Category Archives: Nature & Wildlife

5 Montana National Parks Tours

The phenomenal Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park. There are a variety of ways to experience one of America’s most popular parks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Here are a 5 exciting ways to explore Montana and its most popular National Parks. 

Explore Yellowstone and Glacier by RV: Discover the natural beauty of Yellowstone, Glacier, and more with the comfort and convenience of a new Winnebago RV, you’ll have the freedom to travel at your own pace and experience the great outdoors like never before. Based in Bozeman, MT, Blacksford’s brand new, luxury RVs and camper vans are low-mileage and impeccably maintained, ensuring a safe and worry-free trip. They offer flexible pick-up and drop-off times, all the amenities you’ll need for a fantastic vacation, and support to ensure a seamless rental experience. 

Saddle and Paddle Yellowstone: Flying Pig Adventures’ 3-night Yellowstone tour gives guests the opportunity to experience the park like never before. The thrill of witnessing one of nature’s most iconic environments, tackling rough terrain on horseback, and battling Class III rapids cannot be found anywhere else. From fly fishing, to horseback rides, to Yellowstone whitewater rafting, guests will be talking about their unique experiences for years to come. 

Cycle Glacier National Park: The Big Sky meets six days of big smiles on Escape Adventures’ epic Glacier National Park/Going-to-the-Sun Road bike trip. Based in Montana’s 1,583-square-mile Glacier National Park, with its 375 historic properties plus six historic landmarks, riders will cycle into some of North America’s most breathtaking landscapes, including Going-to-the-Sun Road. At each stop, each slow pass, guests will learn a little more about the “Crown of the Continent” ecosystem. 

Big Sky Luxury Adventure: In Big Sky, Montana, The Wilson Hotel serves as a base camp for adventure whether it’s winter or summer. Guests can ski and snowboard Big Sky Resort’s expansive 5,850 acres of terrain in winter, and hike nearby shaded forests and wildflower-filled meadows, raft or fly fish the clear waters of the Gallatin River, and experience the adrenaline rush of lift-served mountain biking in summer. At the end of the day, The Wilson offers spacious, sophisticated accommodations steps from on-site amenities and Big Sky Town Center. 

Glamping Cowboy Retreat:  Ranchlands is excited to formally open the 80,000-acre Paintrock Canyon Ranch in the Bighorn Mountains. Guests will immerse themselves in ranch life, explore the surrounding areas on horseback, fly fish, hike, and experience the natural world in this unique landscape. Accommodations are designed for guests to be as close to nature as possible, but with all the comforts of home. Large, safari-style tents are stylishly furnished with full-sized beds, bedside tables, dressers, and chairs. Meals are prepared by a private chef and incorporate Ranchlands beef, local produce, and dairy whenever possible. The ranch makes a great base camp for a Yellowstone National Park adventure.

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GeoCultura Unveils Cultural, Geological Summer Tours in Ireland

GeoCultura’s summer tours to Ireland experience the Wild Atlantic Way, exploring the geological and historical stories while focusing on the Dingle Peninsula and the iconic Ring of Kerry.

GeoCultura, a leading provider of immersive travel experiences, introduces two new captivating tours for summer 2024 that promise a deep dive into Ireland’s fascinating landscapes, blending discovery and immersion led by local experts in geology, history, and culture.

South-West Ireland – Dingle Peninsula and Ring of Kerry Tour, July 9-14: Embark on a six-day exploration along the Wild Atlantic Way of southwest Ireland, beginning in Cork and venturing through the Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas. This journey unveils the rich tapestry of Irish history, folklore, and deep-time geological features shaping the present landscape.

Highlights:

Experience the Wild Atlantic Way, exploring the southwest coast’s coastal gems and cultural offerings.

Immerse in the landscapes, deep-time history, and folklore of southwest Ireland.

Unravel geological and historical stories while focusing on the Dingle Peninsula and the iconic Ring of Kerry.

Expert guides lead participants to dramatic coastlines, mountains, castles, and harbors, revealing the layers of history embedded in the rocks and landscapes.

Enjoy authentic encounters with traditional Ireland, from meeting native speakers to experiencing folk music and savoring top Irish cuisine.

Stay in charming country retreats and coastal hotels, offering comfort and character.

The tour commences at Ballymaloe House, outside Cork, concluding in the center of Cork (or Cork airport).

Overview: Embark on a six-day, five-night journey through southwest Ireland’s history and culture, starting in Cork and uncovering natural wonders in the Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas. Gain new insights from expert tour leaders, exploring the geological mysteries behind Ireland’s landmarks.

Discover how natural and human forces have shaped the Irish landscape, visiting castles, cliffs, towns, and towers. Take to the sea for a new perspective on the coastline and hear tales of resilience on remote islands. Learn how southwest Ireland has evolved from deep time to its historical traditions, native language, and music.

See Ireland’s most spectacular sights, including the Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Blasket Islands, and Inch Beach. Stay in highly-rated accommodations, including a country house and a hilltop manor in County Kerry.

Pricing: $4,125 pp for the five-night tour, Single Supplement for solo travelers $530 

https://www.geoculturaworld.com/tours/37-south-west-ireland-dingle-peninsula-and-ring-of-kerry-tour

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way: Galway Bay to Cliffs of Moher, September 1-7, 2024: The seven-day journey from Dublin to County Clare, explore the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. Stay at the Wild Honey Inn, nestled in the Burren Geopark, and discover the natural wonders that define this iconic region.

