Textiles & Arts: Ghana 2022

Women in traditional Ghana cloth

Cynthia and Comfort, friend and textile market guide in Kumasi.

DATES: February 3 – 16, 2022 

Fly home on February 17.

Ghana is sometimes called “Africa for beginners” because of the ease of travel, the friendly, welcoming people and the relative level of modernity compared to other West African nations. Ghana is safe and politically stable, with a tourism infrastructure of hotels and restaurants that improves every year.
We’ll explore not only the textiles of Ghana, but also other creative arts such as the exciting cuisine. You’ll also learn about the historical and ecological features of this fascinating country.
Fortunately the people have retained many cultural and artistic traditions such as use of patterned Kente and Adinkra cloth – and have created some others, such as the fairly recent mode of fantasy coffins. Arts such as bead-making, Kente weaving, batik printing, adinkra stamping, music, and dance are all thriving, alongside the modern aspect of the capital city of Accra.

Barou and the Chief of Yabi village, Kumasi.

Arts and Culture Galore!

This 14-night Ghana textile tour includes three hands-on workshops of traditional crafts. Expert Ghanaian artist-friends will teach us how to make batik wax-stamped cloth, adinkra-printed fabric, and glass beads. You’ll go home with some beautiful creations. An enormous bead market, kente cloth weaving centers, and the studio of the best art coffin carvers make other exciting destinations during our Ghana tour. We’ll also visit an elementary school at the Jamestown fishing village, and spend a morning at the biggest fabric market in West Africa.

Led by Malian Barou Samake and Cynthia Samake, who have done this tour for the past 10 years, this adventure includes the very best of Ghana. Barou is an upbeat person who will ensure that your travel experience enchants and enriches you. Cynthia will explain the context and techniques of the traditional textiles that we’ll see as we travel.

Cynthia mixing colors in dye workshop in Ghana.

Cynthia mixing batik dye for the workshop; her dress is batik, made here.

Our driver, Robert is an unflappable professional who has traveled with us for many trips in Ghana. Professional English-speaking local guides will join us at historical sites, including the slave forts or castles. They will add depth to your knowledge by explaining the historical context and background of the sites.

Tour Details

You will be met by the trip leader and driver at Kotoka International airport, in the capital city of  Accra, on February 3 when you arrive. We’ll go from ocean beaches to forest canopy, with lakes and traditional villages in between!

On this wonderful adventure, we will cover as much as possible of the fascinating southern part of the country. We’ll spend several days around bustling Accra, then head off to specific areas such as Kumasi and the Volta Region. This will give us a good feeling for typical Ghanaian life away from the busy coastal areas.

First we’ll head west to tour Cape Coast Castle with a licensed local guide. This important UNESCO World Heritage site was one of thirty large commercial forts built by European traders on the Gold Coast of West Africa (now Ghana). Originally it was built by Swedish settlers to trade timber and gold, but later used in the tragic trans-Atlantic slave trade. We’ll tour the Historical Museum here also. The town of Elmina is believed to be the location of the first point of contact between Europeans and sub-Saharan Africans. Now Elmina is a fishing village with colorful scenes of fishermen and boats on the beach. There we’ll spend the night in modern versions of traditional African round huts – with swimming pool to cool off in nearby.

Man wears Adinkra cloth, Ghana

Distinguished elder in traditional Adinkra cloth wrapper.

On to Kumasi & Kente

Later we’ll head north to Kumasi. There, a local friend will navigate the Kejetia Market’s cloth lanes with you so you don’t get lost; see photo at bottom of girls arranging bolts of fabric. This is a quilter’s paradise and the fabrics are inexpensive.

The famous Ghanaian kente cloth is still woven in several places. We’ll meet weavers in Bonwire (near Kumasi) who will show us weaving techniques and you can sit at a loom and try your hand. He will also explain the significance of the beautiful designs and color combinations. There are over 300 kente patterns, each with its own name and meaning, derived from proverbs, historical events, and important chiefs. We’ll meet the weavers in individual and coop settings to see weaving demonstrations by both Ewe and Ashanti people. Also you’ll be able to buy their work directly from them and observe their weaving techniques.

Then we’ll drive to Odumase-Krobo where we’ll make glass beads with the famous and congenial Cedi, foremost Ghanaian bead artist. The enormous Bead Market will tempt you to add to your collections!

Barou with Ewe kente cloth.

Barou examines a beautiful piece of kente strip cloth.

Next stop in the Volta Region is pretty Lake Volta, before turning south to Tema and Teshie. After our batik workshop and the visit to the art coffin carver, we’ll return to Accra. One day we’ll stop in the fishing town of Jamestown, with its fresh fish market, tuna smoking ovens and fishing scene on the beach. We will meet with a friend who is the Director there. He’ll show us the boats being crafted by hand, and will explain how the communal fishing organization works. He will also show us the little school for the fishermen’s children (built by Canadians) and you can donate school supplies here if you wish.

Three Workshops: Adinkra Printing, Batik & Beads!

We’ll try our hand at some traditional crafts in several workshops mentioned above. We will print adinkra motifs with stamps made from sections of hand-carved dried gourd. Another day we’ll stamp hot wax on cotton yardage for a gorgeous batik. Also we’ll make recycled glass beads with bead artist Cedi. At a fabulous weekly Bead Market, dozens of vendors offer an amazing variety of handmade beads, for great prices. Later we’ll create necklaces and bracelets from our handmade beads and newly acquired ones. These hands-on workshops represent typical culture and textiles of Ghana that are being both maintained and re-invented by the artisans.

Fantasy Coffins

On the way back into Accra, we’ll visit the most prominent coffin carving workshop, to see what they are working on. These wooden, custom-made coffins reflect the career or aspirations of the deceased, for the Ga ethnic community. Fishermen might be buried in a huge colorful fish or a carpenter in a big plane-shaped coffin. Ghanaians can request burial in a carved wooden version of their favorite automobile, or airplane.

