Austin Adventures Presents 2015’s Most Compelling ‘Maycations’

Austin Adventures has compiled its list of 2015's most compelling "Maycations"—timely vacations to take during the month of May. They range from domestic tours that allow travelers to hike the colorful canyons of Zion National Park to international adventures that include snorkeling along Spain’s beloved Costa Brava.
Austin Adventures’ list of 2015’s most compelling “Maycations” range from domestic tours that allow travelers to hike the colorful canyons of Zion National Park to international adventures that include snorkeling along Spain’s beloved Costa Brava.

BILLINGS, MT –According to the adventure travel consultants at Austin Adventures there is no bad time to travel between April and June; however the month of May is optimal for most spring-time travelers.

“We’ve been in the business of planning vacations for more than 40 years now, and May has always been a popular travel month for guests afflicted with ‘spring fever,’” says Dan Austin, founder and president of Austin Adventures. “The savviest of travelers know this shoulder season month offers favorable weather and the best value in terms of selection and pricing, but sometimes, they need help choosing their destination.”

For that reason, the award-winning adventure travel company, which offers trips to all seven continents, has compiled a list of Maycations—timely vacations to take during the month of May. They range from domestic tours that allow travelers to hike the colorful canyons of Zion National Park to international adventures that include snorkeling along Spain’s beloved Costa Brava.

2015’s Most Compelling “Maycations”

Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks – Seeing southern Utah’s red rock formations is a surreal experience, especially during May when the wildflowers are in full bloom. May tends to be drier than March and April, but water levels are still high (thanks to melting snow), so expect to see breathtaking waterfalls.

Havasupai – Spring is the perfect time to take a dip in Arizona’s most sacred spring-fed travertine pools. Hike to Havasu Falls before summer’s monsoon season, and enjoy low humidity and comfortable hiking temperatures—highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the mid-50’s.

Machu Picchu – May could not be a more convenient time to complete one of the world’s most famous mountain treks. Experience Machu Picchu in all its glory at the start of the country’s dry season and just before the summer visitors arrive in droves.

Dalmatian Coast – The Adriatic Coast is spectacular in the summer; however, flights to Europe cost more during July and August and rooms can be hard to come by. Consider exploring this 350-mile stretch of shore during May – when temperatures are perfect for outdoor adventures, prices are lower and you’ll enjoy more personalized service.

Catalonia – With its warm yet relatively mild temperatures, May is the perfect time for a multisport vacation in northeastern Spain. Bike the secluded Via Verde, snorkel along the Costa Brava and hike in the foothills of the Pyrenees without the hassle of high temperatures and humidity.

Provence – Fall in love with the most seductive region of France months before the locals go on holiday. The warm days lend themselves to al fresco dining which is perfect for admiring the lush, green countryside from the comfort of a roadside café.

Romantic Road – There’s no better time than May to ride along the Middle Ages’ most famous and scenic, trade routes. May marks the beginning of the region’s unofficial “festival season” so it’s not hard to come by cultural entertainment, authentic food and unforgettable German beer!

Holland – Head to Holland in mid-May, and you can walk among millions of blossoming flowers at Keukenhof—a.k.a. the “Garden of Europe.” The theme for this year’s eight-week-long event is Van Gogh, 125 Years of Inspiration.

For adults and families looking for award-winning itineraries matched with unbeatable customer service, Austin Adventures offers an array of scheduled group departures to each of the above destinations. Trips range in price from $1,648 per person for a 5-Day/4-Night Havasupai Hiking Tour to $4,798 for a 9-Day/8-Night Machu Picchu Vacation Package.

