Category Archives: ecotourism

New Week-long Galapagos Glamping Plus Island Hopping Adventure

Scalesia Galapagos Lodge, Isabela Island.

(Quito, Ecuador) — The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel (on Santa Cruz Island) has joined forces with Scalesia Galapagos Lodge (on Isabela Island) to offer a new week-long program in the Galapagos. Highlights include: touring Quito’s Old City, glamping in safari camp-style tents, snorkeling with sea turtles, hiking active volcanoes, visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station and tortoise breeding facility, and exploring islands by motor yacht. Prices start at $4,658 per person double.

The tour begins in Quito, Ecuador’s charming Andean capital, where guests will spend a night in an ornate Renaissance-inspired mansion in the heart of the Old City. Next, travel by air to Isabela Island, taking in the breathtaking scenery from a twin engine light aircraft, before ascending into the highland forests that envelop luxury safari-style tents at Scalesia Galapagos Lodge. Nearby volcanic islands of twisted lava and sparkling sandy coves await exploration, with daily excursions from the lodge to encounter the graceful marine creatures and trusting wildlife that make the archipelago so unique. The tour finishes off at the stylish Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, located on a tranquil beach within easy reach of the region’s oldest and most beautiful islets.

The program is available year-round.

Day 1 – Private transfer to a luxurious boutique hotel in the main square of Quito’s Old City. Casa Gangotena is a restored Renaissance-inspired mansion, with ornate neo-classical furnishings and spacious rooms. Relax in the terrace bar or the quaint patio garden, sample delicious food in the small restaurant and enjoy the complimentary cultural activities on offer.

Day 2 – Journey to Isabela Island on a twin engine light aircraft. Enveloped in wild forests, the Scalesia Galapagos Lodge features an ultra-contemporary glass-fronted main building housing the restaurant and lounge areas. Stay in one of the 16 safari camp-style tents, fully-equipped with a king-sized bed and modern facilities. Soak in the easy-going atmosphere and choose from an astounding range of excursions and activities on offer, including hikes, volcano visits and snorkeling trips as well as wildlife-spotting.

Day 3/4 – Choose from a wide range of excursions on offer at Scalesia Lodge, with different activities scheduled each day. Visit the white tip reef sharks and penguins of islet Tontoreras, or the thriving mangroves, natural pools and solitary beaches of Los Humedales, frequented by magenta-hued flamingos. One of the best snorkeling destinations is Los Tuneles, a marine paradise where lava flows have produced many arches and tunnels both under and above water. 

Day 5 – Transfer across the Itabaca channel to Santa Cruz, the most populated island in the Galápagos. Drive up into the rugged highland forests to reach the twin volcanic craters Los Gemelos. At 600m above sea level, these volcanic sinkholes are home to many Darwin’s finches. Finch Bay overlooks the lush greenery and glittering waters of Punta Estrada.

Day 6 – Join highly-qualified naturalist guides for a day of exploring nearby islands on Finch Bay’s own motor yacht. The island you visit will depend on the day of the week. In the evening you have the option to dine al fresco, enjoying a 3-course meal set up especially for you on the beach.

Day 7 – Divine Bay is a tranquil haven for wildlife, protected from ocean swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side and a gallery of mangrove trees on the other. Hundreds of herons cross the bay each morning and return at sunset, while noddy terns and blue-footed boobies perch along the cliffs. Snorkel in the inviting waters of the cove, where sea turtles graze on seaweed, hundreds of reef fish species swim about the lava crevices, and young reef sharks and rays employ the brackish streams as havens from large predators while they mature.

Day 8 – Head home

Scalesia Galapagos Lodge is situated in the highlands of Isabela Island on the slopes of a volcano, about 20 minutes from the town of Puerto Villamil. The modern, luxurious, safari-style tent resort is in the middle of 16 a hectare (40 acre) property of a magical forest with a spectacular view of the coast of Isabela Island, the Pacific Ocean, and other Islands of Galapagos dotting the horizon. http://www.scalesialodge.com/

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is a beachfront base from which you can discover the wildlife of the islands aboard its private yacht and create your own adventures on land and sea. https://www.finchbayhotel.com/.

For more information, visit Scalesia Galapagos Lodge

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Adventure Travel Rebound: 9 Trip Ideas for 2021

Sacha Lodge, an ecolodge set on a 5,000-acre ecological reserve in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, is a haven for nature lovers, birdwatchers, scientists and adventure seekers.

Adventure travel is expected to recover about three to four years before mass travel – and grow more rapidly, according to a recent report by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) at the first-ever Adventure Travel Xpo,. In fact, tourism ministers and secretaries around the world have identified adventure and nature travel as leading segments in the travel industry’s restart.

Here are nine adventure travel vacation ideas for 2021. 
 
1. Ecuadorian Amazon Adventure: Sacha Lodge, an ecolodge set on a 5,000-acre ecological reserve in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, is a haven for nature lovers, birdwatchers, scientists and adventure seekers. It features luxury accommodations, first-class meals and expert native guides. Step into the heart of the animal and bird kingdom, home to eight species of monkeys, 50 species of bats, anteaters, three-toed sloths, ocelots, and birds of more colors than you could ever imagine. https://www.sachalodge.com/

2. MTB Hut System in Southern Utah: The new Aquarius Trail Hut System offers a backcountry mountain biking experience like no other in the region. A system of five huts furnished with beds, a bathroom and a fully stocked kitchen has been strategically placed along a 190-mile route through some of Utah’s most scenic backcountry.  https://aquariustrail.com/

3. Explore National Parks by RV: Blacksford is a new recreational vehicle rental business with an all-inclusive pricing model that includes unlimited miles, no generator fees, bedding, bath and kitchen supplies, free Wi-Fi, free annual national park pass and 24-hour roadside assistance. Blacksford also curates road trip experiences by connecting travelers with vetted campsites, guides and other hand-picked attractions. https://www.blacksford.com/

