Category Archives: Wildlife travel

AdventureSmith Explorations’ New Ships, Itineraries Expand Opportunities to See Big Arctic 8

National Geographic Explorere at Monoco Glacier, Leifdefjord, Northwest Spitsbergen National Park, Svalbard Archipelago, Norway

TRUCKEE, CA – Small cruise ships purpose-built to ply the planet’s polar regions also transport guests on floating Arctic wildlife safaris.

AdventureSmith Explorations, the small ship cruising experts, invite guests on an increasing number of Arctic cruise options that observe, among other things, a variety of indigenous wildlife. Some, if not all, of the Big Arctic Eight, marine- and land-based creatures are often spotted on these expedition cruises.

“Just to know that these creatures are out there is part of the excitement of venturing north,” says Todd Smith, AdventureSmith’s Founder and President. “These are creatures straight out of children’s fairytales. What’s also amazing is to learn how they’re so physically adapted to their frozen world.”

He notes that demand is up to explore the Arctic among clients who have already cruised Antarctica, as well as travelers new to the polar regions. “The core of what AdventureSmith strives for is delivering the most incredible explorations of the natural world to our clients who are a special group of likeminded explorers. Alongside our observation of more cruise itineraries opening up in the Arctic, we’ve seen more purpose-built expedition ships being built with a focus to educate travelers on how to be ambassadors for the Arctic’s wild places and animals. The trips we offer are designed to be small (under 200 guests) and focused on sustainable exploration.”

The company has created a blog post with tips on spotting some of Earth’s most interesting animals. Here is what AdventureSmith Explorations has named the Big Arctic Eight:

  • Polar Bear, the largest living land carnivore, can measure up to eight feet long and weigh 1,500 pounds. Some 26,000 Polar bears are estimated to be roaming the Arctic and regions of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Russia and Norway.
  • Walrus live in the Arctic areas of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. These creatures are often viewed lounging in large herds on shorelines or icebergs. Their powerful tusks that sometimes reach three feet are tools to lift their heavy bodies onto the ice.
  • Reindeer (caribou) live on the tundra and in boreal forests and are known to migrate up to 3,000 miles a year. Males grow antlers for sexual attraction and mating standoffs. Females grow antlers to defend their food from other females. Come spring, herds number in the thousands.
  • Arctic Foxes possess incredible hearing that allows them to locate prey under the snow. Their thick, long fur that sustains them at -58 degrees Fahrenheit is an example of camouflage – in winter white or blue-gray, in summer brown-gray.
  • Narwhals are some of Earth’s most unusual creatures. The narwhal tusk is actually a spiral tooth that can grow as long as 10 feet. This is a specialized sensory organ that spots changes in the environment, aiding in locating food and mates.
  • Puffins, the cute white-and-black birds with orange beaks, can fly up to 55 mph. In spring and summer, they return to a land colony that numbers in the thousands to mate (usually with the same partner each year).
  • Beluga Whales, stark white creatures with a unique neck, can turn their heads almost completely sideways to create a right angle. This allows for special maneuverability for swimming backwards and for harvesting food. Their sonar skills echolocate their prey while working together to force fish into favorable situations. Highly vocal, they make a variety of sounds for communication in their social pods which can number up to 100 individuals.
  • Musk Ox are one of the few hooved animals, along with reindeer, that survived the Ice Age. Their long, shaggy hair can grow to two feet long and an undercoat provides insulation that is eight times warmer than sheep’s wool. In winter herds numbering up to 24 forage for roots, moss and lichen, which they harvest with their hooves.

New state-of-the-art polar exploration vessels for fewer than 200 guests now can offer itineraries as compact as seven days. Debuting in the Arctic spring of 2019 is the 174-guest Hondius and in spring 2020 the 176-guest World Explorer and the 126-guest National Geographic Endurance. They cruise in the north for the boreal summer and position south in the autumn for the Antarctic sailing season.

AdventureSmith Explorations offers several itineraries exploring the “classic” destinations of Svalbard, Iceland and Greenland. For 2019, cabin availability can still be found on:

  • Realm of the Polar Bear
  • Around Spitsbergen
  • Intro to Spitsbergen
  • Three Arctic Islands
  • A Circumnavigation of Iceland
  • Classic Polar Bear Adventure

The company also offers trips to lesser-known areas such as the Russian High Arctic: Franz Josef Land, which yield excellent opportunities to view polar bears, marine mammals and seabird rookeries.

