1. Ranching in Wyoming
Experienced horse riders can learn how to move cattle, check fences, locate stray stock and practise “cutting” (separating individual cattle from the herd) on a working holiday at New Haven Ranch in Wyoming, near Mount Rushmore. Ranch specialist American Round-up can arrange stays to coincide with Wyoming’s rodeo season (June to September) or for autumn when the cattle round-ups take place, with accommodation in a five-room ranch guesthouse on-site.
2. Igloo building in Canada
The territory of Nunavut, in the far north of Canada, is the Arctic home of the Inuit people. Activity specialist Inukpak Outfitting, based in its capital, Iqaluit, organises cultural experiences, including igloo-building, as well as overnight stays. Learn traditional methods of selecting the best snow, before cutting and placing blocks with a pana (snow knife), then sleep on animal skins after a hearty meal of tuktu (caribou) stew.
3. Yodelling in Austria
There’s more to yodelling than you’d think. Explore the techniques required to create this Alpine sound in the company of musician and yodel enthusiast Thomas Reitsamer, who runs weekly, hourlong workshops on the Schmittenhohe mountain near Zell am See, 84km south of Salzburg. The workshop, which starts with the Kuhtutten Jodler song, is included in the price of the mountain railway ticket.
4. Dog-sledding in Lapland
Have a go at dog sledding (or “mushing”), the traditional mode of transport in the far north of Sweden, inside the Arctic Circle, where winter lasts from mid-November to late April. Scandinavian specialist Nature Travels offers remote itineraries to learn how to drive a sled pulled by Siberian huskies through these magical white landscapes of snowy forests and frozen lakes. Adults and older children can drive their own sled, with no previous experience. Accommodation is in simple cabins, often with saunas.
5. Gondola skills in Venice
The unusual Venetian tradition of “voga” — standing up and rowing with a single oar — seems to have developed so the gondolier had a better chance of spotting mudflats and sandbanks in the shallow waters of the lagoon. It’s a specialised skill and the four-star Splendid Venice Hotel, near the St Mark’s Square, offers a two-night package, which includes a lesson with a gondolier at the Canottieri Querini school, aperitifs and late checkout.
6. Partying in Rio de Janeiro
Late February is when the streets of Brazil’s capital erupt with costumed carnival-goers partying the night away. Long-haul specialist Tucan Travel can advise on where to find the best blocos (street parties) and where to buy costumes and accessories for the big parade in the city’s central Sambadrome Marques de Sapucai. If energy levels permit after several nights of singing, drumming and dancing, the itinerary includes a final day on Copacabana beach, playing volleyball with the locals.
7. T’ai Chi in China
Developed as a martial art in 13th-century China, t’ai chi combines graceful movement with deep breathing. Escorted cruise and tour specialist Scenic offers a variety of escorted tours to the country, including a four-night Yangtze river cruise, where early morning t’ai chi classes take place on deck. These are supervised by the on-board doctor and timed to coincide with the sun as it slowly rises over the countryside.
8. Bagpiping in Scotland
Guests staying at the eight-bedroom Pipers’ Tryst Hotel in Glasgow city centre have a chance to book a lesson at the adjoining — and recently refurbished — National Piping Centre. They also enjoy free entry to the Piping Museum. Celebrating the 300-year history of Highland bagpipes, the museum has a piper to welcome guests and a set of bagpipes to try — plus a shop selling chanters, brogues and glengarry hats.
9. Tradition and ritual in Japan
When it comes to fascinating cultural traditions, it’s hard to beat Japan. Far Eastern specialist Wendy Wu offers escorted tours that feature a variety of experiences, including the chance to try on a formal kimono with long sleeves and underlayers, tied with an obi (sash). Highlights include taking part in a traditional tea ceremony, trying taiko (Japanese drumming) and joining monks in morning prayers at a 13th-century Buddhist temple.
10. Boomerang skills in New Zealand
Tjapukai is a cultural centre that celebrates the traditions of the local aboriginal Djabugay people, based on a 10-hectare site near Cairns in Queensland. Activities on offer in the cultural village include hunting techniques such as boomerang and spear throwing. Visitors can also join guided walks to find bush foods and have a go at playing the didgeridoo.