For adventurers looking to take Maycations that are a little more “off the beaten path,” the company offers custom vacations and exclusive departures. All of the 2015 trips can be found in the Austin Adventures adventure vacation catalogs and on the company’s new website, www.austinadventures.com. Vacations both pre-set and custom can be arranged by calling (800) 575-1540 or emailing info@austinadventures.com.
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Natural Habitat Adventures’ Base Camp Greenland Wins OUTSIDE Best of Travel Award as ‘Best Splurge’

Natural Habitat Adventures won OUTSIDE's Best of Travel 2015 award for Best Splurge in travel for its Base Camp Greenland Adventure
Natural Habitat Adventures won OUTSIDE’s Best of Travel 2015 award for Best Splurge in travel for its Base Camp Greenland Adventure

BOULDER, COOUTSIDE has selected Natural Habitat Adventures, a premier nature travel company, to receive its Best of Travel 2015 award for the company’s Base Camp Greenland Adventure, the Best Splurge in travel.

OUTSIDE launched its travel awards series in 2012, and it has quickly become one of the most prestigious awards in the adventure travel industry. Nat Hab was honored as Best Outfitter worldwide in 2013, and the company is excited to make the list again in 2015.

“We’re thrilled that OUTSIDE recognizes the effort and meticulous planning that go into our trips. This has surely been the case with Base Camp Greenland,” said Ben Bressler, founder and president of Natural Habitat Adventures. “We think it is indeed worthy of a splurge!”

From newly revealed travel territories to the best deals, OUTSIDE’s Best of Travel 2015 celebrates the destinations and travel providers that inspire people to participate in an active lifestyle. The entire list of winners appears in OUTSIDE’s April issue (on newsstands March 17), and online at www.outsideonline.com/bestoftravel.

The Best Splurge, according to OUTSIDE, is to experience Greenland’s Arctic wilderness via an all-inclusive stay at Natural Habitat’s Base Camp Greenland (www.nathab.com/alaska-northern-adventures/greenland-nature-adventure). Base Camp Greenland is a new ecolodge near the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet in East Greenland, one of the most isolated places on Earth.

Here, pods of whales feed in the bay in view of the camp. Icebergs, spawned from massive glaciers, glitter in the late-night sun. Beneath granite peaks that tower over deep fjords, Greenland’s east coast – known as the “Arctic Riviera” for its mild summer climate – offers some of the best kayaking and hiking conditions in the North.

Guests will experience the stunning Arctic landscape in supreme comfort, along the lines of a luxury safari camp. More expedition lodge than “camp,” Base Camp Greenland provides accommodations in deluxe double tent cabins with individual verandas that survey the panoramic view.

Each spacious cabin is warmed by an individual heater, though long summer days are typically mild, sunny and dry. Cabins have twin beds outfitted with warm duvets and comfortable pillows, writing desks with chairs, a carpet runner, and an en suite dry toilet and sink. Showers are taken in separate bathhouses segregated by gender. Excellent meals are prepared by the camp chef and served in the dining/lounge tent.

A hallmark of Base Camp Greenland is its eco-conscious construction and operation. In such a pristine environment, a minimal footprint is imperative. A true low-impact eco-camp, lodge facilities are set up for two months in the summer and taken down each year. Camp solid waste is removed and disposed of in a biodegradable manner– nothing is left on site. Only biodegradable soap is used in the kitchen and showers. Interior lighting is powered by small individual solar panels.

Base Camp Greenland trips are 9 days in duration and begin at Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport outside of Reykjavik.  The 2015 departures are Aug 1, 10, 18, 26, and Sep 2. Rates start at $8,995 per person based on double occupancy, plus internal air of $926 (subject to change).

To determine this year’s travel award recipients, OUTSIDE’s adventure travel veterans scoured the globe to identify the coolest mountains to climb, food to eat, rivers to float, guides to hire, beaches to lounge on, and lodges to luxuriate in. The result is 40 breathtaking options—from the guides to show you around, to the cameras to capture it all, to the places to stay, to the best place to grab a snack at a food truck along the way.

For information on Base Camp Greenland trip and all the tours offered by Nat Hab along with descriptive itineraries, date availability and reservations, call 800.543.8917 or visit www.nathab.com. Click HERE to order a copy of the 2015 catalog.