4. Ride the Mighty Mississippi: Join Cycle of Life Adventures on a 2,057-mile bike tour from the humble headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota’s Lake Itasca to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans. Along the way, pass Minnesota’s many lakes, the metropolises of Minneapolis, St. Louis and Memphis, the rolling farmlands of Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, and the levees of Louisiana. And while the tour is southbound, it isn’t all downhill. Take on the entire 33-day trek or any one of four shorter stages. https://cycleoflifeadventures.com/

5. City Slicker Dude Ranch Retreat: At Red Reflet Ranch, a 28,000-acre guest ranch in Ten Sleep, Wyoming, guests stay in fully stocked private cabins and enjoy farm-to-table cuisine while participating in equestrian programs, cattle branding, hiking, mountain biking, ATVing, fly fishing, shooting, family-friendly activities and cooking classes. https://red-reflet-ranch.net/

6. Galapagos Glamping: Scalesia Galapagos Lodge is situated in the highlands of Isabela Island on the slopes of a volcano, about 20 minutes from the town of Puerto Villamil. The modern, luxurious, safari-style tent resort is in the middle of a magical forest with a spectacular view of the coast of Isabela Island, the Pacific Ocean, and other islands of the Galapagos archipelago dotting the horizon. http://www.scalesialodge.com/

7. Tiny House Basecamp: With sustainably built, LEED-certified “tiny house” cabins, Fireside Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, embraces modern, yet rustic design and presents a fresh approach to luxury lodging. Nestled in a wooded setting at the foot of the Teton Range, the cabins allow guests to get back to nature while enjoying the intimacy of a boutique hotel and the ambiance of their own cozy residence. https://www.firesidejacksonhole.com/

8. Cycle Across the USA: Plan an epic bike tour or bikepacking trip of your own with the assistance of the Adventure Cycling Association. To help riders find their way, the organization offers maps for 50,000 miles of bike routes through the U.S. and into Canada, the Bicycle Route Navigator app and other resources. Cross the country on the TransAmerica Trail, ride the Rockies on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route or try a shorter adventure in between. https://www.adventurecycling.org/

9. Yellowstone Adventure: A stay at The Wilson Hotel in Big Sky, Montana, offers the opportunity for outdoor adventures in the surrounding mountains, rivers and Yellowstone National Park. Go hiking through shaded forests and wildflower-filled alpine meadows, float or fly fish a clear, cool river, experience the adrenaline rush of lift-served mountain biking, or tour the natural wonders and wildlife of the world’s first national park. https://thewilsonhotel.com/

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In Celebration of Earth Day, The Travel Corporation Implements New Climate Action Plan to Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2030

Xigera Safari Lodge, part of TTC’s Red Carnation Hotel Collection, is powered by a Tesla solar-hybrid system which supplies more than 95% of the lodge’s energy needs. 

The Travel Corporation is celebrating Earth Day 2021 with a declaration that TTC and its family of brands are implementing a five-step Climate Action Plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, and support their continued efforts to achieve the organization’s sustainability goals.

To further support the transition to a low-carbon future, TTC and its TreadRight Foundation are investing in two nature-based carbon removal solutions, Project Vesta and GreenWave. TreadRight has also launched a new Impact Hub in an effort to be transparent as to progress made at TTC and its family of brands against the groups’ 11 sustainability goals, while also providing tips to travelers on how they can help.   

“As members of the global travel industry, The Travel Corporation (TTC) recognizes its role and responsibility in creating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through its trips and operations. The need for both travelers and businesses to take action to address GHG emissions and climate change becomes clearer and more urgent every day,” the company stated.

Climate change is directly linked to an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere, of which globally, a reported 51 billion tons of GHG emissions are emitted annually.  TTC’s Climate Action Plan addresses Goals #1 and #2 of its five-year sustainability strategy, How We Tread Right, which target the carbon footprint of its business.

Respectively, the goals commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and to sourcing 50% of electricity from renewable sources across the organization by 2025. This includes TTC’s 20+ offices, 18 Red Carnation Hotels, 13 Uniworldships, six accommodations/facilities, 500+ vehicles and more than 1,500 itineraries operated worldwide by its 40 award-winning brands including ContikiTrafalgarInsight Vacations and Uniworld

Since the launch of its first sustainability strategy in 2015, TTC has invested in energy conservation and reducing its environmental impact across its portfolio of brands. This new Climate Action Plan builds on TTC’s progress made to-date and its commitment to continual improvement. Advancements to date include the installation of solar panels in 2020 at the Uniworld head office in Encino, California, the implementation of a 400kW Tesla plant supplying over 95% of Xigera Safari Lodge’s energy, which opened December 2020 as part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection and the recent shift to 100% renewable electricity by Contiki’s Chateau De Cruix and Haus Schöneck as well as Red Carnation Hotel’s Ashford Castle, which sits on a 350-acre property.  

Looking forward, TTC has committed to carbon neutral offices and business travel beginning January 1, 2022, through its partnership with offset provider South Pole. On the same timeline, Contiki will move a step ahead to become a completely carbon neutral business, meaning unavoidable emissions from all trips departing as of January 1, 2022 will be offset going forward. 

“Our TTC Climate Action Plan is not marked by one quick fix, because there isn’t one. It is marked with the need to act now, to learn and adapt as technology and innovation support our need to transition to a low-carbon business,” stated Brett Tollman, Chief Executive of The Travel Corporation. “There is much debate as to the right approach when it comes to decarbonizing travel and tourism, and our position is that this must be a process that begins now and commits to evolving as the solutions continue to improve and become available to us.”  