Highlights:

Explore Ireland’s deep-time origins with expert guides behind West Ireland’s famous landmarks.

Delve into the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, exploring its highest point and intricate cave systems.

Uncover human stories as you sail to an Iron Age fort on the Aran Islands and recognize landscapes featured in Hollywood movies.

End each day at The Wild Honey Inn with comfortable accommodations and delicious meals using locally sourced produce.

Enjoy Irish hospitality with pub visits and music sessions.

Overview: Embark on a seven-day, six-night tour starting in Dublin and venturing to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher. Relax at the Wild Honey Inn, a Michelin-starred haven within the Burren Geopark, and explore the surrounding wonders.

Expert Tour Leaders and local guides explain the region’s unique rocky landscape, its karst ‘pavements,’ and intriguing cave systems. Visit landmarks such as Dun Aonghasa, Poulnabrone Dolmen, and the towering Cliffs of Moher. Experience early medieval forts, hidden churches, coastal villages, and market towns set to the soundtrack of traditional Irish music.

Price: $4,500 for the seven-day, six-night tour. Single supplement for solo travelers:  $745.  

https://www.geoculturaworld.com/tours/35-ireland-s-wild-atlantic-way-galway-bay-to-cliffs-of-moher

GeoCultura’s 2024 tours offer an immersive experience led by knowledgeable guides, providing a voyage of understanding, connection, and appreciation. Tours range from three to seven days and can be fully guided, partially guided, or self-guided for those seeking a more personalized experience.

GeoCultura’s small group tours range from two to nine days, blending earth science with local history and regional guides to explore the world’s most important landscapes. The tours aim to immerse participants in local culture, cuisine, and natural wonders. 

More information at www.geoculturaworld.com, phone 713 400 6326.

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Slovenia Promotes Sustainable, Responsible Tourism Experiences

The jaw-dropping Postojna Cave, the most extensive cave system in Slovenia, is a series of caverns, halls and passages some 24 km long and two million years old. Slovenia holds the distinction of being the world’s first country to be entirely declared a Green Destination of the World. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NEW YORK, NY –In Slovenia, the diversity of natural landscapes stretches across the country, from the alpine peaks towering at 2,000 meters and the Adriatic Sea coastline, to the richness of thermal waters in the Pannonian region and the sunny hillsides where vineyards thrive.

One-third of Slovenian territory belongs to a protected area, with forest cover reaching nearly 60%. The rich biodiversity includes over 22,000 species of animals and plants, along with more than 13,000 underground karst caves.

Slovenia holds the distinction of being the world’s first country to be entirely declared a Green Destination of the World. It is also the third most forested country in Europe and one of the countries with the most water in the world, boasting 27,000 kilometers of waterways, around 300 waterfalls, and numerous natural lakes and crystal-clear streams.

Mindful of the responsibility for their natural and cultural heritage, Slovenians strive to preserve their environment through sustainable projects, educational policies, as well as by promoting sustainable tourism experiences.

Slovenia’s longstanding commitment to sustainable tourism positions the country as a significant player in the United Nations’ designation of 2027 as the International Year of Sustainable and Resilient Tourism, potentially serving as a model for global destinations.

Responsible Holidays with Green providers: The Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, the seal that endorses commitment to the environment

The Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism was one of the first projects in Europe to promote sustainability in tourism and serves as a model for many other countries. The European Travel Commission (ETC) has adopted the Green Scheme as a basis for developing sustainable guidelines for European destinations.

The Slovenia Green label awarded environmentally conscious entities including tourist agencies, natural parks, accommodations, travel agencies, restaurants, and beaches. Divided into five distinct categories, the green label boasts a membership of over 300 establishments. Visitors to Slovenia can place their trust in providers bearing the SLOVENIA GREEN label, as they undergo rigorous international assessments ensuring both quality and sustainability.

Celebrating 100 years of preserving Triglav National Park

Nestled within the Julian Alps, Triglav National Park celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2024, marking a century of conservation efforts since its establishment in 1924. The centennial celebrations highlight the importance of protection for ensuring the existence of natural and cultural assets for future generations. The slogan “Protection Ensures Existence” underscores the ongoing need to balance conservation with development while preserving the park’s pristine beauty and biodiversity.

Invaluable UNESCO’s World Heritage Treasures in Slovenia

The list of the World’s Natural and Cultural Heritage comprises two natural and three cultural sites. Additionally, Slovenia boasts seven distinct features of intangible cultural heritage included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, such as beekeeping, the breeding of elegant white Lipizzan horses, and the art of dry-stone walling, to name just a few.

Slovenia’s presence extends to other UNESCO programs as well, including the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the Global Network of Geoparks, and the UNESCO List of Written Cultural Heritage, known as the Memory of the World.

Among the two UNESCO natural sites, Slovenia boasts the enigmatic Škocjan Caves, home to the largest subterranean canyon in Europe, towering at 146 meters high, and the primal beech forests of the Carpathian Mountains and other European regions, which represent the most preserved remnants of beech forests.

While Idrija preserves the world heritage associated with mercury extraction, Slovenia safeguards the protected world heritage of prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, with around 40 locations discovered in the Ljubljana Marshes. A significant discovery is a 5,200-year-old wheel, considered the oldest wooden wheel with an axle globally.

In Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, the works of architect Jože Plečnik have bestowed a distinctive visual identity upon the city. His architectural masterpieces, which grace the city’s skyline, have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Green Mindset, Healthy Tourism and Gastronomic Fresh World-Class Cuisine

Slovenia promotes a healthy lifestyle by encouraging bicycle or train travel, self-care through connection with nature, and enjoyment of local, homemade, and authentic foods. Under the motto “from farm to table,” Slovenia stands out for its diverse range of fresh products and natural ingredients offered in world-class restaurants, local markets, and agritourism farms.

As part of its varied sustainable tourism offerings and connection with nature, visitors can enjoy activities such as biking among vineyards, hiking trails, kayaking on crystal-clear lakes, and more sophisticated experiences like going on a hike with an expert Alpinist to feed salt to the native Jezersko–Solčava sheep or outdoor gastronomic experiences such as picnics in nature or snacks at rural homesteads just to mention a few. 

For more information on Green Slovenia to celebrate Earth’s Day, follow this link.

Nestled in the heart of Europe, where the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Pannonian Plain and the Karst meet, Slovenia offers several year-round exciting experiences. This captivating country is deeply committed to sustainability and stands as a pioneer in sustainability and offers a tapestry of unique and unforgettable stories, which unfold either in pristine nature or in charming towns and include unforgettable outdoor adventures, spa pampering, getaways filled with rich culture, art and tradition, and last but not least, superb gastronomy crafted from local, fresh ingredients. Especially in recent years, Slovenia has risen in popularity among gourmands and foodies, also thanks to the prestigious Michelin Guide, which has solidified Slovenia’s global culinary presence. With an impressive number of 9 Michelin-starred restaurants, including one with three stars and another with two, along with seven one-star restaurants, Slovenia stands among the 146 countries with three-star recognition. Remarkably, only 8 of these restaurants are led by female chefs, and Ana Roš from Hiša Franko is among them.

See also:

BIKETOURS.COM 8-DAY GUIDED RIDE THROUGH SLOVENIA OFFERS SURPRISES

CAVES, CASTLE AMONG ASTONISHING SIGHTS VISITED ON GUIDED BIKE TOUR OF SLOVENIA

LIPIZANER HORSES, UNESCO NATURAL MONUMENT, MEDIEVAL CITY OF PIRAN COMPLETE THE GEMS OF 8-DAY ‘EMERALD’ BIKETOUR OF SLOVENIA

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Nature Lovers Converge on Southwest Illinois’ Great Rivers and Routes Region for Eagle Season

A mature Bald Eagle dropping down to start a fishing run at L&D #14, LeClaire IA.

As cold descends upon the Midwest, Southwest Illinois, the Great Rivers & Routes region draws nature-lovers from all over the country to catch awe-inspiring eagle sightings along the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River for what is the largest concentration of bald eagles in the country.

This January, thousands (of humans) will flock to the Great River Road to get a glimpse of the winged beasts. Adult eagles have a 7-8′ wingspan and love fishing in the Mississippi, providing hours of free entertainment.

Eagle Season

View a majestic American Bald Eagle up close at the Alton Eagle Ice Festival on January 6. Head to FLOCK Food Truck Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a free Eagle Meet & Greet and a chance to get your picture taken with America’s national animal!

The Eagle Ice Festival will also include: eagle-watching shuttle tours (departing from the Alton Visitor’s Center); food trucks; drinks available from the FLOCK bar; DJ tunes; live ice carvers from Ice Visions; Eagle Fest Beer from Old Bakery Beer Company; fire pits with s’mores kits for sale; and face painting for kids.

The National Great Rivers Museum will also be offering a number of free family-friendly activities on January 6. Stop by the theater for talks by eagle experts and to watch eagle film showings. Look through spotting scopes for a chance to view an eagle nest. Make and take your own eagle craft — an eagle head wrap!

Those seeking to see more beautiful birds of prey can stop by the Audubon Center at Riverlands across the Mississippi from Alton to view birds like eagles and owls on live display from the TreeHouse Wildlife Center. Enjoy guided bird hikes, eagle crafts and firepits with s’mores kits available on January 6.

The Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower will be open all day on January 6 for tours to see American Bald Eagles from 50, 100 and 150 feet high. There will also be a Birds of Winter educational session featuring local raptors from TreeHouse Wildlife Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is required for Tower tours but the Birds of Winter exhibit is free.

Check out these other activities:

The Great Rivers and Routes region is the only place where the Mother Road of Route 66 meets the Great River Road. The region celebrates three of the nation’s great rivers (the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois) alongside famous roads, history and small town charm.

Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau,  certified by the Illinois Office of Tourism, is a destination marketing organization which represents Madison, Macoupin, Montgomery, Jersey, Calhoun and Greene counties, and the City of East St. Louis in St. Clair County in southwest Illinois. Founded in 1985 as the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, the bureau transitioned to Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau in 2018 as the size and scope of the organization grew.

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12 Stellar Fall Adventures

Avoid the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage and reach Antarctica faster by booking an early season fly-and-cruise expedition through Adventure Life.

With cooler temperatures, colorful leaves, fewer crowds and, this year, a “ring of fire” eclipse, fall is a great time to travel. From desert hiking and biking to mountain, rainforest and island adventures and early Antarctica expeditions, here are 12 stellar trips this season.

