Three New Experiential Eco-Fashion Trips Taking Off This Summer

This summer, three new eco-fashion-oriented package tours will offer the chance for ethical designers, makers and consumers to meet artisan communities, take workshops in craft production and see the impact of their conscious purchasing decisions.

While different in structure, these trips all offer the chance to travel along an artisan product’s supply chain, from visiting farming communities in Ecuador, to knitting with naturally dyed alpaca yarn in Peru, to shopping finished products in Guatemalan boutiques.

Even for people who don’t geek out on beautiful textiles and hand looms, these trips offer a different way to travel, one that emphasizes connections with the people behind your souvenirs.

Awamaki-Kollabora Collaborative Crafting Workshop

When: May 25 to June 2, 2013
Where: Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
Perfect for: Students, or travelers who seek an authentic off-the-beaten-path experience
What: “A cross-cultural tour pairing you with a Rumira knitter to develop a Kollabora knit item using local, hand-spun alpaca yarn. We trace the entire creation of your project through hands-on engagement: visiting alpaca farms high in the Andes to source fleece, learning to spin fleece into soft yarns, dyeing yarn skeins with native plant dyes alongside Quecha weavers, and studying the local backstrap loom.”
Accommodations: Home-stays with Awamaki’s host families.
Side trips: Incan ruins, markets in Cusco, Machu Picchu.
Organized by: Kollabora, an online community for DIY inspiration, projects, skills and supplies, in partnership with Awamaki, a non-profit that supports artisan groups in Peru’s Sacred Valley.
Price: $1,799, which includes home-stay accommodations, most meals, day trips, guides and crafting materials. Fee does not cover international airfare to/from Cusco, visas, travel or health insurance, tips and personal purchases.
For more information: Visit the trip description page or email peru@kollabora.com.Mercado Global Insight Trip: Community Empowerment

When: June 30 to July 4, 2013
Where: Lake Atitlan and Antigua, Guatemala
Perfect for: People who are curious about social enterprise models and their impact on communities. Mercado Global also offers a Women Helping Women trip for women interested in mentoring and a Financial Empowerment trip for people interested in the entrepreneurial side of rural artisan businesses.
What: “An exclusive week-long journey that fuses service, leadership, and once-in-a-lifetime cultural exchange. Attendees will meet the indigenous Maya women we partner with in the Guatemalan highlands and learn about how their transformation into leaders has impacted their families and their communities.”
Accommodations: Four-star lodging in Lake Atitlan and Antigua.
Side trips: Boat trip to Santiago Atitlan, tours of colonial Antigua.
Organized by: Mercado Global, a social enterprise that links rural indigenous artisans to international markets in order to break the cycle of poverty.
Price: $1900, which includes accommodations, all meals, local transportation, guides and translation and staff support. Fee does not cover airfare.
For more information: Visit the website or contact Leah Vinton at community@mercadoglobal.org.

Fashion Designers Without Borders Immersive Sourcing Safari

When: July 22 to 28, 2013
Where: Quito, Tena and Otavalo, Ecuador
Perfect for: Fashion industry professionals who want to explore opportunities to collaborate with developing world artisans. Other sourcing safaris have taken place in Kenya and Guatemala.
What: “Climb volcanoes, trek the Amazon and get lost in cloud forests. Ecuador’s atmospheric landscapes, resources and people will enchant you. Recognize new opportunities in accessories development. Appreciate the unique resources of this truly magical place.”
Accommodations: Four- to five-star hotels in Otavalo (in the Andes), Quito and Tena (in the Amazon).
Side trips: Activities at an Amazon jungle lodge, trip to the Inga Alpaca Farm, tour of colonial Quito.
Organized by: The Supply Change, a consultancy that connects the fashion industry with global artisan communities, in partnership with The Andean Collection, a line of handcrafted accessories with a social mission.
Price: $4000, including accommodations, meals, day trips and local transportation. Fee does not cover airfare.
For more information: Visit the website or contact Chrissie Lam at chrissie@thesupplychange.org.

