowering aspect of the day was when we paired off with weavers one-on-one to learn to weave a simple bracelet. After choosing our own colors, we sat on the ground, and Cristina (my teacher) planted a stake in the ground and began showing me the process of weaving this bracelet. With some hand motions, body language, and a little Spanish between the two of us, Cristina imparted just a small bit of her knowledge onto me.
Through that process, a connection was made and experience had that will forever tie me to that place and those people.
I’ll never forget the humility, generosity, and joy that those women shared with our small group
Look, Machu Picchu is great and impressive in its own right, but I had a more profound experience with Awamaki than I did watching the sunrise at Machu Picchu.
The way that this article is set up, you might think that I’m getting a kickback for promoting Lokal.
I’m excited about this company and want you to be because of the people I’ve met who stand to benefit most from Lokal’s success: their partner communities.
According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Of each $100 USD spent on a vacation tour by a tourist from a developed country, only around $5 USD actually stays in a developing destination’s economy.
Lokal helps bridge the booking gap between travelers and small communities and keeps 80% of your dollars spent in locals’ hands.
More dollars in their hands means more money for healthcare, food, schools, recycling, energy efficiency, cultural preservation and revitalization, and ultimately better experiences for guests (that’s you).
Lokal Travel’s Indiegogo Campaign offers big discounts for their trips around the world. Here are a few examples:
- $100 Lokal gift card (Landscapes on the Run reader exclusive) for $50
- $295-valued Lisu Lodge Hilltribe Adventure near Chang Mai, Thailand for $215
- $1,295-valued Annapurna Community Lodge Trek for $945.
Their campaign ends Thursday, December 14th, so get on it now! Perfect gift for your traveler friend(s) and family!
Support Lokal right here.