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What is An Artisan?

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.

Simply put, an artisan is a specialist. It’s someone with a unique skill set, which could be anything from cooking to painting, or from conservation to pottery.


An artisan can be a Tanzanian mountain guide or a Moroccan woman practicing a nomadic lifestyle. It can be a Peruvian alpaca herder, a Vietnamese tour guide, or a Sumatran man who’s learned how to communicate with critically endangered orangutans.

It’s a person who makes a living by making a difference. It’s a person who’s willing to share a specialized skill with curious, engaged, open-minded strangers.

An artisan is a person who makes a living by making a difference.

Our artisans are our friends, and we want to introduce them to our guests.


We also want to empower our artisans and provide them with sustainable financial support. Take Abdul as an example. He grew up in Moshi, Tanzania, and began working as a porter on Mount Kilimanjaro in 2005. Seven years later, he became a certified mountain guide and worked for several different tour companies. Then, in 2015, with the help of Acanela founder and CEO Kylie Chenn, Abdul and his brother founded their own guide company. 

Today, Abdul employs young people from Oria, a small community that used to offer few jobs outside of rice farming, and every year, we contract Abdul and his guides to take Acanela travelers to Uhuru Peak. Standing there, on the roof of Africa, almost 20,000 feet above sea level, is a cathartic experience — and it’s abundantly clear that the trekkers couldn’t have summited Kilimanjaro without Abdul’s help.


Similarly, we also operate our tours to Cuba under a U.S. travel exception that stipulates that we provide support for the Cuban people. This aligns perfectly with our company philosophy, so our Cuba travelers get to meet local artists, dancers, musicians, chefs, antiques collectors, architects, and even botanists.

But, of course, we don’t just introduce our guests to our artisans in Tanzania and Cuba. We do that all over the world — in homes, kitchens, studios, markets, fields, and even jungles.

We love our artisans. We value the art they create, the meals they cook, the roles they play, and the connections they help us build. We believe in the power of creating a better trip for a better world, and we hope that you do, too.

To learn more about Acanela’s artisans, you can read their stories — or better yet, you can plan a trip to meet them in their own communities. Bon voyage!