Trek Talk - ElderTreks Blog


Colombia is quickly becoming a hot-spot destination in the eyes of the world. It has lush rainforests, colonial towns, and a true warmth that welcomes all adventure travelers. Lonely Planet describes Colombia as where “colonial meets contemporary”, which so accurately reflects this charming and colorful place. Since so many people are heading to Colombia, we wanted to mention some of the must-sees in this up-and-coming destination.

ElderTrek’s top things to do in Colombia:


  • Amazon River
    • Leticia is Colombia's gateway to the Amazon River. Journey on this incredible river by boat to village Puerto Narino, and on your way you will be greeted by wildlife – including monkeys! The Amazon rainforest is lush and full of incredible nature everywhere you look.


  • Coffee Plantations
    • When in Colombia, you MUST visit a coffee plantation – it is quite literally, "full of beans"! Learn more about the labor-intensive process of collecting and creating your morning cup of joe. UNESCO declared the "Coffee Cultural Landscape" of Colombia a World Heritage site in 2011.


  • Cartagena - Colombia's Colonial Gem
    • Cartagena is arguably the most beautiful colonial city in the Americas. It has an old-world charm with its cobbled streets and gorgeous balconies dripping with flowers, and colorful buildings. Explore the old town, cathedral and enjoy the laid-back vibe. Try ceviche or enjoy a cocktail at one of the many bars and restaurants.





  • San Agustin – Mysterious Ancient Statues
    • San Agustin is a town full of ancient stone statues, ranging in age from 1000-5000 years old! No one is quite sure why or by whom they were made, so it is an incredibly interesting place to explore. The statues vary from small to giant (21'), from human figures to animals to part human and animal and even pregnant women.





Now is the time to say "hola" to Colombia. Consider ElderTreks' comprehensive Colombia tour here.

- June 24, 2016

Traveling to India can be a daunting thought. Its portrayal in film, television and even photos can make you feel so foreign and so out of place. It is important to know that India can be an overwhelming experience - but in the best possible way.

With that being said, there are some ways to turn that overwhelming thought into a positive experience, and it is all about setting the right expectations ahead of time. I’ve traveled quite a bit, but never to anywhere quite like India (although, is there such a thing?). Here are a few of my ideas for how to appreciate and experience one of the world’s richest cultures for the first time.


Dress Appropriately

Dress is appropriate to Indians, so make sure you are playing by the rules when you are packing. For men, try to avoid wearing shorts (even though it is often quite hot in India!), because Indians associate shorts with people of lower castes, and they might not respect you as much. Nicer restaurants will require more formal attire as well, and won’t let you in without longer pants.

For women, the best advice is to dress conservatively. Shoulders and cleavage should be covered, and avoid wearing tight pants or short shorts. There is a reason why Indian women have longer dresses and wear Salwar Kameez, it’s because they are covering their legs! Loose pants and longer skirts will still allow you to feel cool in the heat, while avoiding feeling out of place.


Respect the Cultural Differences

There are more than a “few” cultural differences from the Western world, but that’s half the fun! It will take a few days to get used to how the driving and traffic work, and the lack of personal space, but afterwards you will feel much more comfortable with the differences.


Watch What You Eat (& Drink!)

This is on most lists of what to keep in mind when visiting India, and for good reason. I did get sick (at a top notch hotel, no less), but not from the food – from the water. Make sure to drink bottled water (even for brushing your teeth!!) and avoid foods that have been sitting out, fresh fruits and veggies, and try and pick clean restaurants. Overall, the food is incredibly flavorful and delicious, and so try as much as you can!


Travel with a Group

One of the best ways to travel to India is with a small group. You will have the guidance and expertise of an experienced tour leader and you will be well looked after. Being an experienced traveler, I still appreciated having a guide explain the history, stories and cultural norms to me. I felt I got a much better understanding of the country and the people that way. We also got to see and do so much more than what I would have been able to accomplish on my own.

Ask Questions

The best way to experience a country for the first time is to ask questions. Lots of them. To the local people, your guides, fellow travelers – it is the best way to learn and understand why things are the way they are. I also find that when you understand why things are the way they are, you become more understanding and accepting of the differences that exist between cultures.

Thinking of heading to India for the first time? Check out ElderTreks’ Classic India tour here.


- June 16, 2016

I didn’t coin the phrase “the human zoo” – many writers have used it to describe the experience of visiting the tribal areas of southern Ethiopia, and particularly the Omo Valley. There groups such as the Mursi, Hamer, Karo and others have long recognized that their exoticism to Westerners is a marketable commodity, and we travelers have done our part by eagerly consuming it. Numerous accounts had prepared me for the drill – portraits are for sale at an established price, and we enter the arena with pockets full of Ethiopian birr, feeling – and dispensing – like walking ATMs.

Let me be clear – no one begrudges the sellers the right to be paid for their time and image, and the amounts involved are trivial  – 3 to 5 birr (15 to 25 cents) for adults and 1-2 birr (5 to 10 cents) for children. What no one had prepared me for, however, was the chaos, physicality, and competition that ensued when our group of thirteen travelers would arrive in a village and its entire population – some hastily applying paint or finery – would begin jockeying for our attention. With limited time and, truth be told, patience, we were placed in the unseemly position of hastily choosing some, rejecting others, running gauntlets of grasping hands, and removing opportunists from already agreed-upon tableaux. With all this frenzied attention we were often left wondering which of us were the more exotic species.

A far more troubling aspect of this marketplace, however, was the inequality it created among the greater and lesser photogenic. Among the Mursi, for example, women with lip plates, particularly if they are young and bare-breasted, make money hand over fist. The men of the group, in contrast, despite their often magnificent adornments and scarifications, are definitely the also-rans, and grow increasingly frustrated and aggressive as a result. I wondered if the money earned was shared with the wider family or group. But I saw no evidence of this, and the locals I asked were of the impression that it stayed with the recipient.

At no time did I doubt that the lifestyles I observed were genuine, or believe that they were in any way a quaint reconstruction for tourists. But when naked two-year-old children stream from their huts at the sight of visitors crying “Photo 2 birr” I despair for the future of these proud people.

So I offer these portraits from the Omo Valley. They show some of the most remarkable people still living traditional lives in the world today. I’m privileged to have seen them. I only wish the experience hadn’t come at the cost of the dignity of both parties.

Guest Blog was written by Joy Robinson and the text and photos have been republished with her permission.

- June 07, 2016

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