A walking tour of East London’s street art

The street art scene is alive and kicking in London’s Shoreditch – join a tour with a local social enterprise to discover the alternative side of the city…

Meeting under the ‘goat’ sculpture at Spitalfields, we meet Keir and begin our discovery of Shoreditch and Spitalfields’ street art scene. Keir, an artist himself, is a guide with social enterprise Alternative London – a tour operator that supports artists and other young creatives. They may be small but they’ve been number one on TripAdvisor’s London tours list and featured in the Guardian’s top 10 tours in the world!

Keir of Alternative London leads the group
Keir of Alternative London leads the group

Our two hour walking tour took a loop through Spitalfields, Brick Lane and Shoreditch, taking in some of the area’s most creative ‘street canvas’ but also disovering some fascinating insights into how this multicultural area of the city has changed over the past 350 years. It was an eye-opener to hear that the building which is currently Brick Lane was once a Jewish synagogue and a Catholic church!

Getting under the skin of the street art scene

Being part of the scene himself, and close friends with many of the artists whose work we viewed, Keir was able to give some insider knowledge (did you know that street artist Stik made £50K from a limited edition print and gave it all away to charity?). Keir also knows that every tour will be different as the landscape is changing daily – new works pop up, literally, overnight.

What a walking tour also teaches you is that you should always look up, and look down. We spotted the small bronze sculptures of Jonesy on top of sign-posts. We saw tree roots transformed into snakes. We saw ‘No Entry’ signs comically ‘defaced’. We saw Invader’s famous mosaics on street corners. We didn’t just see ROA’s awe-inspiring bird and other huge murals but also found out more about how the area, and spots such as Hanbury Street in particular, are magnets for street artists.

A new mural joins the crane by ROA
Martin Ron mural joins the crane by ROA

Such is the sheer volume of artworks in this area, your guide can’t stop and talk about each and every one. This leaves plenty of opportunities for rewalking the route (backwards?) or taking another tour on another day. This is simply a two-hour snapshot of the scene on that one day.

Walking, cycling, drinking, eating, art(ing?)

Alternative London now run a whole wealth of tours so you can discover the many layers of this neighbourhood. Try a street art bike tour, a pub and craft beer tour, or an East London food tour. They also run street art workshops (which can also be combined with a walking tour) so you can learn how to create your own spray paint masterpiece.

As a social enterprise, Alternative London directs a portion of its profits into youth art workshops, free to budding street artists, and helps fund some of the largest street murals in London’s East End.

When/How to book

The Alternative London Walking Tour lasts 1.5-2hrs and runs Mon-Sat with multiple departure times on some days. For full dates/times and booking, plus more details of all of the tours and workshops on offer, visit www.alternativeldn.co.uk.

Street art in east London
Street art in east London

 

A coffee lover’s dream – fair trade coffee tours to South America

Love your morning cup of fairtrade coffee? Now you can visit the actual producers on these brand new tours to Latin America with responsible travel specialists Sumak Travel. Founder Felipe Zalamea explains what to expect on their new Fair Trade Adventures…

View over the stunning Teyuna, or Lost City in Colombia
View over the stunning Teyuna, or Lost City in Colombia

It is pretty simple to find fair trade coffee or bananas in a supermarket, or fair trade handicrafts online. But it’s still quite difficult for a conscious traveller to find genuine fair trade holidays. From the very beginning, fair trade principles have been at the core of our social business model. When we met with Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation last year, we thought it was the time to go for it: a series of fair trade small group tours to Latin America. So we joined forces to create new and exciting travel experiences, Fair Trade Adventures.

These innovative tours give travellers the rare opportunity to meet many of the outstanding people behind popular fair trade products, such as the artisans behind beautiful handicrafts and the farmers behind the organic coffee you drink every morning.

Harvested coffee beans near Cuzco, Peru (Pic by Harry Dowdney)
Harvested coffee beans near Cuzco, Peru (Pic by Harry Dowdney)

12 days in Peru, Costa Rica and Columbia

Travellers will also visit iconic destinations such as Machu Picchu, and off-the-beaten path locations that are truly stunning. We are starting with 12-day trips to Peru (departing 22 April), Costa Rica (departing 14 May), Colombia (departing 20 August) and Northern Peru (departing 16 Sept) this year. Download the brochure for the full itineraries.