 

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Meaningful Trip, US Travel Company, Offers Special ‘Founders Tour’ to Iran

Jame Mosque in Yazd is a 12th c mosque still in use today (c) Joe Staiano, Meaningful Trip
Jame Mosque in Yazd is a 12th c mosque still in use today (c) Joe Staiano, Meaningful Trip

“My god, Iran is one of the most magical places I’ve ever traveled to, with some of the friendliest people on the planet,” says Joe Staiano, founder of Meaningful Trip, a Seattle-based tour company, after visiting Iran last May.

His experience motivated him to organize this year’s “Founder’s Trip” around a single departure of a 13-day tour through Iran, May 3-15, 2015.

“Iran offers 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the history of Persepolis, amazing museums, world-famous gardens such as Eram Gardens, tantalizing Persian cuisine, and some of the warmest and most hospitable people on the planet,” he says.

The tour visits Shiraz, Presepolis, Esfahan, Yazd, Kerman and Tehran, and features a village homestay, cooking class and a unique overnight in a desert caravanserai.

“As founder, I personally vet all local tour operator partners. I check for safety, safety of routes and locations along the itinerary, quality of transport, cleanliness of hotels, I was in Iran in May of 2014. I found it to be one of the safest countries I have ever visited. (and I have been to 80 countries).”

About 2,500 Americans visit Iran in a year, but all have to be part of an authorized tour. Two other US tour companies include MIR Corp and Caravan Serai, which offer two-week tours for around $4,500 – 6,000.

“Americans must first get an ‘Authorization Number’ issues from the tour agency. Then, they can apply for visitor Visa. Meaningful Trip will help facilitate this ‘Authorization Number’,” Staiano says.

This is Meaningful Trip’s first organized program into Iran, and is limited to 14 participants.

The tour price of $2,595 includes accommodations in four-star lodging, most meals, English-speaking female guide, entry fees.

Complete trip itinerary and details can be found at: www.meaningfultrip.com/trips_destinations_travel-resources/iran-magic-persia/

Meaningful Trip is a pioneer in responsible travel with 20 years experience – operating trips to India, Nepal, Colombia, Baja Mexico, Vietnam, Turkey. A portion of each trip goes to support women’s empowerment, poverty, health, education and hunger programs. Meaningful Trip is one of only six USA tour operators to sign ECPAT’s Code of Conduct to help fight trafficking and exploitation of children.

Contact Meaningful Trip founder Joe Staiano at joe@MeaningfulTrip.com, 206-305-2200, www.MeaningfulTrip.com.

 

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Journeys International Lists Top 10 Family Adventure Travel Destinations for 2015

China is one of the top 10 destinations for families, says Sally Grimes-Chesak, Director of Marketing and Family Programs for Journeys International, one of the first adventure travel companies to offer trips designed specifically for families © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
China is one of the top 10 destinations for families, says Sally Grimes-Chesak, Director of Marketing and Family Programs for Journeys International, one of the first adventure travel companies to offer trips designed specifically for families © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

ANN ARBOR, MI – Journeys International, one of the first adventure travel companies to offer trips designed specifically for families, announced its top 10 family destinations for 2015:

  • Costa Rica
  • Peru
  • Panama
  • China
  • Japan
  • Thailand
  • Tanzania
  • South Africa
  • Galapagos (Ecuador)
  • Indonesia

Journeys for Families, a division of Journeys International, has trips specifically designed for kids, teens and multi-generational travelers.

Firsthand research, feedback from our clients, and the expert knowledge of our on-the-ground guides indicate that these 10 destinations offer the very best opportunities for family travelers in 2015,” said Robin Weber Pollak, President of Journeys International. “These countries provide unique, safe, hands-on culture and wildlife experiences that will engage explorers of any age.”

Family travel is being called the “hot” travel trend for 2015, but Journeys for Families has been guiding families in destinations all around the world for decades.

“This is not a new trend for us; Journeys for Families is the expert in family travel and has been for years,” said Sally Grimes-Chesak, Director of Marketing and Family Programs. “Our itineraries focus on providing activities that interest both kids and adults, while allowing the oh-so-important but oft-ignored downtime that is key to a good family trip. We aim for ‘home base’ hotel stays that minimize moving and repacking during the trip. And, our hand-picked guides possess a unique energy and excitement that makes kids feel right at home.”