  1. Utah Eclipse Trek: Backpack the Boulder Mail Trail through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah with Wildland Trekking for an adventure among slickrock formations, ponderosa pine-covered plateaus and canyons with spring-fed creeks. A five-day departure in October will offer the opportunity to take in “ring of fire” views as an annular eclipse passes overhead. https://wildlandtrekking.com/trips/boulder-mail-trail/
  2. Early Season Antarctica: Avoid the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage and reach Antarctica faster by booking an early season fly-and-cruise expedition through Adventure Life. Begin the eight-day trip in Punta Arenas, Chile, then fly two hours to King George Island, board the Magellan Explorer and cruise among the icebergs, penguins, seals, and whales of the white continent. https://www.adventure-life.com/antarctica/cruises/13000/classic-antarctica-air-cruise
  3. Autumn in Austria’s Alps: With a long fall season thanks to its lower elevation, Best of the Alps destination Kitzbühel, Austria, is the perfect getaway for a hiking, biking and culinary getaway as the leaves change color. Hike among grassy slopes, mountain summits, lakes and waterfalls, ride the roads, flowing singletrack and easy e-bike tours, and savor the flavors of a traditional farmers’ market, award-winning restaurants and food festivals. https://www.bestofthealps.com/en/d/kitzbuhel/
  4. Death Valley Eclipse Bikepacking: Ride the heart of the Mojave Desert, from Death Valley National Park to Red Rock Canyon, during the Oct. 14th annular eclipse with Escape Adventures. On this five-day bikepacking tour, navigate the wide valley floor, sunbaked foothills and stacks of boulders, stopping to visit historic sites accessed by 1930s-era Civilian Conservation Corps roads. https://escapeadventures.com/tour/death-valley-and-red-rock-mountain-bike-tour/
  5. Amazon Autumn Adventure: Experience the astounding biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest during a stay at Ecuador’s Sacha Lodge. The 5,000-acre private ecological reserve surrounding the lodge is home to more than 600 bird species and other wildlife, providing guests an up-close opportunity to learn about the rainforest from naturalists and native Quechua guides. https://www.sachalodge.com/
  6. Piedmont Culinary + Hiking: The wine region of Piedmont could very well be the ultimate destination for casual hikers who are also food and wine lovers. Accommodations during your journey include a UNESCO site, a wine estate, and a boutique hotel in the countryside. In early October, it might still be harvest time for the nebbiolo grapes and the colors make the hills and vineyards look like they are painted! https://www.tourissimo.travel/piedmont-barolo-hiking
  7. Yellowstone Horseback Fly Fishing: Travel by horseback into Yellowstone National Park’s interior and cast for trout on seldom-fished streams guided by the experts at Flying Pig Adventures. Whether it’s for a few hours or a full day, a family or a group of friends, Flying Pig will handle all the details for a truly unique Yellowstone fishing excursion. https://www.flyingpigrafting.com/flyfishing-montana
  8. Cycle Across Japan: Ride & Seek Bicycle Adventures’ 22-day Samurai Tour travels through three distinct parts of Japan and immerses cyclists in the country’s spectacular landscape, culture and history. Explore the enchanting Noto Peninsula and the Japanese Alps, follow the road less traveled across the smallest of Japan’s main islands and ride around Mount Fuji to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. https://rideandseek.com/tour/samurai-shikoku-island-japan/
  9. National Parks by RV: National parks saw huge crowds over the summer, but fall is a great time to visit for less traffic and pleasant temperatures. Blacksford rents fully stocked Mercedes-Benz Sprinter overland adventure vehicles from Winnebago with all-inclusive pricing that provides unlimited miles, bedding, kitchen and bath supplies, Wi-Fi, a free annual pass to the national parks and 24-hour roadside assistance. https://www.blacksford.com/
  10. Jackson Hole Glamping: Wyoming’s Fireside Resort offers 25 luxuriously outfitted tiny house rental units designed by Wheelhaus just a short distance from Grand Teton National Park and the Jackson Hole ski slopes, making it the perfect place to stay for a fall getaway or winter ski trip. https://www.firesidejacksonhole.com/
  11. Fall Galapagos Adventure: Fall is one of the best times of year to visit Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, particularly when it comes to wildlife and weather. The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel has joined forces with Scalesia Galapagos Lodge to offer a new weeklong program that includes day trips aboard the yacht Sea Lion, glamping in luxury tents on Isabela Island and visits to remote locations that highlight the incredible diversity of the archipelago. https://www.scalesialodge.com/
  12. Fall in Big Sky: A visit to Big Sky, Montana, and stay at The Wilson Hotel offers the opportunity for fall adventures in Yellowstone country. With elk bugling and pockets of aspen trees turning golden amid the green forest, hike and mountain bike the trails surrounding town, fish the Gallatin River or take one last tour of Yellowstone National Park’s natural wonders before roads close for the season. https://thewilsonhotel.com/

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Exhibit of World Renowned Nature/Conservation Photographers Mittermeier & Nicklen on View at Greenwich CT Gallery

The works of Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen, two of the most world’s foremost nature photographers and conservation champions are featured in an exhibition and event series at the C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The works of Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen, two of the most world’s foremost nature photographers and conservation champions are featured in an exhibition and event series at the C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut. Opening events are taking place the weekend of May 5.