Farmers can order cocoa pods or chili peppers for the journey to the other life. Some men choose a beer bottle or an over-sized Coca Cola bottle. Popular women’s coffins include huge chickens, with smaller wooden “chicks” at her feet, one representing each of the lady’s children. We’ll see the coffin construction and carving process, and some different models currently on hand. ‘Fantasy coffins’ have become art pieces in  America and other countries, appearing in many museums and private collections.

You can see more about art coffins by our friend Eric, here: Eric Adjetey Anang, coffin artist.PBS

Beaders, Quilters and Other Fabric Enthusiasts

Example of Travelers' Art with African fabrics.

African Village Quilt by Melanie Grishman, with fabrics from Ghana and Mali.

Bring an empty suitcase to hold all the beads, antique and new kente cloth, and amazing roller-printed fabrics you’ll discover in the overflowing markets! We will go on a special market tour in Kumasi with Comfort, a charming, local friend who knows the labyrinth of stalls and where to find the best fabrics – and whatever else you may need – great fun!

Arrive on February 3 and fly home from Accra on February 17.
February 16
is LAST included night of hotel.

Many flights leave Accra late at night. So on the 17th, you have free time until you need to go to the airport; you may leave your bags safely at the hotel and hang out by the pool or in the restaurant. Or walk into nearby Osu for some last-minute shopping, etc.

See the Ghana Image Gallery here. 

Behind the Scenes Adventures IN ACTION:
We have a project to help local schools where we travel; we’ll visit an elementary school in a village and offer school supplies.  If you would like, bring some basic school supplies that will be  most appreciated. BTSA travelers have been wonderfully generous about donating pens, pencils and notebooks during our visits, and the children are so sweet; this is really a heart-warming experience!!  See the BTSA Helping page here.

Printing Adinkra cloth with traditional gourd stamps.

Cynthia uses Adinkra stamps to embellish a factory-printed fabric.

Price: $4395 

(Arrive Feb. 3 and depart late on Feb. 17.)

Single supplement: $550


  • 14 nights hotel accommodation in comfortable local hotels (double rooms) with private bathroom.
  •  All transportation by private van with professional driver
  • All meals, except two lunches in Accra (Order dishes of your choice from menus)
  • All soft drinks, beer, and water with meals
  • Bottled water in the van on the road
  • Airport transportation on group arrival and departure days
  • All entrances to historical sites and museums on itinerary
  • Professional guide at Elmina Castle
  • Expert shopping guide for Kumasi market tour
  • Kente cloth weaving demo
  • Three workshops: glass-bead making, Adinkra stamping, and batik printing.
  • 2 yards of cotton cloth are provided for the batik printing workshop.
  • Tips for the professional guides at historical sites are also included.

Girl selling fish takes a break to flirt!

Not included:

International (roundtrip) airfare to Accra, your easy visa for Ghana ($100 from Texas USA consulate; we will send info); personal items such as laundry, any between-meal snacks, hard alcoholic drinks (beer is included), and the cloth to print Adinkra on.

There will be a group market outing in Kumasi to buy your choice of cloth for Adinkra printing. Batik cotton is included for your wax printing workshop.

If you arrive or depart on a different day than the designated group arrival/departure date, you will need to pay the taxi from airport to hotel, and any additional nights of hotel.
Plan flights to arrive after 10am or before 8pm if possible. Barou will meet you at the airport, with the driver on the group arrival date. Otherwise, we will arrange for the hotel to send a known and safe taxi driver for you. The Ghana airport is enclosed and fairly un-chaotic.
After you have paid the $500 deposit for Arts and Culture of Ghana, and several months before departure, we will send you the form to fill out for your visa to Ghana. You will send the forms and post office Money Order to TEXAS, USA, for the easy and quick method.
Please don’t use another way because other visa places are inefficient and it can get really complicated. You’ll also receive an emailed information packet with lists of what to bring, heath and cultural info, maps, etc.

Fishing boats in the harbor.

It is impossible to plan in advance attendance at traditional musical or dance events or even holidays and festivals, from afar. We love these events, and we’re happy to be flexible and spontaneously attend traditional performances in villages along the way, if the chance should arise.




BALI – Tropical Textiles

Our pretty, tropical hotel near Denpasar.


June 12-24, 2023
Fly home on June 25.

Just the word “Bali” evokes a tropical paradise with swaying palm trees, balmy weather, friendly people, glorious beaches and stunning temples. Less known is the long history of textile and art production that we will experience on this 13-night trip. We’ll start in the bustling capital of Denpasar, and explore the island by private van, with art and textiles of Bali as our focus. Batik artists, weavers, painters and wood carvers will greet us to visit their studios and workshops. We’ll also see some fabulous traditional dancing and music, and the most important temples and museums.

Brown and rust double ikat cloth; Bali.

Double ikat cotton ceremonial cloth called Geringsing.

The trip is designed for everyone who loves handmade textiles and seeing different weaving processes. The heavenly food and lovely tropical hotels are a big plus! Quilters rejoice! You will find lots to exclaim over. You’ll not only have a chance to see and purchase a wide variety of Indonesian textiles but also you can load up on yards and yards of hand-dyed cotton or rayon batik cloth. In Denpasar, we’ll shop for oh-so-inexpensive Balinese batik quilt fabrics at a couple of places with incredible selections. You’ll also create your own yardage at a local batik mini-factory. In this workshop, we’ll stamp lengths of plain cloth with patterns, and dye with colors, of our choice.

Our wonderful Balinese guide for the trip.


Travel with a Balinese native, meeting the local artists.
Visit a traditional double ikat weaving village.
Stamp and dye your own Batik fabric.
Watch a traditional Balinese dance show.
Shop for an incredible selection of batik fabric.
Tour the Bali Provincial (ethnographic) Museum.
Learn to make Balinese dishes in our cooking class.
Design a batik cloth painting in our class.
Visit stunning temples; learn about their traditions.
Take weird photos at Upside Down World Bali.
Savor delicious dishes on our Street Food tour.
Optional, included: Workshop with silversmith to create your own silver ring.
Optional: Snorkeling will be possible in at least one place (boat fee not included),
and the last hotel of the trip is right on the beach for free time.