Journeys is especially excited about three trips designed specifically for families with teenagers, Costa Rica Adventure for Teens, Wild Indonesia for Families with Teens, and Incas & Amazon for Families with Teens.

“Most companies have family trips that focus on the younger kids, but rarely plan specifically for teenagers,” Grimes-Chesak said. “We understand that different ages of kids require different itineraries, and we built these three trips specifically around the interests and needs of older kids.”

In 2015, Journeys for Families has over 20 itineraries in 18 destinations, and a total of nearly 30 family group departures scheduled. Plus, itineraries can be customized and planned around the dates that work for the travelers.

For further information, visit www.journeysinternational.com, 734-665-4407
toll-free: 800-255-8735

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Latin Trails Introduces Pacaya Samiria Wildlife Reserve Riverboat Cruise in Peru

Latin Trails ( www.latintrails.com ) offers a Pacaya Samiria wildlife cruise on board the expedition company’s newest riverboat, the 8-passenger M/V Cattleya.
Latin Trails ( www.latintrails.com ) offers a Pacaya Samiria wildlife cruise on board the expedition company’s newest riverboat, the 8-passenger M/V Cattleya.

QUITO, ECUADOR – Latin Trails has introduced a Pacaya Samiria wildlife cruise on board the expedition company’s newest riverboat, the 8-passenger M/V Cattleya. Guests can choose between a 4- or 5-day cruise.

This intimate Amazon river adventure begins and ends in the Peruvian Amazon city of Iquitos, exploring in depth the Pacaya Samiria wildlife reserve, known as one of the largest protected areas in all of the Amazon river basin. Highlights of this amazing journey include:

– Visiting where the mighty Amazon originates

– Sightings of river dolphins, caiman’s, birdlife, monkeys and even jaguars are a possibility

– Hiking under and above the canopy of primary forest

– Exploration of small streams and oxbow lakes on board private skiffs

– Peruvian fine dining with wine included at all meals

– Guided shore excursions

– Visits to local communities and experience of tribal life of the river people

– Visit to a Manatee nurturing and rescue center

Guest can enjoy carefree exploration of the natural wonders of the rainforest as they navigate the Amazon river tributaries enjoying Cattleya’s distinct amenities, including the spacious staterooms with River views through panoramic windows, king-size beds and private facilities. Meals are served in one seating, featuring the Peruvian gourmet cuisine. Daily shore excursions and educational lectures help guests make the most of the surrounding wilderness.

“It is one of the most intimate expedition style river cruises in the world,” said Marcel Perkins, CEO, Latin Trails. “With this new program, we can enhance the meaning of privacy for FIT travel. It will allow our guests to enjoy nature one to one.”

Detailed information about the Cattleya including availability can be found at: www.amazoncruises.travel

Latin Trails is a boutique cruise and tour operator based in Ecuador and Peru, it operates the most exclusive fleet of oceangoing yachts and riverboats in the Galapagos Islands and Amazon basin. The expedition Company is also known for its handcrafted itineraries around Ecuador and Peru offering highly personalized trips backed up by a 24/7 “adventure concierge” service. The Company also offers family friendly exploration of the Amazon at the Hakuna Matata Amazon lodge in Ecuador.

To learn more about Latin Trails, visit www.latintrails.com or call 1-800-747-0567. Find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Latintrails or follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Latintrails.

 

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Senators Introduce Bill to Expand John Muir National Historic Site, California

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (both D-CA) have introduced legislation to expand the Martinez, California historic site that celebrates the life and legacy of John Muir. The John Muir National Historic Site Expansion Act would authorize the National Park Service to acquire land that is being donated through a trust, which would improve access to the park and provide more for visitors to see and do at the site.

“John Muir was the father of the National Park Service and he worked tirelessly to preserve our country’s public lands for future generations,” Senator Boxer said. “This bill will honor his legacy by improving public access to this historic site, providing more for visitors to do, and connecting the site to the Bay Area Ridge Trail.”

