10 Unique Festivals Around the World (and How to Get There)

Posted by on March 12, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

From camel festivals to water to colors, traveling in time to catch one of the following festivals can create an even more memorable trip. Consider some of the world’s most unique festivals and Discover Corps’ trips that operate during these times below:

Inti Raymi (“Festival of the Sun”)

Cusco, Peru: June 22, 2018

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This festival is a tribute to the venerated Sun God Inti and draws thousands of local and international visitors to the ancient Inca capital of Cusco. The celebrations are similar reinactmants of what occurred in Inca Times, starting in the morning in front of the Inca Temple of the Sun, Korikancha, with representatives from the four suyos, or servants, of the Inca Empire praising Inti. Next you will witness a reading of the sacred coca leaf before moving to Saqsayhuman, an Inca archaeological site, for a ritual sacrifice of a llama. Horns, drums, and music fill the air to celebrate. At this festival, expect to join thousands of spectators crowded along the hills for a glimpse of the ceremony. More than just a party, this festival truly brings you back to ancient times.

Discover Corps Trip: Peru: Children of the Andes


Thailand: April 13-15, 2018 and April 13-15, 2019

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Known as Thailand’s wildest festival, Songkran celebrates the Thai New Year’s Day. This water festival involves throwing water on passersby, sometimes with buckets or even water guns, so you can expect to get soaked in all of the major cities throughout the country (but don’t worry, in the heat of April, it will be a welcome surprise!). Despite the wild nature of the festival, it started as part of a ritual where members of the community would use blessed water to clean Buddhas and images of Buddha to pay respect and bring good fortune.

Discover Corps Trip: Thailand: Cultural Kaleidoscope

Loi Krathong and Yi Peng

Chiang Mai, Thailand: November 23, 2018

Considered one of the most breathtaking festivals in all the world, Yi Peng occurs on the full moon day in the second month of the Thai lunar calendar each year. Made of thin rice paper and stretched over bamboo wire, you’ll see thousands of lanterns filled with good luck wishes and prayer flock the sky. The only thing to keep in mind with Yi Peng in Chiang Mai is that there is a cost to experience the festival, which you can learn more about here.

While Yi Peng is the festival most of us have heard of, Loi Krathong is actually the second most well-known festival in Thailand (after Songkran). If you weren’t able to make it to the festival in April, you will be blown away by Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai. The festival always takes place on the evening of the full moon on the 12 month of the Thai calendar. Expect to see decorated baskets made from a slice of a banana tree trunk, or krathongs, floating along the river with a candle lit inside. Most agree that the tradition was adapted by Thai Buddhists to honor Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of one’s hatred.

Discover Corps Trips: Thailand: Elephants & Islands Expedition, Thailand: Elephant Conservation Expedition, Thailand: Cultural Kaleidoscope

Holy Week

Belize: April 14-20, 2019

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Nearly 80% of Belizeans are Christians, and Holy Week is what is known as their Easter. The country gets the entire week off to travel and be with family, and this week the annual cross-country cycling race is also held for locals and travelers alike to watch from San Ignacio.

Discover Corps Trips: Belize: Wildlife Safari or Belize: Wildlife Volunteer Adventure

Holi Festival

India and Nepal (some Bangladesh and Pakistan): March 20-21, 2019

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Also known as the “festival of colours,” this festival signifies the victory of good over evil and the arrival of spring. Those in the Hindu religion use the day to pray that their internal evil will be destroyed, and the colours symbolize a celebration of love. Don’t be surprised to see water guns and water balloons filled with colours filling the sky, streets, parks, and buildings. With singing and dancing at every turn, it’s difficult not to feel the incredible energy of the human spirit at this festival.

Discover Corps Trip: India: Tigers, Temples & Taj

Pushkar Camel Fair, or “Kartik Mela”

Pushkar, India: November 15-23, 2018

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This festival is incredibly unique and offers an opportunity to experience one of India’s oldest traditions – marvel at 30,000 camels covering this tiny desert as far as the eye can see. The fair started as a way to attract camel traders to do business, but has quickly become a spectacle for travelers and locals to enjoy. The camels are dressed up, entered into beauty contests, and traded, with plenty of music, snake charmers, mustache contests, and even carnival rides along the outskirts of the festival. You can learn more about the festival here.

