The tiny country of Bhutan is awash with festivals. Dates change annually. Delays are common. But Bhutan’s truly unparalleled festivals are worth the effort and flexibility in your itinerary. Regional festivals weave music and local folklore across days of masked dancing, Buddhist chants and symbolic practices into an intimate extravaganza unlike anything I have seen before.
Most useful item to pack: Local currency in small bills for a donation to the dancers
Travel information: Bhutan requires most foreigners to travel with a government-approved tour company and pay a regulated day rate. The government’s intent is to promote high-quality, low-impact tourism.
Recommended tour company: Rainbow Tours & Treks
Malawi's Likoma Island
On Likoma Island, a parody of observations about Malawi’s former colonial military from the perspective of local recruits had morphed into a dance competition. Music screeched from hollowed gourds, and uniforms were topped with hats made from strips of newspaper and feather plumes.
Most useful item to pack: Sunscreen and a hat
Recommended Accommodation: Mango Drift
The musicians emanated emotion while the dancers radiated motion. In baggy white pants, dancers leapt from foot to foot, gyrating as if under some mystical incantation. A silver pendant covered each of their chests. It was strapped on with silver bands that wrapped around their shoulders and waist, secured by a pair of matching silver shoulder pads.
Most useful item to pack: A notebook to capture the miscellany of details and contrasts that unfold, often unexpectedly
Travel information: Mihintale can be visited as an easy day trip from the ancient city of Anuradhapura. The site is considered the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
Accommodation: Kutumbaya Resort
Searching for Unique is packed with details about these three festivals and other hidden gems around the world, each brought to life through travel tales and on-the-ground tips.
~ Available as an eBook and paperback (Colour and B&W editions) ~
Explorer of all seven continents on a quest to find the essence of lesser-visited destinations.