What to expect on a Fair Trade Adventure

We believe these tours are the perfect mix of adventure, culture, wildlife, iconic destinations and a little rest and relaxation! And if you’re looking forward to staring the day with something other a commute by train, tube or car, we’ve included boat trips, hiking, horse-riding, 4x4s, bicycles, canoeing and a 40m high suspension bridge!

You could…kick-start the day with a cup of freshly-ground Machu Picchu coffee before visiting the Inca citadel itself; take part in artisanal fishing on Lake Titicaca; visit organic farms along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coastline; venture down the Yorkin River deep into the jungle to meet members of the indigenous Bribri tribe and hear their ancient stories; hop on an immaculate old Willy´s jeep through super-scenic Valle del Cocora, in Colombia’s coffee region; venture completely off the beaten path in Northern Peru to taste the pulp of some of the world’s best cocoas and try your hand at making ceviche and mixing pisco sours; and last but not least, simply chill on pristine white sand beaches.

These tours are not about passively visiting people and places, but actively engaging with them, and returning home feeling enriched and alive again!

View of the Lake Titicaca, Peru - Pic by Harry Dowdney
View of the Lake Titicaca, Peru – Pic by Harry Dowdney

Where you’ll be staying, what you’ll be eating

Homestays are an important feature on many of Sumak Travel’s existing tours, and our Fair Trade Adventures are no exception. To find out more about the concept, you can read about homely homestays in Lake Titicaca, on our blog.

You could be staying with Ticos in San Jose, Costa Rica, or the Ashaninka Native Community San Miguel, in the Perené Valley, Peru. You’ll also be able to stay on farms and coffee plantations – and try your hand at milking cows, cutting sugar cane, making artisanal cheese and catching your own fish for dinner! But don’t worry, you can also sit back and enjoy the delights of a traditional Caribbean food, Andean recipes with a modern twist, Puma coffee, banana creams, tropical fruits, and some of the world’s best cocoa.

Uros Island, Lake Titicaca (pic by Marvin de Kievit)
Uros Island, Lake Titicaca (pic by Marvin de Kievit)

Supporting and promoting fair tourism

A fair trade approach to tourism is very much needed in the developing world, and in particular in destinations where tourism is the main industry. If you are tired of mass tourism and tourist traps, if you are looking for an unusual holiday where you can meet fantastic people, and if you would like to learn from some of the amazing people behind our fair trade staples, these tours are for you.

We are strong advocates of fair trade and sustainability, and would love to be able to show you that responsible tourism is not only the most rewarding option, but can be the most exciting one too.

The type of activity and variety of experiences included have been chosen to be as inclusive as possible, making the tours great for solo travellers, couples, groups of friends, and families alike. They are 12 to 14 days long, but for those who can stay longer and have more specific interests (bird-watching, hiking, wildlife, adventure sports, beaches etc), we have created special add-ons, that can be easily included too.

For more information – including prices, dates and booking visit the Fair Trade Adventures page on our website, download the brochure, or contact us at fairtrade@sumak-travel.org or T: 020 3642 4246.

Colourful La Candelaria, in Bogota centre, Colombia
Colourful La Candelaria, in Bogota centre, Colombia

 

Dive in with the world’s largest shark in Tanzania and Mexico

Growing up to 11m long, the whale shark is the world’s largest fish – and you can get up-close and personal on a responsible diving trip to see these incredible creatures

Whale-Shark-with-Researcher-Photographer-(c)Dr-Simon-Pierce-AQUA-FIRMA
Whale-Shark-with-Researcher-Photographer-(c)Dr-Simon-Pierce-AQUA-FIRMA

Some diving or snorkeling trips to some of the world’s best marine spots can feel like a feeding frenzy. The multitude of tourists and boats can be overwhelming for wildlife and the marine habitat, but many tour operators are working differently.

One such company, wilderness travel outfit Aqua-Firma, leads adventure tours that support whale shark conservation, as well as giving thrill seekers and wildlife fans the opportunity to come face-to-face with these formidable fish.