Discover Corps Trip: India: Tiger Volunteer Adventure

La Batalla de Pichincha

Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos: May 24, 2018

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On this day the country commemorates their independence with parades up and down Calle Baltra and along Charles Darwin Ave through Puerto Ayora. Expect to see students in school uniforms marching through the streets, and the student with the highest grades in the class having the privilege of holding the Ecuadorian flag and leading the parade through the community.

Discover Corps Trip: Galápagos Islands: Family Volunteer Adventure

Fiestas de Quito

Quito, Ecuador: November 28 – December 6, 2018

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The mayor of the capital kicks off the celebration in the Plaza de San Francisco to celebrate the Spanish foundation, which occurred in 1534. You can expect to see nativity reenactments, bullfights, traditional dancing and carnivals in the Old Town, but the real festival occurs in the local neighborhoods around Quito. Walk the streets to find traditional music, hot canelazo (a rum and cinnamon drink), marching bands, and more. To really get a feel for the local culture in Ecuador, this festival makes it easy.

Discover Corps Trip: Galápagos Islands: Family Volunteer Adventure

Australia Day

All of Australia: January 26, 2019

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Australia Day is the official National Day of Australia, marking the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove. In more recent years, the celebration has turned into a celebration of all things Australia: the lifestyle, diversity, the democracy, and most importantly, the people. On this day you will often find citizenship ceremonies welcoming new members of the Australian community as well as the televised Australian of the Year awards and addresses from the Governor-General and Prime Minister. Wherever you are in the country, though, expect a party!

Discover Corps Trip: Australia: Beachside Wildlife Adventure

Guloya Festival

San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic: January

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Starting the first day in January, this festival is where you will see Afro-Dominicans dress in vibrant Junkanoo-like costumes and dance through the streets to drums and flutes. The Guloyas’ dance is classified by UNESCO as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Patrimony of Humanity.” For a taste of local culture and the festival spirit, this is a festival to plan your trip around this upcoming year.

Discover Corps Trip: Dominican Republic: Heart & Soul of the Caribbean

These are by no means a full list of festivals you can find on Discover Corps destinations. Let us know what festivals you’ve attended and recommend in the comment section below!



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Ask An Alumni: A Thailand Trip through the Eyes of a Discover Corps Traveler

Posted by on March 2, 2018 · 1 Comment  

“This trip and this experience ignited a passion in me to save them. I’d like to do more. The volunteering is helping out, but I want to be an elephant activist. It definitely sparked something in me to help them and save them.” – Linda S.

For Linda, the 8-day Thailand: Elephants & Islands trip ignited a passion for elephants that she plans to act on for the rest of her life. Linda has always been a believer in traveling with purpose and volunteering, specifically called to work with wildlife, and after a life-changing experience working with elephants the effects of the trip will be long lasting. Specifically, the relationship she formed with one of the elephants at the sanctuary, Nicole.

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Interview from the Ground in South Africa: Discover Corps Guide William [Video]

Posted by on February 26, 2018 · 1 Comment  

There is no better way to connect with country than through its people, and in South Africa, the locals will tell you that conservation is a part of their culture.

On our South Africa: Wildlife Volunteer Adventure trip, you volunteer at two reserves in the area that are spearheading conservation work for the rest of the world. First, Somkhanda Game Reserve was created by the local Gumbi Tribe who was dedicated the land to conservation. Due to challenging terrain and a small team, monitoring the reserve’s array of wildlife is a massive undertaking. While volunteering, travelers join these dedicated conservationists to protect critical populations of black and white rhino through radio tracking and set camera traps to record information on leopards. Second is Nambiti Game Reserve, the only reserve in the area with the Big 5 – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino – and boasts 22,000 acres of African bush hosting over 40 species of wildlife. Travelers venture out each day to record key data on elephants, buffalo and wild dogs that helps the reserve keep track of their vulnerable wildlife population.

So what is the trip really like? Watch the video below and get to know native South African William, one of Discover Corps’ guides on the Wildlife Volunteer Adventure vacation.

Questions for William or for Discover Corps? Email us anytime at or call us at 619-758-3030 for more information. We can’t wait to travel with you!



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The Little 5: The Fascinating Animals Not to Forget in Africa

Posted by on February 21, 2018 · 1 Comment  

If you’re interested in experiencing a safari in Africa, chances are you’ve heard the term Big 5. Despite the term originating as a game hunting term, these animals – lions, elephants, Cape buffalo, rhinoceroses, and leopards – are considered some of the most incredible to see while experiencing a safari in Africa, as well as a favorite of conservationists who look to protect each species. However, the Big 5 and other “big” animals such as giraffes or wild dogs are not the only animals to keep and eye out for as you experience Africa.