[Photo Credit: Mercado Global]

Events Worth Planning A Trip Around In 2013

Have you ever landed in a place to find out you arrived just after the town’s can’t-miss event of the year? Well, hopefully that won’t happen again this year. Gadling bloggers racked their brains to make sure our readers don’t overlook the best parties to be had throughout the world in 2013. Below are more than 60 music festivals, cultural events, pilgrimages and celebrations you should consider adding to your travel calendar this year – trust us, we’ve been there.

Above image: Throughout Asia, Lunar New Year is celebrated with lantern festivals, the most spectacular of which is possibly Pingxi. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

Kumbh Mela, a 55-day festival in India, is expected to draw more than 100 million people in 2013. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

January
January 7–27: Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah)
January 10–February 26: Kumbh Mela (Allahabad, India)
January 21: Presidential Inauguration (Washington, DC)
January 26–February 12: Carnival of Venice (Venice, Italy)
January 26–February 13: Battle of the Oranges (Ivrea, Italy)
During Busójárás in Hungary, visitors can expect folk music, masquerading, parades and dancing. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
February
February 3: Super Bowl XLVII (New Orleans, Louisiana)
February 5–11: Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo, Japan)
February 7–12: Busójárás (Mohács, Hungary)
February 10: Chinese New Year/Tet (Worldwide)
February 9–12: Rio Carnival (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
February 12: Mardi Gras (Worldwide)
February 14: Pingxi Lantern Festival (Taipei, Taiwan)
February 24: Lunar New Year (Worldwide)


Several cities in India and Nepal increase tourist volume during Holi, when people enjoy spring’s vibrant colors. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
March
March 1-14: Omizutori (Nara, Japan)
March 8–17: South by Southwest (Austin, Texas)
March 20–April 14: Cherry Blossom Festival (Washington, DC)
March 27: Holi (Worldwide, especially India & Nepal)


Many Dutch people wear orange – the national color – and sell their secondhand items in a “free market” during Koninginnendag, a national holiday in the Netherlands. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
April
April 12–14 & April 19–21: Coachella (Indio, California)
April 11-14: Masters Golf Tournament (Augusta, Georgia)
April 13–15: Songkran Water Festival (Thailand)
April 17–28: TriBeCa Film Festival (New York, New York)
April 25–28: 5Point Film Festival (Carbondale, Colorado)
April 30: Koninginnendag or Queen’s Day (Netherlands)


Up to 50 men work together to carry their church’s patron saint around the main square in Cusco, Peru during Corpus Christi. [Photo credit: Blogger Libby Zay]
May
May 4: Kentucky Derby (Louisville, Kentucky)
May 15–16: Festival de Cannes (Cannes, France)
May 20: Corpus Christi (Worldwide)
May 23–26: Art Basel (Hong Kong)
May 24–27: Mountainfilm Film Festival (Telluride, Colorado)
May 25-28: Sasquatch Festival (Quincy, Washington)
May 26: Indianapolis 500 (Speedway, Indiana)

2013 marks the 100th anniversary for the Tour de France. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

June
June 13–16: Bonnaroo (Manchester, Tennessee)
June 13–16: Art Basel (Basel, Switzerland)
June 14–16: Food & Wine Classic (Aspen, Colorado)
June 21: St. John’s Night (Poznan, Poland)
June 24: Inti Raymi (Cusco, Peru)
June 28–30: Comfest (Columbus, Ohio)
June 29–July 21: Tour de France (France)

The annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Visit Istanbul, Turkey, at this time and see a festival-like atmosphere when pious Muslims break their fasts with lively iftar feasts at night. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
July
July 6–14: San Fermin Festival (Pamplona, Spain)
July 9–August 2: Ramadan (Worldwide)
July 12–14: Pitchfork (Chicago, Illinois)
July 17: Gion Festival Parade (Kyoto, Japan)
July 18–21: International Comic Con (San Diego, California)
July 19–22: Artscape (Baltimore, Maryland)
July 24–28: Fete de Bayonne (Bayonne, France)