The exhibition, Double Exposure: Two Photographers, One Mission featuring more than 30 large-scale photographs, is on view May 1 through June 26.

Presented in partnership with the Town of Greenwich Conservation Commission, the Greenwich Shellfish Commission, and the Greenwich Point Conservancy, this new exhibition features several works which have never been exhibited to the public at this size and scope and is curated by C. Parker Gallery’s proprietor, Tiffany Benincasa.  The Gallery is located at 409 Greenwich Ave.

“The C. Parker Gallery is thrilled to present the work of two of the most internationally acclaimed conservation photographers,” says Tiffany Benincasa, the Gallery’s curator and owner.

“Their photographs are included in some of the world’s most important private collections, and have been featured as iconic images by major national media including National Geographic and TIME Magazine. This is an incredible opportunity to witness the beauty of nature in an intimate and personal way, to share their important message, and join their mission advocating for greater conservation and environmental awareness.”

“These artists/conservation champions have created some of the most iconic wildlife images of our modern-day culture. They are internationally acclaimed for harnessing the majestic beauty of their images to inspire change on our planet, via their 12 million followers worldwide. Greenwich is thrilled to host their new exhibition and Opening Reception events at C. Parker Galleryon the weekend of May 5,” said Fred Camillo, the Town of Greenwich’s First Selectman. 

The Gallery is conveniently located near Manhattan, a 40-minute train ride from New York City (the train station in Greenwich is just steps away from the C. Parker Gallery

More details about the Opening Reception events featuring Mittermeier and Nicklen, will be updated at cparkergallery.com

Space is limited, RSVP required to [email protected]). Learn more about the artists: sealegacy.orghttps://paulnicklen.com and https://www.cristinamittermeier.com.

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Immersive Experiences Permeate Journeysmiths 2023 Where to Go List

The Galapagos is pegged as one of Journeymasters destinations for 2023 where travelers can be thrilled by immersive experiences © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – Founded on a deep seeded belief that travel should inspire personal growth, expand horizons, and support conservation as well as the local communities, Journeysmiths’s 2023 ‘Where to Go list” is permeated with immersive experiences. Each guest itinerary is designed completely from scratch and always includes an opportunity to create a positive impact on the destinations they explore.

“From newly re-opened countries to the ideal first time family safari, we believe there is something for every activity level, in all corners of the globe on our list,” said Managing Director Laura Burdett-Munns of her team’s top picks for 2023.

BHUTAN – With its borders open once again, the happiest country on earth is ready to welcome visitors during Journeysmiths 13-day Bhutan itinerary. This “best of” immersive highlights tour of the Land of the Thunder Dragon explores Thimphu, Gangtey, Punakha and Paro. Accompanied by a private English-speaking guide as well as driver for the duration of a journey, guests will hike to the magnificent Tigers Nest, explore Dzong and join monks for morning prayers at the Monastery. They can immerse themselves in the peace and beauty of the land with mountain bike tours, private hikes, and of course explore the Kingdoms famous monuments and fascinating cities. Prices start at $20,350 per person based on a group of four adults. 

COSTA RICA – From the pristine Caribbean beaches to the Pacific Ocean to the tropical rainforests, there are activities to delight the entire group during Journeysmiths 8-day Costa Rica holiday. This immersive, privately guided very active tour includes chartered internal flights, luxurious accommodations and all the land and sea activities one can dream up. From Scuba diving to horseback riding, kayaking, canyoning, exploring volcanoes, waterfall hiking, as well as tours of the bioluminescence bay and ziplining through the rainforest, guests will be one with Costa Rica’s abundant wildlife. Prices start at $37,500 per person based on a group of four adults. 

GALAPAGOS & QUITO – Explore this wildlife-haven during Journeysmiths 10-day city to sea safari which includes two nights exploring the beautiful city of Quito, Peru with a private guide. The best-preserved, historic city in Latin America, Quito has the largest old town in South America. From Quito, guests board the newly launched superyacht, Aqua Mare – the first superyacht to sail the Galapagos Archipelago – for seven nights. With only seven spacious and elegantly designed sea-facing suites, two expert naturalist guides and an exclusive one-to-one crew to guest ratio, a thoroughly personalized journey is ensured for all. Prices start from $11,400 per person based on two guests, double occupancy.

KENYA – Long celebrated for its incredibly diverse safari offerings, Kenya is the perfect experience for couples and friends but also families. During Journeysmiths 9-day Kenya itinerary, clients will spend the first part of this journey on the Masai Mara to immediately get their fix of Big Five game viewing. From there, guests hop a privately charted flight north to explore the Laikipia region. When traveling with school age children, they generally need more than just game drives to entertain them. So Journeysmiths includes stays at properties such as Loisaba Tented Camp and Ol Malo who encourage the whole family to explore together. Here guests can enjoy activities such as walking with camels, horseback riding, bush walks, kayaking and even Maasai warrior training. Prices start from $32,000 per person based on a family of four.

SOUTH AFRICA – From luxurious Big Five safari experiences to vibrant cities filled with culture, breathtaking coastlines to impressive mountain ranges and award-winning vineyards, it is easy to understand why South Africa is a perennial favorite. During Journeysmiths 10-day tour of South Africa, guests will explore forested reserves in search of lions and leopards, enjoy privately guided tours of Cape Town and the surrounding waterfront areas, take a marine safari from Hermanus and of course, sip and savor world class wines and dine at award-winning restaurants during a stay in the Cape Winelands. Prices start from $27,500 per person based on double occupancy.