Chic prints for men and women, in cotton and rayon from Milo’s clothing company, temptingly close to our hotel in Seminyak.

Bali is about 600 miles south of the equator, so the weather is tropical – hot and gloriously sunny. Daylight continues for a cheery 12 hours, and daytime temperatures average between 80º F (27ºC) to 90º F (32ºC). It’s humid, so often it feels warmer. But the mountain areas are cooler, around 70º F (21ºC) to 80º F (27ºC). I have always felt the charm and beauty of the country make it worth the heat. The hotels have air-conditioning or good fan systems. Do bring a bathing suit because many of our hotels have lovely pools.

Bali’s tropical monsoon climate has two distinct seasons: dry (between May to September) and wet (between October to April). Monsoon refers to the wind, not the rain. However even in the wet monsoon, in this tropical paradise it is still likely to be sunny for much of the day.

May, June and July are generally considered to be the best time to travel to Bali in terms of the weather.

Hotel entrance in Balinese architecture style.

Typical Balinese architecture with protective deities at the entrance.

Textiles of Bali

The variety of weaving is stunning. The most common fabrication techniques by Balinese weavers are single ikat, supplementary weft and discontinuous weft. Double ikat is done in one place only, that we will be sure to visit. If these aren’t familiar terms, you’ll learn to distinguish cloth made with these methods as we observe weavers in several different locations.
And of course: Batik!  The best-known textile of Bali (and next-door Java) is the fine, silky cotton, hand-stamped, batik-dyed fabrics, prized by quilters the world over (and blatantly copied in  lesser quality cloth by Indian and Chinese textile manufacturers). We’ll print our own fabric, suitable for quilting or clothing too! And coming to the source ensures the best prices and best selection of course. We’ll have an optional shopping excursion in the capital of Denpasar to renowned shops with a stunning choice of Bali batik cotton or rayon, at great prices.


And in the east, we’ll watch weavers aligning the pre-patterned threads to weave the famous rust and ecru double ikat called geringsing, pictured above. Both men and women wear long pieces of it for traditional ceremonies.

The labor-intensive double ikat process, and the fact that geringsing is produced in only one village, make it one of the rarest and most valuable of Indonesian textiles. Geringsing cloths are characterized by bold, highly intricate patterns in white, morinda red, and indigo-blue-black colors produced from natural dyes. Geringsing literally means “against sickness” in Balinese. The cloth is believed to have protective qualities and magical power and thus is used ceremonially as offerings or clothing.

Blue-green cotton printed cloth in Bali.We’ll visit the Museum Negeri Propinsi.
Here vast collections of ethnographic displays include classical paintings from East Bali, and treasures such as antique textiles, wayang kulit shadow puppets, theatrical masks, costumes and musical instruments.

The spiritual aspect of the small island of Bali also makes a visit extra special. Around every corner are carved stone deities and temples set in lush grounds. You’ll marvel at the intricately woven and carefully arranged food offerings for the gods, and the guide will further enlighten us as to the significance of the spiritual objects and temple ceremonies.

“Hinduism and Buddhism reached Bali sometime in the first millennium, after the appearance of ‘Indianized’ kingdoms in Sumatra and Java. These religions blended with native animism and ancestor worship, and with a profound respect for the mountains, rivers, caves and other natural features found in abundance on this island. The need for balance between humanity, the unseen world of the gods and spirits, and the environment – a concept called tri hita karana – is at the core of modern Balinese Hindu philosophy and practice.” (From Threads of Life, Ubud, Bali)

Typiucal dinner of rice and vegetables in Bali, Indonesia.

Typical healthy lunch of rice and vegetables plus condiments.

Tour Price: $4295

Single Supplement $550


  • 13 nights in beautiful tropical hotels with pool, double/twin rooms.
  • Travel by private van with professional driver.
  • Airport transportation to Denpasar airport, on arrival/departure days, June 12 and June 25.
  • All meals (your choice from menus) except 2 dinners & 2 lunches on your own.
  • Occasional buffets, or picnic lunches on the road.
  • All breakfasts in hotels.
  • All non-alcoholic soft drinks and water with meals.
  • Cynthia Samake at the Tanah Lot temple, Bali.

    Cynthia in Denpasar at Tanah Lot Temple by the sea.

    Entrance to all sites and museums.

    Visit to double ikat weaving village.

  • Bottled water on road trips.
  • Private batik fabric printing workshop.
  • Private batik painting workshop.
  • Ikat textile weaving and dyeing demonstration.
  • Two gourmet Balinese cooking classes; lunch.
  • Textile expert Cynthia Samake to accompany the itinerary.
  • Maximum group size 12 people.

Note that Travel and Trip Cancellation insurance is mandatory on all trips.

Not Included:

International airfare, alcoholic beverages, tips for driver and guide,  and any fees for other activities you choose to do but which are not not on the itinerary.
Snorkeling is optional, (about $90 to go out with the boat or free with rented equipment [$] from the beach).

Green rice terraces where the Balinese staple food is produced.

Typical scenery of stunning green terraced rice fields.

All photos ©Cynthia LeCount Samake unless listed.
Geringsing photo: www.threadsoflife.com, Ubud, Bali.
Plate of lunch by Simon Gurney; Dreamstime.




Glorious Guatemala

October 23 – November 4, 2018  (Fly home on November 5)

Textiles, Tikal National Park (UNESCO site), All Saints’ Day festivities, and amazing Giant Kite Festival!

Barilette KITETrip Highlights: This glorious trip includes colorful textiles, ancient Maya archaeology, village visits to meet the people and watch them making textiles, an exciting annual festival and cemetery remembrances for All Saints’ Day or Day of the Dead, gourmet cuisine and beautiful hotels!