Festival-goers get their picture taken at a photo booth during Foo Fest, an arts and culture festival held annually in Providence, Rhode Island. [Photo credit: Flickr user AS220]
August
August 2–4: Lollapalooza (Chicago, Illinois)
August 10: Foo Fest (Providence, Rhode Island)
August 26–September 2: Burning Man (Black Rock Desert, Nevada)
August 31–September 2: Bumbershoot (Seattle, Washington)


More than six million people head to Munich, Germany, for beer-related festivities during the 16-day Oktoberfest. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
September
September 5–15: Toronto International Film Festival (Toronto, Canada)
September 13–15: Telluride Blues & Brews Festival (Telluride, Colorado)
September 21–October 6: Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany)

Around 750 hot air balloons are launched during the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. [Photo credit: Flickr user Randy Pertiet]

October
October 4–6 & 11–13: Austin City Limits (Austin, Texas)
October 5–13: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
October 10–14: United States Sailboat Show (Annapolis, Maryland)


During Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), family and friends get together to remember loved ones they have lost. Although practiced throughout Mexico, many festivals take place in the United States, such as this festival at La Villita in San Antonio, Texas. [Photo credit: Blogger Libby Zay]
November
November 1–2: Dia de los Muertos (Worldwide, especially Mexico)
November 3: Diwali (Worldwide)
November 8–10: Fun Fun Fun Fest (Austin, Texas)
November 11: Cologne Carnival (Cologne, Germany)
November 28: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (New York, New York)
TBA: Punkin Chunkin (Long Neck, Delaware)

The colorful holiday of Junkanoo is the most elaborate festivals of the Bahamian islands. [Photo credit: Flickr user MissChatter]
December
December 2–3: Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu City, Japan)
December 5–8: Art Basel (Miami, Florida)
December 26–January 1: Junkanoo (Bahamas)

So, what did we miss? Let us know what travel-worthy events you’re thinking about journeying to in the coming year in the comments below.

Peruvian Government Announces Plans For New Airport Near Machu Picchu

machu picchuAccording to press reports, Peru’s President, Ollanta Humala, has announced that his government has committed some $460 million towards the creation of a new airport near Cusco to boost tourism in Machu Picchu. Humala said that the current airport in Cusco is inadequate and expressed hope that a new facility would bring more tourism dollars to the country.

In recent years, Peru has moved to limit the number of tourists who can visit the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu to 2,500 per day, so the new initiative to attract more visitors is sure to draw criticism from those worried about preserving the site.

I asked Mark Adams, the author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu, what he made of the plans for a new airport in the town of Chinchero, and he said that the move appeared to be a change of direction for the Peruvian government.

“A new airport – especially one built near Chinchero, which is a bit closer to Machu Picchu than Cusco is – is a move in the opposite direction, and will only encourage more people to come,” he wrote. “One of the reasons that Machu Picchu is as well preserved as it is, is that it’s hard to get there – you need to fly through Lima and take a long train ride. The inconvenience acts as a filter. If this new airport leads to the construction of a new road to Machu Picchu (you can’t drive there directly right now), the numbers of people who visit could explode. And that would be a disaster.”

[Photo by Szeke on Flickr]

Beyond Machu Picchu: 6 Ways To Experience Peruvian Culture

Too many travelers land in Peru with only one thing on their mind: Machu Picchu. If you’ve come to the country with the sole purpose of crossing the Lost City of the Incas off your bucket list, then do what you must. But if you’re at all interested in Peru’s diverse and rich culture, don’t skip out on some other once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Base your trip around the exploits below and you’ll have real bragging rights when you return home.

Visit an Indigenous Community: La Tierra de los Yachaqs (The land of the Wise), a community-based tourism project, can connect visitors with people who knit Peru’s distinctive fabrics (pictured above), harvest food using traditional tools, create belts and wallets out of plants, or make cuisine based on ancient practices. Through the program, there’s also an opportunity to spend six hours walking a route between two Andean communities, the Amaru and Chumpe. Programs are offered both as daytime activities and as overnight homestays, and most communities are located just one hour from Cusco.

Eat Like a Local: From food-on-a-stick snagged at street stalls to culinary masterpieces presented on white plates, Peru’s culinary scene is full of flavor. Dining at local restaurants is not only affordable, but can open your eyes to varieties of quinoa, corn and potatoes that you never knew existed. If you’re daring, you might even find you like cultural delicacies such as alpaca steak or roasted guinea pig.