Whale_Shark_spot_pattern_(c)_Dr_Simon_Pierce_AQUA-FIRMA
Whale_Shark_spot_pattern_(c)_Dr_Simon_Pierce_AQUA-FIRMA

Two key spots to swim with these sharks are in Tanzania and Mexico. Both Mafia Island, off Tanzania, and the world’s second largest barrier reef, along the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, offer optimal opportunities for sighting whale sharks and witnessing their migration.

Marine Biologist, Dr. Simon Pierce says, “The most whale sharks I have seen from our research vessel in Mexico is about 180, with as many giant manta rays to snorkel with beneath the water.”

Swimming_with_Giant_Manta_Ray_(c)_Dr_Simon_Pierce_AQUA-FIRMA
Swimming_with_Giant_Manta_Ray_(c)_Dr_Simon_Pierce_AQUA-FIRMA

Aqua-Firma offer a number of snorkelling and diving trips around the world. Other shark encounters include: walking beside white tip reef sharks and scuba diving with schools of a hundred or more hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos, Malpelo and Costa Rica’s Cocos Island; glimpsing even larger schools of Silky Sharks in Mexico’s Socorro; and finding Ragged Tooth Sharks whose teeth litter the floor at their popular hangouts in South Africa.

While the travel group helps explorers experience some of the world’s greatest diving locations, conservation of the marine environment is a priority. The company contributes directly to marine protection through whale shark tours. In the Galapagos, divers have the chance to learn about marine life conservation and see it in action as donations go directly to the Galapagos Conservation Trust. On Mafia Island in Tanzania trips can raise a whole year’s funds for whale shark research.

Whale-shark-eats-snorkeller-(c)-Dr-Simon-Pierce-AQUA-FIRMA
Whale-shark-eats-snorkeller-(c)-Dr-Simon-Pierce-AQUA-FIRMA

The tours pay homage to all areas of the environment they touch. From preserving the sea and land, to respecting the culture and heritage along the coast, explorers not only get an in-depth view of the countries they visit, but significantly contribute to the well-being and conservation of the life that inhabits them.

Whale shark trips start from £1,590 with departures in July/August (Mexico) and November (Tanzania). For full details of each tour visit http://www.aqua-firma.co.uk/countries/Tanzania/ or http://www.aqua-firma.co.uk/countries/Mexico/.

Aerial_Reefs_Caribbean_Mexico_(c)_Dr_Simon_Pierce_AQUA-FIRMA
Aerial_Reefs_Caribbean_Mexico_(c)_Dr_Simon_Pierce_AQUA-FIRMA

Peddle power! Cycle to Europe with Beespoke Tours

Get on your bike this summer and hit the road on one of these special cycling tours of Europe…

We all know cycling has great benefits: you can get fit, de-stress, travel at your own pace and take in the fresh air. It’s also a great low-carbon, low-impact green form of transport. All perfect reasons to book yourself a cycling holiday this summer and hit the roads of Europe.

Beespoke Tours bikes on sand dunes in Holland
Beespoke Tours bikes on sand dunes in Holland

Specialist bike touring company Beespoke Tours has just announced its tours for 2015. With cycle routes available from London to Amsterdam, Paris and Bruges, the tours offer a stress-free experience enjoying the scenic outdoors. Depending on the selected route, the tours pass idyllic scenery including rivers, ancient woodlands, farmlands, sand dunes, tulip fields and windmills, before arriving at the final destination.

Each route will be led by company co-founders Simon Izod and Clarissa Carlyon so you know you’re in safe hands. With everything from accommodation and most meals catered for (plus a support vehicle following the cycle group with all of your luggage) all you need to worry about is making sure you can pedal 65 miles a day!

London to Amsterdam

This 3-day trip will pass quiet villages and provide plenty of beautiful outdoor scenery. There will be delicious pub meals, local cheeses and the chance to sample plenty of CAMRA real ales. Accommodation includes a cosy lodge tent with a wood-burning stove.

Tour dates: 7th to 9th May; 28th to 30th May; 30th July to 1st August 2015

Beespoke Tours in Amsterdam
Beespoke Tours in Amsterdam

London to Paris

On the London to Paris tour travellers cycle through historic Normandy and the Bois de Boulogne, as well as passing a transformed railway, lakes, and rolling countryside over four days. Accommodation will be varied and includes a night in a woodland bell tent, another at a converted station house and the final night at a boutique Parisian hotel.

