Posts tagged with "wildlife"

6 Trips to Broaden Your Kids’ Minds This Summer

Now that school’s out for summer, enroll the whole family in a crash course on nature and wildlife with Natural Habitat Adventures

Summer vacation may mean “no more pencils and no more books,” but it can also be a great opportunity for the whole family to learn something new together. Natural Habitat Adventures, the world leader in eco-friendly wildlife-focused expeditions around the globe, offers nature-centric trips designed to get explorers of all ages trading their tablets and phones for GoPros and binoculars. From sailing “Darwin’s Laboratory” in the Galapagos on a private ship to taking moonlit treks through the jungles of Costa Rica, Nat Hab’s family adventure trips are designed around conservation, curiosity and quality time – all disguised as a vacation.

Expand your family’s horizons with these summer experiences:

1. Go exploring in “Darwin’s Laboratory”

Come face-to-face with an outstanding array of wildlife, including sea lions, marine iguanas and giant tortoises on Nat Hab’s 10-day Family Galapagos Adventure. Made famous by evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin, the Galapagos archipelago is the very best place for young explorers to learn about evolution, natural selection and how animals adapt to micro-environments. Sail aboard the National Geographic Islander, a family-friendly ship with a specialty research- and adventure-focused kids’ program on board. Record wildlife sightings in your field notebook, listen for underwater life via the ship’s hydrophone and stretch out in special family cabins designed to sleep up to three. Off-ship, don a wetsuit for snorkeling, paddleboarding and Zodiac adventures with your naturalist Expedition Leader, where you can come mask-to-nose with penguins, turtles and seals.
Priced from $7,650
Dates: July 20 & 27, 2019; July 4, 8, 18, 23, 2020; Aug 1 & 6, 2020

2. Seek out lions after sunset in the Maasai Mara

Make conservation the centre of the conversation on the Family Kenya Adventure, an 8-day, custom-crafted itinerary featuring the Maasai Mara’s charismatic creatures whose futures may be at risk. Learn about poaching and pachyderm rescue during a visit to the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and make friends in high places at the Giraffe Center before heading along the Great Rift Valley into open grasslands. Stretch out in an unfenced luxury tented camp set in the middle of a Maasai Mara private conservancy, and go for guided walks under a sprawling blue sky while keeping your eyes peeled for zebra, hippo and elephant. Later, as evening falls, head out on a sunset game drive in search of lions and other predators to discover life on the plains after dark.
Priced from $7,995
Trip arranged upon request

3. Journey to Peru’s lost Incan Empire

Immerse your family in the emerald-colored jungles and incredible ancient ruins of the Peruvian Andes on a 7-day Custom Family Machu Picchu Adventure. Witness amazing feats of centuries-old civil and hydraulic engineering and learn about Incan astronomy and architecture while exploring the Sacred Valley between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Meet with local Quechua people in Pisac and learn about advocacy conservation projects from the students of Tikapata School. Stay in private stone casitas along the Urubamba River, and experience 15th-century life in Machu Picchu with tales from your private Peruvian guide. Later, compare ancient civilizations with natural Amazonian marvels in the world’s largest tropical forest basin, where kids will take riverboat tours in search of pink river dolphins, or go ashore to scout for the scarlet and green-winged macaws, howler monkeys and leaf-cutter ants that call the Amazon home.
Priced from $4,495
Trip arranged upon request

4. Safari closer to home in Yellowstone National Park

Embark on an unforgettable wildlife adventure without leaving the continent on Nat Hab’s 7-day Hidden Yellowstone Wildlife Safari. Learn how this North American ecosystem works, understanding the importance of ecological balance between predators and prey, and follow naturalist Expedition Leaders into lesser-known areas of the park where bison, bighorn sheep, bears and wolves live largely undisturbed by tourist crowds. See the secret lives of Lamar Valley wolves using a high-powered spotting scope and talk fire ecology—how nature recovers from the ravages of wildfires—with your guide. In an extraordinary natural setting selected for conservation by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1872, guests can engage in enlightening conversations about how hunting along Yellowstone’s perimeter affects the ecosystem inside the park, and why competing political interests threaten the park’s apex predators even to this day.
Priced from $5,295
Dates: August 27 & 29, 2019