We’ll meet you upon arrival, with the hotel van driver, at La Aurora International Airport (GUA), in Guatemala City and spend the first night in a restful and beautiful modern hotel. Next day we visit the exquisite collection of traditional handmade dress in the Ixchel Museum, and the nearby Popol Vuh Museum with collections of Maya ceramics and stonework. Then we head for the peaceful and charming town of Antigua, and our pretty garden courtyard hotel. Next we’ll join local friends for day trips to the exciting All Saints’ Day (Day of the Dead) festivities, and the Giant Kite Festival activities in a nearby town.

TIKAL DoD Newsletter

The fabulous Tikal archeological UNESCO site.

From the central and convenient town of Antigua, we’ll visit local rural villages, and meet weavers and embroiderers. Antigua boasts gourmet restaurants, interesting architecture, a Handicrafts Market, and a small Textile Museum. One day we will have a delicious traditional lunch prepared by a local family, who will also demonstrate their weaving techniques for us.

Friends in the ikat or Jaspé weaving center of Xela will show us the techniques of dyeing and weaving the stunning and colorful cloth famous there.

Finally we fly north to the town of Flores, jumping off point for our visit to the superb Tikal National Park. The Park contains some of the most fascinating archaeological remains of the ancient Maya civilization.

Hand-woven huipil from Chajul.


Hand-woven and embroidered huipil (blouse) from Nebaj.

Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee around 200 to 900 AD. During this time, the city dominated much of the enormous Maya region politically, economically, and militarily.

With a professional English-speaking guide, we first visit the ruins, then we’ll have free time to explore the area on our own the next day; the trip includes two nights at Tikal in a comfortable hotel right in the park, so no time is spent driving back and forth. Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We’ll fly from Tikal directly to the International airport to connect with our flights home. Carefully plan your return flight schedule on the 12th and check with us before buying your return ticket. Flights back to Guatemala City (GUA) from Flores-Tikal arrive around 9am, so plan a homeward-bound connecting flight that leaves around noon or later on November 5. Contact us if you need ticket help from the BTSA travel agent, Nancy Smart.

Transportation is by private van with professional, local driver. Plenty of free time allows you to explore and shop on your own, or relax and enjoy the Guatemalan pace of life.

(Arrive on October 23 and fly home on November 4.)

Hotel in Panajachel

Our lovely hotel in Panajachel with tropical gardens.


Hand-embroidered huipil from Patzun.

COST:  $ 3650 Minimum 6 people, maximum 12
Includes 13 nights hotel accommodation in small, charming boutique hotels with private bath; round-trip flights for Tikal, all interior transportation, expert local English-speaking guide at Tikal, local textile expert on village visits, airport arrival transportation, porter tips for luggage, all meals except the few as noted on itinerary.
Arrive on October 23 and fly home on November 5.

To sign up for this tour, email first to [email protected]
to be sure there is space on the trip.

Then download the two documents below, print and fill out, then send with your $500 deposit as a personal check to:
Behind the Scenes Adventures
900 Roanoke Drive, #111
Martinez, CA 94553
(All the sign-up info is also on the page called Sign me Up! linked at top right of Home page.)


BTSA Contract 2016-2017


November 2013 2 Trips!


PERU – Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Highland Villages: November 4-16  (13 days)
BOLIVIA – Lake Titicaca, Sucre, Potosi , Highland Villages:  November 17-26 (10 days)

Cyn& Roberto

These two exciting tours are led by me, Cynthia LeCount Samake, and Claudia Avila [below, dyeing wool], who is Behind the Scenes’ South America expert.
I’m an expert on Andean culture and indigenous textiles, and the author of “Andean Folk Knitting: Techniques and Traditions of Peru and Bolivia.” I have been to Peru and Bolivia about 42 times in the past 35 years, and every trip is magical!

Claudia is an experienced and organized trip leader, with excellent Spanish, a ready smile and a positive attitude. Her main specialty is world cuisine, and on these two trips, we will eat in some of the best restaurants in Peru and Bolivia. She will show us local markets with unusual traditional ingredients which you may want to try–such as purple potatoes or roasted Guinea pig!

Claudia dyes hotBehind the Scenes cultural and textile tours are for learning, exploration, expanding our worlds–and having a good time! Everyone is welcome!  We will visit highland villages where the people make all their own clothes, and we will explore Inka sites such as Machu Picchu and the huge ceremonial site of Sacsa-huayman.  In Bolivia, we stay at the edge of Lake Titicaca and visit friends on the Urus Islands in the lake; we also visit a working mine in Potosi and sleep in a historic hacienda.

TWO TOURS for Fall 2013:
PERU – Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Highland Villages: November 4-16  (13 days)
BOLIVIA – Lake Titicaca, Sucre, Potosi , Highland Villages:  November 17-26 (10 days)

SOAR ad maybeYou can sign up for either trip or both together.

The PERU trip includes the possibility of attending the optional weaving conference called TINKUY, the Weavers’ Gathering, sponsored by the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cuzco (CTTC). The Center helps highland villages to market their textiles and has had a very positive economic impact on many remote areas.

If you don’t plan to attend the conference, Claudia and I have planned some fabulous activities, see itinerary below, including visiting villages. Textile Center Director, Nilda Callanaupa and I have coordinated the dates of the PERU TOUR so that Tinkuy falls at the end it, then the BOLIVIA TOUR begins. A tax-deductible donation of $250 to CTTC is included in the tour price for the Peru portion.

Note that 3 meals a day are included except in a few places where a lunch or dinner is ‘on your own.’ Breakfast is always included, in our hotels.

Nov. 4  Arrive in LIMA today, usually in the evening. No visa necessary; they will stamp our passports at Immigration in the airport. You will be met at the airport by Claudia and/or Cynthia and taken to our charming Miraflores neighborhood hotel for a good night’s sleep. (If you arrive after 10 pm, the hotel will send the hotel taxi driver with a Behind the Scenes Adventures sign to pick you up.)