Tour dates: 18th to 21st June; 1st to 4th October 2015

London to Bruges

The 4-day London to Bruges tour takes in the beautiful Essex countryside via Maldon, and across the sea to Hoek van Holland before heading south on unique coastal bicycle paths through Holland. Accommodation comes in the form of a tipi, with the last day spent cycling through Belgium before arriving at the stunning medieval city of Bruges.

Tour dates: 3rd to 6th September 2015

riding with Beespoke Tours
riding with Beespoke Tours

Recommended for… Those inspired by this year’s Tour de Yorkshire or fancy a break from their daily cycle commute.

Be aware that… Although suitable for beginners, a reasonable level of fitness is required and you should be able to cycle 65 miles a day.

Prices and booking: Tour prices range from £650 to £750. For more details and booking visit www.beespoketours.co.uk.

Discover art and wine in Spain’s Catalonia region

Guest blogger Elena reviews her experience of the food and culture of Catalonia, Spain with responsible travel specialists Go Barefoot…

[gdl_gallery title=”Catalonia” width=”120″ height=”110″ ]

I arrived at a romantic, luxury family farmhouse located in the heart of the Catalonian countryside, surrounded by green hills with a view of the outstanding Montserrat mountain range. I felt I was in an undiscovered fairytale far away from big city life, giving me the energy and inspiration that I was looking for.

I love the idea of family businesses and the beautiful farmhouse proved this to me once again – happiness is when you love what you do and when you are surrounded by such love. I really felt like part of the family when I arrived – welcomed by loving, happy, relaxed and charming people.

Accommodation

Go Barefoot partners with responsible tourism providers, and this trip includes accommodation (in my case the farmhouse) with double/twin occupancy. It feels like you have finally found a retreat on earth, offering high standards of service with the perfect touch of small details surrounded by tasteful decoration, candles, organic linen, wild flowers, and hand woven baskets, all which inspire you and put you in a relaxing and creative frame of mind.

Things to do

The ‘Grapes of Art’ trip is all about discovering Catalonia’s rich cultural heritage, including the work of Dali and Gaudi. I got busy writing and painting whilst tasting local wines and olive oil, exploring Costa Brava’s unspoilt beach coves, and visiting the quirky Dali museum.

Gastronomy is an incredibly important part of this region so this trip takes every opportunity to indulge in some of the best local cuisine. Several of the days include excursions to Catalonia’s vineyards and wine cellars with tours and tastings part of the experience. Sample some lovely cava (white Catalan sparking wine) or txacoli (Basque wine) with your tapas.

If you are a fan of the creative talents of Gaudi, you will love the time spent in Barcelona. Fans of the area can add a two day extension on to the overall trip and continue to enjoy the Barcelona region, its mountain ranges, beaches and vineyards.

You will spend much of the time exploring Catalonia’s medieval villages such as Peratallada, Besalu and Cadaques – full of cobbled streets, quaint houses and picturesque vistas. The trip also takes in the stunning city of Girona and monuments such as Pubol Castle, home of Dali’s wife and muse Gala.

This Catalonian experience offers pure rest and stimulation for your body and soul – you can absorb the silence of nature, taste organic local food produce, walk or go horse riding, enjoy art and creative writing, or indulge in a spa treatment and massage.

Like me, you will love it!

‘Grapes of Art’ trip duration/prices: 6 days (+ 2 extension). Year round departures. £895 per person (check latest prices online)

For a full itinerary, latest prices and booking, visit www.gobarefoot.travel

Recommended for… Lovers of art, wine and good food

Be aware that… The rural-based accommodation is geared towards peace and tranquility, so not for those looking for a party hot-spot!

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Go Barefoot partners with small-scale producers that preserve rural traditions and culinary techniques
  • They also partner with responsible tourism accommodation providers in the region
  • Go Barefoot supports the conservation of the Iberian Lynx in Andulucia

 

Explore Latin America’s largest favela in Rio, Brazil

With the 2014 World Cup and the forthcoming 2016 Olympic Games, all eyes are on Brazil right now – but what is its most famous city, Rio de Janeiro, really like?