5. Scout for sloths on horseback

With its neon-billed toucans, jungle-fringed rivers, mist-cloaked cloud forests and towering volcanoes, Costa Rica is like something out of a child’s imagination. Encounter geothermal phenomena and extraordinary tropical wildlife in one of the most biodiverse places on Earth on this Custom Family Costa Rica Adventure. Join scientists and conservationists at ecological research centers for some interactive exploration of the country’s rain forest ecosystem and discover how cacao beans are transformed into tasty treats with chocolate-making lessons. Soar above the forest canopy on a zip line, search for sloths while on horseback, brave a nighttime bat walk at the 850-acre Tirimbina Rainforest Center and take in the views at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, adjacent to the country’s most famous volcano.
Priced from $5,095
Trip arranged upon request

6. Dog sled across the Arctic tundra

No time for a summer excursion? Surprise the kids with a mid-term getaway to the planet’s “living laboratory” when it comes to climate change in the North. The Arctic tundra around Churchill, Manitoba is one of the nature’s last great frontiers—for now. Learn about its delicate ecosystem and the impact of a warming world on Nat Hab’s 6-day Churchill Arctic Family Adventure, where naturalist Expedition Leaders lead a family-focused adventure that’s all about pairing environmental awe with conservation awareness. Helicopter over frozen Hudson Bay in search of polar bears, race through the boreal forest on an authentic sled dog ride, and climb aboard Nat Hab’s special Polar Rover, a monster-sized truck specially designed for up-close wildlife observation—look for caribou and Arctic fox. In evenings, take in the stunning night sky—and if you’re lucky, the northern lights.
Priced from $5,995
Dates: Nov 16 & 18, 2019

For more information about Natural Habitat Adventures, visit www.nathab.com.

About Natural Habitat Adventures
Natural Habitat Adventures has been a leader in responsible adventure travel and ecotourism since 1985. From polar bear tours in Churchill to small-group Galapagos cruises, from Alaska grizzly bear adventures to African safaris, our journeys, led by professional naturalist guides, reveal the planet’s most extraordinary nature destinations. As the world’s first 100-percent carbon-neutral travel company—and the conservation travel partner of World Wildlife Fund—we offer eco-conscious expeditions from Antarctica to Zambia with a multitude of adventures in between. For more information, visit nathab.com.

Aqua Expeditions Cruise Line

AQUA EXPEDITIONS SET TO ENTER COASTAL CRUISE MARKET IN LATE 2019

Boutique luxury cruise line to launch three new destinations and double its fleet by mid-2020

The world’s most respected boutique luxury cruise line – Aqua Expeditions – is set to enter the coastal cruise market in the fall of 2019, after operating as an Amazon and Mekong River cruise line for the past twelve years. A month ago, Aqua Expeditions finalized the purchase of a long-range 200-foot explorer yacht originally built for Britain’s Royal Navy; the vessel is now undergoing a complete refurbishment designed to transform it into an ultra-modern luxury expedition cruise ship catering to affluent explorers.

Scheduled to begin full operations in November 2019, the explorer class vessel will serve three new destinations with year-round departures. The full announcement on vessel name, facts, destinations and itinerary details will be released globally on May 8, 2019.

The May 8th announcement will also unveil a brand-new, state-of-the-art, luxury river cruise vessel to consolidate Aqua Expeditions’ position as one of the leaders in the river-cruise market. Once this and the recently purchased expedition vessel are in operation, Aqua Expeditions will have doubled its fleet from two to four vessels by mid-2020.