The Travel Corporation’s Climate Action Plan consists of five points: 

  1.    Measure – Measure the emissions from our business and trips. 
  2.    Reduce – Build on reduction efforts and set ambitious reduction targets by mid-2022. 
  3.    Remove – Through our TreadRight Foundation, invest in new technology and nature-based solutions to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere. 
  4.    Offset – Purchase carbon credits to offset unavoidable emissions, including phasing in carbon neutral trips between 2022 – 2030. 
  5.    Evolve – Continue to learn from others, invest in new technologies and support strategic alliances that enable us and the industry to move to a low carbon economy. 

TTC’s TreadRight Foundation will action step three of its Climate Action Plan in 2021, through an investment of $100,000 USD into two developing permanent carbon removal projects. Project Vesta aims to accelerate the natural process of weathering to permanently store carbon into rock. GreenWave is studying how kelp can be added to soil to increase its carbon storage potential, while decreasing harmful nitrous oxide emissions on regenerative farms. 

“Carbon removal and carbon capture technologies are deeply promising and showing signs of acceleration, noted Shannon Guihan, Chief TreadRight & Sustainability Officer of The Travel Corporation. “It’s important now, more than ever, that we support science-based pilot projects to explore every possible solution, in addition to reducing our emissions and purchasing verified carbon offsets from our partner South Pole,” she added.  

To share its sustainability strategy, efforts and impact, as well as to guide consumers and travelers on addressing their own carbon footprint, TTC has launched a new sustainabilityImpact Hub. Learn more at Impact.TreadRight.org.

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Contiki Holidays Declares It will be Carbon Neutral by 2022

Among Contiki Holiday’s destinations worldwide is Petra, the archaeological wonder in Jordan, visited on its “Israel and Jordan Uncovered” tour. Contiki Holidays, one of The Travel Corporation’s companies, has declared it will be 100% carbon neutral by 2022 as part of a new five-point Climate Action Plan and sustainable travel policies © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Contiki Holidays is marking Earth Day 2021 with the announcement it will be going 100% carbon neutral by 2022 – as part of its new five-point Climate Action Plan which also commits to carbon reductions and evolving to support the transition to a low-carbon future.

A leader in youth travel since 1962, Contiki recognizes the need for both travelers and travel businesses to take action on climate change and address its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and has appointed a new Sustainability Officer, Tasha Hayes, to lead the way.

About her new role, Tasha Hayes says, “With our How We Tread Right sustainability strategy, the evolution of Contiki Cares, and now becoming carbon neutral it made sense to have a front person for Contiki’s great sustainability initiatives.  During my time with Contiki I’ve always championed sustainability and looked at ways we could do better both on the road and in the office.  Contiki becoming carbon neutral is massive, and it’s the perfect opportunity for me to support this direction, as someone who can oversee and monitor to make sure we stay on track to achieving the ambitious goals we have set out.”

As the world prepares to open up to begin traveling again, Contiki Holidays lights the way forward for the travel industry, committing to being carbon neutral by January 1, 2022; this will include investing in carbon credits from offset provider South Pole. This means that all Contiki trips from 2022 will be carbon neutral trips. And travelers won’t need to reach into their own pockets to fund the carbon credits: the cost to offset every trip is being covered by Contiki.

Contiki’s five-point Climate Action Plan is being announced in celebration of Earth Day 2021, as part of its sustainability strategy, How We Tread Right. The Climate Action Plan supports Goals #1 and #2 of the strategy, which targets the carbon footprint of the business – seeing Contiki commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2022, and also to sourcing 50 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

To further support the transition to a low-carbon future, Contiki is investing in two developing, nature-based carbon removal solutions, Project Vesta and GreenWave.

“Carbon removal and carbon capture technologies are deeply promising,” notes Adam Armstrong, Contiki CEO. “It’s important to us that we support the science developing around every possible solution, in addition to reducing our emissions and purchasing verified carbon offsets. It’s equally exciting to have Tasha on board to lead this for us, the next phase of Contiki Cares.” he added.  

The five points of the Climate Action Plan include reducing emissions and setting ambitious reduction targets by mid-2022; and offsetting unavoidable emissions by partnering with leading offset provider, South Pole, to purchase carbon credits from a combination of three meaningful carbon offset projects. These offsetting projects include Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard projects to guarantee carbon reductions are made, while offering co-benefits that positively impact local communities: Forest Conservation in Australia, Biogas Energy in Thailand, and Renewable Energy in the USA.

The idea of sustainable and conscious travelisn’t new to Contiki – the new Climate Action Plan builds on progress made to date and its commitment to continual improvement. Since the launch of its first sustainability strategy in 2015, Contiki has invested in energy conservation and worked to actively reduce its environmental impact. Now, Contiki’s Chateau de Croix and Haus Schöneck properties are powered by 100% renewable energy and it uses the most fuel-efficient Euro 6 coaches throughout Europe, while coaches in other regions meet or exceed efficiency standards. This year has seen the launch of more ‘staycation’ trips that remove the need for long-haultravel, alongside lower-carbon footprint ‘by rail’ itineraries, a new vegan itineraryand options for lower-emission vegan and vegetarian meals on all trips. Contiki is also working with partners to increase the use of local food productsto reduce food transport emissions and is assessing the use of biofuels for coacheswithin Europe.

“Our TTC Climate Action Plan is not marked by one quick fix, because there isn’t one,” said Melissa DaSilva, President. “It is marked with the need to act now, to learn and adapt as technology and innovation support our need to transition to a low-carbon business. There is much debate as to the right approach when it comes to decarbonizing travel and tourism, and our position is that this must be a process that begins now and commits to evolving as the solutions continue to improve and become available to us”.