Nov. 5  A wonderful day in the temperate seaside city of LIMA! Two great museums: Larco Herrera for some textiles but especially Moche period portrait pots and other vessels such as bats, snakes, llamas, crabs, potatoes, even corn pots; and Amano Museum for fabulous pre-Hispanic textiles, especially Chimu cotton gauze weave shrouds. We’ll have lunch and dinner at some of Lima’s great restaurants. Each day during the trip, Claudia will take us to lunch and dinner at special places where she loves to eat!Pitumarka WVR.PPT

Nov. 6   Fly over the Andes to CUZCO, 1 hour flight. Check in to our centrally-located and heritage building hotel. Eat lunch then stroll around city to acclimate.
Visit the excellent Museum at Center for Traditional Textiles of Cuzco, CTTC. Buy white alpaca yarn from the Michell alpaca shop, around the corner from the hotel, for dyeing on Friday–white, and maybe some of the gorgeous colors!

Nov. 7  Textile village visit–Visit the Andean village of Pitumarca to meet our old friends here who are amazing knitters and weavers. You will be able to see the contemporary knitting and weaving of this Quechua-speaking community and buy some of their beautiful work. Picnic lunch in the weaving compound.
Visit the famous little Andahuaylilas church; meet male knitters from Sallac who employ the cleverest techniques for their complex, multicolored caps.

Nov. 8  Drive about an  hour, over beautiful rolling hills of quinua and potato fields, to Chinchero (Nilda Callanaupa’s village). We will have a half-day natural dye workshop with the ladies here. Color your white alpaca yarn with cochineal, one of their favorite dyes, or another choice from their supply of flowers, leaves and lichen that make their rich colors. Picnic lunch. Rest of afternoon free in Cuzco.

Nov. 9  Train to Machu Picchu National Park (UNESCO Cultural Heritage site), visit the magical place with professional guide, then free time in the ruins; overnight in Machu Picchu Village at Terrazas del Inka.


Nov. 10   Visit MP National Park again in the morning. The first shuttle bus departs for the site around 5:30 am. People talk of the ‘sunrise’ at MP, but in reality, it is most often clouded over. Maybe you’ll be lucky!
In any case, if you arrive early, you can climb Huayna Picchu, the peak at the far end of Machu Picchu. The climb is much easier than it looks, because there are steps the whole way, and even a firmly attached chain to hang onto, on the steepest part. I have climbed it 3-4 times, and the view is absolutely spectacular from the top! Return to Cuzco on afternoon train.

Nov. 11  Stroll through Cuzco town, peek into the Cathedral, continue across the Plaza de Armas, to the street of the 12-angled stone, one fabulous stone in a whole foundation of amazing stonework walls. Continue to Plaza San Blas, visit the Pre-Hispanic Museum, have tea or a drink at the beautiful old convent hotel. Walk back down and have lunch at Jack’s, just in case anyone is feeling homesick! After lunch, walk down Triunfo Street, visiting favorite jewelers, and the suede/textile bootmaker.

Nov. 12  FREE morning. Lunch then drive up to Sacsahuayman, spectacular Inka fortress /ceremonial site above Cuzco. Sacsahuayman is known for amazingly huge stones fitted into zigzag walls, set around a grassy central area. Continue to the Inka fountains/’baths’ at Tambomachay and admire the fabulous stone carving. We will also visit the Inka Museum, near the Plaza de Armas, above, right. 

OPTION: TINKUY event begins late this afternoon.

Cuzco cathedral

Nov. 13  Ascend to a remote village and meet many of my old friends: knitters, weavers and 7-year old Little Cynthia, my namesake! below, with her mom, Andrea. (Lil Cynthia’s father, Roberto, is in the photo above, with me also.)  This high, barren village is the least prosperous of the Textile Center’s project villages; you might bring school supplies that we can donate to the teacher here. These people will be working on their textiles.
You can feel 
comfortable here and in other CTTC project villages, watching interesting techniques and taking pictures. The weavers and knitters may have some intricately patterned textiles that you can purchase directly from the maker; items you buy greatly help to improve their standard of living; see weaver working on a complex pattern at right. Dinner on your own.Andrea + Little Cynthia-low

OPTION: TINKUY activities during the day.

Nov. 14  In the  morning, we’ll head out of Cuzco by van to see two fascinating sites. First Moray, the circular Inka agricultural terraces: note in photo below, right, the dots on different levels at 12 o’clock are people! Then we’ll view Maras, the huge site of salt evaporation pits, built into a hillside.

Visually Maras is also spectacular, white basins ringed with brown earth. When we return, we’ll have lunch in town then free time in the afternoon. (Cynthia can show you favorite little stores and artisans’ workshops if you want to buy something special.)    OPTION: TINKUY activities during the day.

Nov. 15  Morning visit to TicaTica, the women’s knitting cooperative that friend Hilda organizes, to see their work. These women design and make beautifully patterned alpaca sweaters, by hand and on basic knitting machines. There will be some of their colorful sweaters available here to buy. Lunch with the ladies.

After lunch, we’ll visit a ceramic studio where they make vessels but also buttons and beads. In late afternoon, free time. I will teach a mini-workshop on Andean decorative techniques to anyone interested. I can show you the little scalloped edging found on many knitted caps (chullos), and the bobbly finger-crocheted yarn made in several villages and incorporated into the knitting. Dinner on your own.   OPTION: TINKUY activities during the day.

Alpacas-cropNov. 16    FREE DAY in Cuzco. (Depart for home tomorrow, November 17 OR continue to Bolivia on the 17th.)

For the BOLIVIA TEXTILE TOUR travelers, this is your last day in Cuzco before we depart tomorrow for Lake Titicaca and Bolivia. By now you will know Cuzco well, and will probably want to return to some shops for final purchases, or museums for some more time with the ancient pieces. You might just hang out at the Starbucks above the plaza and people-watch all day! Lunch on your own. Andean Folk music show with Farewell Dinner.