ABOUT JOURNEYSMITHS In 1990, in Northampton, England, John Burdett and Warwick Hoffman – the original Journeysmiths – set out to provide completely customized African holidays for clients whose passion for immersive adventure was rivaled only by their own. Today, the next generation of Journeysmiths, helmed by John’s daughter Laura Burdett-Munns, has expanded its offerings to include 25 countries across five continents, holding steadfast to their founder’s deep-seated belief that travel should inspire personal growth and expand horizons while supporting conservation initiatives and local communities. A specialized team of seasoned Journeysmiths’ handcraft holidays that are as exceptional as they are personal, providing travelers exquisite, cultural and wildlife expeditions while mindfully engendering a positive impact on the destinations they explore. In addition to local philanthropic efforts within Northampton, Journeysmiths proudly supports, TUSK and Ripple Effect, (formally known as ‘Send a Cow’) and are members of African Travel & Tourism Association (ATTA) and the luxury travel designer network, Serandipians. For more information, please visit www.Journeysmiths.com or call 1-866-871-3829. 

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EF Go Ahead Tours Designed to Travel with More Meaning: Itineraries Promote Animal Welfare, Local Communities and the Planet

EF Go Ahead Tours’ trip to India: Delhi, Agra & Jaipur hits the “Golden Triangle” and include must-sees like the Taj Mahal © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

EF Go Ahead Tours believes travel is a powerful way to foster understanding and respect for the people, cultures, and places of the world. From protecting and promoting animal welfare to more sustainable tourism practices and support for local communities, EF Responsible Tourism Initiatives work toward a more sustainable world and fulfill its mission of opening the world through education.

  1. South Africa: Cultural Cities & Wildlife Safaris (NEWLY OPENED): A 17-day tour of spectacular scenery, cities, and amazing wildlife sightings are a given. This tour integrates education via living history walking tours of apartheid to world animal protection initiatives within some of the world’s most endangered populations. There’s learning in pleasure too! After a long day of touring, let the unique ecology of the region and its botanicals, tease your palate with a Gin workshop and tasting. Who knew flora played such a critical role in creating fine gin! 
  2. Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & WildlifeA 9-day tour of this majestic land that is leading the world on sustainable travel practices with meaningful education highlights that encompass all aspects of land and sea. Visit and eat on a carbon neutral ranch, work with endangered toucans and owls and see first hand how sea turtles bear the brunt of environmental challenges. 
  3. Thailand Adventure: Bangkok, Chiang Mai & the Islands and Thailand: The Golden Kingdom: Two ways to see Thailand through the eyes of its most beloved treasures — elephants and ancient farming practices. A pioneer in World Animal Protection, the Changchill Elephant Sanctuary allows visitors to prepare medicine and food for the elephants and chat with the mahouts, or elephant caretakers, and enjoy an included vegetarian meal overlooking the elephants’ natural bathing spot. These itineraries also include a visit to the Thai Organic Farm & The Sampram Model Movementwhich originally started an organic farm to grow produce for hotel and restaurant guests. They saw the impact that organic produce had on their family and guest’s overall wellness and wanted to extend those benefits to the entire community. In 2010, they gathered local organic farmers and created The Sampran Model Movement, which connects farmers with the same values and encourages them to grow organically, which then provides consumers with more organic produce at a fair market price.  
  4. Greece, the Balkans & CroatiaFrom Athens to Dubrovnik, spend 17 days exploring mountains to sea and the rich history of Greek and Adriatic nations. Visit Lake Ohrid, Europe’s oldest and most biodiverse lake for an expert-led talk on conservation efforts there to preserve the local biodiversity, threatened by unregulated development and poor waste facilities in the region, and preservation of archaeological sites like the Bay of Bones. Tease your palate with farm-to-table experiences in North Macedonia, Albania and Croatia; then compare notes later. From vegetables, to honey, to wine to oyster farms, learn how this part of the world is pioneering sustainable food practices through tourism. 
  5. India: Delhi, Agra & JaipurNot only does this trip hit the “Golden Triangle” and include must-sees like the Taj Mahal, living history via the Gandhi Museum, and Qutub Minar, an early Islamic tower; but you will start one morning off with the time-honored ritual of yoga. Finally, one whole day is spent with the Dhonk Craft workshop, to learn about socially responsible enterprise and anti-poaching initiatives aimed to protect tigers. 
  6. A Week in Belize: Ruins, Reefs & Rainforests: 9 days in Belize is like a mini trip around the world and equally beckons beachgoers, history buffs and nature lovers! Home to the world’s healthiest barrier reefs, archaeological sites once at the center of Mayan civilization and a lush rainforest. Go Ahead Tours’ travelers snorkel side-by-side with a marine biologist who will explain the Mesoamerican — the Western Hemisphere’s longest reef — ecosystem. Swim among beautiful animals and learn how to protect them better in Belize and at home. 
  7. Ireland: A Feast of Culinary Flavors & Local Traditions: Start in Dublin, go clockwise through lush Irish scenery and culture ending in Galway. A country steeped in tradition, the Irish food scene has evolved significantly from Granny’s pot roast and potatoes. Whisky distilleries, pints of good beer are requisite, of course. Timeless, yet current? Work on a farm to learn how one modern family is implementing ancient farming techniques so that all animals, plants and water on the farm work together for a truly sustainable practice. 
  8. Israel: Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea & JerusalemHoly Land for three world religions and home of the infamous Dead Sea are what you’d expect in a tour to Israel. EF Go Ahead’s tour digs deep into the exploding food scene in Israel with memorable meals. Also, eat lunch with a Kibbutz and then spend a day with an Olive Oil farm, Sindyanna of Galilee, a female-led non-profit, which is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization. A large part of their mission is to connect Arab farmers with the Israeli market, specifically by introducing modernization techniques like climate resistance crops and forming cooperative relationships between Jewish and Arab producers. 
  9. Grand Tour of Peru: Machu Picchu to Lake Titicaca: From city to sacred mountains to indiginous floating islands on a lake, this tour marries ancient footsteps with modern wonders. Sink into Spain’s colonial influences in Lima, then travel back to ancient Inca learnings in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. New for 2021, travelers will meet members of the Inka Roots Experiential Tourism Association for a walk to Raqchi Village. Inka Roots is a tourism cooperative intended for a balance between environmental care, income generation for locals, and fostering respect for local traditions. 
  10. Tanzania Wildlife Safari: Sure, you’d expect to see the “Big 5” on Safari in Tanzania. And you will: 12 days exploring the Tarangire, the legendary Serengeti and the “Garden of Eden ” at Ngorongoro Crater. However, this tour goes beyond the obvious! After visiting the Nunqwi village, you will visit the Mnari Aquarium, which is a sea turtle conservatory run by a community group. 
  11. In addition, a brand new tour from EF called Ghana: A Cultural Adventure is designed to promote animal welfare, support and give back to local communities, and sustain the planet.This brand-new tour is rich with cultural immersion, education, history and sustainability. Highlights include learning about how Ghana started the wave of independence across Africa, visiting Trashy Bags, a factory that pays locals to collect and wash single-use plastics to be turned into resalable products, and a visit to Global Mamas, a wholesale seller of fair-trade products produced across Ghana helping Ghanaian women gain economic independence by connecting them to global markets.
  12. www.goaheadtours.com,800-590-1161 

