According to legend, on the remote island nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Asaro tribe of the Eastern Highlands were once defeated in battle by a fierce enemy tribe. Forced to flee for their lives into the Asaro River, the tribe waited until it was safe to return to their native homes. At dusk, they slowly rose from the muddy river banks and returned to see what was left of their village. The enemy, seeing them rise from the river covered in dried clay, believed them to be evil spirits, and they fled in fear of their ghost-like appearances.
Realizing this new power, the elders of the Asaro tribe cunningly decided to create a new battle dress code: warriors were to cover themselves from head to toe in dried clay from the Asaro river and create elaborate masks with scary features, using pigs teeth and tusks to accentuate ghoulish features. The tribe would don this elaborate costume to raid neighboring villages by slowly moving into enemy territory in the misty, early morning light, walking down from the mountain like evil spirits. Not surprisingly, villagers were easily frightened away by the Asaro’s specter-like movements and appearances, allowing for an easy victory.
Because of their famous battle costumers, the tribe soon came to be known as the “Mudmen,” a name that tribal members still claim proudly to this day (though they no longer use their costumes to scare and raid neighboring villages!). One such man is Espional.
Espional was born and raised in Papua New Guinea. A native to the Asaro Mud Men tribe, his fondest memories of his childhood were simply spending time in his village, fishing, hunting, and going to school with his friends. “I love where I live,” he admits, “because of the many cultures and traditions that I have. I’m very proud of that.” As one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, Papua New Guinea is full of numerous villages, most of which are revolve around farming. Like all of the PNG villages, Espional’s is unique in its legends, customs, and traditions. Espional’s passion and love for his country, and especially for his particular village, eventually led him to apply for a tourist job: “I saw an advertisement for a position in the daily newspaper, and I applied and got the job!”
Today, Espional welcomes tour groups from all over the world and has the incredible opportunity to show them the beauty and diversity of the cultures and traditions of Papua New Guinea. “My goals for my future were to build a home, have my own tour company, and have a guest house for tourists to come straight to my village and enjoy our lifestyle.” Now, he says, his dreams have come true: he is not only building a new home, but he just registered his very own tour company! “I love being a tour guide,” Espional shares, “I love sharing my village with travelers who come visit my country.”
Come travel through the amazingly diverse and naturally beautiful Papua New Guinea with Espional, and you will be in for an adventure of a lifetime!
Traveling to Italy is a culturally immersive experience. Everywhere you turn, your eyes feast on magnificent architecture, you can hear the beautiful language, and your mouth waters with every bite of pappardelle. While you could spend your days soaking up the Italian sun and licking gelato, you may crave a more local experience. After you’ve toured the Colosseum and visited a vineyard, you can (and should!) connect with artisans and learn from their expertise.
If you’re eager to learn as much about Japan as you possibly can, here are a few unforgettable artisan experiences that you can enjoy in the Land of the Rising Sun.
To visit Sri Lanka and not learn about its culture would be a huge disservice to the locals, whose way of life is absolutely fascinating. Acanela emphasizes human connection, and our artisans add the touch of humanity to make any trip unforgettable. Here are just a few of the incredible artisan experiences you’ll enjoy on our Sri Lanka expedition.
At Acanela Expeditions, we work with artisans in dozens of countries around the world, making our travel experiences both immersive and transformative. Our talented artisans have taught us about culture, creativity, entrepreneurship, and community — but before our guests arrive to their destination, they’re not always certain what an artisan does.
Today I want to introduce you to one of the most incredible women I have ever met, her name is Haju and she is a nomad in the Desert of Morocco!
I am in Bukit Luang with my friend Lillix, the man who talks to monkeys. Lillix grew up in a small village in the jungles of Indonesia, and from a young age, learned to love the jungle. Ever since he was six years old his father would take him to explore the most remote parts of the jungle to help him develop an appreciation for its beauty and importance.
Meet my friend Espional. He is from a small village in Papua New Guinea called Asaro, home of the Mudmen Tribe. Experience the Goroka Show and Sing Sing Festival in Papua New Guinea.
Imagine taking a 10 hour flight, 3 hour drive, 1 hour train ride , 30 minute public bus, and a a 15 minute hike, you will find yourself at a place voted to be one of the New 7 Wonders of the World--Machu Picchu. While many people visit Machu Picchu, which don't get me wrong - is a spectacular site- they often miss exploring the beauty of the valleys & villages that surround it. Like visiting Juan, his family, and their 1000 alpacas.
Born and raised in the small village in the Peruvian mountains, Juan has dedicated his life to farming and caring for his family’s home and herds. Because the conditions are so extreme at the top of the Andes mountains, only certain products can survive, namely potatoes, corn, and, of course, Alpacas. This is how they survive in the mountains.
Espional was born and raised in Papua New Guinea. A a native to the Asaro Mud Men tribe, his fondest memories of his childhood were simply spending time in his village, fishing, hunting, and going to school with his friends. “I love where I live,” he admits, “because of the many cultures and traditions that I have. I’m very proud of that.”
As the CEO and founder of Acanela Expeditions, a boutique travel company that offers small group tours all over the world, Kylie has dedicated her life to learning how to use travel to create a positive impact on local communities in almost every continent.
Growing up in the second largest city in Morocco (and the only city in the country that doesn’t allow cars!), Rostom quickly learned the ins and outs of the famously warped streets of Fez. As the son of an historian and a tour guide, Rostom had the unique opportunity from a very young age to soak up the rich history and culture of the city that has inspired great artists, scholars, and writers for centuries. Even today, Rostom’s favorite hobby is still wandering the streets of Fez, discovering the history of the best hidden spots, and then sharing those discoveries with travelers from all walks of life. As he reflects on his life, he shares, “My most influential experiences are being with travelers who love my town and have stayed here forever.”
Imagine living in a country that did not have any traffic lights, where all tobacco products were illegal, and where it was forbidden to hunt, fish, or even climb extra-tall peaks (where spirits dwelled). Imagine a nation that kept itself closed off from the rest of the world for centuries just to protect its unique culture from outside influences. Now imagine a country that measured the well-being of its citizens not in dollars, cents, or in any other economic terms, but rather in happiness.
Mornings are a simple routine for Loc: wake up early; make breakfast with his lovely wife; take his two sons to school; head to his office in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. When he arrives at the office, he takes his first moments to sip on hot, strong coffee and remind himself of these words by which he strives to live and work. Joy, growth, and giving are the central values of both his life and of his business.
With over fourteen years of experience as a guide in Sumatra, Lillix leads thousands of travelers from all over the world on excursions through the lush jungle and brings them up close to extraordinary wild animals, like the friendly orangutan and the rare Sumatran elephant. “The jungle is like my second house,” Lillix reveals, “the orangutan lives here, and I want the orangutan to stay here; that’s why I promote the use of responsible tourism.”
To Abdul, Kilimanjaro is more than a picturesque backdrop to his village; it is his whole life. This mountain is his job and his livelihood, as well as that of his family and friends in his village. But even more than that, Kilimanjaro is Adbul’s home, and he has a profound love and appreciation for it.