HIDDEN GEMS: LIVE LIKE A LOCAL ON YOUR TRAVELS
If you consider yourself a traveller rather than a tourist, we recommend a whole host of off-the-beaten-track travel experiences that allow you to live like a local and experience a different culture first hand.
This list was compiled from entries for the Teletext Holidays Treasure Hunt by travel bloggers in Canada, the USA and the UK. The blogger with the most convincing pitch will receive an Amazon voucher worth £100 courtesy of Teletext Holidays - vote for your favourite below!
SLEEPING ON THE REED ISLANDS WITH THE UROS PEOPLE, ISLA UROS, PERU
Lake Titicaca was long considered the origin of the cosmos by the Incas and, consequently, was one of their most sacred sites. Despite the Inca civilisations being long gone, a relic of that time remains: the floating islands of the Uros people, one of South America’s most impressive curiosities.
It is not certain why the Uros chose the centre of Lake Titicaca for their home, but here they built manmade islands and houses from layer upon layer of the abundant totora reed and lived peacefully, carving out a living by fishing the lakes frigid waters and hunting for birds. Each island is tiny, around 10 to 20 metres in length and containing several thatched houses that typically belonged to members of a single extended family. Due to their isolation, the Uros’ rich culture has survived. Today, almost 1,200 Uros still live on 60 islands that lie on the water just 7km east of Puno.
Visitors have the option to spend some nights on the islands in semi-traditional huts. The islands rotate their hospitality services on a daily basis, with the elders deciding where tourists can visit. It gives the Uros the chance to continue living the way they do with the added security of tourist money.
SUNSET, LINNAHALL, TALLINN
Tallinn’s old town is blessed with a wealth of viewpoints, drawing crowds of tourists every evening at sunset. However, for a real local experience you should wave goodbye to the medieval streets and head towards the sea. There you’ll come across Linnahall, an enormous abandoned relic of the Soviet Union built right on the waterfront as a venue for the 1980 Olympics. We stumbled upon it almost by accident on our walk from the ferry.
Linnahall’s steps and vast roof are a popular place for locals, from students to fishermen, to watch the sun set over the Baltic sea. Grab drinks and snacks, wrap up warm and bag yourself a front row seat!
SHEIKH MOHAMMED CENTRE FOR CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING, DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
To live like a local in Dubai, visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and have a Culture Meal there! "Open doors, open minds" is the theme of this non-profit organisation that promotes awareness of Emirati culture, customs and religion. For a modest cost you can sign up to enjoy a traditional Emirati meal at their wind tower house in the Al Fahidi Historic District, one of the oldest areas on Bur Dubai. An Emirati host will talk you through local customs. I highly recommend this experience as an opportunity to understand the culture a bit better – and get a great meal too!
Pueblo Quemchi, Chiloé Island, Chile
Quemchi is a small island community on Isla Chiloe, an island off the coast of Chile. There is just one main road on Chiloe that runs north to south, with off roads to all the areas you will be visiting. We opted to turn off as soon as we could and use the local road following the coastline, passing through small local “towns” until we discovered Quemchi. It was such a picturesque little village that we just had to stop. We stayed at Las Conchas de sus Mares, run by an awesome South American family who has travelled a lot and found their paradise here. There wasn’t much going on in Quemchi except some local fishermen working their nets, so it was a perfect destination for a peaceful escape.