“With the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, it would be a fitting tribute to honor John Muir by expanding the site where he lived, wrote and brought to life the conservation movement.  Today we have over 400 National Parks, and I am honored to represent the place where this idea was born and where it developed into a model to be copied throughout the world,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11).

Although the land is being donated by the Muir Heritage Land Trust, Congressional approval of the acquisition is necessary because the acreage of the donated land parcel exceeds the percentage of land that the Park Service is allowed to acquire administratively.

The 44-acre addition would include lands once part of the estate of John Swett, a former California Superintendent of Public Education who helped found the California Teachers Association, and was a neighbor and friend to John Muir in the Alhambra Valley Hills.

Muir is considered the “father of the National Park Service.” He was a lifelong conservationist who helped create Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, and was a founder of the Sierra Club.  The John Muir National Historic Site, which stretches across 330 acres currently, includes the home where Muir lived until he died in 1914.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) joined Boxer and DeSaulnier as an original cosponsor of the legislation.

Former Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez) first introduced the bill on November 13, 2014, and it passed the House in December 2014.

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Global Traveler online travel auction benefits Leukemia Society

 

Lisbon, Portugal. Bid by May 1 for airline tickets on TAP Portugal on the Global Traveler auction benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Lisbon, Portugal. Bid by May 1 for airline tickets on TAP Portugal on the Global Traveler auction benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

YARDLEY, Pennsylvania – Global Traveler’s annual online charity travel auction, where you can bid for airline tickets, five-star hotel stays, car rentals and travel gear, runs through May 1. For the fifth consecutive year, 100 percent of the proceeds benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Log on to globaltravelerusa.com/auction and bid on a number of travel items, including business-class airline tickets, 5-star hotel stays and travel products. Prizes include two round-trip business-class tickets on Air Canada, Asiana Airlines, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, La Compagnie, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines and United. Hotel stays are available at Dorsett Shepherds Bush, The Langham Chicago, Montage Beverly Hills, The St. Regis Abu Dhabi and many more. Additional items up for grabs this year are 1 million points from IHG Rewards Club, a one-week rental from Hertz and luggage sets from Briggs & Riley and TravelPro.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (lls.org) is dedicated to finding a cure for blood and lymph cancers. LLS awarded more than $750 million in research funding for all blood cancers.

For more information about Global Traveler, visit globaltravelerusa.com. Bidding ends May 1 at globaltravelerusa.com/auction.

Global Traveler, the only AAM-audited US-based magazine for the international business and leisure traveler, is a business travel and lifestyle publication with an AAM paid circulation of 109,000+.

FXExpress Publications, Inc., based in Yardley, Pennsylvania, is a privately held company publishing Global Traveler, China Global Traveler, eFlyer USA; eFlyer Asia, Trazee Travel and several annuals; and also operating globaltravelerusa.com, globaltravelerusa.com/blog, china-globaltraveler.com and trazeetravel.com.

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African Bicycle/Train Safari Offers Unique View of Namibian Conservation Efforts

BikeToursDirect is offering a safari of Namibia by bicycle and train to learn first-hand about "the greatest wildlife recovery story ever told."
BikeToursDirect is offering a safari of Namibia by bicycle and train to learn first-hand about “the greatest wildlife recovery story ever told.”

Travelers will soon be able to see Namibia’s leading conservation efforts and diverse wildlife from two unique perches—the saddle of a bike and the comfort of their private chartered train, the Desert Express. On this Namibia Bike and Train Tour, offered through BikeToursDirect, based in Chattanooga, TN, they’ll also learn first-hand from conservation leaders why the World Wildlife Fund has called Namibia “the greatest wildlife recovery story ever told.”

During the 12-night tour, which departs August 11, 2015, from Nambia’s capital city of Windhoek, travelers will experience the country’s vast beauty while enjoying the highest standards of comfort and service. They will visit the Fish River Canyon (Africa’s longest), traverse the apricot colored dunes of the Namib Desert, and have the chance to see mountain zebras and desert elephants, along with giraffes, rhinos and lions.