“Even as we grow, as an owner, I remain deeply involved in every aspect of the new vessels – from the minutiae of the design details to the intricacies of the itineraries — just as we did when we started out in 2007,” says CEO Francesco Galli Zugaro, “and, as with all Aqua Expeditions vessels, we are partnering both with renowned designers and critically acclaimed chefs to provide a world-class experience.”

The fleet expansion and geographic diversification underscore Aqua Expeditions’ long-time dedication to providing:

  • highly personalized luxury travel experiences
  • immersive excursions into the wildlife and culture of each region
  • world-class cuisine and dining experiences by renowned chefs
  • highly tailored guest services and itineraries
  • designer ships with elegant and contemporary aesthetics
  • a commitment to community, sustainability and preservation

“The new ships and destinations we will reveal next month are certain to intrigue the sophisticated traveler,” added Galli Zugaro.

ABOUT AQUA EXPEDITIONS

A recognized global leader in luxury small-ship cruises, Aqua Expeditions explores the world’s most wildlife- and culture-rich destinations aboard best-in-class vessels of stylish contemporary design. On board, Aqua Expeditions offers tailored five-star itineraries, a highly-exclusive 1:1 crew-to-guest ratio with personalized service, a cuisine experience crafted by acclaimed chefs, and expert-guided activities and excursions. Aqua Expeditions currently operates river cruise ships Aria Amazon on the Peruvian Amazon and Aqua Mekong on the Mekong river in Cambodia and Vietnam. For more information, please visit www.aquaexpeditions.com.

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Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival

Birders descend on Morro Bay each year over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend to attend the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival and capture glimpses of the massive migrating madness as they dive, swoop and scatter by the hundreds. This is Insta-worthy at its finest. But, you don’t have to attend the festival to marvel at these fine feathered friends because Morro Bay is a distinctive coastal destination for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway through March.

The coastal Mediterranean climate sets the stage and creates the perfect backdrop for bird watching, no matter where you roam: the Morro Bay State Park boardwalk, bustling Embarcadero, iconic Morro Rock, or up close and personal from kayaks, paddleboards and boat tours. The Morro Bay National Estuary Preserve and its unique 800-acre wetland filled with salt marshes and mudflats are home to more than 250 species of land, sea, and shore birds as well as dozens of endangered species all winter long, including Peregrine Falcons.

ߦ The 23rd Annual Winter Bird Festival: January 18 – 21

This popular Winter Bird Festival, hosted by the Morro Bay Audubon Society, takes place each year over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. With more than 130 events, including nature treks, presentations, workshops, and lectures, there is a lot to discover. This event is designed to promote the understanding and appreciation of wildlife and environmental conservation. Topics range from geology and biology, to photography and more.

ߦ Saturday Art, Wine & Nibbles Reception – NEW

On Saturday, January 19, from 5:30 – 6:30 pm attendees have an opportunity to browse festival exhibits at a wine reception that includes light snacks. Afterwards, attendees will head over to the South Bay Community Center in Los Osos for James Currie’s keynote presentation.

ߦ Bird Festival Bazaar

Check out birding and bird inspired vendors, public presentations and environmental groups at the Bird Festival Bazaar Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

ߦ Self-Guided Tours

Get out in the field on your own schedule and at your own pace with the Winter Bird Festival self-guided tours. Try El Moro Elflin Forest Natural Area. With a raised board walk over the edge of the Bay, this is a great place to observe the unique plants and spot over 100 species of birds. Find the 13th Street entrance of Santa Ynez Street by following the signs in Los Osos.

ߦ Family Day

No preregistration or registration fee is required to participate in the family day events which take place on Saturday January 19th at the Museum of Natural History. Programs include arts & craft, educational talks, hikes, kayak and canoe rides, and up-close encounters with birds, reptiles, and insects. Children participating in Family Day will also be given a gift from the Morro Coast Audubon Society. Programing runs from 9:30 am-3 pm.