PERU TEXTILE TOUR: $3705 plus $395 Tinkuy conference registration fee payable to CTTC
PERU TEXTILE TOUR: $3795 without conference

Both prices include a tax-deductible $250 donation to Textile Center of Cuzco.

Single Supplement  $550

• 13 nights accommodation in boutique or heritage hotels
• All meals, soft drinks and water with meals (except a few meals on your own, as noted)
• Bottled water in the van on day trips
• LIMA – CUZCO round-trip flight – (or one-way if you continue into Bolivia)
• All transportation within Peru by private van
• All group airport arrival and departure transport on designated arrival day
• All entrance fees to the museums, archaeological sites and group events on the itinerary
• Natural dye workshop in village (you buy the white alpaca yarn)
• 2 Spanish- and English-speaking tour leaders/textile expert to accompany the tour
• Private professional, licensed guide at Machu Picchu.

To combine the PERU and BOLIVIA tours, American has good prices on Muli-City fares, for combining the itineraries.  FLY into LIMA [code LIM] and FLY HOME from LA PAZ [code LPB]


Altiplano.AlpacaNov. 17  Visit Pisac Market on our way out of Cuzco. Drive to Puno, over the high altiplano, seeing herds of specially bred white alpacas along the way. Stop to photograph them and the snowy peaks in the distance. Cross the La Raya pass at almost 15,000 feet, get out and feel the altitude take your breath away! Arrive in Puno for the night, at the edge of Lake Titicaca.

Nov. 18  Early next morning, we’ll board a motorboat to cross a small part of Lake Titicaca to visit the Urus Islands, home of my young god -daughter, Anita, above right. Her parents and family will show us island life and their traditions, then we head back to Puno. Pick up our bags from the hotel, and drive in the van to the border with Bolivia. Cross the border (we can get visas upon arrival–at a steep $135) and continue over the high plains dotted with small villages near the lake. Overnight in Copacabana at the edge of Lake Titicaca in a beautiful eco-hotel, where every room has a lake view, excellent restaurant here.

Nov. 19  Explore the little town of Copacabana this morning. There is an impressive Moorish-influenced Cathedral on the small plaza; check out the beautiful hand-carved doors with images of Lake Titicaca myths. Also there is a Poncho Museum that may be open. The super-energetic can climb up the hill of the Seven Stations of the Cross, for amazing 360 degree views out over Lake Titicaca.  Bus for LaPaz (same good company as hotel) leaves around 1pm, after we have lunch of delicious pink lake trout or other dish.  Arrive La Paz in a few hours and check in to hotel. Walk around the neighborhood which is in the interesting “Indian Market” area. We will have more time to explore La Paz when we return. You may also leave bags at the hotel when we head south to Sucre. Overnight La Paz.Potolo-Bolivia

Nov. 20   Up early for morning flight from LaPaz to Sucre, 1 hour flight. Check into our lovely hotel, in an 18th C mansion, with wonderful view terraces full of flowers. Lunch, then visit ASUR Textile Museum (Museo de Atre Indigena), in a 17th C colonial home. This small museum shows excellent traditional textiles from the towns surrounding Sucre—Ravelo, Potolo, Tarabuco, Candelaria, etc. Watch weavers at work in the courtyard, using different techniques and oblique looms (which we did not see before on our visits to weaving villages in Peru). Visit University Anthropology Museum, with good folklore and ethnography exhibits, if time/energy allow.

Relax on the hotel’s rooftop terraces or walk around Sucre’s pretty central plaza, only three blocks from our Hotel. Dinner near the hotel. (Since we will be coming back to this hotel, you may leave extra bags here in safe storage while we are on the road.) Overnight Sucre.

Nov. 21 Potosi
Drive in van to Potosi (3 hours with interesting stops along the way), considered the world’s highest city and known for the riches and tragedies of its mining history.  The founding of the city and the discovery of fabulously rich silver veins went hand in hand, in the mid-1500s. By the end of the 18th C, Potosi had grown into the largest and wealthiest city in all of Latin America, and many beautiful colonial churches and building still hint at this former splendor.

Lunch, then to the HACIENDA in afternoon. The Hacienda is a peaceful retreat in the valley near Potosi, and it dates from colonial times when the opulent mansion was owned by the Viceroy of Toledo. The hacienda remains a working farm, producing vegetables and dairy products for the city. Staying there is like relaxing in a comfortable home with a gracious friend—where antiques abound, and the library, private chapel and museum are fascinating. The focal point of the living room is a cozy fireplace. Family-style dinner at Hacienda, at long, antique table in historical dining room. Overnight POTOSI hacienda, below.

Hacienda PotosiNov. 22  Return to Potosi for a fascinating visit to a Cooperative Mine in “Cerro Rico” or rich hill. (Mine Tour is optional. Anyone claustrophobic can stroll around town.) Silver originally mined here is all gone; now they search for lead and other minerals. You will be outfitted with hard hats, slickers, boots and miners’ lamps. Be prepared for walking over muddy gravel through low tunnels for “an unforgettable look at debilitating working conditions of men doing the job from Hell, that should have gone out with the Middle Ages,” says Lonely Planet. Some mines are larger and have larger tunnels, better to visit. If you don’t want to visit the mine, you could visit the handicraft market, or the Royal Mint (Casa de la Moneda). Colonial coins were produced on a variety of interesting equipment, and the building also now includes a museum of colonial treasures. Lunch.

If time, visit the Carmelite Santa Teresa convent with its amazing art and artifacts, then stroll the Handicraft Market, before returning to Sucre for the night. Overnight Sucre.