“It’s probably the most impressive and memorable setting I’ve cycled in,” says Jim Johnson, president of BikeToursDirect. He recently biked in some of the same areas this tour explores: “The landscapes were breathtaking: vast deserts with some of the tallest sand dunes in the world, remote coastlines, and deep chasms offset by towering mountains.

“And this tour will transcend even that amazing experience. You’ll get to see Namibia’s unique landscapes and extensive wildlife from the unique vantage points of bicycle and train, and it’s a rare opportunity to spend time with many of the individuals responsible for making the country such a conservation success story. It will be the trip of a lifetime.”

After cycling each day, tour participants sleep on the train or in scenic lodges along the route.  The train travels the longer distances during the night, making it possible to see more of the country and allowing plenty of time during the day for bike trips.

Two knowledgeable guides accompany the participants aboard the train and on each day’s easy rides, which average less than 25 miles/40 km per day, and a support vehicle is always nearby to shorten the riding or give a helping hand. Participants may also choose to stay aboard the train, a great option for non-cycling companions who sign up for the tour.

Throughout the tour visit, participants will meet many key players behind Namibia’s conservation success story, including John Kasaona, a leader in the drive to reinvent conservation in Namibia by turning former poachers into protectors of endangered species.

Participants will also hear how tourism has made the country’s conservation success possible by generating sustainable income for local communities—and why their travel here helps improve the lives of the nation’s people and save the lives of its wildlife.

The Desert Express holds a maximum of 48 guests in 24 compartments, each accommodating up to three passengers. Each compartment is fully air-conditioned and heated and has a private bathroom. Passengers can also relax in an elegant lounge, a unique bistro bar and a spacious restaurant that will serve the best in Namibian cuisine. Expansive windows throughout the train help travelers experience the full Namibian views.

Namibia was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution, and the government gave people living in communal areas the opportunity to manage their natural resources through the creation of communal conservancies. These conservancies – as well as governments, nonprofit organizations and other entities – have restored populations of lions, cheetahs, black rhinos, zebras and other native wildlife to the world’s richest dry land. Through initiatives such as ecotourism, restoration has generated sustainable income for their communities.

This tour is among the 4 bicycle tours in Namibia and  15 on the continent of Africa currently offered by BikeToursDirect.

BikeToursDirect serves as a central resource for bicycle tours worldwide, representing 125 tour companies with over 500 tours in 71 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas. BikeToursDirect offers a variety of resources to help travelers search for and choose tours and handles the entire booking and payment process. Learn more at http://www.biketours.com.

Here’s the YouTube video
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Natural Habitat Adventures Introduces “Namibia: In Search of the Desert Rhino” Safari Expedition

NatHabitat-Namibia3Natural Habitat Adventures has created a safari expedition for travelers to learn about Namibia’s endangered black rhinoceros

BOULDER, CO– Natural Habitat Adventures has created a safari expedition led by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) scientists and rhino conservation experts for travelers to learn about Namibia’s endangered black rhinoceros.

Namibia: In Search of the Desert Rhino, offered this fall and next, provides a chance to track this rare animal that survives in the Namib Desert, one of the harshest environments on Earth. The trip is the second in the “In Search Of” series developed by Nat Hab and WWF, which began in 2013 with “In Search of the Snow Leopard” in Mongolia.

Guests will travel alongside local researchers, WWF experts and personnel from Save the Rhino Trust, learning firsthand about crucial measures WWF has pioneered in tandem with local community groups to protect the desert rhino and other threatened species. With the support of the Namibian government, such efforts have made Namibia a global conservation leader.

“These are unprecedented opportunities to meet with experts that have been arranged specifically for this trip and are not included on any standard Namibia safari,” said Ben Bressler, founder and president of Nat Hab.

The desert rhino remains critically endangered because of rising demand for rhino horn, largely among Asian consumers who believe it has value in folk remedies; this has driven poaching to record levels.