For details on all AdventureSmith’s small ship cruises worldwide, day-to-day itineraries, availability and reservations, phone: 866-575-2875 toll-free or visit their company website.

AdventureSmith Explorations, founded in 2003, is a recognized leader in small ship cruising (“Think Outside the Boat!”). In 2012 owner Todd Smith joined the ranks of Condé Nast Traveler‘s prestigious world’s Top Travel Specialists list as the leading expert on small ship expeditions.

 

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Ultimate Holiday Gift: Rainforest Trust Hosts Public Auction for Naming Rights to 12 New Species Found in South America

In time for the holiday season, Rainforest Trust is hosting the largest ever public auction of species naming rights. Holiday shoppers will be able to buy the gift of naming one of 12 new species recently discovered in nature reserves the Trust and its partners established in South America. These new-to-science species include a blue-eyed yellow frog, speckled red and green frogs, orchids, a trap jaw ant, a forest mouse, a worm-like caecilian, and a big-eyed red salamander.  All proceeds directly protect the habitat of the specific plant or critter, helping save them from extinction.

The auction takes place primarily online and by phone.  Pre-bidding starts November 8 online, and goes until December 8, 2018. The live auction takes place in Washington, DC during a private event on December 8 at 8pm ET as well as online and by phone for pre-registered bidders.  The Freeman’s Auction House will be conducting the auction with support from Invaluable, an auction aggregator.  Both are donating their services. Interested shoppers should visit https://auctions.freemansauction.com/auction-catalog/1618B to learn more and to pre-register for the auction. The minimum bid is $10,000.

Naming a species is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for people, companies, and nonprofits:

  • Interested in conservation and abating climate change
  • In search of a truly unique gift with direct impact
  • Wanting to leave a legacy

Over half of the world’s rainforests have been destroyed, and almost 70,000 acres more are lost every day. Rainforests are among the most important natural resources. They mitigate climate change, are a source of scientific discovery, and support unique plants and animals that are essential to biodiversity and therefore a healthy planet.

Celebrating 30 years of conservation success, Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit that purchases and protects the most threatened tropical forests, saving endangered wildlife through partnerships and community engagement. With the help of funders and partners, the Rainforest Trust has helped protect 28 million acres of rainforest since 1988. Auctioning the naming rights to the 12 newly discovered species will support the Trust’s work while protecting these fragile species and the nature reserves in which they live.

 

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Wildland Adventures Introduces New Tours to Colombia

Wildland Adventures is introducing three new active tour itineraries in Columbia that weave culture and wildlife with hiking, rafting and birdwatching.

SEATTLE, WA– Colombia is the newest emerging travel hot spot and Wildland Adventures, an award-winning travel company known for meticulous tour development, is introducing three new active tour itineraries in Columbia that weave culture and wildlife with hiking, rafting and birdwatching.

“Now that peace and security have been restored, Colombia is “one of the world’s extraordinary new travel hot spots because of its stunning biodiversity and cultural heritage,” said Kurt Kutay, Wildland Adventures founder and president.

Americans are often surprised by the sophistication they find upon shaking hands with such South American gems as Bogota, Colombia’s capital. These itineraries introduce the 500-year-old patinas of vibrant cities, still cobblestoned, former colonial hubs that welcomed explorers, pirates and conquistadors searching for El Dorado.

“Our Wildland Adventures in Colombia utilize a comprehensive network of new airline connections and a good primary road system, with 4×4 access on secondary roads into more remote regions and trailheads. The last decade has seen new-found economic growth and political stability, and vastly improved security presenting itself as the new gateway to South America. As tourism develops, restored colonial boutique hotels and ecolodges are popping up across the country. There’s also an exciting gastronomic scene evolving,” added Kutay.

Rafting, snorkeling and diving into freshwater rivers and salty seas hint at a gold standard of adventure. Along with prehistoric and extant jungle creatures come nearly 20 percent of the world’s bird species. Colombia Wildlands and Wildlife is a 14-day program that starts and ends in Bogota. The per person double rate is from $5,840.

In Bogota guests visit vibrant neighborhoods and plazas, including the impressive Gold Museum and the Botero Museum. Fernando Botero’s transcendent depictions of his people recall themes familiar in the work of Mexico’s Diego Rivera. Then the economy and culture of coffee come to life in the cool uplands of the central Andes, along with sub-tropical cloud forest rife with bird and wildlife. One of the world’s most difficult genus of birds to catch sight of, antpittas, and the masked saltator and ocellated tapaculo are protected in their natural habitat in the Rio Blanco Nature Reserve.