DSCF2513Nov. 23  Drive out to weaving villages, 52 km. to Potolo. There’s an easy 2 to 4 hour walk through the countryside — possible for anyone interested. The villages of Potolo and Ravelo are indigenous towns where local women weave the well-known Jalq’a red and black textiles, above right, on loom. We will be privileged to visit local homes and see how the people live. These indigenous communities that belong to the Jalq’a ethnic group maintain their traditional culture in the architecture of the houses, the agricultural techniques and especially in the handmade textile production, which is totally unique.Possible to walk in this area, over age-old trails. Overnight SUCRE

Nov. 24  Buffet breakfast, then early morning van (2 hours) to Sunday Tarabuco Market. People living in this area maintain their traditional culture, evident intheir unusual dress, interesting customs, and Quechua language. Men typically wear rounded, black leather helmets, called monteras, reminiscent of the conquistadors’ helmets, with colorful hand-woven ponchos, pants and sandals. Women also wear hand-woven clothing with different hats, and adolescents wear yet another type of hat, a tightly crocheted, rigid, black version called a “tadpole” hat because of the tail down the back.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

At the colorful, bustling market, villagers from nearby communities converge to purchase or barter for food and supplies. The market is quite touristic, but interesting nevertheless, and they sell some marvelous textiles in nearby stalls/shops. After lunch, we’ll continue back to Sucre. Free afternoon in Sucre. Overnight Sucre.

Nov. 25  Flight back to La Paz. Check back into our hotel, walk down Sacarnaga Street for lunch then spend the rest of the day exploring La Paz on your own. Overnight La Paz.

Nov. 26. Free day in La Paz. Or you could take an optional day trip to the archeological site of Tiawanaku. Our hotel’s tour department has convenient and good Tiawanaku tours which include lunch, for a nominal cost. The Museum of Ethnography and Folklore is very interesting with drawers full of very accessible textiles to admire. (Fine hand-knitted cap from North Potosi Department, below.) Lunch on your own.  Farewell Dinner. Overnight La Paz.

No_PotosiNov. 27 FLY HOME FROM LA PAZ, BOLIVIA. Breakfast only included today. Transportation to airport included this day Please note that we do not make airline reservations, but will be happy to give you the contact info for our good travel agent.

To combine the PERU and BOLIVIA tours, American has good prices on Muli-City fares, for combining the itineraries. FLY into LIMA [code LIM] and FLY home from LA PAZ [code LPB.

Single Supplement $400

If you want to join the Bolivia tour but not the Peru tour, you’ll fly into Lima, and then fly home from La Paz, so that you experience the altiplano and Lake Titicaca.

This route is done most easily on American Airlines, at around $1050 now from San Francisco–and the flight one-way to Cuzco is only $144 in November on LAN.

OR call about meeting the group in LaPaz, Bolivia. This possibility will cut 2 days off the itinerary, and the price will be different.

• 10 nights accommodation in boutique hotels, historical buildings or private hacienda
• All meals, soft drinks and water with meals (except a few meals on your own, as noted)
• LA PAZ to SUCRE round-trip flights
• All transportation by private van to villages
• All entrance fees to the museums, archaeological sites and group events on the itinerary
• Visits to textile-producing villages near Sucre and Potosi
• 2 Spanish- and English-speaking tour leaders/textile expert to accompany the tour
• Specialized local guide for village tours

Be sure to call Cynthia if you have any questions about these itineraries.

Perhaps you have another idea about combining routes!   1-510-275-3662

Peru: Textiles & Festival

March 10 – 23, 2016 (Arrive March 10; depart for home March 24)

El Senõr de los Temblores LOWThis trip includes the Cuzco Festival of ‘Lord of the Earthquakes,’ Andean highland textile villages, exquisite cuisine, Machu Picchu, and beautiful, colonial Cuzco.

Trip Highlights:
•  See the spectacular ‘Lord of the Earthquakes’ festival in Cuzco.
•  Visit textile villages to meet the knitters and weavers, dyers and spinners.
•  Dine in some of Peru’s most celebrated restaurants.
•  Cooking class and Pisco-tasting in a private home in Miraflores.
•  Thrill to Machu Picchu’s Inca engineering marvels.
•  Savor a traditional village lunch with a local family.
•  Learn about ancient Peru at excellent museums.
•  Remember your fabulous experience with a custom Recipe
and Photo BOOK documenting the trip.

This adventure is organized and led by Cynthia LeCount Samaké (Andean knitting/textile expert with over 30 years travel experience in Peru) and Peruvian, Veronica Samanez from Miraflores, Lima.

Andrea + Little Cynthia-low

Andrea and Little Cynthia!

Cynthia (or the hotel driver if after 10 pm.) will meet you at the Lima airport, upon arrival, on March 10. Check into the Hotel El Patio, below, for a good night’s sleep in this charming and cozy place that is overflowing with flowers and greenery, in the upscale Miraflores neighborhood.

In the morning, we’ll all meet at breakfast in the hotel’s downstairs breakfast room. A friendly money-changer will come to the hotel lobby to change our dollar bills to soles, the Peruvian currency. Cynthia will hand out currency conversion charts to use until you get used to the money exchange. The van driver will pick us up at the hotel to begin our adventure in Lima, Peru’s bustling and prosperous capital city.

EL PATIO-LIMALima has world-class museums, flowery parks, and interesting architecture. We’ll spend a very full first day in Lima, seeing the wonderful ceramic and textile collections of the fabulous Rafael Larco Herrera Museum, housed in a beautiful old mansion with flowery gardens. It has been renovated recently, and the presentations are superb, but we still love the old storage section with the floor to ceiling glass shelves of Moche ceramics, like a huge library of pots, all carefully arranged and grouped by subject, crab pots, squash-shaped pots, llama pots, etc. After lunch, we’ll go to the private Amano Museum which has some of the world’s best textile collections–drawers and drawers of amazing pieces. Our Welcome Dinner will be tonight at one of Lima’s many excellent restaurants.

Vero and Cyn

Cynthia and Veronica toast over a plate of causa.


Next few days in Lima we’ll see the fascinating adobe pre-Inca ruins south of town called Pachacamac, and the huge pyramid right in downtown called Huaca Pucllana. We’ll visit overflowing local produce and food markets where  Limeños shop for everything from purple potatoes and cocoa pods to exotic cheeses and meats.

