2602, 2017

Boost for Uganda’s Mountain Gorilla

In November 2016, The Uganda Wildlife Authority discovered three newborn mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.  With a population of around 880 left in the world, and about half located in Uganda, mountain gorillas are one of the world’s most endangered species.  A spike in recent births is welcome news to conservationists.

Several factors including habitat loss, poaching, and civil war have led to gorilla population decline over the last century.   Conservation efforts and tourism to the area have led to habitat protection and conservation efforts have resulted in a 14% increase in the population in the last 12 years.

Are you thinking about a trip to Uganda or Rwanda to see mountain gorillas in the wild?  Contact one of our safari specialists for more details.

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2602, 2017

India’s “Big Five”

Chances are, you have heard of Africa’s “Big Five,” a list of five iconic animals that travelers hope to spot while on safari. Though India does not come to mind for most people as a top wildlife destination, it has its own Big Five:

Tiger

Once in grave danger of extinction, India’s wild tiger population has begun to rebound due to public environmental education, better policing of national parks, and an increase in tourist dollars. If you are lucky, tigers can be spotted in national parks across the country, though sighting is dependent on season and good, old-fashioned luck.

Asiatic Lion

The Asiatic lion (a subspecies distinct from the African lion) can be found in only one Indian state, Gujarat. The population is estimated at just over 500 individuals in the wild, making this a rare and exciting sighting.

Indian Leopard

Though this species is widespread throughout India, they are so elusive and shy that they can be difficult to spot. Leopards can be seen with luck in national parks throughout the country, especially where night safaris are possible.

Greater One-horned Rhino

According to the WWF, Indian rhino populations have rebounded from about 600 in 1975 to over 3,500 today. This species can only be found along a […]

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601, 2017

Iceland – Landmannalaugar Overnight with Arctic Trucks Experience

Our Iceland Winter Escape kicked off with an overnight experience with Arctic Trucks, a company that most known for modifying 4WD vehicles for use in rough environments like mountains and glaciers found throughout the countryside in Iceland.  We worked with the team at Arctic Trucks Experience to offer our group the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of specialized super trucks and do all the driving. Not many people have had the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of  powerful 4×4 in one of the world’s most unique places.

We traveled to Landmannalaugar Highlands in a guided self-drive caravan. After a brief overview of the vehicles and Iceland’s driving regulations, we were off.  Daily schedules were dictated by hours of sunlight (approx. 6 hours). We still managed to stop at gorgeous locations for photo op’s along the way.  

Our self-catering mountain hut offered dorm-style accommodations with the bathrooms  in a separate building and hot springs a short walk away.  

During peak summer travel, Landmannalaugar sees up to 10,000 visitors a day. We had the place all to ourselves.  

Are you thinking of a trip to Iceland? Contact one of our destination specialists for more information.

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2612, 2016

2016 – R2R Travelers’ Photos

We always look forward to hearing the excitement in our clients’ voices when they return from a trip, knowing they’ve fallen in love with the sights and sounds of travel. We also love seeing their favorite travel photos since everyone loves to capture images from different perspectives. Below is a collection of 2016 photos sent to us by R2R travelers after they’ve returned from a trip and taken during our special 10th Anniversary Group Trips . Can you identify all of the destinations captured in these photos?

Click on each image to see a larger view.

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2612, 2016

2016 – The Year in Photos

We celebrated out 10th Anniversary by traveling to some of our favorite wildlife hotspots with R2R travelers.  The following 12 photos provide a glimpse of this year’s highlights.  The best part — the majority of these photos were taken on trips while traveling our clients.  Next year promises to be even bigger and better!  Happy New Year!

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3011, 2016

India Trip Report (October 2016) – Sloth Bear Sightings

The sloth bear is a nocturnal, insect-eating bear native to the Indian subcontinent.  Americans may be familiar with this animal from Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, by its real-life Hindi name Baloo (bhalu).

We sighted this rare mammal on two separate occasions on a recent trip to Madhya Pradesh, India.  One was spotted at Satpura National Park and the second one at Panna National Park.  We were able to watch one of the bears for almost two hours, as it foraged for insects by turning over rocks with its specialized shovel-shaped snout.  We saw another bear carefully climb a tree, snuffle while snacking on a beehive, and then crash back down – all with the stunning backdrop of wild India.