The Amazon Basin eco system introduces a conservation project and eco-lodge helping support indigenous peoples on their own lands. The tour visits a foundation that protects and studies primates on site. Another ecosystem of montaine forest rises to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains, a coastal range home to around 600 bird species. Once off-limits for security reasons, the San Lorenzo Ridge is the crown jewel of the avian habitat, allowing birders to see over 20 of the Sierra’s 24 endemic species representing the highest level of endemism in the world. Here are the Santa Marta parakeet and rufous antpittas that can be spotted walking along the road just before sunrise.

Highlights of Colombia is an 11-day itinerary from $3,150 per person double. Guests meet in Bogota before transferring to Villa de Leyva, a 16th century colonial town surrounded by a dry Andean Acacia forest. Guests hike in a nearby cloud forest and bike in the adventure capital of Colombia, the province of Santander, where the UNESCO World Heritage town of Barichara dating to the Spanish conquest remains “the prettiest town in Colombia.” One six-mile hike on the cobblestoned Caminos Reales (Royal Road) leads to a meet up with a restoration specialist who demonstrates how to construct mud adobe brick walls in their original style. Caminos Reales also connects to Chicamocha, the Grand Canyon of South America. A stay at a coffee plantation concludes the interior tour before moving to the Caribbean coast to explore Tayrona National Park, a bio-diverse, palm-fringed paradise skirting white sand beaches. Here are the ruins of El Pueblito, a vast system of stone terraces, aquaducts and round platform foundations of an ancient civilization.

Leaving nature behind, Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage city, teases appetites for colonial and Caribbean flavors in this former (1533) Spanish port. A visit includes a foodie walk stopping at favorite cafes and food stands frequented by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the fabled author of, among others, Love in the Time of Cholera. Kutay thinks that Cartagena is the most seductive city of the Caribbean.

Unexplored Colombia: Coffee, Culture, and Coast over 12 days combines the Coffee Triangle with whale watching (extension) on the Pacific. The per person double rate is from $3,660.

From Bogota guests travel to Cali, famed for the Salsa Dance Academy. Medellin (the departure city) is revered as one of the most beautiful places in South America. Here via cable car, guests access the re-invigorated and thriving barrio that drug king Pablo Escobar helped build. They also hike through the Otun Quimbaya Flora & Fauna Sanctuary, a cloud forest with hundreds of species of butterflies; birds ranging from eagles to hummingbirds; and mammals, including spectacled bears, tapir, deer, cane skunks, and howler monkeys. Enroute to the Andes guests may climb 600+ stone steps for a 360-degree view from El Penol, a massive stone rising out of the flat ground and once worshiped by the Tahamies Indians. The one-time mansion of Pablo Escobar is nearby.

Guests engaged in the extension to the Pacific Coast fly to the Chocó region. Here there are no roads, just air and boat access. Misty jungle-clad hills spouting waterfalls and hot springs meet the white sand of the Pacific. This biodiverse region offers kayaking around one of world’s largest humpback whale migrations (June – November). Located in the Biological Conservation Corridor Panamá-Chocó-Manabí, this zone is one of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the Pacific.

For more information on Wildland Adventures’ worldwide offerings, tour availability and reservations call 1-800-345-4453 or email [email protected] Visit online at www.wildland.com.
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Palm Beach Zoo Joins Growing List of Organizations Changing Gala Venue from Mar-a-Lago

The Palm Beach Zoo in West Palm Beach, Florida, provides realistic habitats for its animals like these siamang and has an active program for conservation and breeding endangered species © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society has just announced its decision to move its upcoming 2018 annual fundraiser from the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, owned by Donald Trump and used as his “Winter White House.”

“We have an unyielding commitment to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world,” said Zoo CEO & President, Andrew Aiken. “After thoughtful consideration by Zoo leadership, we have decided it is important that we not allow distractions to deter us from our mission and culture.”

The Zoo’s Tropical Safari Gala, held on the island with limited venue options, is the only black tie event where more than 400 guests mingle with wildlife.

“It is critical that the focus of this special night remains on saving species and raising awareness and money for the hundreds of animals, many of them endangered, in our care.”

“As a home to over 550 animals, the Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches exists to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world. We advance our conservation mission through endangered species propagation, education and support of conservation initiatives in the field. An unwavering commitment to sustainable business practices elevates our capacity to inspire others.”

The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is located at 1301 Summit Boulevard in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. For more information, visit www.palmbeachzoo.org.

