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Tribal travel

Worldwide, a number of ethically sensitive ethno-tourism ventures are benefiting tourists as well as tribals.

El Descanso | Costa Rica

The El Descanso Rural Lodge is run by ASODINT, an organisation that fights for the rights of indigenous tribal populations. The four cabins in the lodge can host a total of 13 people, while additional accommodation is available at a guest house. It is located in the region inhabited by Terrabas, an indigenous community with a matriarchal system whose origins date back 10, 000 years.

Chaskiventura | Peru

This company offers package tours to locations inhabited by different indigenous communities like the Patabamba (famous as weavers), Raqchi (a community of potters) and Uros (Peru's oldest highland tribe, that lives on 'floating islands' on Lake Titicaca). The packages usually last two days and one night. The company also runs a volunteer programme.

Aboriginal Australia

Diverse Travel operates a host of packages with a focus on Aboriginal people and culture, like a visit to Mt Boradalle Safari Camp, built on Aboriginal land, or a tour to Elsey Station in the Australian outback 400 km south of Darwin. In the Yorke Peninsula, tourists can discover Aboriginal mythological land formations, experience cultural ceremonies, and interact with the descendants of the earliest inhabitants of the land.

Chhattisgarh | India

The Chhattisgarh government announced its plans to develop ethno-tourism in 2007. Tribals constitute 44 per cent of the state's population and the profits were supposed to go towards their welfare. Visiting tribal villages is now an important aspect of tourism in the state, with the official website clearly spelling out the dos and dont's : "Smiling, asking questions about local customs, appreciating their crafts and culture is perfectly acceptable, (while) gaping, clicking pictures without permission and doling out money is not. "

Il Ngwesi Group Ranch, Kenya

Situated in the Savannah grasslands, this ranch is owned and run by members of the Masai tribe. Tourists stay at the Eco Lodge, designed in such a way as to maximise their contact with nature and soak in the tribal atmosphere. There are also game drives, camel safaris and guided bush walks. The facility is regarded as a model for ethno-tourism and conservation.

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