Our “Sustainable Travel“ series is sponsored by Global Basecamps. Global Basecamps is specialty travel company that helps independent travelers research and book locally owned boutique hotels, off-the-beaten path lodges and multi-day excursions all over the world. Whether hiking the Inca Trail, experiencing a traditional Japanese Ryokan, or relaxing on the beaches of Thailand, Global Basecamps specializes in designing completely customized itineraries to meet each travelers specific priorities and match their travel style.
There’s a lot to be learned about a country from its famous crops, and harvest tours are steadily gaining popularity amongst tourists, providing a unique insight into the local culture. Whether distilling truckloads of paper-thin rose petals into precious oil in central Turkey, cycling past grape pickers in the French vineyards, or filling basket after basket with glistening olives in Sicily, these 6 tours offer the chance to get up close and personal with the region’s most famed produce.
1. Rose harvest, Turkey
The unassuming town of Isparta comes alive throughout May and June when the surrounding fields are abloom with powder pink roses and rural workers get up at dawn to harvest the flowers. Central Turkey is one of only a handful of places in the world with the right climate to grow the renowned damascena rose, distilled into high quality rose oil that is exported around the world.
Rose & Lavender harvest tours are run by Alia at Isparta’s Sebat Rose factory and offer the chance to help the local ladies with the morning harvest, explore the modern rose distillation factory, witness the ancient distillation process, and sample rose oil cosmetics. Best of all is the chance to get a photo on a real life ‘bed’ of roses.
2. Coffee Harvest, Jamaica
Spring sees the start of the coffee harvest in Jamaica and is a great time to get a behind-the-scenes look into one of the country’s most famous exports. A number of tours are offered in the High Mountain and Blue Mountain regions, giving visitors an insight into the expert selection process of the world-renowned coffee beans, as well as the methods of drying, maturing, and roasting the precious beans. If you want to get hands-on, opt for a tour where guests have the chance to pick their own coffee beans and get a lesson in coffee preparation. It’s backbreaking work, but you’ll be able to refuel with plenty of coffee samples once you’re done.
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3. Olive harvest, Sicily
Olives are big business in Sicily with 10% of Italy’s olive oil coming from its shores, and the ancient olive groves providing a majestic backdrop to the island. The olive tree, first imported by the ancient Greeks, plays a big part in the area’s history, as well as featuring heavily in the region’s acclaimed Mediterranean diet – sliced in salads, served up as side-dishes, arranged on pizzas, or blended into fine olive oil, you’ll find the humble olive in every restaurant on the island.
Mid September until the end of November is olive harvest time and it’s the perfect time to wander around the island’s time-weathered olive trees, one of which is said to be around 2000 years old – and watch as workers heave bucket loads of olives onto giant ground nets. Soul of Sicily is one company running culinary tours to celebrate the harvest, including olive-centered cooking classes, olive oil tastings, and of course, the chance to try your hand at olive picking.
4. Cherry harvest, Australia
Backpackers might flock to Australian farms to make a few bucks picking fruit at harvest time, but if you fancy experiencing the prize crops without the backbreaking work, there are plenty of family-run farms that offer orchard tours and “pick your own” experiences. Australia’s agricultural industry includes just about every fruit and vegetable you can imagine, but the sweetest yields come between November and December when the cherry harvest is in full swing. The family owned Cherry Haven is one place to get in on the action, nestled in the Yarra Valley of Victoria, and with a special “pick your own” cherry orchard featuring 30 different types of cherry to sample. Look out for orchards that offer special PYO (Pick Your Own) days, often culminating the day’s picking in an Aussie-style barbecue.
5. Grape harvest, France
Vineyard tours are part of the parcel when visiting France, and it would be sacrilege to visit the famed wine country without taking a stroll or cycle around at least one vineyard. Wine regions run across the country, but look out for special harvest tours in areas like Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, and Provence. A plethora of wineries have wine cellars open to the public, but many also offer the chance to pick your own grapes and tour the factories where you can learn all about the selecting, processing, and storing of the grapes. Of course, a vineyard tour wouldn’t be complete without a wine tasting, and the French are masters of wine presentation – settle down for a journey of tastes, often accompanied by the nation’s other prized export, cheese.
6. Cranberry harvest, North America
These unassuming red berries often hit the supermarket shelves in juice form, but through September and October, the wetlands of North America are awash with the colourful native crop. The vast seas of floating cranberries make a photo-worthy sight for any tourist, but for a real insight into the fruit, take a harvest tour.
Glacial Lake Cranberries in Wisconsin is one of the oldest cranberry marshes in the region, dating back around 130 years, and harvest time tours offer a great way to celebrate their rich history. Visit the cranberry visitor center to learn about the fruit, witness the old-style harvesting methods, and sample the fresh crop in a variety of creative recipes. Alternatively, hiking, birding, or cycling are all popular activities in the area, set to the colourful backdrop of floating berries.
Read more about ecotourism around the world:
- Eco Travel Guide to Morocco
- 10 of the World’s Best City Walks
- 6 Of the World’s Craziest and Most Challenging Bike Rides
- 10 Festivals that Celebrate Local Produce
- 8 of the Best Places to Camp Around the World
- 7 Sustainable Ways to Dive into Thai Culture
- How to Plan an Eco-Friendly RTW Trip: 9 Destinations to Go Green
- 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Ecotourism
- Eco Friendly Travel: 6 Easy Ways to Directly Benefit Your Destination
The more you travel, the more you realize that food is humanity’s common denominator. Across every continent, the harvest of food is cause for celebration, an acknowledgement that one more year of food has arrived. Vietnam calls it the Mid-Autumn, or Moon Festival, Peru celebrates the harvest of grapes in the only appropriate way: drinking tons of wine! Global Basecamps can help you plan travel to these, and many other destinations worldwide. Call one of our travel specialists today: 866-577-2462