If you’re contemplating an African safari, no doubt it’s the extraordinary wildlife that’s top draw. But many safari camps and lodges are highlights in their own right. While most are not for the faint of budget, they are peerless when it comes to enhancing the “trip of a lifetime”!
As more safari operations “go green” by committing to environmental and community sustainability, the selection of alluring eco-minded camps and lodges continues to grow. Here are six that will have you online in a heartbeat to secure your deluxe tent beneath the stars — or at least daydreaming about it.
With a few exceptions, much of the U.S. has been experiencing an unseasonably warm and dry winter. While that may make some people happy, those of us who welcome snow, sweaters, skating and skiing are missing winter’s frosty grip.
If you’re feeling as blah as the brown landscape outside, consider a mid-winter adventure to colder climes. There’s nothing like nature beauteously transformed by an icy white veneer to lift even the most listless spirit. From dog sledding to tracking wolves, sleeping in an ice hotel and watching the Northern Lights, cold-weather travel is all kinds of cool!
There are more tigers in captivity (such as this one) than there are left in the wild. ©John T. Andrews
There are some statistics that you hear that knock your socks off, and you just can’t quite believe them. You think they’re concocted purely to get attention and for shock value. Here’s one I recently came across that fits that category: There are more tigers in American backyards than there are left in the wild throughout the world.
How could that be?! I wondered. After all, the tiger isn’t even indigenous to the United States! It turns out that there is very little regulation on keeping wild tigers here. And because their body parts are prized in Asian black markets for traditional medicines and folk remedies — and because they are popular subjects for photographers and as college mascots — trafficking in and owning tigers becomes a means of making money.
Anyone who has ever watched a brown bear fish, or an elephant wallow in a water hole, or a curious sea lion come face to face with a snorkeler, knows that one of the highlights of eco-travel is close encounters with wildlife in natural settings.
I spent part of the holidays in Los Angeles this year, surrounded by a sea of asphalt and traffic sprawling for hundreds of square miles. Shuttling between relatives and friends on the maze of 14-lane freeways, I soon felt spiritually exhausted by the visual din of billboards, power lines, parking lots, storefronts, neon signs and cars blowing past at 80 mph.
Blue-footed Booby in the Galapagos
How would you like to win a 7-night Galapagos Islands cruise for two aboard an Ecoventura yacht, recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly outfitters in the islands? Imagine anchoring in turquoise bays, zipping ashore in small rafts and lazing on sandy beaches, empty but for colonies of curious sea lions and nonchalant iguanas sunning on the lava shoreline. Blue-footed boobies nest along island trails while albatross and frigate birds soar overhead. The wonders beneath the waves are just as amazing, as you snorkel with penguins and sea turtles.
“There, at the top of that tallest tree,” our guide says, pointing through a maze of vegetation. I catch a flash of red, then a rainbow of feathers, backlit by the sun, as the scarlet macaw takes flight. Its bright plumage is the only contrast against the verdant backdrop of the Amazon rainforest.
Adventure specialists Rick Guthke and Greg Courter at Gaiam’s Natural Habitat Adventures embarked late this year on our Wild Madagascar Adventure! We thought you’d enjoy their amazing slideshow.
Wild Madagascar Adventure slideshow by Gaiam's Natural Habitat Adventures
What is the sound of ten million butterfly wings? I found the answer to that Zen-like question in the forests of the central Mexico highlands. Here in a few remote stands of tall oyamel firs lie the ancestral wintering grounds of the monarch butterfly, undiscovered by researchers till 1975.