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The essence of the countries is in its people This year I had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala for a week and on a comprehensive 16 day trip to Belize, what a treat! Every time I visit Guatemala I’m amazed by the richness of its culture. Just imagine over 21 different indigenous Mayan populations fused with Spanish and European populations. One of my favorite things is to stroll around all the different villages near the Atitlan Lake where ancient Mayan dialect is still the primary language, which is uncommon to see in larger cities throughout Central American these days. It's a chance to really learn about their way of life: weaving the most intricate huipiles, teaching their natural dyeing techniques, etc. The Mayan influence is very strong everywhere you look, I think no other country has more international identity than Guatemala. To top it all our guide was able to spot a jaguar in the jungles of Tikal,...

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Village Life in Guatemala One of my favourite aspects of travelling is meeting the people who live in the country. That's why a highlight of our recent trip to Guatemala was visiting a small community, to see their school and have lunch in a farmhouse. Before leaving the city of Antigua, where we'd stayed for two days, we asked our guide, Fidensio, if we could buy a couple of soccer balls to take as a gift to the school. He arranged for us to stop at a stall in a local market on our way out of town, where a local businessman was selling soccer balls and other goods. After making our purchase, we drove about an hour out of Antigua along winding roads, finally pulling onto a dusty lane. We watched as farmers planted and fertilized their fields by hand. Horses are expensive, and the farms are small enough that the work can...
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We noticed this African proverb chiseled into the wall in the Johannesburg airport as we passed through there, and it perfectly describes our trip, which was perhaps the most personal travel experience we've ever had. We expected the expansive scenery and wildlife to be amazing, and anticipated that lodges/camps would be fabulous, but what also left a lasting impression was the people we met. We are most grateful for the gift of time and sincere hospitality from everyone at Merrueshi who led us into schoolrooms, dorms, clinic exam rooms and the lab...who talked story about social traditions under an acacia tree, or world politics over tea in the lobby pavilion, or community development around the dinner table...or graciously allowed us to visit their family homestead and even sit inside a traditional home built by their mother's own hands. Alyssa and Ray at Ol Donyo entertained Elaine and I like longtime...

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Our Extended Wildland Family in India How do you connect with 1.2 billion people? In India, our local connections all started with Amit and Jessika Sankahla years ago, now a new family with their little daughter Siyana. Meet the Sankahla family in Kurt's previous blog. They have introduced us to their extended family, friends and so many acquaintances in local communities throughout India. Amit’s grandfather was a leading tiger conservationist in the 1950s whose work was supported by Indira Gandhi. Today, Amit follows in his father’s path taking Wildland travelers to his jungle ecolodges on our Tigers and Travels in India where we have seen many tigers accompanied by some of the region’s most exceptional naturalist guides and in local trackers. At Khana Jungle Lodge, we are welcomed by Dimple and Tarun, Amit’s cousins who have been running the lodge for 20 years and host us like family. In between the morning and afternoon tiger safaris Dimple gives cooking lessons and...

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How to Make Local Connections in Morocco I would say the single most difficult thing about planning a trip is finding an authentic cultural experience with the locals and I'm not talking about pulling over in a small town to buy some souvenirs. I'm talking about a real sincere opportunity to get to know the locals, without artifice and without a script. By far my favorite memories have been getting the chance to get to know the locals and experience their daily life. Finding that local connection is especially arduous when planning a trip to Morocco. Morocco is undeniably a beautiful and fascinating country, but not the easiest place to find an authentic experience. It's really important if your planning to travel to Morocco that you go with a travel company that really knows Morocco well and more importantly, has amazing guides.  Having a local guide that you can trust is the true key to a successful trip in Morocco. Luckily for me...
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