The new 10-day safari starts at $9,895 per person, double (single supplement $2,295) with departures Sept. 29 and Oct. 17, 2015 and 2016. The rate includes scheduled light aircraft flights, accommodations, airport transfers, meals, non-alcoholic drinks at camps and in vehicles, house alcoholic beverages in camps, services of a Nat Hab Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff, some gratuities, all permits, entrance fees and taxes. See: http://www.nathab.com/africa/namibia-in-search-of-the-desert-rhino/

Guests, limited to 12 per trip, will track the desert rhino and other desert-adapted species, including elephant, by vehicle and on foot throughout Namibia’s vast wilderness expanses. Varied habitats, from the arid wastes of Damaraland to the savannas and saltpans of Etosha, sustain a surprisingly diverse and vital wildlife population.

Private reserves, such as the Palmwag and Ongava concessions, are central to the experience. From the Ongava Reserve adjacent to popular Etosha National Park guests can view an abundance of wildlife without the presence of other visitors. Certain activities prohibited in national parks are offered as well, such as guided bush walks for an intimate perspective on the landscape and its wild inhabitants, and night drives in search of nocturnal animals.

One of Namibia’s top naturalist guides, Franco Morao, guides this special safari. A Namibia native, he has worked at camps and lodges throughout the country and holds a Level 3 national guiding certificate, the highest achievement possible in Namibia. In addition, as with all Nat Hab Expedition Leaders, Franco has received additional resources and training provided by WWF’s leading scientists, including those on the forefront of rhino conservation.

Guests travel in light aircraft, private mini vans, and top-of-the-line 4×4 safari vehicles with a window seat for each person. Flight transfers between destinations maximize time with wildlife. Accommodations are a highlight in their own right, with a focus on isolated, small-scale luxury camps featuring spacious individual tents with private verandas for secluded viewing.

The safari begins and ends in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek. From here guests travel to Desert Rhino Camp in the heart of the private million-acre Palmwag Concession in far-northwest Namibia. Few safari locales offer the privacy and isolation found amidst this expansive tract of desert wilderness. Several freshwater springs support healthy populations of wildlife including the camp’s namesake and the trip’s primary focus — the desert-adapted black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis). The largest, free-ranging black rhino population anywhere in the world lives here, as well as desert-adapted elephant, endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok, oryx, springbok and greater kudu. Namibia’s second-largest predator population thrives here, too, with more than 100 lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena. Birds are also abundant, including a number of southern African endemics.

Nat Hab and WWF have been working together since 2003 to provide conservation travel adventures exemplified by the “In Search Of” series.

“Twelve clients signed up for the first exploratory trip, and together with some of the world’s foremost snow leopard experts they journeyed to the far-western edge of Mongolia to visit two national parks where WWF Mongolia is performing important snow leopard research. Our guests were so moved by the experience that they came home and raised more than $20,000 for further snow leopard research in the region,” said Bressler, who hopes that this trip will similarly raise awareness about the black rhinoceros.

Natural Habitat Adventures is a world leader in responsible adventure travel and nature-based ecotourism. Since its founding in 1985, the company has offered eco-conscious expeditions and wildlife-focused small-group tours to the planet’s most remarkable nature destinations. Inspired and created from years of scouring the planet for the singular and extraordinary, Nat Hab’s itineraries are artfully crafted experiences that are far from “typical.” Trips are guided by professional naturalist Expedition Leaders, and Nat Hab enjoys a longstanding reputation for hiring some of the world’s best guides. Conservation is at the forefront of everything NHA does, and its philosophy is simple: tourism must work with and benefit local communities, which will in turn find value in protecting natural resources and wildlife. NHA is proud to be the travel partner of World Wildlife Fund, sharing a mutual commitment to travel as a means of helping to protect the world’s wondrous natural places.

For trip information, descriptive itineraries, date availability and reservations, call 800.543.8917 or visit http://www.nathab.com/. Click HERE to order a copy of the 2015 catalog.