See also:

Where the Wild Things Are: At Palm Beach Zoo See Survival Strategies for Malayan Tigers and 50 Other Species in Progress

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New Flight Circuit Connects andBeyond Lodges To Southern Africa’s Top Tourist Destinations

Airlink has launched daily flights that connect andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve to each other, as well as to other tourist hubs throughout Southern Africa.
Airlink has launched daily flights that connect andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve to each other, as well as to other tourist hubs throughout Southern Africa.

Travelers to the experiential travel company andBeyond’s exclusive safari lodges in South Africa can now make use of a newly launched network of flights to quickly and seamlessly connect to the region’s top tourist destinations. Regional carrier Airlink has launched daily flights that connect andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve to each other, as well as to other tourist hubs throughout Southern Africa.

The new flight circuit, which operates daily, creates a number of easy travel possibilities by linking the two andBeyond reserves to each other, as well as to other top safari reserves in South Africa, including the northern and western parts of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, as well as Londolozi and Skukuza. It also allows guests to seamlessly enjoy a more varied travel experience by connecting both reserves with beach destinations such as Cape Town and Vilanculos in neighbouring Mozambique. Both andBeyond reserves can also now be easily linked with Livingstone in Zambia.

Not only have connections been made quicker and more convenient but andBeyond has added the new flights to its Fly Me To Phinda safari, which offers complimentary flights from Johannesburg when spending three nights or more at andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge or andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge. The new links to Johannesburg and Skukuza will be included in the offer, while the remainder of the connections will be available as a supplement.

Airlink operates a brand new Cessna Grand Caravan 208BEX on all lodge hops, with the aircraft equipped with advanced avionics features that increase reliability during the low-cloud conditions that the South African lowveld and coastal areas are renowned for. Multiple flight legs can also be booked with the same carrier on a single ticket, resulting in assured connections and increasing peace of mind in the event of any schedule disruptions.  Flights can also be booked by global travel agencies, allowing agents to combine travelers’ international flights and lodge connections on the same ticket.

The new flight circuit will be in operation from January 1, 2017, with flights already available for sale. For more information, please visit www.andBeyond.com, log onto www.flyairlink.com, or contact your travel agent.

 

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A Royal Safari in Kenya with andBeyond Ecotourism Company

The latest Netflix series has renewed an interest in the royals and their connection to Africa. The ecotourism company, andBeyond (&Beyond), has created a safari to give guests a taste of the royal treatment.

Home of the classic safari, Kenya has an undeniable connection to Britain’s colonial era with its historical aura of elegance and grandeur. In fact, as documented in the recent television series, it was in Kenya that Queen Elizabeth first received the news of the death of her father, King George, and of her ascension to the throne. Inspired by this and the many other connections between the royal family and this former colonial stronghold, andBeyond has created a modern safari fit for a queen. This grand itinerary visits places made famous by explorers and royals of old, including special touches like vintage vehicles, which will take the intrepid traveler on a journey far back in time.

Highlights of the nine-night itinerary

  • Stay in the famous Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, host to characters such as Theodore Roosevelt on his epic 1909 safari Walk in the footsteps of legends on an historical tour of Nairobi, visiting sites such as the Railway Museum and Karen Blixen’s home.
  • Relax in the lovingly maintained colonial mansion of Giraffe Manor.
  • Experience the wilderness of Tsavo from the luxury private camp inspired by none other than the honorable Denys Finch-Hatton of ‘Out of Africa’ fame.
  • Feel the thrill of walking where the Tsavo man-eating lions once roamed.
  • Ride in a Vintage 1928 International SS motor Truck as driven by Robert Redford in the film ‘Out of Africa.’
  • Explore the Masai Mara celebrating the era of classic luxury at Cottar’s 1920 which is reminiscent of the 1920s.
  • Enjoy a Heliflip to Lake Rutundu for a champagne breakfast where Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton.
  • Excellent photographic opportunities throughout this historical journey.

 The 10 day/9 night trip is available throughout 2017, starting at $19,551 per person/double.

Add on to Uganda

Guests can add to this Kenyan adventure by hopping across the border to Uganda, putting them within reach of the once-in-a-lifetime experience of tracking Gorillas and taking them to the end of the ‘Lunatic Line’ in Kampala.

Complement the Northern section by spending a few nights on Lake Victoria – andBeyond’s travel experts can tailor-make the itinerary.

