Reality Tours Offer Enlightening Alternatives for New Year’s Celebration

New Year's in Rio de Janeiro
Reality Tours invites anyone interested in experiencing a mind-expanding New Year's to Rio de Janeiro and three other destinations.

Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based non-profit that helped launch the “engaged travel” movement in 1988 with its Reality Tours program, is offering four trips for intrepid travelers looking to enjoy this season’s New Year’s a little differently.

Reality Tours provide in-depth understanding of other countries and cultures by connecting travelers with community organizers and social change advocates around the globe.

Three different winter Reality Tours, running from Dec. 27, 2010 to Jan. 4 or 5, 2011, offer participants three distinct visions of the present and future Latin America.

  • In Brazil, former urban guerrilla and political prisoner Dilma Rousseff was elected the country’s first female president in October. Her election signals the changing role of women (and grassroots activism) in the largest and fastest-growing country in South America.

    Tour members will get an inside look at this dynamic regional superpower as well as experience New Year’s in Rio de Janeiro — the second biggest party in Brazil after Carnaval.

  • On the opposite end of the spectrum is Cuba, which is struggling to maintain the ideals of its 1959 revolution in the midst of the global economic recession.

    Reality Tours remains one of the few licensed delegations to Cuba. Participants will spend New Year’s Eve in the cabaret of notorious Miami mobster Myer Lansky’s old Riviera Hotel.

  • Between Brazil and Cuba (politically, at least) lies Ecuador where delegates will participate in New Year’s Eve celebrations with the indigenous Sarayacu community in an eco-lodge in the Amazon rainforest.
  • The fourth New Year’s trip, running Dec. 29 to Jan. 11, is to India. Though India has experienced enormous economic growth in recent years, nearly half of its 1.1 billion citizens continue to live below the poverty line.

    This tour is led by Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and includes visits to Gandhi’s home and ashram. Participants will celebrate New Year’s in the club car of a 1st-class train as they travel across one of the most ancient yet rapidly-changing civilizations on Earth.

For more information on their New Year’s trips or other 2011 Reality Tours, click here

For more information about the Reality Tours program, contact Malia Everette at

Read more about tours in Latin America at GoNOMAD here and here.