21 trips and adventures to plan this year that bring back human interaction, from Colombia to Jamaica

As we look beyond the bleak midwinter towards a brighter future, one aspect that is sure to resonate is making human connections once again. Many of us have been deprived of relationships throughout the pandemic, but also wider human engagement acquired through travelling to new places.

Forging new connections can enrich our own relationships, as well as improve mood and wellbeing. So when you do plan to travel again, you might consider a trip that scratches the surface of a destination by meeting those who know it best.

Be Queensland’s guest

Queensland’s Year of Indigenous Tourism has been extended into this year, in support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Queenslanders. While the tourism focus is usually on Queensland’s coast, a new offering takes visitors into the Outback (main image). For example, Juan Walker of the Kuku Yalanji takes visitors wading through mangroves and mudflats on his ancestral land foraging for seafood. yachatdac.com.au/guesting-tourism

Seek out European culture

Our old stablemate the EU is launching an initiative to “discover the essence of Europe through… gastronomy, culture and nature”. The Charming Villages will launch this year in 10 rural locations in Finland, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. For example, in Rupit, Catalonia, visitors can join a wafer workshop with Joan. He learnt the craft from his parents and continues the tradition today. charmingvillages.eu

See Jamaica by bike

The Jamaica Cycling Association piloted a local event in 2020 in which cycling enthusiasts rode from Port Antonio to Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Negril and Kingston. This year, it will be offered as a four-day experience to holidaymakers, showcasing the island’s verdant mountain scenery alongside its beautiful beaches and taking in local businesses and meeting residents along the way. visitjamaica.com

Be immersed in the Maldives

The classic Maldives holiday is firmly rooted in a single resort, usually far removed from Maldivian life. Responsible Travel offers a Maldives on a shoestring tour, that embroiders an eight-day holiday spent snorkelling in the warm waters of the tropical archipelago with guesthouse stays that offer the chance to spend time with Maldivian families. Eight days from £999pp excluding flights, responsibletravel.com

Elmina harbour, Ghana (Photo: Tony Rye)

Village life and crafts in Ghana

Run by a Ghanaian company that has pioneered immersive village travel, the Nature, Art and Village Life tour offered by Travel Local spends time in villages east of Accra. Over 12 days, you’ll gain an insight to Kente cloth-weaving, palm wine distillation, Ga fantasy coffin making and day-to-day life. 12 days from £1,110pp excluding flights, travellocal.com

Go fishing in Colombia

Just outside the Caribbean city of Cartagena, La Boquilla is the location of an immersive fishing trip. Afro-Colombian fishermen that live around the lagoon will take guests out to fish. A translator accompanies the trip so that participants can learn from the fishermen whose livelihood is threatened by the rapid expansion of Cartagena. $55 (£42), impulsetravel.co

Another view of a UK city

Invisible Cities is a social enterprise that offers the chance for visitors to explore a city, guided by people who have experienced homelessness. Currently available in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, York and Cardiff – once Covid restrictions allow – the theme of each walking tour is decided by the guide and might focus on railway heritage, Guy Fawkes, pubs or powerful women. From £12pp, invisible-cities.org

A warm welcome

Arriving in a new city can be bewildering, but the Global Greeter Network will hook you up with a local resident who will take you on a tour of their hometown – for free. It’s available in more than 200 destinations around the world, from Los Angeles to Ho Chi Minh City. globalgreeternetwork.info

Nipponia Guesthouse in Kosuge village

Village life in Japan

Two hours south-west of Tokyo, Yamanashi Prefecture is the location of Kosuge, a village of 700 residents committed to preserving its history and traditions. Last year they transformed a 150-year old heritage house into a stylish guesthouse. Guests at the Nipponia (left) can explore the village by bike with the local staff. Doubles from Y25,000 (£180) B&B, kosugejapan.com

Feel at home in Cuba

Explore the Caribbean’s largest island via its network of casas particulares. These private B&B homestays are increasingly popular, and offer an insight into Cuban life. Often you can take over the whole property, but more interesting is the homestay option when you share living spaces and meals with the host. Book through cubadirect.co.uk