Explore Peru’s Markets: Peru’s artisanal and food markets are filled to the brim with great buys. At artisanal markets – including the enormous market in Cusco – you’ll find high quality handicrafts like scarves, pullovers, tapestries, sculptures, carvings, jewelry, musical instruments, purses and more. Buying these handicrafts not only supports the use of traditional skills, but it also helps families gain what is most likely a modest income. Produce and food markets such as Lima‘s crowded Mercado Central (Central Market), walking distance from the central Plaza Mayor and adjacent to Chinatown, offer a taste of what life is like for locals. Take in the sites and smells, chat with a vendor or crack open an exotic fruit such as the delicious cherimoya, which tastes like a mix between pear and pineapple.

Plan Your Trip Around a Holiday or Festival: If you’re looking to experience something truly novel, plan your trip to Peru around Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) or Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun). Both holidays mix pre-Columbian and colonial traditions, such as the carrying of saints and virgins on platforms at Corpus Christi, a tradition born out of the ancient ritual of bolstering mummies in a similar fashion at festivals. Inti Raymi, once the most important Inca celebration, involves a procession and ritual reenactments (plus colorful costumes, music, food and plenty of dancing). Although both of these are celebrated throughout the country, particularly in the Andean highlands, Cusco is known for having some of the best festivities.

Celebrate Peruvian Traditions: Beyond festivals, there are several other ways to become immersed in Peru’s cultural traditions. The family-owned Sumaq Hotel, located in Aguas Calientes (the stepping off point for Machu Picchu), offers an emblematic culinary tradition called pachamanca, meaning “earthen pot,” that dates back to the time of the Incas. Meat, potatoes, beans, yams and corn are marinated in special spices and then placed on hot stones and covered with earth for 2-3 hours. At the hotel, visitors can also take advantage of a local shaman, who can read your fortune from coca leaves or ask pachamama to make your deepest wishes come true in a mystical ceremony. The shaman, whose name is Wilco, is also available if visitors would like to become spiritually married (or have a spiritual vow renewal ceremony).

Take a History or Culture Tour: Making sense of large cities like Lima or deciphering the meaning behind Inca ruins is far from easy. To make sure you don’t miss anything, particularly if you don’t have a whole lot of time on the ground, consider hiring a guide. These experts can ensure you don’t stare at a pile of rocks with a blank look on your face, and instead understand the various meanings behind the structures. Guides tend to be flexible and open to any questions you might have, and in many cases are willing to cater tours based on your interests. From guided airport transfers to eight-day excursions, companies such as Gray Line and Viajes Pacifico employ locals and do all the planning for you, making it a less confusing and more educational experience.

[All photos by Libby Zay]

Video Of The Day: Men Nearly Drop Saint Statue On Crowd At Peruvian Festival


Bearing the weight of a saint on your shoulders can be a heavy burden. Just watch the men struggling to carry their church’s patron saint around the main square in Cusco, Peru, at the annual Corpus Christi festival earlier this month and you’ll get a feel for the lumbering task. The video comes from this year’s festival, customarily held 60 days after Easter Sunday. It takes up to 50 men to carry these statues around the main square (and make a few signs of the cross with it at alters scattered about), and they only get a few breathers in between.

The act of carrying a statue in this way is a mix of pre-Columbian and colonial traditions. Back in the time of the Inca Empire, richly embellished mummies of esteemed leaders and ancestors were carried around the square on similar platforms during holidays. When the Spanish came, effigies of saints and virgins were swapped in and adorned with flowers, lace, mirrors, beads and other accessories. The custom stuck, and today Corpus Christi remains one of the most important religious festivals in the country.

This year, I was lucky enough to be in Cusco’s main square during Corpus Christi. The square and surrounding streets were overflowing with revelers, who danced, played music, shot off fireworks and enjoyed plenty of delicious Peruvian street food. I was so happy to be enjoying the festival that I almost got caught under the weight of a saint myself. Watch my own video after the jump.