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US Tour Operators Mark World Wildlife Day

US Tour Operators Association marked World Wildlife Day on March 3, 2022 by spotlighting programs from its tour operator members that focus on wildlife education and appreciation. Here, Gullfoss Waterfall, visited on Great Value Vacations’ Iceland Escape: Golden Circle and Whale Watching tour © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NEW YORK – The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) marked World Wildlife Day on March 3, 2022 by spotlighting programs from its tour operator members that focus on wildlife education and appreciation. From observing endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda to trekking through the rainforest of Bako National Park in Malaysia, each tour program offers up-close-and-personal experiences with abundant opportunities for natural and cultural immersion in each destination. 

“As USTOA turns 50 this year, our tour operator members are looking ’50 years forward’ to provide sustainable and responsible travel experiences,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO. “World Wildlife Day is an ideal way to raise awareness of the fragile flora and fauna that populates our planet, and that our members take great care to preserve and protect.”

Here’s just a sample of programs to inspire travelers in 2022:

Tauck offers a thirteen-day Kenya & Tanzania: A Classic Safari 2022 tour to those yearning for outdoor adventure. This itinerary takes a group of no more than 30 Tauck travelers to visit Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, and the Willian Holden Wildlife Education Center to observe the flora and fauna of Kenya and Tanzania.  Travelers will end their trip activities by floating in a hot air balloon over Masai Mara. Departures are available between May and December 2022 with prices starting at $10,890 for two people. www.tauck.com

Travelers will enjoy excursions to Thingvellir National Park, the mesmerizing Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Geysir geothermal area on a four-to-six-day Iceland Escape: Golden Circle and Whale Watching tour with Great Value Vacations. This itinerary includes traveling to Reykjavik, the northernmost capital of the world, to go whale watching, observe sea birds and other sea life, climb the famous Hallgrímskirkja Church, and more. Departures are available between April 2022 and December 2022 with prices starting at $1,153 per person. www.greatvaluevacations.com   

Travelers will have the opportunity to explore one of the last truly wild places on the planet on a ten-day Wild Sarawak tour with Intrepid Travel. The itinerary includes exploring Southeast Asia’s labyrinthian caves in Mulu National Park, searching for monkeys through the rainforest and jungle stream of Bako National Park, trekking through the jungle of Labuan Island and more. Departures are available between April and December 2022 with prices starting at $1,620 per person. www.intrepidtravel.com   

Abercrombie & Kent offers a five-day Tailor Made Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest itinerary jam-packed with mountain hikes through Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, trekking through the park’s dense vegetation to observe the endangered mountain gorilla, and more. Departures are available between March and October 2022 with prices starting at $3,995 per person. www.abercrombiekent.com  

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

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 50 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents. 

For more information, visit www.ustoa.com.   

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Biden Restores Protections for Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments

President Biden is restoring Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to the borders that were in place on January 20, 2017 © Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s effort to better protect, conserve, and restore the lands and waters that sustain the health of communities and power our economy, President Biden is signing three proclamations restoring protections for Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments. By restoring these national monuments, which were significantly cut back during the previous administration, President Biden is fulfilling a key promise and upholding the longstanding principle that America’s national parks, monuments, and other protected areas are to be protected for all time and for all people.

