Whenever the subject of music and travel comes up, we think of Africa. Maybe that’s a bit unfair, but who can blame us? In many parts of the continent public performances of music are open and accessible, there is no sense of “us and them” between the musicians and the listeners and the sheer quality of the musicianship is remarkable. Huw has a vivid memory of walking in South Africa’s Drakensberg Mountains, high above the Midlands of Natal, when he bumped into a shepherd boy of about ten or eleven strumming on a homemade guitar. The strings were fishing wire, the neck was a stick and the body was a tin box. The shepherd played it beautifully, the sound reminiscent of an ngoni - the ancestor of the banjo from the other side of the continent. Off he wandered, singing softly to himself, up into the hills - a serendipitous glimpse of authentic Africa.
For more on how to see amazing live music on your travels, see our blog on the subject here.
You might have seen us in the press recently (The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Sunday Times in the last few weeks). As more newspapers catch wind of the idea of buying through local travel companies we get contacted more often, our local travel companies get more exposure, and their ideas find their way back into the newspapers - a virtuous circle. Watch this space in the autumn - we will be in the Independent and NatGeo Traveller shortly.
Talking of new ideas we get them constantly from our local travel companies. Hanuman in Cambodia have a very clever and unknown way to experience the temples of Angkor; Kombi Tours in Uganda are putting together a great new trip that showcases “Young Africa” - travelling with young newly qualified wildlife rangers, or meeting local street artists in Kampala; and Ecole in Costa Rica are working on a trip idea based around the country’s “Blue Zone” - those rare regions of the Earth with the highest proportion of citizens over 100 years old. But to discover the secrets of a long life...you will need to enquire!
We are making a lot of changes to our website - some small, some big. One big change is our brand new “inspiration area”. You can now see a full, filterable archive of all our blog posts (including our most popular posts ever - on Alexander the Great and Uganda’s Gorilla Doctors) as well as a selection of all our trip ideas. We are developing it gradually, so let us know any tips or advice you have about how to make it better.
In a previous update we mentioned that we are writing a Charter - a set of principles that bind together our customers, all the TravelLocal team and our network of 45 local travel companies around the world. We are covering a lot of ground - treatment of animals, respect for local cultures, cultural and environmental footprint and local economic impact. We would love any input from our customers, so please email us directly if you have a view you want to share - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to everyone who wrote in with trip reviews - especially Sara (Indonesia), Ibrahim (Tanzania) and Danilo (Cambodia). Danilo is a hobbying artist and has given us permission to publish his excellent watercolour of a street scene in Siem Reap - the gateway town to the Angkor temples of Cambodia. One of us used to live in Cambodia - the memories came flooding back on seeing this!
Tom & Huw