The itinerary is ideal for history buffs, romance, wildlife enthusiasts and avid photographers.

andBeyond is one of the world’s leading luxury experiential travel companies, designing personalized high-end tours in 15 countries in Africa, five in Asia, and four in South America. The company also owns and operates 31 safari lodges and camps, as well as set-departure expeditions, throughout Africa, which positively impact more than 9 million acres of wildlife land. Established in 1991, andBeyond takes exceptional care of its guests in order to make a difference; its commitment to sustainable responsible travel, conservation and community empowerment has been globally recognized with multiple awards over the years. The company offers warm local hospitality and sublime natural luxury that combine with interpretive natural experiences led by highly-skilled guides and rangers.

For more information, visit www.andBeyond.com.

 

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Rare Chance To Help Care for Giant Pandas on Natural Habitat Adventures’ Wild China Trips

nat-hab-china-panda

BOULDER, CO – Natural Habitat Adventures has introduced a new opportunity to get behind the scenes and assist with panda care on its China nature adventures. Guests can enjoy a one-day volunteer experience at a Chinese research base that has helped pull giant pandas back from the brink.

The optional caregiver opportunity takes place at Dujiangyan Panda Valley, China’s newest facility for panda research, education and conservation located outside Chengdu. It is included on both Nat Hab’s Wild Side of China Nature Odyssey and Wild Side of China Photo Adventure.

On both panda-focused itineraries, travelers have the rare chance to spend a day with panda keepers, enjoying pandas at close range while assisting with tasks that are part of the daily care routine, such as feeding pandas and cleaning enclosures.

This intimate contact comes in the context of a celebratory victory for conservation, as China’s giant panda population was recently downgraded from endangered to vulnerable. While giant pandas are still at risk, their numbers continue to rebound. More than 1,800 were counted in the wild in China’s 2014 survey, a jump of 17 percent since the 2003 national census.

Top naturalist Expedition Leaders provide insight into this success story on Nat Hab’s two 12-day itineraries, which offer the most panda-intensive and nature-centered exploration of China provided by any travel company. In addition to visiting three different panda research bases, guests are immersed in the giant panda’s wild native habitat, including two days in a remote mountain nature reserve in Sichuan Province that few tourists ever see.

On this rare expedition into the Minshan Mountains, walks and wildlife drives in this virtually unvisited preserve provides reveal the panda’s native environment, including lush bamboo forests, river gorges and waterfalls.

Because wild pandas are highly elusive, guests are not likely to see them, but approximately 60 live within this densely forested 100,000-acre sanctuary. The reserve is rated as a Grade I global biodiversity hotspot by World Wildlife Fund and is home 430 different mammal species including golden monkeys, Tibetan and rhesus macaques, musk deer, muntjac, serow, wild boar, blue sheep, and endangered moon bears and red pandas. More than 2,400 different plant species and 150 bird species are also found in the park, including the golden pheasant.

Both itineraries also include Jiuzhaigou National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and UN Biosphere Reserve, containing some of China’s most dramatic wild landscapes. Guided walks showcase steep peaks, ravines, forest, meadows, marshes and a multitude of lakes and waterfalls. The park’s most distinctive feature is its terraced limestone pools filled with turquoise water that flows in crystalline cascades from ledge to ledge.

Each departure is led by a Nat Hab Expedition Leader who has trained with WWF scientists and researchers, along with a top Chinese naturalist guide. Travelers benefit from a breadth of expert scientific knowledge, authentic cultural insight and attentive personal service. Photo tour departures feature personalized guidance from an expert professional photographer.

This unique itinerary also offers an unusual chance for Western visitors to witness rural Chinese life. In the Gansu Muslim village of Qing Xi, guests stroll among 300-year-old wooden buildings from the Qing dynasty. On an overland journey onto the Tibetan Plateau, they traverse a landscape dotted with fluttering prayer flags and chortens and share lunch with a Tibetan family. And on a visit to a small farm, they learn about a WWF-supported bio-waste project that uses agricultural by-products to create cleaner cooking fuels, reducing local wood consumption and preserving habitat for pandas and other wildlife.

The per-person rate, based on double occupancy, starts at $10,495, for both regular and photo departures. 2017 season departures are: April 2, April 6 (Photo Tour), April 16, April 20 (Photo Tour), May 1, May 4 (Photo Tour), Sept. 3, Sept. 17, and Oct. 7 (Photo Tour). Dates also available for 2018.

For information on all of Nat Hab’s trips, descriptive itineraries, date availability and reservations, call 800.543.8917 or visit http://www.nathab.com/. Click HERE to order a copy of the 2017 catalog.