“Ignoring the climate crisis won’t make it go away. Our Climate Action Plan is our commitment to learn and adapt as the world moves closer to a lower carbon economy, a goal we care passionately about,” said Tasha Hayes, Sustainability Officer. “It’s in keeping with our philosophy that travelling sustainability and consciously, matters – and we know young people are conscious of and care about sustainability more than ever. Young people will always want to travel – it’s their rite of passage – so it’s our responsibility as a leading travel provider to provide experiences that respect the people, planet, and wildlife that our travelers encounter along the way, and align with our own sustainability goals.  This is why it’s so important for Contiki to be making this commitment from 2022 onwards to offer only carbon neutral trips. I’m so proud of our team who has made this a reality,  and I’m hopeful that we’re finding ways for the next generation of travelers to continue to travel responsibly”.

To share its sustainability strategy, efforts and impact, as well as to guide consumers and travelers on addressing their own carbon footprint, Contiki has published its Climate Action Plan on its websitehttp://www.contiki.com

Read the Climate Action plan – https://www.contiki.com/contiki-cares/climate-action-plan

Find out more about Contiki’s global goals – https://www.contiki.com/contiki-cares/our-sustainability-strategy

Find out more about how Contiki is going carbon neutral  – https://www.contiki.com/contiki-cares/carbon-neutral

Travelers can book a carbon neutral trip now for travel in 2022 at http://www.contiki.com

To find out more about Earth Day visit https://www.earthday.org/earthday/

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Eco-Lodge in Ecuador’s Amazon Offering 25% Discount

Sacha Lodge, a wildlife lodge on a 5,000-acre ecological reserve in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, is offering 25% off all 2021 tours booked by June 30, 2021. A haven for nature lovers, birdwatchers, scientists and adventure seekers, Sacha Lodge features luxurious accommodations, first-class meals, and expert native guides.

(Quito, Ecuador) — Sacha Lodge, a wildlife lodge on a 5,000-acre ecological reserve in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, is offering 25% off all 2021 tours booked by June 30, 2021. A haven for nature lovers, birdwatchers, scientists and adventure seekers, Sacha Lodge features luxurious accommodations, first-class meals, and expert native guides. A 4-day/3-night tour starts at $1,390 per person double before the discount is applied. Airfare is not included.

One of Sacha Lodge’s many highlights is a wildlife observation tower suspended 135-feet in the air on the highest branches of a giant kapok tree. Another main attraction, and the only one like it in all of South America, is a 940-foot-long canopy walkway suspended 94 feet above the ground. Both offer an astounding opportunity to spot dozens of animals and epiphytes seldom seen from the ground. New for 2021, the exploration crane is a spectacular feat of engineering offering a unique perspective of the canopy treetops. A metal basket is suspended on a 135-foot boom which moves up, down, forwards, and backwards as well as rotating 360 degrees, which allows guests to get close to the monkeys, sloths, toucans, and macaws of the lush Amazon jungle. 

The variety of fauna around Sacha Lodge is astounding, with up to 60 species of mammals including monkeys, marmosets, anteaters, and sloths. A variety of lizards and snakes can also be found along the trails, including boas, vine snakes and even the giant anaconda. Birding at Sacha Lodge is something to behold too, with almost 600 species (that’s a staggering 7% of the species found in the entire world). On a normal day, it is common to see parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, tanagers, hawks and oropendolas. 
 
Ideal for families, the new Lake Pool is the only one of its kind in the Amazon region. Protected by a mesh cage, the plunge pool allows guests to cool off and relax in the black shallows of Lake Pilchicocha, without the fear of encountering the unknown. It is not uncommon to spot caiman and giant otters swimming on the other side of the net.  Piranha fishing is another activity not to be missed.
 
Each of the 26 cabins, with high thatched roofs and private shaded terraces, is constructed with traditional materials and well concealed in the lush surroundings. From the private rooms, visitors may overlook the jungle from hammocks and often report seeing wild fauna such as anacondas or capybara (the largest rodents in the world) while resting between activities. Electricity is provided 24 hours a day and the private bathrooms provide hot showers. All cabins are screened against insects and have air conditioning. 
 
Guests may use free time to hang out at the main bar and lounge, which offers a scenic view of Pilchicocha Lake and excellent opportunities to bird watch. Meals are prepared to please the international traveler, and vegetarians are more than welcome.    

​Given the effects of COVID-19, Sacha Lodge will have a capacity reduced to 50%. That is a maximum capacity of 26 people during social distancing, on the recommendation of the Ecuadorian National Service for Risk and Emergency Management (COE). During social distancing protocols, private guides as well as private paddling canoes will be provided for all groups at no additional charge. Maximum of six people in each group. QR codes will be used to provide information on services and activities to reduce the use and delivery of printed material. Prior to opening, all employees will be tested for COVID-19 to increase the safety of staff and guests. All staff will receive protective equipment and ongoing safety and wellness training.

For more information, visit https://www.sachalodge.com/.   

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Lindblad Expeditions Resumes Voyages to Galapagos, Alaska This Summer

Lindblad Expeditions is resuming voyages to the Galapagos on the National Geographic Endeavor this summer (photo provided by Lindblad Expeditions).

New York – Lindblad Expeditions, the global provider of small ship expeditions cruises and adventure travel experiences, has announced that they plan to resume operations for the 2021 season in Alaska and Galápagos in June.  In keeping with Lindblad’s focus on exploring remote places, they will return to nature in the pristine wildness of these two iconic destinations.  

In making the announcement, Sven Lindblad, CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, reflected on the experiences of the past year, its impact on many, and how “we have always turned to nature, in times of collective stress and trauma, for the restoration of our spirits, believing in what Thoreau called the healing “tonic of wildness.”