A new walking tour of the city’s slum neighbourhoods aims to reveal a different side to Rio, while celebrating the spirit and vitality of the community that lives there. You’ll get to know the neighbourhood of Rochina (which itself houses many ‘barrios’), Latin America’s largest favela.

rocinha1

The tours have been set-up by the Rochina by Rochina Project, an iniative led by a small group of dedicated young people living in Rochina. Tourists can hear first hand what its like to live in the favela, plus get the chance to stop and buy souvenirs direct from local people and perhaps hear an impromptu samba performance. While this is a walking tour, part of the journey is taken by mototaxi (motorbike) to reach some of the steeper parts of the area and catch stunning views of Christ the Redeemer, the Sugar Loaf, the Lagoon Rodrigo de Freitas, and many beaches.

Project founder Erik Martins said, “We want to show what the culture of Rochina has to offer, and to give a true feeling of what it’s like to be part of the community. Our tours cover the recent initiatives that are improving the conditions of the slum, but also reveal the locations that still lack zeal.

“We don’t want to hide what saddens us but explain everything that is beautiful and culturally rich around us, and some fascinating panoramic views that fill us with pride.”

Favela Rocinha. Rio De Janeiro. Brazil.

The tours are free but tourists are invited to pay what they like (and Goodtrippers believes that this positive initiative alone is worth some of your holiday money, let alone the time, effort and warm welcome given by each guide – give generously!). Rochina by Rochina guarantee that all donations go straight to the guide themselves, direct and uncut. And if you’re short of cash on the day, you can also pay by iZettle so guides can accept donations via smartphones and tablets.

For more information and to book a tour visit www.rochinabyrochina.com or email: tours@rochinabyrochina.com

Recommended for… Those who are social and love meeting local people

Be aware that… While mototaxis are on hand, streets are sometimes steep and narrow so leave your flip-flops and bring your walking shoes

‘Good’ credentials:

  • 100% of your donation/tip goes to local guides
  • Supports local businesses and livelihoods
  • Shows the real side of Rio’s favelas

Explore Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago with Song Saa Foundation

Join the new ‘Journeys of Change’ tours to find out how the Song Saa Foundation is making a positive impact on the people and places of Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago

Fancy an unforgettable trip to Cambodia’s southern coastal region? The Song Saa Foundation, an initiative of the luxury eco resort of Song Saa Private Island, has launched a new programme of fascinating tours in this generally undiscovered region. The ‘Journeys of Change’ tours allow visitors to get first hand experience of the Foundation’s charity projects across the Koh Rong Archipelago.

[gdl_gallery title=”Song” width=”115″ height=”110″ ]

The region itself is a beautiful mix of palm-fringed beaches, coral reefs and dense tropical rainforest, all home to a vibrant range of animal and marine life, and indigenous Khmer communities. The Song Saa Foundation runs a number of charity projects in the region to improve the lives of local people and help protect precious species and habitats. On a four-day ‘Journeys of Change’ tour, visitors can see exactly how these projects are making a positive impact in Koh Rong, while using the luxury eco resort of Song Saa Private Island as their base.

Accommodation on the tour

All tour bookings include a four-night stay in a Jungle Villa in Song Saa Private Island (twin share), complete with private pool and sea views. The tour price also includes all drinks and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There are several opportunities during the tour for guests to spend some time at their leisure and enjoy the spa and water-sport facilities on offer. The multi award-winning luxury resort is considered a leader in sustainable tourism due to its continued commitment to reducing waste and energy use, recycling and reusing wherever possible, and being fair employers that support the local community and local livelihoods. (You can find out more about their sustainability credentials here).

Tour itinerary

Day 1: Boat transfer from Sihanoukville; welcome drinks at Song Saa and introduction to the programme

Day 2: Introduction to Khmer words and customs; island safari around Koh Bong and Koh Ouen; Khmer fishing village encounter including participation in an education workshop with the Foundation’s youth environment group, the Song Saa Sea Turtles

Day 3: Boat of Hope Voyage – join the monthly outreach programme visiting communities across the archipelago to offer clinics and deliver nutritional support. Lunch will be a special picnic on the beautiful 5-mile beach.