ߦ Mind Walks Series: Peregrine Falcons

Biologist Steve Schubert chronicles the efforts of nest site attendants and endangered species management techniques, captive breeding, double clutching, captive hatching of thin, fragile wild eggs, and the fostering of falcon chicks into the wild nests that have assisted in the recovery of a once-imperiled species. Author of the book The Peregrine Falcons of Morro Rock: A 50-year History, he is past president of Morro Coast Audubon Society. In its 25th year, the Mind Walk Series offers lecture on topics of interest to residents of the Central Coast, including cultural history, natural history, and current issues every Monday, January-March.

Thomson Safaris Announces New 2019 Itinerary

Thomson Safaris, the leading luxury safari operator in Tanzania, has announced a brand-new itinerary for 2019, which will highlight the best of the country’s wildlife, and explore its rich culture from a culinary perspective, including a visit to the “spice island” of Zanzibar. 

Guests will experience remarkable wildlife viewing on a safari through the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, and dive into Tanzania’s rich culture with fun, culinary excursions in Arusha, including a colorful local market visit and an interactive Tanzanian cooking demonstration.

For three days, guests will explore the iconic Serengeti plains, and complement the wildlife viewing with an off-the-beaten path visit to the village of Robanda, where they will learn how to make banana beer.  In the afternoon, they will partake in a traditional goat roast with Maasai warriors. The journey continues through the Ngorongoro Crater — one of the only places on Earth where you can see all of the Big Five — and a stay at Gibb’s Farm, the award-winning property owned by Judi Wineland and Rick Thomson, the owners of Thomson Safaris. The itinerary will also include walks through the organic farm where coffee, fruits, nuts and vegetables thrive in the rich, volcanic soil, and over 200 species of bird can be found. Guests will learn about sustainable agriculture through farm-to-table culinary activities in the bakery, gardens and kitchen, and, of course, they will indulge in farm-fresh cuisine.

This itinerary wraps with an adventure to Zanzibar, exploring the spice farms for which the island is known, along with excursions to Stone Town and the bustling Forodhani Gardens night market. Guests will cap off their final night with a sunset dhow cruise, featuring classic Swahili Coast dishes, drinks and a vibrant equatorial sunset. 

The Royal Portfolio Announces The Farmstead At Royal Malewane

The Royal Portfolio has announced that the The Farmstead, an exclusive new safari lodge at Royal Malewane – The Royal Portfolio’s iconic first property – in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park will open May 1, 2019.

Following the recently refurbishment of the existing Royal Malewane safari lodge, construction is now underway at The Farmstead, just a 12-minute drive south of the existing lodge. Liz Biden, owner of The Royal Portfolio who has designed and decorated all the interiors within the collection, has already acquired much of the eclectic furniture and original art for the new lodge. Commenting on the unique style, Liz Biden said, “Expect light oak, tin rooves, wrought iron and gentle hues of blue and white with royal blue, indigo and turquoise patterns adorning the fabrics of comfy sofas on wide verandas.”

Accommodations at The Farmstead will include three Luxury Farm Suites and The Farmhouse – a four-bedroom villa offering private services including a dedicated chef, butler, housekeeper, safari vehicle, ranger and tracker. The main lodge area will have a double spa treatment room, a gym, fire pit and vast deck where guests can relax and take meals while watching the abundant wildlife visiting the adjacent waterhole.

The Farmstead will offer the same exceptional safari experience with Africa’s most qualified guiding team as well as the same flawless service and cuisine that guests have come to expect for more than 20 years at Royal Malewane. Rates are fully inclusive of accommodation, meals, drinks, game drives and bush walks.

The Farmstead tells an important story of community enhancement in Africa. Royal Malewane agreed to a long lease of the land from the local Moletele community, paying a monthly rental to the community as well as a share of revenue as additional income. At the end of the long lease all buildings and the land will revert to the community with the option to work with The Royal Portfolio in perpetuity. Throughout the lease, The Royal Portfolio will employ members of the local community and train them to the highest Royal Portfolio standards while also involving the local community in conservation efforts to preserve the region’s precious wildlife.