“Our internal team has spent the last year examining every single aspect of our operation to be prepared to operate in the ‘new normal.’ Led by our resident medical expert, Dr. David Lorber, we have enlisted the assistance of many health and safety experts and met with authorities in the regions we intend to explore to ensure we are welcome and meet or exceed their expectations. We will also require that all guests 16 years of age and over be vaccinated prior to travelling onboard,” he stated.

A complete list of health and safety protocols are listed here.  Key components include: two negative COVID-19 tests, daily guest temperature checks, and thorough sanitation protocols.  From start to finish, guests will travel exclusively with their expedition community, all equally tested.

In resuming travel to Alaska, Lindblad intends to head deep into the wide-open spaces, into the far reaches of her straits and waterways—to where bears, glaciers, eagles and whales will be guests’ only ‘companions.’ They will begin the season with 6 and 8-day itineraries aboard their 100-guest sister ships National Geographic Quest and National Geographic Venturewith the first departures June 5th and June 6th.

Similarly, guests will explore the remoteness of the Galápagos archipelago to visit volcanic isles inhabited by some of the most charismatic wildlife on earth on a 10-day itinerary set aboard the 96-guest National Geographic Endeavour ll.  The first Galápagos departure is set for June 4th.

Guests will return to an exhilarating expedition experience they have come to know and love. They will search for wildlife, revel in the wonders of the natural world, and explore the legendary Alaska and Galápagos archipelago landscapes under the guidance of our amazing expedition team.

For reservations or additional information on Lindblad Expeditions voyages to some of the most beautiful and fascinating places on Earth, visit www.expeditions.com, call 1-800-EXPEDITION (1-800-397-3348) or contact your travel advisor. Find us on FacebookTwitter, InstagramYouTube and Pinterest.

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USTOA Member Tour Companies Offer Wildlife Encounters Around the World

Sri Lanka is one of the destinations where intrepid travelers and animal lovers can join small group trips that contribute to conservation and protection of species © Sarah Falter/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NEW YORK –Observing animals in their habitats around the world can be a life changing experience for not just animal lovers but intrepid travelers of any age. Tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) are committed to offering wildlife-focused itineraries and small group trips that contribute to the conservation and protection of species, while offering access for travelers to learn from nature. 

“Explorers who are searching for enriching nature-based experiences need to look no further than our tour operator members, who offer sustainable wildlife experiences and open-air excursions from Thailand and Norway to Tanzania and Russia, and many more destinations around the globe,”said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. 

Wildlife itineraries offered by USTOA tour operators include:

  • Birdwatching in Costa Rica – The tailor-made 13-day itinerary from Audley Travel showcases Costa Rica’s pristine tropical forest trails and the tranquil cloud forest of San Gerardo de Dota. Home to 448 species of birds, the trip offers a naturalist guide and a stay at the renowned birding lodge, Rancho Naturalista. Rates start at $5,410 per person. Find information on departures at www.audleytravel.com.
  • The Great Migration + Gorillas in the Wild – On a Gorilla Trek with Alexander + Roberts, guests will observe gorilla families living in the forested mountains of Rwanda. A hot air balloon adventure is available to watch zebra, gazelle, and more from above at the 5,700 square mile Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The twin lakes of Buerra and Ruhondo offer a variety of birdlife. Departure is available on September 20, 2021 starting at $12,499 per person. www.alexanderroberts.com
  • Exploring Russia’s Far East & Wrangel Island – A 13-day exploration with Lindblad Expeditions of the remote Siberian coastline reveals bird cliffs teeming with puffins and landscapes that are home to walrus and polar bears. Even grey whales can be spotted in their feeding grounds while cruising through the Chukchi and Bering Seas. Departures are available on August 3 and August 15, 2021, and August 7, 2022 starting at $17,830 per person. www.expeditions.com
  • Sri Lanka Expedition: Wilderness & Wildlife – AAA Club Adventures offers 12-days of nature in Sri Lanka. Guests will visit Project Orange Elephant, dedicated to sustainable farming practices and wildlife conservation, and stay at an eco-lodge in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve to see monkeys, big cats, and more in their tropical habitat. Departure is available on September 3, 2021 starting at $1,890. www.clubadventures.com
  • Intro to Spitsbergen: Fjords, Glaciers and Wildlife of Svalbard – Quark Expeditions’ 10-day journey through Spitsbergen, also known as the wildlife capital of the Arctic, showcases walruses, reindeer, polar bears, and more in their natural habitat. Guests will learn the history and geology of this remote land while traveling by ship. Departure is available June 12, 2021 starting at $7,495 per person. www.quarkexpeditions.com

Find all the wildlife itineraries offered by USTOA tour operators at www.ustoa.travelstride.com/trip-list/wildlife

For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com.

Representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

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Lindblad Expeditions Acquires Duvine Cycling, Off the Beaten Path Adventure Travel Companies

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, a global provider of expedition cruises and adventure travel experiences has acquired majority stakes in DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co., a leading luxury cycling and adventure travel company, and Off the Beaten Path LLC, a leading active travel operator with a specialization in U.S. national parks. 

NEW YORK– Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc, a global provider of expedition cruises and adventure travel experiences today announced that it has acquired majority stakes in DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co., a leading luxury cycling and adventure travel company, and Off the Beaten Path LLC, a leading active travel operator with a specialization in U.S. National Parks.  These acquisitions further broaden and deepen Lindblad’s platform of high-quality experiential product offerings in robust adventure travel sectors, including the rapidly growing cycling tourism and domestic expedition market.

Similar to the acquisition of Natural Habitat, Inc., Lindblad will leverage its experience and resources to accelerate the growth of these unique and profitable businesses and capitalize on the growing demand for authentic and immersive adventure travel. These best-in-class companies are also united by a focus on nature and sustainability, and will benefit from Lindblad’s and Natural Habitat’s scale, resources, marketing experience and conservation leadership. 