Day 4: Guests can pick a morning and an afternoon activity from the following: Marine conservation encounter (help the work of the conservation team in the islands’ marine reserve); Rainforest conservation encounter (work alongside Foundation staff as they survey the surrounding rainforest); Garden to Plate cuisine experience (learn the art of sustainable food growing and Khmer cooking); The World is Your Basket (learn how to make a traditional Khmer basket).

Day 5: Spend the morning at leisure or taking part in one the activities listed above; boat transfer back to Sihanoukville.

Dates, prices and booking

The four-day tour costs £980, which includes accommodation on a full-board basis, speedboat transfers, and all charity project excursions and activities. Tours take place 16-20 of each month in June, July, August and September 2014. For booking and further information visit www.songsaa.com or email: reservations@songsaa.com. For full information about the Song Saa Foundation and its work visit www.songsaafoundation.org.

Recommended for… Those looking to get involved with charitable projects in Cambodia, but who only have limited time

Be aware that… Flights to Cambodia are not included in the tour price

‘Good’ credentials:

  • 100% of tour fees go towards continuing the charitable work of the Song Saa Foundation in Cambodia
  • Stay at a leading sustainable eco resort
  • Join and support marine conservation, rainforest conservation, and community charity projects
  • Tour groups kept to a maximum of 10 people to ensure minimal impact

 

(Please note: Google Marps marker is only an approximate indiction of location)

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Take a global culinary tour of meals with local families

From chatting over dahl in Delhi to bonding over borsch in Bucharest, you can now take in even more culinary delights with local families across the globe.

Responsible tour company Urban Adventures has expanded its programme of ‘Home Cooked’ tour destinations following the success of their Home Cooked Delhi and Home Cooked Istanbul tours. The tours, which allow travellers to join local families for home-cooked meals, now include Bucharest, Kochi, Samarkand, San Jose and Kastoria.

Learn to cook alongside locals on Home Cooked tours
Learn to cook alongside locals on Home Cooked tours

On each tour (lasting around three or four hours), guests are invited to shop for ingredients in the local markets, join a family in their home, see how traditional and favourite dishes are created, and gain some new cooking tips (and perhaps lend a hand!), before sitting down to share a delicious meal. It’s a great way to connect with a country and its culture, and make new friends over the bonding experience of sharing a home-cooked meal.

The full list of Urban Adventures’ ‘Home Cooked’ tours (please note: prices are approximate according to the exchange rate at time of publication):

Home Cooked Delhi – £29

Home Cooked Istanbul – £20

Home Cooked Bucharest – £25

Home Cooked Kochi – £29

Home Cooked Bucharest – £15

Home Cooked San Jose – £31

Home Cooked Kastoria – £15

For booking, latest prices and more information visit www.urbanadventures.com

Urban Adventures is also looking for more ‘Home Cooked’ hosts from around the world. If you have met someone on your travels who you think would be a perfect host, they can apply by sending a photo of their family enjoying a home-cooked meal to Instagram using the hashtag #UAhomecooked, or by emailing the photo to product@urbanadventures.com.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Urban Adventures uses local guides to reveal unseen sights and attractions off the beaten track
  • It supports local businesses to ensure the majority of income remains in the local community
  • It uses local public transport on its tours
  • Tour group sizes are kept small to minimise the impact on the local environment and community
  • Urban Adventures works with a network of global partners who run tours in accordance with the Responsible Travel Code of Conduct

 

 

How responsible travellers get more from the Brazil World Cup

Guest blogger Cristina Nanni, of volunteering NGO Frontier, reveals some great ideas for responsible tourists visiting Brazil for this year’s football World Cup…

sports fans in Brazil

On the 12th June the world will wait with baited breath as the first match of the Brazil World Cup 2014 kicks off as host country Brazil faces underdogs Croatia. Fans will have the chance to watch football in the country where Pelé, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Socrates first kicked a ball, but for many, watching the players fight it out in the stadium will be the end of their cultural experience.

For those that are keen to get to know more about the country behind the football, adding a volunteering project as a chance to give back to Rio’s impoverished communities is a fantastic opportunity to give back. So if you want to turn your sport pilgrimage into a true adventure, make sure to take a look behind the city’s scenes…

An easy way to get a look at the ‘real’ Rio is to immerse yourself within the favela community. By partaking in an introductory or favela tour you’ll get an insight into the vibrant carnival culture which Rio is famous for.