Fairfield, California

If you haven’t had a chance to jump into an adventure this summer, then now is the chance to travel to Fairfield, California! Best known for their Jelly Belly Factory and Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Fairfield has many attractions to offer. It is a vibrant area surrounded with parks, golf courses, wildlife, and wine! Take one of the many tours that are offered including a talk with a brewing expert, or a behind the scenes into how Jelly Belly makes their famous jelly beans. Spend the day checking out the Western Railway Museum, the Suisun Marsh, shopping, wine tasting or filling up your day with entertainment and have some locally made dinner later on in the evening.

Visit https://www.visitfairfieldca.com/ for more information!

Man to Swim around Great Britain

Strongman on the challenges he faces in his 3,220-kilometre, 100-day voyage.

Strongman Ross Edgley is bidding to become the first man to swim around the whole of mainland Great Britain.

Renowned for such feats as a rope climb to the height of Everest and swimming 100 kilometres in the Caribbean with a tree strapped to his back, his 3,220km swimming marathon (2,000 miles) is his latest venture.

He set off on June 1 and is swimming on average six hours at a time in a clockwise direction, and will not touch shore until arriving at London’s Tower Bridge in an estimated 100 days.

Here’s what the epic voyage takes in his own words…

‘Swimming the Channel on a daily basis’

“It’s the equivalent of swimming the English Channel every day. But I know my body can take it. I know I can be the first person in history to achieve it.”

‘Unfinished business from the Caribbean’

“Earlier this year, I attempted to swim from Martinique to St Lucia while tied to a tree. I’d aimed to swim 40km point to point but the current was totally against me and kept dragging me back. Even though I didn’t reach the shore, I actually swam over 100km in the end. While the athlete in me was happy with that, the adventurer in me had unfinished business. So, I phoned up the Royal Marines when I returned to the UK and asked if I could swim for 48 hours straight, just to see what I’ve got in the locker. The swim went really well and I hit 126km. One of the Marines mentioned the idea of swimming around the entirety of Britain – something that’s never been done before – and I thought, ‘why not?’”

‘Around Great Britain in 100 days’

“By looking at my swim metrics and comparing them to people who’d rowed around the entirety of Great Britain, I was able to estimate 100 days as a target. Oddly enough, in very bad conditions, my open water swimming times are the same as those of the rowers. A friend of mine named Sean Conway once swam the length of Great Britain in 135 days. I’m looking to do more than double that distance in less time.”

‘Turning into a prune’

“A lot of experienced open water swimmers have told me that my skin will eventually reject being in salt water for such a long time. I got a taste of this during my 48-hour swim with the Marines, where my hands and feet pruned – essentially I got trench foot. What’s more, being in a wetsuit for months on end will probably mean I develop sores. Hopefully these turn to calluses, otherwise the pain could be unbearable under my armpits and parts where the wetsuit rubs. My body’s going to break down at sea, I know that but I must be mentally ready.”

Chess with Mother Nature’

“To do this sort of challenge I need the ability to swim 50km day and night, powering through 3m waves. But if the currents are against me I have no chance. The GB rowing challenge, which follows the same route, is labelled the world’s toughest rowing race on account of the tides, unpredictability and weather. When I told its organisers I’d be swimming it they told me I was crazy. “If you get it wrong around The Highlands you’ve eight knots coming against you,” they said. “So even if you are swimming two to three knots, an Olympic level, you’ll still be going back four knots.” It’s basically going to be a game of chess with Mother Nature – you can swim hard, but you need to swim smart.”

‘A wardrobe of wetsuits’

“We’re doing it in the spirit of open water swimming – no buoyancy aids, gloves only needed during cold periods. The only advantage I’ll have is a collection of swimsuits tailored for estimated weight loss, ranging from full Ross, to emaciated Ross 60 or so days in, when I’ll have shifted a few stones. My legs will probably atrophy first. I won’t be using them, they’ll probably shrivel – kicking your legs account for only 10 per cent overall propulsion, even with Olympic swimmers. We’ll also be taking a picture of me each day, so people can see my body’s transformation as I go.”

