Travel & life evangelist. Speaker, storyteller, consultant. Connecting people to life-changing experiences. Abroad since '01.
Am a big fan of the color of everyday life. After visits to nearby VOIMMA Community Park and Andasibe-Mantadia National Park to check out the lemurs and other wildlife, we took a walk through the nearby village of Andasibe. Pick-up football, local markets, and makeshift foosball tables featured prominently. Draws from the local well, too. This is Madagascar.
Talk about a national park that offers it all, including in a single day walk: canyons, desert, oases, jungle, waterfalls, swimming holes, lemurs too. Madagascar’s Isalo National Park seems to roll all the country’s biodiversity into one. Of all the parks we visited on this trip, this one seemed the crowd favorite.
A ring-tailed lemur does an impression of one of my old college professors. .
Lemurs, unique to Madagascar, are a quintessential element of an experience on the island. We encountered several species of them in more than a half dozen community and national parks we’ve visited. This one calls Anja Community Reserve home. Here, preservation efforts have grown the lemur population from 20 to over 400 in the last two decades.
Madagascar, I never knew. A view of the terraced rice fields cascading across the country’s central and eastern highlands. These particular fields are on the edge of the village of Betafo, the site of an overnight homestay with local NGO “Arc-en-ciel” (Rainbow) on our @gadventures Highlights of Madagascar tour.
The Pamir-Alay Mountains in southern Kyrgyzstan blew us away. Truly. We went there on a trail-marking project to open up new trekking routes in the area, and came away as fan-evangelists for this mountainous area on the crossroads of China, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. A stunningly beautiful part of the world that nobody seems to know about.
If trekking and hiking in phenomenal landscapes with a dose of local culture is your thing, this region is worth a close look. Check out our just-released Alay Mountains, Ultimate Trekking Guide (link in bio). All the information you need for multi-day treks and awesome day hikes in this region is in there.
This shot: taken at Sary Mogul Pass (4300m / 14,100 ft) on Day 1 along a three-day Heights of Alay trek.
Greetings from Laguna Rajucolta with Mt. Huantsan (6359m / 20860ft) as backdrop. One of the acclimatization day-hikes in preparation for our 10-day trek of Cordillera Huayhuash. This is the High Andes, Peru. See you on the other side!
A centimo for your thoughts. Machu Picchu.
Hat envy, I have. After lunch in the Sacred Valley, we meet Hermogenes, once president of Parwa Restaurant, a #GforGood social enterprise in a 65-family
indigenous village. Parwa serves organic Peruvian food to travelers on their way to the Inca Trail or Machu Picchu.
Women run the show: 35 of them from the village have been
trained in and rotate duties from cooking, tending the garden and serving food. Restaurant needs have spurred the creation of five microenterprises, from raising quail for eggs to quinoa bar production for Inca Trail trekkers.
Profits are reinvested in the village and support clean water collection, scholarships for continued education, and site improvements including a new building. More impressive still, the restaurant recently chose to donate 5% of its profits to @Planeterra Foundation to help fund social enterprise projects in other rural and indigenous communities around
the world. This = paying it forward.
School’s out, Plaza de Armas, Cusco main square. Backdrop is Iglesia De La Compañia De Jesús. To me, Cusco town center is classic
Andean South America: open squares, cobbled streets, wide skies. Cusco sits at a whopping 3,400 meters (11,100+ feet). So take it slow...and drink your water.
Machu Picchu. Take a left at the House of the High Priest and catch a view to the Intihuatana staircase. Just when I think I’ll experience a place again for the second time as I have with Machu Picchu, I instead see it anew, fresh, in a different light. Weather, atmosphere, paths not yet taken, novel characters, an energy to fit the moment, — they all conspire to shift perspective, to show me something else. True with any destination, no less with the icon of the once lost Incan city.
A view inside the dye hut, Ccaccaccollo Women’s Weaving Co-op - Sacred Valley, Peru. The dyes — including the ones used in the yarn held by a woman named Cirila in this image — are made from natural, local ingredients like flowers, plants and bugs (yes!) and appear just as stunning and saturated in real life.
The weaving techniques and designs in practice here almost died out 10 years ago due to lack of economic opportunity and market access. Although the community is somewhat remote, off the main road in the Sacred Valley, it is nowadays a special stop along @gadventures Sacred Valley and Inca Trail departures.
Though an entire community is affected, over 40 women are directly involved, with profits from the center being used to source new materials which are shared amongst members of the growing co-op. One woman even told a story about being able to afford to send her children to university, something she never imagined.
Benefits to the community don’t end there, though. Now aided by attention from tourism, the local government is making an effort to improve roads and infrastructure. This is the ripple affect in action, the amplified impact of the choice of individual travelers engaging in social enterprise-powered tourism.
The view from my morning coca tea, outside our window across Cusco’s Sacred Garden to Qorikancha, the ruins of a prominent 15th century Incan temple. The prevailing story: when the Spanish first arrived in the city, the garden was filled with life-sized statues of llamas, corn and potatoes. As the historical layering of conquest goes, the Spanish (after snapping up all those gold statues), built atop the Incans, who were said to have built atop the others they’d conquered.
Although Machu Picchu gets all the attention as an Incan city, Cusco was the religious and administrative center of the Incan empire. For us, it was the jumping off point for our #GforGood social enterprise journey through Peru’s Sacred Valley, where we visited local indigenous communities and engaged with the region’s living history.