Overland from India to Nepal

Intrepid Travel has a trip that takes in the highlights of northern India before crossing the border into Nepal. There are visits to the Ganges in the holy city of Varanasi, old Delhi, the Taj Mahal and Akbar’s tomb, time in a paper-making factory, a Magar community homestay in Nepal’s Madi Valley, a village bike tour in Chitwan and a cookery lesson in Kathmandu. 12 days from £1,260pp excluding flights, intrepidtravel.com

Hop on Italy’s Slow Food train

Italy’s well-established Slow Food movement has partnered with the national train operator Trenitalia to produce a series of gastronomic itineraries that can be explored by train in the central Marche region. The 59km route features nine stops. Sawdays has put together a corresponding list of accommodation and restaurant recommendations. sawdays.co.uk/2019/08/marches-slow-food-train-trail

Sunrise in Hunts Mesa, Monument Valley in Utah

Indigenous America

Indigenous Americans are suffering disproportionately from Covid, both medically and financially. When safe to do so, Trafalgar will be operating a Native Trails trip to Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico via Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the US. 11 days from £3,085pp excluding flights, trafalgar.com

Don’t miss the finer details

The Tours by Locals network operates in 190 countries and is offering the chance to sign up to a virtual tour, then apply the full cost to a future in-person one. Trips offer an experience that could otherwise be missed. For example, the social importance of banana beer production in Musanze, Rwanda or felt production in the Finnish lake district. Prices vary, toursbylocals.com

Get a taste of South Tyrol

If travel restrictions allow, the Alta Badia valley of the Dolomites in South Tyrol will host “Nos Ladins” this summer. Local ambassadors will showcase the region’s cultural Ladin language and traditions through small group experiences. These will include Ladin cookery lessons, sewing, bike rides and sunrise hikes in the mountains. altabadia.org

Trek through northern Thailand with G Adventures

See Thailand beyond the beach

Over a fortnight, G Adventures’ Hike, Bike and Kayak Thailand small group trip offers an active immersion, with all local expenses staying in the communities visited. There are bike rides in Bangkok and the former capital of Siam Ayutthaya, a night spent on a floating raft house in Kanchanaburi, hill tribe treks and homestays in and around Chiang Mai. Two weeks from £1,249pp excluding flights, gadventures.com

Family fun in the Pyrenees

Based in the Louron Valley, this family trip – suitable for those aged six and above – can be tailor-made. On offer are walks and picnics with mountain shepherds, wildlife spotting (marmots, chamois, birds of prey), a visit to a sheep farm and , time – and tastings – with a chocolate maker. One week from €545pp excluding travel to France, adventurecreators.com

New South Wales workshops

It has been a year since bush fires ravaged many parts of Australia and while travel there might not be possible yet, one way to help support the recovery is by planning a future trip. In New South Wales, a Travel with a Purpose trip offers first-hand insights into how communities have been affected. Half-day A$195 (£110), wildfoodadventures.com.au/getaways

Cycle the Wild Atlantic Way

This 2,500km route along Ireland’s West Coast, that stretches from Co Cork to Co Donegal, is all brooding drama – towering cliffs, pounding waves, tiny coves and sprawling beaches. Local host James ensures participants get under the skin of the west coast. Eight days from £1,545pp excluding travel to Ireland, notintheguidebooks.com

Trek the Himalayas via village homestays

Village Ways has been operating a sustainable tourism model in India and Nepal for more than a decade, and in doing so, supports 27 rural village communities without displacing the villagers’ traditional livelihoods. On a trip to India’s Pindar Valley, hiking in the foothills of the Himalayas with a local guide is punctuated with homestays and the opportunity to participate in village activities. 13 nights from £1,220pp excluding flights, villageways.com

Learn traditional crafts in Scotland

In the Highlands lies an opportunity to learn about traditional felting, from hand sheep-shearing to foraging for natural dye. There’s time to seek inspiration from the majestic landscapes of Glen Affric before creating your own felt wall hanging. Eight days from £995pp excluding travel, responsibletravel.com

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