‘Turning into a five-year-old’

“It’s not a solo mission at all, it’s a team event, and the captain of my boat is going to be my hero. He will plot everything – he has all the tidal maps, all the electronic versions, all over the boat. I’ll also be plotting where I am on a map every day to boost morale. When you’re out at sea and all you can see is the bottom of the sea bed, it’s very easy to lose track of where you are. So it’ll be nice to clamber back on the boat and see that I’ve made progress. Ultimately, when you’re fatigued you have the cognitive function of a 5-year-old, so I’ll be like ‘point me in the right direction and let me know when I’ve got to change’.”

‘An anti-jellyfish beard’

“Wildlife is always a danger when you’re isolated in the sea. Giant jellyfish are a particular worry. I won’t shave. Because you’re leading with the head and the face will be most exposed, any protection, like a big beard, will help. I’ll try and grow it so by the time I get up to Scotland it’s fairly rugged. I’ll also encounter sea otters, dolphins and killer whales along the way, which I’m actually looking forward to. It’ll help break things up for me and be an incredible privilege to see.”

Credits: https://www.redbullcontentpool.com/international/AP-1VVDW3RA91W11

INDIA TIGER QUEST

Natural Habitat Adventures Launches Tiger-Intensive Expedition

Visit Ranthambore National Park to view some of the world’s last remaining wild Bengal tigers

The world’s leader in sustainable nature travel, Natural Habitat Adventures introduces a NEW 7-day tiger-intensive expedition, India Tiger Quest, offering the rare opportunity to see Bengal tigers in their natural habitat along with other remarkable wildlife of India.

Visit one of India’s premier places to see some of the world’s last remaining wild Bengal tigers: Ranthambore National Park. Led by India’s top naturalist guides, travel at the optimal time of year for sightings, when temperatures are getting hot but monsoon rains are still weeks away, drawing wildlife into the open to drink at shrinking waterholes. Search for tigers on morning and afternoon drives through the deciduous jungle, keeping a lookout for other jungle wildlife, too: sloth bear, leopard, sambar, chital, palm civet, langur monkeys, pythons and more. With 11 guests total–and just four per safari vehicle–everyone gets a “window” seat in open-sided 4x4s.

Departures are offered throughout 2019 and 2020. The per-person double rates start at USD$6,795 ($1,275 single supplement). Included are all activities, accommodations, train from Ranthambore to Delhi, airport transfers, most meals, guiding by professional naturalist Expedition Leaders, most gratuities, all permits, taxes and service charges.

Helping India’s Tiger Numbers:

After years of plummeting tiger numbers, India charted a 30 percent rise in its quadrennial tiger census in 2014, compared to 2010. Conservation groups attribute some of that growth to sustainable ecotourism. The economic impact of visitors to India’s tiger reserves benefits the communities in proximity, providing jobs and offering local people an incentive to protect the wildlife with which they share the land. Given that India is home to 70 percent of the world’s remaining wild tigers, and India is the only country currently seeing a rise in tiger numbers, the presence of wildlife tourism here is integral to that continued conservation success.

For more information about Natural Habitat Adventures, visit www.nathab.com.

About Natural Habitat Adventures

Natural Habitat Adventures has been a leader in responsible adventure travel and ecotourism since 1985. From polar bear tours in Churchill to small-group Galapagos cruises, from Alaska grizzly bear adventures to African safaris, our journeys, led by professional naturalist guides, reveal the planet’s most extraordinary nature destinations. As the world’s first 100-percent carbon-neutral travel company—and the conservation travel partner of World Wildlife Fund—we offer eco-conscious expeditions from Antarctica to Zambia with a multitude of adventures in between.

IGTOA

The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) has called upon the government of Ecuador to limit land-based tourism growth in the Galapagos Islands and to regulate more carefully this rapidly growing sector of the islands’ tourism industry.