DuVine is an award-winning international luxury cycling and adventure company based in Somerville, Massachusetts focused on providing immersive cultural experiences across the globe through thoughtfully designed itineraries led by expert local guides.  DuVine’s trips include top-quality gear and support and are tailored to riders of all abilities with emphasis on exceptional food and wine experiences, along with boutique accommodations.  DuVine also currently runs a variety of extraordinary trips that combine sail and biking experiences, which will be further expanded as part of Lindblad.  Founded in 1996 by Andy Levine, DuVine’s diverse tour offerings include small group and private custom trips to destinations across Europe, the United States, Latin America, Asia and Africa.  Mr. Levine will retain an ownership interest in DuVine and will continue as President and Chief Executive Officer of the new Lindblad subsidiary.

Off the Beaten Path, based in Bozeman, Montana, offers active small-group and private custom journeys around the world, with a long-standing focus on U.S. National Parks and connecting the heart of the traveler with the soul of the place through localized, authentic experiences.  Founded in 1986, Off the Beaten Path’s small group product offerings include unique expeditions throughout the U.S, as well as trips across Europe, Africa, Australia, Central and South America and the South Pacific.  Cory Lawrence, Off the Beaten Path’s President and Chief Executive Officer, will retain an ownership interest in Off the Beaten Path and continue in this role for the new Lindblad subsidiary.

“Bringing DuVine and Off the Beaten Path into our portfolio of brands will allow us to better serve a broader based clientele that has a diverse set of travel interests”, stated Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad Expeditions.  “The high level of quality and integrity of both these companies makes them perfect partners in our strategy of expanding our platform of experiential offerings.  Our proven ability to leverage our platform and effectively cross market creates the opportunity to accelerate growth across our entire portfolio, and we will continue to look for additional opportunities to broaden and deepen our adventure travel offerings, both organically and through acquisitions, to aggregate larger audiences and generate greater lifetime value from our loyal guests.” 

Ben Bressler, Founder and President of Natural Habitat is enthusiastic about the joining of forces. “DuVine offers invigorating experiences in nature for our more active guests, and Off the Beaten Path’s exceptional depth in creating custom U.S. national park adventures will appeal to Nat Hab travelers,” Bressler stated.  “These two companies provide Lindblad and Nat Hab guests a depth of choice for premium life-enhancing travel experiences within a family of complementary brands – all driven by protecting our planet and inspiring travelers.” 

Andy Levine, DuVine’s Founder and President, stated  “I have long admired Lindblad for their exceptional expeditions and commitment to responsible travel, a core value that has also guided DuVine’s philosophy. Our companies share not only a desire to sustain the world’s most compelling cultures and communities, but also the belief that authentic, deeply rooted experiences make travel more fulfilling. DuVine’s journeys offer a new perspective grounded in active travel, local flavor, and an appreciation of nature from the seat of a bicycle. I can’t wait to introduce the transformative power of bike travel to a greater audience of adventure seekers.”

Cory Lawrence, Off the Beaten Path’s President, stated “We couldn’t be more excited to join Lindblad Expeditions and Natural Habitat Adventures to further our mission to change peoples’ lives through exceptional travel experiences. With our unique style of travel, strong domestic presence, and small group and bespoke travel design offerings, we are well-positioned to have immediate impact on the newly expanded family of companies. Expanding awareness of Off the Beaten Path and its unique offerings by leveraging the reach and expertise of both Lindblad and Natural Habitat is a major opportunity for our company in its 35th year of operation. We are thrilled!”

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. is an expedition travel company that focuses on ship-based voyages through its Lindblad Expeditions brand and on land-based travel through its subsidiaries, Natural Habitat Adventures, Off the Beaten Path and DuVine Cycling and Adventure.

Lindblad Expeditions works in partnership with National Geographic to inspire people to explore and care about the planet. The organizations work in tandem to produce innovative marine expedition programs and to promote conservation and sustainable tourism around the world. The partnership’s educationally oriented voyages allow guests to interact with and learn from leading scientists, naturalists and researchers while discovering stunning natural environments, above and below the sea, through state-of-the-art exploration tools.

Natural Habitat Adventures partners with the World Wildlife Fund to offer and promote conservation and sustainable travel that directly protects nature. Natural Habitat’s adventures include polar bear tours in Churchill, Canada, Alaskan grizzly bear adventures and African safaris.

DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. designs and leads luxury bike tours in the world’s most amazing destinations, from Italy’s sun-bleached villages and the medieval towns of Provence to Portugal’s Douro Valley and the vineyards of Napa, California. Guests bike, eat, drink, and sleep their way through these regions and many more while sampling the finest cuisine, hotels, and wine. 

Off the Beaten Path is an outdoor, active travel company offering guided small group adventures and private custom journeys that connect travelers with the wild nature and authentic culture of their destinations.  Off the Beaten Path’s trips extend across the globe, with a focus on exceptional national park experiences in the Rocky Mountains, Desert Southwest, and Alaska.

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Lion World Travel, Treadright Foundation Offer Contest to Name Newborn Endangered Black Rhino & Win Luxury Safari

The female baby black rhino, born to mother, Queenie, in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Lion World Travel and The TreadRight Foundation are inviting travelers to name the newborn endangered black rhino to win a luxury safari.

Cypress, Calif. – Lion World Travel and The TreadRight Foundation are calling on American travelers to help name a rare female baby rhino, discovered by their project partner, Wilderness Foundation Africa on a reserve in South Africa. Submissions will be accepted online from November 17, 2020 to December 1, 2020, and those who share their suggestions will be eligible to win 3 free nights at Shamwari Game Reserve, a luxury safari and game lodge destination in South Africa’s ecologically and culturally significant Eastern Cape Province.