The President’s protection of these three national monuments is among a series of steps the Administration has taken to restore protections to some of America’s most cherished lands and waters, many of which are sacred to Tribal Nations. The Administration has halted leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, committed to restore protections for the Tongass National Forest under the Roadless Rule, and initiated the process to protect Bristol Bay and the world-class salmon fishery it supports. The Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, the Everglades, the Columbia River Basin, and dozens of other special places are also back on America’s conservation agenda.

The Biden-Harris Administration’s land, water, ocean, and wildlife conservation efforts are critical to solving the climate crisis, protecting public health, promoting wildlife and biodiversity, and rebuilding America’s economy. As part of his Build Back Better Agenda, the President has proposed the creation of a new Civilian Climate Corps, which would partner with unions in putting to work a new generation that looks like America – with good benefits and pay – on the path to family-supporting careers in fields restoring the health of our public lands, coasts, waters, and forests, advancing environmental justice, and helping communities better prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. The President has also set the first-ever national conservation goal, which the Administration is pursuing by supporting locally-led and voluntary conservation efforts across the country and creating more equitable access to the outdoors, including by investing in urban parks.

President Biden’s action to restore Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monuments is consistent with recommendations from Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who – with the support of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Justice, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality – reviewed the actions of the previous administration that drastically reduced protections for these places. As part of this review, Biden-Harris Administration leaders met with Members of Congress, state and local government officials, representatives of Tribal Nations, and a wide range of stakeholders. Secretary Haaland also visited Utah to directly meet with local residents and tour the area. After gathering information and input, the Department of the Interior provided the President a report with recommendations on future protection for the areas.

“These protections provide a bridge to our past, but they also build a bridge to a safer, more sustainable future — one where we strengthen our economy and pass on a healthy planet to our children and our grandchildren,” President Biden said at the signing ceremony.

The specific actions that President Biden is taking are:

  • Restoring the Bears Ears National Monument to the boundaries established by President Obama on December 28, 2016 and retaining protections for an additional 11,200 acres added by President Trump in 2017. Restoring these protections will conserve a multitude of sites that are culturally and spiritually important to Tribal Nations— including petroglyphs, pictographs, cultural sites, dwellings, and areas used for traditional rituals, gatherings, and tribal practices — as well as paleontological objects, landscape features, historic objects, and plant and animal species. Restoring the Monument’s boundaries and conditions restores its integrity, upholds efforts to honor the federal trust responsibility to Tribal Nations, and conserves these lands and waters for future generations. With this action, the total protected area of Bears Ears National Monument is 1.36 million acres.

    In restoring the Bears Ears National Monument, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that there is adequate staffing and resources to appropriately protect the area’s natural and cultural resources, to manage the increased visitation that the area continues to experience, and to make Bears Ears a model for Tribal participation in the management of the Monument. The Bureau of Land Management plans to assign additional rangers to the region; install appropriate signage and infrastructure to inform and support visitors; begin working with local communities, the State of Utah, and Tribal leaders on assessing the potential opportunity for a Bears Ears visitors center that highlights the monument’s cultural resources; and support the Bears Ears Intertribal Commission’s participation in management of the National Monument.
  • Restoring Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to the boundaries that were in place on January 20, 2017. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was first protected in 1996, and as described in Proclamation 6920, the landscape holds world-class geological objects of historic or scientific interest, including the Grand Staircase, White and Vermilion Cliffs, Kaiparowits Plateau, Escalante Natural Bridge, Grosvenor Arch, and numerous other enumerated geologic objects. The Monument also contains vast paleontological objects including significant fossils of marine and brackish water mollusks, turtles, crocodilians, lizards, dinosaurs, fishes, and mammals, as well as a host of cultural objects associated with both ancient indigenous cultures and early Latter-Day Saint pioneers, including, but not limited to, petroglyphs and pictographs, occupation sites, campsites, granaries, and trails. The Monument also contains hanging gardens, tinajas, and rock crevice, canyon bottom, and dunal pocket communities, protecting the region’s unusual and diverse soils, endemic plants and pollinators, relic vegetation, and diverse wildlife. Restoring the Monument’s conditions and boundaries will restore its integrity, support the continued scientific exploration as outlined in Proclamation 6920, protect our shared lands and waters for future generations, and continue this administration’s historic efforts to honor the Federal trust responsibility. The total protected area of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is restored to 1.87 million acres.  

Restoring protections to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, as established by President Obama on September 15, 2016. The Monument is composed of two units, the Canyons Unit and the Seamounts Unit, each of which showcases unique geological features that anchor vulnerable ecological communities threatened by varied uses, climate change, and related impacts.  Under the restored protections, commercial fishing in the National Monument will be prohibited, with fishing for red crab and American lobster to be phased out by September 15, 2023. Consistent with President Obama’s Proclamation 9496, recreational fishing in the National Monument may continue.

The Monument includes Oceanographer, Gilbert, and Lydonia canyons; and Bear, Mytilus, Physalia, and Retriever seamounts. Restoring the Monument’s conditions will restore its integrity, expand the opportunity for unique scientific study and exploration, and protect and preserve natural and cultural resources for all Americans. With this action, the management conditions directed in Proclamation 9496 for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, which is composed of 4,913 square horizontal miles, vertically encompassing the water column above, will resume.