In a letter sent to Ecuador’s Tourism Minister, Enrique Ponce de León on Feb. 5, IGTOA expressed its concern that the rate of growth in land-based tourism over the last decade is unsustainable and may result in irreversible harm to the islands’ famed ecosystems and extraordinary wildlife.

Between 2007 to 2016, according to Galapagos National Park statistics, overall visitor arrivals in the Galapagos Islands increased by 39 percent (from about 161,000 to over 225,000). During that same period, the number of visitors participating in land-based tours increased from around 79,000 to 152,000 (a 92 percent increase), while ship-based tourism actually decreased, from approximately 82,000 visitors to just over 73,000 (an 11 percent percent drop).

“Many of our member companies sell land-based tours to the Galapagos.  We are not opposed to land-based tourism per se, and, properly regulated, we support it,” said Jim Lutz, IGTOA’s Board President and the President of Vaya Adventures.  “But the reality is that 100 percent of the growth in Galapagos tourism in the last 10 years is due to growth in land-based tourism. And unlike ship-based tourism, where there is a de facto limit on the total number of passengers, there is no limit whatsoever on the number of people who can engage in land-based trips.  It is simply not sustainable to have never-ending growth in land-based tourism in this fragile environment.”

From the 1970s to the early 2000s, the vast majority of Galapagos tourists participated in ship-based tourism, which has long been recognized internationally as a model for limited, well-regulated tourism. Ecuador’s government has placed stringent quotas on the total number of berths (beds) allowed on the Galapagos cruise ship fleet and has placed a cap of 100 as the maximum number of passengers any ship can carry. There are no similar restrictions or regulations governing land-based tourism. If the current rate of growth continues unabated, there will be more than one million visitors per year in the Galapagos Islands in less than 35 years.

The international media is beginning to take note of the potential implications of this uncontrolled tourism growth. Both CNN and guidebook publisher Fodor’s recently placed the islands on their lists of destinations not to visit in 2018, citing concerns about the increasingly negative impacts of tourism there.

In 2007, UNESCO took the extraordinary step of placing the islands on its List of World Heritage Sites in Danger in response to a variety of threats, including unrestrained tourism and population growth. The islands were removed from the list in 2010, but in July 2016 UNESCO once again rang the alarm bells by releasing a report that cited Ecuador’s lack of a clear strategy to discourage rapid tourism growth as a source of grave concern.

“There’s no other place on Earth like Galapagos, a place where you can really get up close and personal with the wildlife,” says IGTOA board member Marc Patry, of IGTOA member company CNH Tours. “I’ve always been impressed by the work the government of Ecuador has done to strictly manage ship-based tourism there.  But frankly, I’m not seeing any evidence that it’s dealing with land-based tourism with a similar degree of concern.  We’re seeing a tsunami of growth in that sector. Unless something is done soon, it risks undermining all the good work that has been done to date,” said Patry, who was with the Charles Darwin Research Station for four years, followed by 11 years working at UNESCO’s World Heritage Center.

According to scientists, uncontrolled tourism growth poses several serious threats to the Galapagos Islands. Chief among them is the potential for devastating new invasive species to arrive as cargo shipments and passenger plane arrivals increase. Highly invasive Wild Blackberry, for example, has led to the loss of 99 percent of endemic Scalesia forests on the two largest islands, Isabela and Santa Cruz.  With any increase in land-based tourism comes more shipments of cargo, more infrastructure, more roads, and more pressure for continued growth, something that will only become harder to stop the longer it continues.

About the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA)

IGTOA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association of travel providers dedicated to the complete and lasting protection of the Galapagos Islands. Through its Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, IGTOA raises money to support critical Galapagos conservation initiatives and educates travelers about the challenges facing the islands. Since 1997, IGTOA has donated over $1 million in support of Galapagos conservation initiatives, including efforts to improve the biosecurity of the islands and combat invasive species. See: http://www.igtoa.org/.