 

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Touring the Atacama Desert for the Best Stargazing on the Planet

 The tour operator Say Hueque takes guests through San Pedro de Atacama, said to be the best place in the world to view the uncompromised brilliance of the night sky.

The tour operator Say Hueque takes guests through San Pedro de Atacama, said to be the best place in the world to view the uncompromised brilliance of the night sky.

BUENOS AIRES — The Argentina and Chile tour operator specializing in authentic experiences for independent travelers, Say Hueque, offers a tour through San Pedro de Atacama, said to be the best place in the world to view the uncompromised brilliance of the night sky.

Called Atacama (Chile) and Uyuni (Bolivia), this six-day/five-night program is from $710 per person double. Guests will discover San Pedro de Atacama, a small town located in the world’s driest desert (think little adobe houses and cozy restaurants) enroute to exploring one of Chile’s most spectacular landscapes. The Atacama Desert is one of the only places in the world where there is near-perfect visibility of the night sky. Here guests will explore Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) with caves and hills configured of salt. They will also visit geysers in the Andes and salt flats in Bolivia.

The Atacama Desert receives no more than a millimeter of rain annually; its remote location and the high altitude combined with few clouds makes the sky viewing (day and night) spectacular. There is also virtually no radio interference which makes it optimal for observatories. The Atacama Desert currently hosts six celestial observatories including Alma Observatory which is the largest of its kind on Earth.

There are three trips visitors can choose from, depending on the desired length of time. The shortest trip is six days and the longest is 16 days. Each tour takes a different route through Atacama and Uyuni but each takes time in the desert to enjoy the sky.

Included in the six-day journey are transfers, three nights in San Pedro de Atacama, a three-day 4WD Adventure to Uyuni with lodging in shared huts, Moon Valley tour, Geysers tour, daily breakfasts and some meals, a bilingual guide (English / Spanish) during the excursions in San Pedro de Atacama and the services of a Spanish-speaking driver on portions of the itinerary (http://sayhueque.com/argentina_tours/atacama_uyuni/atacama.php)

For details on the nine-day program that includes a stay in and tour of the colonial city of Salta in Argentina, see: http://sayhueque.com/argentina_tours/atacama_uyuni/salta_atacama.php

For details on the 16-day program that begins in Buenos Aires before moving to Salta, see: http://sayhueque.com/argentina_tours/atacama_uyuni/north_of_argentina_chile_uyuni_salt_flats_16_days.php

“We are a group of Argentine travel professionals who are passionate about our country,” Say Hueque owner Rafael Mayer explains. “We have hiked in Patagonia, felt the mist of Iguassu Falls on our smiling faces, walked along glaciers and cruised the deep blue lakes of South America. We have visited hundreds of hotels, sampled hundreds of restaurants and discovered the best wineries around, so we know exactly where to get a delicious steak, a sublime Malbec and a comfy bed along the way.”

Established in 1999, the Buenes Aires-based company creates customized tours for independent travelers throughout Argentina’s and Chile´s national parks and cities. Popular destinations and experiences include Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls, Perito Moreno Glacier, hiking in Patagonia, wine tasting in Mendoza, horseback riding at traditional estancias and glacier cruises.

Say Hueque adopted its name from the last tribal chief that surrendered to the Europeans in their conquest of the American lands, in 1885. The Great Cacique Say Hueque was the leader of a powerful tribe that occupied the region of central Patagonia. Their cultural influence is still very strong at some locations close to the Andes Range.

Popular destinations offered by the company include Patagonia, Iguacu Falls, Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Atacama Desert, Uyuni Salt Flats and the Salta region as well as many other lesser known but equally captivating marvels. Say Hueque has been recommended by the world’s most popular travel guides such as Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, Footprints, and Time Out year after year. The company has partnerships with and membership in Sustainable Travel International (STI), Responsible Travel, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), ASTA and LATA.

For more information call 718.395.5504 (US and Canada) visit: http://www.sayhueque.com/ or Email: info@sayhueque.com.

 

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