_DSC3061In Lima, we’ll have a Pisco-tasting and cooking class at a private home in Miraflores. And in our restaurant forays, you will be able to decide what dishes to order. Adventurous meat eaters can try new and surprisingly delicious dishes such as herb-stuffed guinea pig or grilled alpaca, or old favorites like Pollo a la Brasa, grilled chicken.

Peru has a lively restaurant scene with internationally known chefs. In both Lima and Cuzco, we will dine in some of the oldest and most famous, as well as some of the newest and hippest places. Seafood lovers flock to Lima for the tender lime-drenched ceviche, paired with a savory yellow potato causa layered with a mixture of crab or tuna; below. The list is endless! Cuisine differs markedly from Trujillo in the north, to Arequipa in the south, and from dry coastal Lima to the verdant Amazon region– with many fusion elements in between. We’ll sample foods from the jungle to the highlands, and from the desert to the coast.

Best Causa LOW useNext we will fly over the Andes to beautiful Cuzco, 1 hour flight. Then we will drive directly down to the Sacred Valley at lower altitude which will help us to acclimate. Relax at the hotel and the next day we’ll board the train for a ride through beautiful scenery to Machu Picchu National Park (UNESCO Cultural Heritage site). We’ll visit the magical place with a professional English-speaking guide, then have free time in the ruins; overnight in Machu Picchu Village.

Time next morning to visit Machu Picchu site again. The first shuttle bus departs for the site around 5:30 am. People talk of the ‘sunrise’ at MP, but in reality, it is most often clouded over. Maybe you’ll be lucky! Note that you now need a separate ticket to climb Huayna Picchu (the peak in back of MP with a fabulous view of the site) and they are limited. (If you are interested, let me know as soon as possible; so I can get the details to you.)

Hotel Marqueses in Cuzco

Hotel Los Marqueses in Cuzco

The climb to Huayna Picchu is easier than it looks, because there are steps the whole way, and even a firmly attached chain to hang onto, on the steepest part. I have climbed it 3-4 times, and the view is absolutely spectacular from the top! Climbing up to the Gate of the Sun gives a similar breathtaking view. Take the VistaDome train back to Cuzco in the afternoon and check in to our centrally-located and heritage building hotel, right. Eat lunch then stroll around city to acclimate. We’ll stroll downhill to visit Nilda Callanaupa’s excellent Museum at Center for Traditional Textiles of Cuzco, CTTC. Buy white alpaca yarn from the Michell alpaca shop, around the corner from the hotel, for dyeing later in our workshop.

Ocongate-KARIIn the next few days we will drive through beautiful rolling hills of quinua and potato fields, into the highlands to several Andean villages to meet good friends who are amazing knitters and weavers. Picnic lunch in the Pitumarka weaving compound one day, and visit the famous little Andahuaylilas church with its ornate painted ceiling and altar from the 16th C.

In another village high above Cuzco, we will watch other knitters and weavers (every village uses different techniques and motifs for their textiles), then share a traditional lunch of soup and boiled corn with indigenous Quechua speaking friends living there. We will also see traditional Andean foods growing in the fields, such as red amaranth, quinua and quiwicha, native potato varieties, fava and lupine beans, and we’ll try various dishes incorporating them at our village lunch.

We will have a half-day natural dye workshop with the ladies in one village. Color your white alpaca yarn with cochineal, one of their favorite dyes, or another choice from their supply of flowers, leaves and lichen that make their rich colors.

Cuzco cathedralIn Cuzco we’ll peek into the Cathedral to see the famous ‘Last Supper with Guinea Pig’ tableau, continue across the Plaza de Armas, to the street of the 12-angled stone, one fabulous stone in a whole foundation of amazing stonework walls. Walk back down and have American food for lunch at Jack’s, just in case anyone is feeling homesick! Later, walk down Triunfo Street, visiting favorite jewelers, and the suede/textile bootmaker.

Before the festival, there will be time to see Sacsahuayman, the spectacular Inka fortress /ceremonial site above Cuzco. Sacsahuayman is known for amazingly huge stones fitted into zigzag walls, set around a grassy central area. We eat lunch in a restaurant (a friendly place where we go annually) overlooking the main Plaza de Armas, where the statue passes below, and we will have a basket of the traditional red flowers to toss down from the balconies onto the passing statue in the procession–for good luck! You can get some amazing photos by shooting from the restaurant vantage point on the balcony. Once the statue passes below the restaurant, the procession continues to 3 or 4 other churches where the statue’s loincloth is changed in each. The festival is very exciting because of the large numbers of people participating, and the huge and very heavy black Christ statue being carried by over 40 men, who change off every 1/2 block or so to allow another group the honor. The Lord of the Earthquakes is an important religious event for the people of Cuzco.

At the end of the trip, we fly back to Lima and connect with flights for home.  Details on suggested flights to come.

Llama+babyTRIP COST:  $3850
Single Supplement  $450

• 14 nights accommodation in boutique or heritage hotels
• All meals, soft drinks and water with meals (except 3 meals on your own in Cuzco/Machu Picchu)
• LIMA – CUZCO round-trip flights
• All transportation within Peru by private van
• All group airport arrival and departure transport on designated arrival day
• All entrance fees to the museums, archaeological sites and group events on the itinerary
• Visits to Andean highland textile villages to meet knitters and weavers
• Natural dye workshop in village (you purchase the white alpaca yarn)
• Spanish- and English-speaking tour leaders/textile expert to accompany the tour
• Private professional, licensed guide at Machu Picchu.
• Pisco-tasting and cooking class in private home in Miraflores.
• Photo and recipe book documenting your cooking class and journey!


International airfare, alcoholic beverages, personal items such as laundry and internet costs (most hotels now have free wi-fi), second day entrance and shuttle to Machu Picchu, entrance fee to climb Huayna Picchu.