DISCOVER SOUTH AFRICA x TAX REFUND

It is that time of the year again, when Americans start preparing their tax returns, but there’s good news as most taxpayers can expect to receive an average refund of $2,895 according to the IRS. This year, South African Tourism is once again launching its Tax Refund campaign to encourage savvy travelers and adventure seekers to make the most of their refund with an out-of-this-world trip to South Africa. Partnering with the top US travel trade partners South African Tourism unveils six new exciting packages priced between $1,700-$3,200 to reflect the average tax refund. The packages offer a variety of experiences focusing on romance, adventure and culture throughout South Africa.

 

Today’s favorable exchange rate also guarantees US travelers’ hard-earned refund money goes further than ever in South Africa. South African Tourism is also excited to collaborate with TurboTax® this season on a blog post inspired by South Africa’s 10 most Instagrammable locations which will be live onwww.blog.turbotax.intuit.com/.

 

Whether a history buff, art and culture enthusiast, foodie, adventurer or nature lover, South Africa has something to offer every discerning traveler looking for an affordable vacation. This year’s exclusive deals include:

 

 

  • Gate 1 – 8 Day South Africa Tour with Game Drives & Flights — 8 days and 6 nights
Enjoy the best of Cape Town by exploring Table Mountain and then visit either the Winelands or Cape Peninsula. After a few days in the “Mother City,” head on to Johannesburg to transfer to the safari portion of your trip. You’ll be able to spot all kinds of wildlife while enjoying South Africa’s natural beauty. From US$1699/ Per Person Sharing (includes US $260pp savings with promo code SATD260).
This week, you’ll take a deep dive into exploring Cape Town’s gorgeous sites and vibrant culture. Whether biking through Cape Point, whale watching from the golden shores, or hiking Table Mountain, you’re sure to fall in love with Cape Town. From US $1,999* Per Person Sharing.
  • Great Safaris – Zululand Express Safari — 6 days and 4 nights
Explore the beautiful coastal town of Durban to see a different side of South Africa. Here, you’ll experience the historical melting pot of Indian and African cultures or spend a day relaxing on the beach. Afterwards, you’ll transfer to Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve to partake in game drives and learn about the Zulu tribe members that originally lived there. From US $2,195 Per Person Sharing.
  • Indus Travel – Super South Africa & Dubai — 13 Days and 9 nights
Guests can explore the vibrant city of Johannesburg and a guided tour to the Soweto Township, a cultural melting pot with a wealth of heritage sites that will fascinate any visitor. Visit Kruger National Park before continuing on to Stellenbosch in the heart of the Cape Winelands. Then Visit Cape Town, regularly voted one of the most beautiful cities in the world. From US$2,799* Per Person Sharing.
Enjoy scenic beauty, culture and world class restaurants in Cape Town. Marvel at spectacular views of the Atlantic seaboard from the top of Table Mountain. Explore the Cape Peninsula, on a full-day tour that offers dramatic scenery and endearing penguins. From US $2,999* Per Person Sharing.
Experience the perfect mix of safari and city with this trip to South Africa. After 3 nights of game drives in malaria-free Pilanesberg Game Reserve, couples can retreat to the beach suburb of Cape Town to relax. From US $3,199* Per Person Sharing.

 

 

“South Africa is blessed with breathtaking natural scenery, world-class safari experiences, and adrenaline pumping adventure activities; and with celebrations around the Nelson Mandela Centenary planned throughout 2018, now is the ideal time to visit,” said Bangu Masisi, President of South African Tourism, Americas. “These packages from our partners showcase the variety of exciting travel experiences that are made possible by using your tax refund”. To book these packages or view additional South Africa travel deals, please visit southafrica.net/deals. For more information on South Africa’s rich and diverse offerings visit www.southafrica.net, follow @SouthAfrica on Twitter and @VisitSouthAfrica on Instagram and Facebook.