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.
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.
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.”
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.