A growing number of travelers are rejecting the old “sun, sand and suds” style of vacation in favor of more meaningful experiences. “The act of making pilgrimages to certain special or sacred places is probably the most popular of all world tourist motives,” said Lester Borley, Director of the National Trust for Scotland.
A Vancouver travel company, Sacred Earth Journeys, has been offering pilgrimage travel experiences since 2003. Its president, Helen Tomei says “people want more from a holiday than simply lying on a beach. They want to change their lives for the better.”
“The purpose of the pilgrimage is to make life more meaningful,” wrote Phil Cousineau in The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred (Conari Press, 1998). “A journey without challenge has no meaning; one without purpose has no soul.”
Phil Cousineau will be leading a group tour of Ireland in September, 2010. Dubbed “Land of Myth and Mystery – A Pilgrimage Into the Heart of Sacred Ireland,” the 12-day tour will include a walk on Croagh Patrick, the mountain where Saint Patrick is said to have fasted and prayed for 40-days. There will also be visits to Irish pubs, concerts of traditional Celtic music, a trip to the monastery of Clomacnoise, founded in 545 by Saint Ciaran, and the most famous prehistoric site in Ireland, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Newgrange.
People with a passion for yoga can visit its birth place. Sacred Earth Journeys is offering a “Yoga & Spirituality Tour of South India” February 13 through 28, 2010. One of the tour leaders, Michele Labelle, is a Certified Hatha Yoga Teacher based in Vancouver. She will be joined by Tour Guide Aman Singh, a follower of India’s ancient spiritual practices with a deep interest in philosophy and culture. In addition to yoga and meditation sessions, the group will explore ancient Hindu temples, witness herds of wild elephants, take a boat ride in a tiger reserve, shop in a 600-year-old marketplace, attend a colorful, traditional dance show, travel by train to a fishing village and possibly meet with Mother Amma “the Hugging Saint” in her ashram.
Information about other pilgrimage travel opportunities is available online at http://SacredEarthJourneys.ca