Natural Habitat Adventures is a world leader in responsible adventure travel and nature-based ecotourism. Since its founding in 1985, the company has offered eco-conscious expeditions and wildlife-focused small-group tours to the planet’s most remarkable nature destinations. Inspired and created from years of scouring the planet for the singular and extraordinary, Nat Hab’s itineraries are artfully crafted experiences that are far from “typical.” Trips are guided by professional naturalist Expedition Leaders, and Nat Hab enjoys a longstanding reputation for hiring some of the world’s best guides. Conservation is at the forefront of everything NHA does, and its philosophy is simple: tourism must work with and benefit local communities, which will in turn find value in protecting natural resources and wildlife. NHA is proud to be the travel partner of World Wildlife Fund, sharing a mutual commitment to travel as a means of helping to protect the world’s wondrous natural places.  Nat Hab has donated more than $2 million to WWF and will continue to donate 1 percent of gross sales plus $100,000 annual through 2018 in support of WWF’s mission.

 

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andBeyond Matetsi Private Game Reserve Opens Near Victoria Falls

The &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge opened near Victoria Falls on August 1, following an extensive multi-million dollar rebuild. Situated in a 123,500-acre private wildlife concession on the Zambezi River, the lodge is set to provide the most luxurious accommodation and most unique wildlife experiences in the area.

&Beyond Matetsi River Lodge consists of two camps of nine suites each, including a family suite at each camp. With one camp fully open and operational on August 1, the remaining camp is scheduled to open in September.

Highlighting the area’s cultural heritage, Matetsi is decorated with traditional abstract carvings of wood and stone, and features a strong copper theme in homage to the mineral riches of the region. The lodge boasts a generous Safari Shop and state-of-the-art gym, as well as a massage sala and conference facility. A 66-foot-long rim flow swimming pool stretches along the river’s bank.

A sole-use private villa, &Beyond Matetsi River House, adds exclusive accommodation for private groups of up to eight. The four-bedroom villa boasts its own kitchen, indoor and outdoor dining areas, a private veranda overlooking the Zambezi, a swimming pool and its own fire pit. It comes with a dedicated guide, private vehicle, chef and butler.

Located on one of the largest wildlife concessions in the area and boasting extensive river frontage, &Beyond Matetsi offers the most rich and exclusive game viewing experience in Victoria Falls. Guests are in for exceptional game drives led by highly trained &Beyond guides, including consistent sightings of zebra, giraffe and buffalo, as well as the big herds of elephant that Matetsi is justly renowned for. Wild dogs and hyena are spotted on a regular basis and large prides of lion have made the reserve their home. Cheetah, and leopard, as well as the elegant sable and roan antelope are also among the species seen at Matetsi.

“Having originally been involved in the conversion of the Matetsi concession from wildlife hunting to photographic safaris, we are very excited to be relaunching Matetsi to the world,” says Joss Kent, &Beyond CEO. “Not only does this well-loved reserve offer an outstanding guest experience for its stunning location on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, but it also allows them the opportunity to tour the world-famous Victoria Falls in true &Beyond style, using our own vehicles and guides.  The lodge itself will without question also set a new standard in Zimbabwe and at Victoria Falls.”

With the lodge situated in close proximity to the World Heritage Site of Victoria Falls, a complimentary tour of the Falls is included in the rate for a stay of two nights or more at &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge. The activity is an interpretive tour accompanied by an &Beyond guide, and includes the opportunity to explore the paths around the Victoria Falls Park, visit the Livingstone statue, and learn about how the Falls were created. Afterwards, guests enjoy a decadent high tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel.

Extensive planning and reserve management has taken place on the concession for almost two years, encouraging wildlife to thrive in this ideal riverside location. As part of the ambitious project, 14 new waterholes have been created on the reserve, using strategically placed troughs and solar pumps. Additional pumps were placed at existing boreholes to ensure a steady water supply. A new network of roads has opened up the reserve for game drives, while bush clearing programs have limited the encroachment of fast-growing plant species, increasing the habitat for plains game.

The wildlife population has also benefitted from increased security efforts, with both armed National Parks staff and privately sourced employees being utilized for anti-poaching patrols.

For more information, or to book log on to www.andBeyond.com or contact your preferred travel specialist.

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Wild Planet Adventures Offers Family-Focused ‘Ultimate Wildlife Ecotour’ in Costa Rica

WildPlanet-costa rica1

SAUSALITO, CA – It is one thing to see a sloth at a zoo or rescue center, but how many kids can boast seeing more than a dozen along with multiple troops of wild monkeys during a jungle hike on just the second day of their vacation? Such an experience can inspire a child to eventually become a biologist, start a green business, or just live his or her life more respectful of nature and connected to the wonders of life.

