Expeditions blog

Meet the Locals

February 25, 2022

Approaching seldom-visited places by sea promises the discovery of little known cultures and populations who continue their traditional way of life, often on the lands of their ancestors. We have a profound respect for the people who welcome us to their home, and when planning our National Geographic expedition cruises, we work closely with each local community. These local communities decide what is shared from their cultures and environments, and are actively engaged in tourism.

Unlike tour operators who are content to simply facilitate visits to notable places and must-see sites, National Geographic Expeditions offer you much more. All our trips embody our renowned spirit of adventure, conservation and education, and will give you privileged access to fascinating places and the people who call them home. You will meet extraordinary characters, discover traditions and cultures that stretch far back into history and get a true taste of what life is like in some of the world’s most remote regions. Travelling with us you will have an unforgettable opportunity to expand your own horizons, and upon returning, will seek to share that wonder with others and be inspired to conserve and protect it for future generations.

Here are just some examples of the amazing people and cultures you can discover with us.

The Arctic

Spread over Greenland, Alaska and Canada, the Inuit people have been perpetuating their traditions for more than 4,000 years. In the frozen vastness of the Far North, their ancestral way of life deserves our greatest respect. Their lives are organised around the level of the tides and the condition of the ice floe while their activities are focused on hunting and fishing. They are skilled craftsmen producing veritable works of art by sculpting walrus or narwhal tusks and working the furs and skins of marine mammals. Mindful of passing on their heritage, the Inuit welcome travellers with kindness, happily sharing their customs, traditional dancing and music.

On our polar ‘Expedition to the Edge of the Ice Sheet’, we travel to the tiny island of Itilleq. Home to barely 100 people, its inhabitants still make their living from fishing and hunting. Their home is a typical Greenlandic village, whose bright colours evoke those of their traditional clothing. The locals here are always delighted to entertain visitors, and you may even find yourself invited to join in a game of football with them!

Another incredible place we visit on our ‘Discovering The Northeast Greenland National Park’ expedition is Ittoqqortoormiit, one of the remotest inhabited places on earth, located between the largest national park and the longest system of fjords in the world. Covered with ice and snow for nine months of the year, you will be able to discover the ancestral way of life of the last hunters of the polar region. As soon as the thickness of the ice floe allows, they set out on the trail of walruses, seals, narwhals, musk ox and polar bears, travelling by traditional dog sleds.


For those who prefer to explore warmer parts of the world, we also travel to some of the most remote Islands of the Pacific. The islands of Melanesia are as fascinating to geologists attracted by the volcanic activity of the Pacific Ring of Fire as they are to ethnologists intrigued by the cultural traditions still widely practised by the local populations, who have been living in quasi self-sufficiency for millennia, and to biologists captivated by the incredible terrestrial and marine biodiversity. Meeting the locals here is quite the experience -very few vessels visit this part of world and the local residents are eager to welcome visitors and are proud to share their customs and traditional dances with us.

On our ‘Mysteries of Melanesia’ trip you will explore New Caledonia, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands on a 12-day expedition, and discover the diverse local cultures and the paradise landscapes found on these island shores.

One of the highlights of the trip will be a visit to Maewa Island. Here, among the brilliant white sand beaches and sparkling waters, you could be treated to a performance by the “Water Music Women”. Continuing an ancient tradition, handed-down from mother to daughter, the performers accompany their voices with splashing, slapping, and swirling sounds produced by ‘drumming’ on the water’s surface. The effect is a hypnotic aural and visual experience, unlike anything anywhere else in the world and definitely one to capture on camera to share with your friends back home.

Another amazing island you will visit is Ambrym, often referred to as the “black” island due to its volcanic ash and because of its ‘black magic’ steeped in mystery. In the villages, the ancient customs play a significant part in day to day living. The “Man blong Majik” are treated with the utmost respect and practice sorcery and magic beyond all imaginings. Ambrym prides itself on some unique characteristics, such as the magnificent tam-tams (or slit gongs) sculpted out of tree trunks, sand-drawing, black-fern masks and local dances. The most striking custom dance is the Rom (or masked) dance – where 9 foot covertly cloaked and masked ‘spirits’ stomp out ancient rhythms to the beat of the tam tam.

To find out more visit our website and discover our full calendar of trips > https://www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.co.uk/

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