For almost 50 years, we’ve been leading the way in creating incredible adventures across over 90 countries worldwide. But it’s our local heroes that are the beating heart of all of our adventures – without their unrivalled knowledge, these trips and expeditions simply wouldn’t operate. Even as seasoned travellers, we can’t begin to understand the terrain, the deeply-rooted traditions and the unique customs, the way a local who has grown up their whole lives in a given region can.
Far too often, these individuals are overlooked for their skills in this industry, but we want to take this opportunity to celebrate this remarkable group of people that are all connected across the globe by incomparable expertise in their fields. We are unbelievably proud to showcase our local heroes, which include Peruvian porters whose strength and agility are unmatched on the Inca Trail; the women in Kilimanjaro who defy challenging social stigmas to trek to the roof of Africa; the expert Snow leopard spotters who dedicate their time to tracking one of the world’s most elusive creatures and the Polers in the Okavango who navigate the largest in-land Delta on earth. Below, we take a deeper look into the day-to-day lives of our local heroes, and how they continue to make a difference in the destinations we visit.
“When I’m poling in my mokoro I don’t fear anything because that’s where I was born and raised – in the wilderness. I began learning how to pole when I was 15 years old. My team are all from Jidibe and they are exceptional, always there when I need them.”
Spotlight on Our Heroes Across the World
Polers of the Okavango
Visible from space, navigating the Okavango Delta’s harsh terrain and wildlife-rich waterways day in and day out is no mean feat, but to our expert local Polers it’s second nature. Their unrivalled local knowledge, grit and incredible physical strength are something to be reckoned with.
So, join Exodus Travels Ambassador and world-renowned adventurer, Aldo Kane, as he embarks on a 250km expedition in a Mokoro canoe from the Panhandle to the Buffalo Fence near Maun to see what a difference our Polers’ local expertise makes in one of the world’s harshest environments.
Porters on the Inca Trail
Porters are the backbone of any hiking trip. But carrying up to 20kg of luggage on your back along the Inca Trail in altitudes that reach over 4,000 metres above sea level takes incredible physical strength, agility and endurance. The sheer dedication our Porter shows daily to help and assist travellers so they can complete one of the world’s most iconic treks is unmatched – as many would not make it without the help of experienced Porters.
Watch as Jarlath McHale gets to grips with the realities of a Porter’s daily life, by taking on the trail as a Porter himself.
Snow leopard spotters in the Himalaya
Battling the elements in minus temperatures and high altitudes to track the elusive Snow leopard deep in the Himalayan mountains takes a special kind of skillset and patience.
For our local Snow leopard spotters, Wangial Kaya and Thinless Tamchos, who’ve grown up in this beautifully remote region, the Himalaya is simply an extension of their own backyard. No one could know the Himalayan climate, local trails and distinctive habits of lone Snow leopards better.
To get a deeper understanding of what it takes to find these majestic animals, watch our short film on how our local experts go in search of Snow leopards.
The Lionesses in Kilimanjaro
Ancestral knowledge and bush skills have been passed down between generations of men in Tanzania, which over time has created a significant gender divide when hiring porters and mountain guides on Kilimanjaro. But over the last decade local, trailblazing women have come forward, effectively defying social stigmas and breaking down gender barriers to stand alongside their male counterparts.
Making it to the top of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain isn’t easy, but thanks to our Mountain Lioness Scholarship a group of local women have had the opportunity to progress to qualified guides on Kilimanjaro. Follow Olympic Gold Medallist, Crista Cullen, as she makes the climb with these incredible women who are changing the face of guiding on Kilimanjaro.