Included as part of the judging panel is Ami Vitale, TreadRight’s ‘Wildlife’ Ambassador and award-winning National Geographic magazine photographer who captured the final moments of Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino alive on the planet in Kenya.

The Eastern Cape Province in South Africa is home to the third largest endangered black rhino population in the world, and evidence shows it is currently a high-risk target for poachers.

Because rhinos prefer thick vegetation, aerial surveillance is necessary and plays a critical part in both wildlife security, and in tracking and improving the management of rhino populations. Lion World Travel is a founding partner of The TreadRight Foundation which is invested in protecting and rehabilitating the world’s wildlife by partnering with leading wildlife organizations, through its Wildlife Pillar. Since 2017, TreadRight has partnered with Wilderness Foundation Africa to aid in rhino conservation efforts by funding the purchase and operations of a Bat Hawk – a light aircraft used to monitor and protect rhinos from poaching in provincial nature reserves and national parks in the Eastern Cape. The regular surveillance through monitoring flights by the Bat Hawk in the known rhino poaching hotspots is contributing to the safekeeping of this endangered population.

Since the start of 2020, 19 new rhino calves have been discovered and protected within the rhino population, 11 of which were first detected in the TreadRight-funded Bat Hawk. As a thank you, Wilderness Foundation Africa has given Lion World Travel and TreadRight the invaluable honor of naming one of these precious new rhino calves.

“The preservation of the rhino population is absolutely paramount to keeping a healthy balance alive within Africa’s ecosystem,” said Lucille Sive, CEO of The Travel Corporation’s African Division.“Through our work, safeguarding wildlife is a priority and we are absolutely humbled by this meaningful opportunity to play a part in the naming of a precious rhino as we continue to make travel matter.”

Lion World Travel and TreadRight’s support of Wilderness Foundation Africa work to advance the United Nations Global Goal 15, Life on Land, through its joint effort in combatting poaching and trafficking of rhinos that are vital to this ecosystem, as well as Global Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, through its employment of intelligence and police support for specialized wildlife crime units, contributing to a higher employment rate.

After the name submissions are received, Lucille Siva, CEO of Lion World Travel will select the shortlisted names and Ami Vitale will be making the final decision. The winning name will be chosen and announced on Friday, Dec. 4 and the winner will receive 3 free nights at Shamwari Game Reserve, a luxury safari and game lodge destination in South Africa’s ecologically and culturally significant Eastern Cape Province.  

For more information on TreadRight’s conversation efforts, its work around the world and how you can help #MakeTravelMatter, visit TreadRight.org

Terms and Conditions: Prize is non-transferable and awarded “as is”, with no substitutions. One winner will be selected, based on the final Rhino name selection. If multiple people entered the same name, one winner will be randomly drawn from all of those entries. Only entries received through the official contest entry form are valid. Preference will be given to names that relate to Africa and/or reflect our Make Travel Matter ethos. Contest period runs from November 17-December 1, 2020. Prize must be booked by August 31, 2021, for travel by December 15, 2021 and is subject to availability and blackout dates. Winner will be contacted by email. Lion World Travel is not responsible for any technical difficulties experienced during the contest. Void where prohibited by law

Lion World Travel is a leading tour operator from North America specializing in group and individual tours to Southern and East Africa and is a member of TTC , which also includes: Trafalgar Tours, Contiki, Brendan Vacations, Insight Vacations, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. Clients continue to benefit from Lion World Travels’ destination knowledge, expertise, and emphasis on customer service. With their Africa Specialists all having first-hand knowledge of Africa, Lion World Travel confidently assists clients in creating an African adventure that fits their interests and budget. Extraordinary service, affordable luxury and value for money are what keep clients coming back to Lion World Travel.

The TreadRight Foundation is a joint not-for-profit initiative established by The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands. TreadRight sets the direction on sustainability for 40 award-winning brands, in addition to overseeing our TreadRight Foundation. The organization’s singular mission is to #MakeTravelMatter through brand operations, and by providing support to community-based projects worldwide that safeguard the planet, people and wildlife. To date, the foundation has supported 55+ sustainable tourism projects in 280+ communities worldwide, based on priorities set by the TreadRight Steering Committee. Past project partners include WWF, Conservation International, WildAid and The National Trust in the UK, while current initiatives include Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School, Wilderness Foundation Africa and Wildlife SOS. TreadRight also works with inspiring ambassadors who have a passion for sustainable travel, to support its voice within the sustainable travel community. These ambassadors include Céline Cousteau (‘Planet’ Ambassador), Sarain Fox (‘People’ Ambassador), Ami Vitale (‘Wildlife’ Ambassador) and Costas Christ. To learn more about past and current work at TreadRight, visit TreadRight.org and follow TreadRight on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #MakeTravelMatter.

“We will make travel matter – for our planet, for people and for wildlife. We have taken the pledge, now we invite you to join us.”  

Wilderness Foundation Africa works from its base in South Africa to protect and sustain wildlife and wilderness through integrated conservation and education programs. Whether it is direct action anti-poaching in the field, large landscape wilderness management, or developing rising young leaders from disadvantaged communities for a career in conservation, the Wilderness Foundation has over 45 years of results. For more information, visit WildernessFoundation.co.za and follow on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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NYS to Invest $300 Million to “Reimagine” Erie Canal, Expand Recreational Activities, Finish 750-Mile Empire State Trail

As part of the $300 million plan to “Reimagine” the Erie Canal, a 750-mile Empire State Trail will be completed, including closing gaps of Erie Canalway that makes possible the annual  eight-day, 400-mile, Cycle the Erie bike tour (registration now open) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

This is huge for New York State’s tourism and recreational opportunities: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s is proposing a $300 million plan to reimagine the Erie Canal by creating recreational activities on the Canal to boost tourism and recreational fishing, mitigate flooding, enhance irrigation and restore wetlands. 

