Baking bread, whittling wood, fermenting vegetables, sewing our own clothes, growing a herb garden... in our modern and convenience-focussed lives, there is something infinitely satisfying about getting back to basics and learning the skills that our ancestors used in their everyday lives. Combine this experience with travel and you have Reconnect Travel, an immersive experience where you can get a deeper understanding of your destination's culture (and pick some impressive skills along the way). Read on to find out our top ten immersive Reconnect experiences around the globe...
The Call of the Wild, Romania
Transylvania in Romania is a place seemingly unchanged in centuries. Horses and carts remain in remoter areas, while bears, lynx and wolves still roam the wilderness. Explore beautiful meadows in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains with an expert local guide, learning about the rich variety of local plants, their specific medicinal qualities and the various methods for home preparation; all the while listening to folkloric tales about their uses. Then, with a guide, join a cowherd for the day to learn about their lifestyle. At the end of the day, wander off the hill and down the village main street as the cows peel off to go to their owners' barns at dusk in a charming ancient routine.
Hunting for Honey, Tanzania
The southern Serengeti is home to one of the last true hunter-gatherer tribes, the Hadzabe. On a strictly controlled visit, learn about the roots they use to dye clothes and how the men hunt with bow and arrow, all while hearing through your translator how their way of life is, inevitably, changing. The highlight is following a honeyguide bird who leads you through the bush to a beehive in a tree. Watch as the Hadzabe hunters pacify the swarm with smoke and scoop out the honey while the bird eats the bees and wax in a wondrous mutually beneficial relationship. (The bees might disagree.)
The Fjords for Foodies, Norway
The Norwegian Fjords are renowned for their natural beauty, but the region's isolated communities also tend to live life at a gentler, more traditional pace. The steep nature of the terrain makes this ideal goat territory, and where there are goats, there's cheese. Learn the process of pasteurisation with a local farmer and then enjoy some samples, served with (look away now, vegans) equally delicious goat sausages. Or learn the art of making Norwegian flatbread and traditional water kringle using ancient recipes in an old farm bakery. Finally, as part of your five-a-day, visit one of many award-winning cider producers to learn about techniques which date back to a time when Viking warriors slaked their thirst after a bit of pillaging with a brew called bjor, made from apples and honey.
Living with the Bedouins, Jordan
Experience an ancient way of life while spending time with a local shepherd grazing the family's goats in the wilderness of Jordan's Dana Biosphere Reserve. You'll be accompanied by a local guide/translator and learn how to make arbood bread (baked in ash) for lunch. Other Bedouin skills to pick up include making coffee so strong the teaspoon will stand up on its own, mixing burning cotton and olive oil to make kohl eye makeup, and how to weave goat hair for traditional Bedouin tents.
Experience Nomadic Life, Mongolia
Learn about life on the steppe during a stay with Kazakh nomads. Daily activities including milking, herding, and cheese- and felt-making in this strikingly beautiful landscape. Experience the pros and cons of living with an extended family - all under one roof in a ger (yurt-like tent) - and help the children round up the animals and collect wood and dung for the fire. You will likely develop strong ties with the nomads, who are generous, genuine, fun-loving and humble.
Outdoor Cooking with Maori Chefs, New Zealand
Forget barbecuing and campfire cookouts; for the ultimate outdoor cooking experience you need to try the Maori art of kai waho. Encapsulating many Reconnect elements, from foraging to cooking hangi-style (on hot rocks), kai waho only uses ingredients and produce sourced from the immediate surroundings. During the day you'll learn various foraging, hunting and prep/cooking techniques, as well as gaining a better understanding of the admirable Maori concepts of manaakitanga (hospitality for a revered guest) and kaitiakitanga (respect for the natural world).
Finding Your Dancing Feet, Brazil
More than in any other country on Earth, dançando (dancing) plays a central role in Brazilian culture. Samba in particular is a direct nod to the African heritage of the many Brazilians descended from slaves. If you want to take part and really immerse yourself in Brazilian culture, we can arrange for you to join one of Rio's highly competitive samba schools in their preparations for the legendary Rio Carnival, or to learn the basics of capoeira, a martial art disguised as a dance originally developed by slaves.
Embrace Ancient Arts, Japan
Japan: a place where ancient skills are embraced and nurtured with reverence. We can craft a tailor-made trip that weaves together traditional experiences, from dyeing and flower-arranging to paper- or sword-making. Alternatively, try a more energetic reconnection in Japan by walking the Kumano Kodo, the most iconic pilgrimage route in Japan, once reserved for emperors and aristocrats; or the henro pilgrimage, circumnavigating the island of Shikoku. These walks are wonderfully meditative in their own right, but hugely enhanced when in the company of an expert guide who can explain the spiritual significance of the sacred sites en route.
Running with the Raramuris, Mexico
The Copper Canyon region of Mexico is home to the Tarahumara indigenous people, who refer to themselves as the Raramuris, or 'fast runners' in their own language. This group is famous for being able to run for up to 60 miles through this mountainous region with little to protect their feet but a pair of sandals, or sometimes even barefoot. Learn the stamina-building techniques the Raramuris use to run between remote communities and 'persistence hunt' - the original form of hunting where the hunters literally chase prey until it is too exhausted to escape.
Get Stuck into Cowboy Culture, Patagonia
Live like a huaso or gaucho (Chilean and Argentine cowboys, respectively) in dramatic Patagonia - which spans both countries - riding out, driving and milking cattle, and learning to shear and herd sheep with the help of adorable Magellan sheep dogs. After a hard morning's work, help create an asado - a true Patagonian barbecue lunch - quite possibly washed down with a well-earned and delicious local wine. Come evening, corral the animals in their stockades to protect them from Patagonia's pumas.