This is the magic behind Wild Planet Adventure’s award-winning Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife Eco-Tour which features prime-time family-focused departures in July and December. “This adventure,” explains company founder Josh Cohen, “is specifically intended to inspire young minds and expose them to astonishing natural wonders and thought provoking adventure, while surrounded by passionate, enthusiastic guides and field scientists who are making a difference in the world by following their dreams.”

The 9-, 10.5- and 14-day itineraries, crafted by Cohen have been designed to, “put families in front of more wildlife than any other eco-tour offered today.”  Days include expert-led wildlife excursions in up to eight national parks and wildlife reserves, cloud forest canopy bridges and zip-lines, whitewater rafting, wildlife-spotting float trips, smoking volcanoes, bubbling hot-springs, sun swept beaches on both coasts, a sloth rescue program, scarlet macaw migration, hands-on learning at a wildlife rescue center, sea-kayaking with dolphins, snorkeling at night in the bioluminescence, night hikes for nocturnal animals and much more.

As Cohen explains it, “Wild Planet’s activities are expressly designed to create lasting impact on the entire family. We want to inspire kids of all ages to reach for their dreams and expand their horizons.  This consciousness is self-evident in every aspect of our Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife itinerary.”

WildPlanet-costa rica3Included is a specially arranged experience at La Selva Biological Reserve. La Selva is the largest field station of the Organization for Tropical Studies, where 64 universities from all over the world offer graduate and undergraduate courses in tropical rainforest biology. La Selva hosts approximately 300 scientists and 100 university courses every year. Wild Planet has negotiated a special program here where guests hike the trails of La Selva’s private reserve with biologist guides with the opportunity to interact with researchers and even peek into the labs, conditions permitting.

Cohen likes to recall the time, when on a recent trip, a 13 year-old traveler was completely enthralled upon meeting a biologist who was researching how female red and blue poison arrow frogs return after a year to a site where they previously laid their eggs. Learning how the frogs are able to remember the exact location of oviposition in the dense rain forest and even identify their own offspring out of thousands of young frogs impacted that child far more than any textbook could.

Young travelers are also treated to Wild Planet’s special Sloth Rescue program where they can interact with animals, scientific researchers and wildlife experts. There is also a special hands-on “voluntourism” segment at a wildlife rescue center, complete with feeding.

Authentic, in-depth and non-commercial excursions into Costa Rica’s parks and reserves are led by Wild Planet’s gifted naturalist guides, over 90% of whom are trained biologists. Itineraries are specifically designed to take full advantage of the extreme biodiversity Costa Rica has to offer. Strategically comprehensive, itineraries include both lowland and mid-elevation rainforests on both coasts, cloud forests on top of the continental divide, gallery forests surrounding the rivers, volcanoes, hot springs and both northern and southern climes, all while while maintaining a comfortable pace.

“Such diversity is nearly impossible to arrange on one’s own,” explains Cohen, “as it requires precision execution in order to arrive at certain destinations at just the perfect moment.”  An example of this is a visit to Carara National Park when the group arrives at the ideal time to see the evening migration of scarlet macaws returning from the coastal mangroves. Cohen believes that the wide variety of eco-systems they visit is one of the key reasons his “Ultimate Wildlife” eco-tour can boast significantly higher wildlife sighting statistics than conventional tours.

This trip is designed for kids as young as eight and features distinctive accommodations, meals, transportation, activities, park admissions, and top naturalist guides in an all inclusive price starting at $3,398/person for a 9-day version or $4,998 for the full 14-day itinerary.  A 10½ day version is also offered starting at $3,898/person. Group size is limited to 12 due to the special wildlife focus, except for private departures upon special request. See: http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/destinations/?country=costa-rica

There’s still time to take advantage of special family departures June 25, July 16, 21 and 30 as well as Christmas family departures December 17, 24, 26 and 31.  Wild Planet strongly suggests booking as early as possible for best airfares.

For detailed itineraries, exciting wildlife photos and video galleries and booking information for tours worldwide, visit http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/, call 1-800-990-4376 or email [email protected].