“When the Erie Canal was created in the 19th century it set the state and the nation on a path to prosperity, and this year we will repurpose the canal to fit our state’s 21st century needs,” Governor Cuomo said. “This bold and visionary plan to transform this historic waterway will build on the success of the Empire State Trail (750 miles of connected bikeways), grow tourism across Upstate New York, improve resilience of today’s Canal communities and ensure the economic sustainability of the waterway into the future.”

“The canals have played a crucial role in New York’s history and growth, and with the implementation of these new exciting projects, the canals will remain a vital force and make a positive contribution to the economic well-being and quality of life in the 225 communities they travel through,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

A first phase of funding starting this year – through the New York Power Authority Board which oversees the Canal Corporation as a subsidiary –  includes a $100 million economic development fund to invest in communities along the Canal and a separate $65 million investment in solutions that will help prevent ice jams and related flooding in the Schenectady area.

The remaining $135 million of the plan’s funding will subsequently be allocated to research recommended by the Reimagine Task Force, as well as to solutionsrelated to flood mitigation, invasive species prevention and ecosystem restoration.

New Economic Development Fund for Canal Communities

In the first phase of the program, a $100 million economic development fund will support projects that adaptively reuse canal infrastructure to enhance water recreation, tie the Canal’s new recreational improvements to the Governor’s Empire State Trail, celebrate historic canal structures, and develop unique canalside attractions and activities. Roughly $25 million of that will be allocated immediately to a set of initial projects:

Connecting Communities: The “Brockport Loop” project in Monroe County will connect SUNY College at Brockport to the Empire State Trailand the village of Brockport through the transformation of a canal guard-gate into a pedestrian bridge and overlook, with a supporting grant of $2 million from the Ralph Wilson Foundation. 

Celebrating “Iconic Infrastructure”: Interactive, hydro-powered illumination of Canal “movable dams” – initially in Amsterdam and Canajoharie in the Mohawk River valley – will celebrate the Canal’s heritage and its history as an engineering marvel.

Expanding Water Recreation: A new whitewater destination, at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls, will rely on existing water control infrastructure to construct an active water sports course adjacent to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, to increase eco-tourism and sport visitors to the region.

Adapting Industrial Property for New Uses: Winner of the Reimagine the Canals competition, a canalside pocket neighborhood, will be developed by Madison County in Central New York at a former industrial property in Canastota along the Old Erie Canal – demonstrating a new model for 21st century canalside living.

Developing Destination Accommodations: The historic Guy Park Manor, on the Mohawk River in Amsterdam, will be reborn as a hospitality destination and a pedestrian bridge constructed across the already-existing Canal lock will provide access to additional overnight accommodation along the Empire State Trail on the opposite side of the river.

World-Class Fishing and Restored Wetlands 

To create world-class fishing in Western New York, the new plan recommends managing water releases from the Canal to enhance fish habitat, improve angling opportunities, and extend the fall fishing season in Lake Ontario tributaries. It also includes funding to expand public fishing access along key streams in Orleans, Monroe and Niagara Counties. In addition, it identifies a program to divert Canal water to restore and re-nourish wetlands in Central New York that were compromised a century ago by the Canal’s construction. This will allow areas in close proximity to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, a migratory stopover for more than 1 million birds each year, to be significantly enhanced to further attract naturalists, locals, and visitors from throughout the region and beyond. 

Ideas in this plan originated from the Reimagine the Canals Task Force recommendations,  launched by Governor Cuomo in May of 2019 to pursue a comprehensive investigation of how the 195-year-old Erie Canal could be reimagined for the 21st century. The Reimagine the Canals Task Force Report  was just released.

The Task Force engaged with municipal leaders, stakeholders, local business owners, scientists and other experts, along with community members, to identify opportunities and solutions that support a new vision for future investments in the waterway. Many of the ideas that the Task Force explored came from the completed Reimagine the Canals competition, held last year by the New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation. SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government, on behalf of the Task Force, conducted a series of outreach sessions during the summer in five canal communities – Lockport, Brockport, Schenectady, Utica and Syracuse – to solicit new ideas from the public at large. Ideas were also solicited on a Reimagine the Canals website, offering more distant canal users an opportunity to provide their views to the Task Force.

The “Reimagine” initiative builds on successful efforts by Governor Cuomo to invest in the canal corridor, including the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative and successful Taste NY program, which have stoked new industries, businesses and housing in canal communities. Harnessing the Canal’s full potential to attract more tourism and recreation is a key focus of the Initiative. Governor Cuomo and state agency and authority staff will collaborate with Empire Line communities and continue to consult with Task Force members and other stakeholders to ensure the success of projects as they move forward. 

There are 1.6 million trips taken annually on the Erie Canal Trailway, the former towpath used by mules and horses to pull barges in the canals’ early days. The Trailway is part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail, which at 750 miles will be the largest state multi-use trail network when completed in late 2020. Governor DeWitt Clinton began work on the original Erie Canal on July 4, 1817. 

In addition to investing $300 million in the Canal System, there are also plans to create two new state parks in the Hudson Valley, add 4,000 acres of land to parks and introduce a $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” bond act.

Meanwhile, registration has opened for the 22nd Annual Cycle the Erie, eight-day 400-mile, fully supported biking/camping trip, from Buffalo to Albany, operated by Parks & Trails NY, taking place July 12-19, 2020. For information on Cycle the Erie Canal, call Parks & Trails New York, 518-434-1583, email eriecanaltour@ptny.org or visit www.ptny.org/cycle-the-erie-canal.

(See our series on Cycle the Erie, at goingplacesfarandnear.com)

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