According to Trip Savvy, Africa’s Little 5 was a term introduced by conservationists who wanted to draw attention to the smaller creatures of the bush who can be just as fascinating as the rest. Interestingly enough, the Little 5 actually correspond to the Big 5 (pay attention to the names!). Take a look at what makes these animals unique below:

Elephant Shrew

The aptly named elephant shrew is a favorite of adventurers searching for the Little 5. With a truck resembling an elephant’s, this small mammal is no bigger than a large mouse. You’ll be able to spot them hopping along the bush (or sometimes in the city!) in South Africa and Botswana. Keep your eyes peeled, though, because not only do they blend in with the sandy color of the ground, but they are one of the fastest small mammals on the planet with speeds of over 20 mph and are known to be tough to spot. If you see one, you’ll have good luck for the year!

Fun Fact: Elephant shrews live in monogamous pairs. However, the partners don’t necessarily care for one another and are only paired up (for life) for reproduction.

Leopard Tortoise

This tortoises has gold and black markings on their back resembling that of a leopard. Found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but you’re most likely to spot one just on the side of the road. Living as long as 100 years, these tortoises can grow up to 39 inches in length, making them the fourth-largest of the world’s tortoises and the largest found in all of Africa.

Fun Fact: Seeds pass undigested through the gut of a leopard tortoise, so they play a significant role in seed dispersal in Africa.

Buffalo Weaver Bird

The Buffalo weaver bird is the easiest to spot of the Little 5. There are three species of the bird – the white-headed, the white-billed, and the red-billed – and all three species are found in East African countries including Kenya and Tanzania, and if you’re in South Africa you can keep your eyes open for the red-billed buffalo weaver. For this member of the Little 5, it’s more important to keep your ears open if you want to spot one – they’re vocal!

Fun Fact: Males tend to be polygamous and control anywhere from 1 to 8 nests with 3 females.

Ant Lion

Unlike the rest of the Little 5, the ant lion can be found all over the world. These winged-insects resemble dragonflies but have hairy bodies that helped give them their name. They have a famously savage temperament, just like their lion counterpart. According to Your African Safari, the ant lion digs a funnel-shaped crater so that “when potential prey approaches, the ant lion can pretend to be an ant falling down the funnel, stimulating the prey to lurch after the fallen ant, only to discover it has been trapped, and so the ant lion catches prey in its trap. They can survive for months at a time without food and live for several years.

Because of their small size, this may be one to talk with your safari guide about and something you get help with spotting in the bush, but they are nocturnal, so recommend a night bush walk.

Fun Fact: The predatory actions of the ant lion have attracted attention throughout history and have even been mentioned in literature since classical times.

Rhinoceros Beetle

Named for their body armor, hooked horn on the head of males, and impressive strength, rhino beetles are similar to ant lions in that they are nocturnal and can be found around the world. Those in Africa typically reside in South Africa, and they can live up to 2-3 years – impressive for any beetle. The size of the horn on a rhino beetle is a good indicator of nutrition and physical health.

Fun Fact: Rhinoceros beetles have become popular pets in parts of Asia due to being relatively clean, easy to maintain, and safe to handle.

Have you seen any of the Little 5 while on safari? If not, consider a Discover Corps trip to Kenya, Tanzania, or South Africa and talk with our expert conservationist guides about how to round out your list of all 10!



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Interview from the Ground in Costa Rica: Discover Corps Guide Karla [Video]

Posted by on February 9, 2018 · 1 Comment  

There is no better way to connect with country than through its people, and in Costa Rica, the locals will tell you that wildlife is a part of their culture. As one of the most biodiverse countries in Central America, Costa Rica is home to  jaguars, toucans, sloths, gibbons and howler monkeys, and so much more. Our newest Costa Rica: Wildlife Safari nature & wildlife adventure aims to offer travelers experiences with wildlife that will leave them inspired as they experience the symphony of the forest. It is our guide that brings the experience to live.

Watch the video below and get to know Karla, Discover Corps’ guide on the Wildlife Safari vacation. As a local Costa Rican, Karla is one of the most knowledgable naturalists around, and Discover Corps is incredibly lucky to have her. Learn more about the trip from the ground in Costa Rica from Karla below!

Questions for Karla or for Discover Corps? Email us anytime at or call us at 619-758-3030 for more information. We can’t wait to travel with you!