Recently, Wild Planet Adventures received its fifth “Worlds’ 50 Best Trips” award from the editors of National Geographic Traveler for its “On the Jaguar’s Trail; from the Pantanal to the Amazon” wildlife safari in Brazil. Previous National Geographic Traveler awards went to Wild Planet’s Thailand, Costa Rica, India, Panama wildlife eco-tours and its ultimate African safari in Zambia. Wild Planet Adventures is also recognized by other top travel publications for its wildlife-focused itineraries in Africa, Borneo, Brazil, Costa Rica, Galapagos, India, Laos, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Thailand and Zambia. 

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andBeyond Returns to Zimbabwe with reopening of Matetsi River Lodge

The experiential travel company andBeyond is thrilled to announce that Matetsi River Lodge in Zimbabwe, on the Zambezi River and only 25 miles upstream from Victoria Falls, will rejoin its portfolio in July 2016, following a $10 million rebuild and renovation.

Located on one of the largest wildlife concessions in the area (123,500 acres) and boasting a prime river-front setting, andBeyond Matetsi will offer some of the richest and most exclusive game viewing experiences near Victoria Falls, with sizeable elephant herds and the rare sable antelope as some of the highlights. It is opening just as Zimbabwe grows as a safari destination.

andBeyond Matetsi River Lodge consists of two camps of nine suites each, including a family suite at each camp. The main lodge will house a generous Safari Shop and state-of-the-art gym, as well as a massage sala and conference facility. An 82-foot-long rim flow swimming pool will stretch along the river bank and a wine cellar that is ¾ submerged underground will look out onto the Zambezi at eye level. A private, four-bedroom villa, andBeyond Matetsi River House, will accommodate groups of up to eight. The villa has its own kitchen, indoor and outdoor dining areas, a veranda overlooking the Zambezi, a swimming pool, and fire pit. It comes with a dedicated guide, private vehicle, chef, and butler. In addition to twice daily game drives, andBeyond Matetsi will also offer interpretive bush walks, riverboat cruises, and canoeing.

CEO Joss Kent cites the expansion of the Victoria Falls airport – Including a new 2.5 mile runway, a new international terminal, and the construction of a new fire station and new control tower – as a major reason for the change in the travel dynamics, making it a perfect moment to revitalize an old safari favorite of the brand (andBeyond managed the lodge from 1996 to 2011).

“The lodge’s owner is totally passionate about the project and has worked incredibly hard to resuscitate the concession, focusing both on wildlife and habitat. This matches andBeyond’s core ethos of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People,” explains Kent. “Having originally been involved in the conversion of the Matetsi concession from wildlife hunting to photographic safaris, we are really excited to once again be helping to protect and nurture this beautiful and unique wilderness area back to pristine condition. The game experience that we will create at andBeyond Matetsi will provide an element that has been missing in the Victoria Falls area for far too long.”

Thanks to its years of involvement with the staff of Matetsi and its model of promoting conservation through involving the people who live near wildlife areas, andBeyond will be working with its community development partner, Africa Foundation, to engage with the local communities. andBeyond will follow its usual principles of employing from the local community as much as possible and purchasing as much as possible locally, contributing to the economy of both Matetsi and Zimbabwe.

The lodge is ideal for multigenerational travel. andBeyond’s specially designed children’s program, WILDchild, will keep young guests busy with activities such as making and using their own fishing rods, and making plaster casts of animal tracks.

Sitting areas and dining spaces will make the most of the river views, with an interactive kitchen. Pre-dinner drinks will be served in an open bar area looking out onto the river or in a cozy lounge complete with fireplace. An open area with a blazing fire-bowl centerpiece will provide the perfect setting for sundowners.

While the area’s cultural heritage will be highlighted with traditional abstract carvings of wood and stone throughout, a more contemporary touch will be brought in with recent art by Zimbabwean artist Helen Teede. Splashes of bright blue will mimic the waters of the Zambezi River. A strong copper theme will run throughout the lodge in homage to the mineral riches of the region, from copper drums in the open-air outdoor enclosure known as a boma, to copper pots and pans in the kitchen and copper details on the bathroom taps. Simple glass coffee tables will showcase objects found along the banks of the Zambezi, such as driftwood, nests, and rocks.

andBeyond is one of the world’s leading luxury experiential travel companies, designing personalized luxury tours in 15 African countries, India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Chile and Argentina. The company also owns and operates 33 safari lodges and camps in Africa and India, as well as privately guided expeditions in Botswana, which positively impact more than 9 million acres of wildlife land. Established in 1991, &Beyond takes exceptional care of its guests in order to make a difference; its commitment to sustainable responsible travel, conservation and community empowerment has been globally recognized with multiple awards over the years.

 

Visit www.andBeyond.com for more information.

 

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