Recommended for… Whoever wants to discover Rio’s soul.

Be aware that…You have to be in Rio de Janeiro on the same day as your tour. Tours run from 10am to 2pm on weekdays and 12pm to 4pm on weekends.

Good credentials… A percentage of the tour fee goes straight back into the favela community, directly helping to support a number of initiatives aimed at getting kids off the streets and people back into work.

Rio, Brazil

If you have a longer stay planned in Rio, you might want to consider joining a community development volunteering project running for two weeks or more. Through a series of educational programs you can help impoverished local communities to acquire expertise and knowledge to expand their academic and career opportunities. By teaching and transferring skills, you will allow locals to be more competitive in the job market, and there is a wide range of activities you can be involved in: music and dance, graffiti art, sport, gardening, handcrafts for women and young people. If you have a basic level of Portuguese you could consider teaching English or IT, or offering tutoring services.

Recommended for… Anyone that wants to make the most of this World Cup experience

Be aware that… To take part to the project you have to commit for a minimum of two weeks and you will stay in a local hostel sharing a dorm room with your fellow volunteers.

Good credentials… This project will help you to gain valuable job experience in teaching while contributing to the sustainable development of a friendly and vibrant community in one of Rio’s largest favelas.

For more details, prices and booking visit www.frontier.ac.uk

About the author: Cristina Nanni works for Frontier, a non-profit international volunteering NGO that runs over 300 dedicated conservation, community, and adventure projects in 61 countries across the globe. Find out more about Frontier’s volunteer projects, ethical adventure trails and gap year planning.

You may also like… Positive favela tours in Rio de Janeiro

Touring with The Township Sisters in Cape Town

Guest blogger Rachel Watson takes a walking tour of Cape Town’s townships with new guides The Township Sisters…

The township name Masiphumelele means “we will succeed” in Xosha (one of South Africa’s 11 official languages) and the residents are doing just that. From the corner barbershop to the ice cream store, the library to the township pub, Masi (as it’s known for short) is a bustling, welcoming community waiting to be explored.

[gdl_gallery title=”Township” width=”115″ height=”110″ ]

I toured Masi with The Township Sisters, friends Ali and Mandy who have come together to help visitors to Cape Town experience a township tour through local eyes. They offer walking tours, guided by local people who have grown up in Masi and therefore give visitors a unique insight into the township – telling stories, introducing you to members of the community and leading you around as only a local can.

We met girl friends perfecting a Beyoncé dance routine in the community hall, teenagers catching up on homework in the internet cafe, a lady hand printing cotton tablecloths to be sold, children playing in the street… and all had a smile and a wave, a friendly greeting for the visitors to make us feel instantly at home in their community.

The Township Sisters’ tours are on foot, meaning that you’re right in the heart of the action – no soulless tour bus here, no peering out of a window and passing through without getting a true feel of the place. The comparison between here and the five star waterfront area of Cape Town couldn’t be more stark, but the friendliness and warmth in Masi shines through the comparable harshness of the living conditions. Taking a tour with The Township Sisters was a highlight of my time in Cape Town, and a unique experience.

Recommended for… Anyone who wants to experience a township tour in Cape Town, from a local perspective.

Be aware that… It’s a leisurely stroll so no particular level of fitness is necessary, but as the tours are on foot people with mobility issues may struggle.

‘Good’ credentials…

  • Touring on foot rather than in a vehicle makes the tours much more eco friendly
  • The Township Sisters support community projects in Masi – such as the local crèche – by arranging sustainable donations such as blankets, furniture and uniforms.
  • Tour guides are recruited from local people, providing jobs for members of the Masiphumelele community

 

For more information about The Township Sisters, visit their Facebook page here

About the author: Rachel Watson caught the travel bug during her gap year in 2002, and has no plans to stop exploring! She works in Customer Operations and blogs about her travel experiences in her spare time. Visit Rachel’s blog at http://dancing-like-no-ones-watching.blogspot.co.uk/ or follow her on Twitter @RacheyRoo183