Are you interested in learning more about trips to India?  Contact us for more information.

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1711, 2016

Four Reasons to Visit Canada in 2017

1.  Canada is celebrating 150 years as a country in 2017. For their sesquicentennial, Canadians are already planning some of the biggest July 1 celebrations the country has ever seen.

2.  Lonely Planet just named Canada the #1 Country to Visit in 2017.

“Bolstered by the wave of positivity unleashed by its energetic new leader Justin Trudeau, and with dynamic cities that dominate global livability indices and a reputation for inclusiveness and impeccable politeness, the world’s second-largest country will usher in its sesquicentennial in 2017 in rollicking good health. Marking 150 years since confederation, the elongated birthday party promises to be heavy on bonhomie and highly welcoming to international gatecrashers. And, with a weak Canadian dollar pushing down prices, the overseas visitor should have plenty of pocket money to spend on Canada’s exciting fusion food and mysteriously underrated wine.

3.  Earlier this week, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society has hatched its decision for the bird best suited to represent Canada after a two-year search and 50,000 votes from across the country. The gray jay, also known as the whiskey jack, was awarded the society’s official recommendation for Canada’s national bird on Wednesday. The gray jay, which is widely considered one of the most […]

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2510, 2016

“100 Things To Do” – Kodiak, Alaska

Last month, I had the pleasure of spending five days exploring Kodiak, Alaska before attending the Adventure Travel World Summit in Anchorage. Most people probably think of bears when they hear the name Kodiak, but there’s much more to do than bear viewing during your visit. Although, bears are worth the trip!

Discover Kodiak’s list of 100 Things To Do provided lots of inspiration for daily excursions. I didn’t accomplish all 100 in five days, but did have an unforgettable trip while trying.

#10: Salmon fishing

#11: Shopping in downtown Kodiak

#15: Walk the trails at Ft. Abercrombie

#17: Watch the float planes come and go at Trident Basin on Near Island

#18: Charter a boat for salt water fishing

#29: Go kayaking

#30: Drive to the top of Pillar Mountain

#31: Go bear viewing

#34: Go birding

#39: Look for puffins

#41: Catch a halibut

#62: Take a zillion photographs

#65: Look for bear tracks

#66: Count eagles

#70: Eat the fresh catch of the day

#79: Find a heart shaped rock on one of Kodiak’s beaches

#81: Taste some locally brewed beer

#94: Eat where the locals do

#98: Drink locally roasted coffee

#100: Glass the hillsides for bears

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1510, 2016

Trip Recap – Fall Wildlife Expedition to Yellowstone

Last month, we traveled to Yellowstone National Park with a small group from Denver, a trip offered in coordination with Audubon Society of Greater Denver. Dates were chosen to correspond with several fall highlights at Yellowstone including elk rut, bird migration, bear hyperphagy (a state of overeating prior to winter hibernation), cooler temperatures, and smaller crowds. Everyone in the group was also hoping for a chance to see wolves in the wild.

From 1995 to 1997, 41 wild wolves from Canada and northwest Montana were released in Yellowstone after decades of absence. Today, approximately 100 wolves live in the park spread throughout the northern range and the interior. Lamar and Hayden Valleys tend to be the go-to areas in Yellowstone for wolf sightings. We spent our first two guided days in the park searching the valleys for wolves to no avail. We did spot plenty of bison as well as black bears gorging on whitebark pine cones, elk in Mammoth, and a variety of birds including highlights like ruffed grouse, harlequin duck, and Clark’s nutcrackers (also gorging on whitebark pine seeds).

Wolf reports were not promising as we started out on our third guided day in the park. Members of the Junction […]

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2908, 2016

Isla Mujeres Mural Project

One of the highlights of our recent trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico while exploring the island by golf cart was spotting colorful murals along the way. In 2014, Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans project opened to the public.

The mural project consists of 15 large-scale murals created by well-known contemporary street artists. With the goal of raising awareness of local conservation efforts, the murals highlight the benefits of ecotourism to the region. If you find yourself at Isla Mujeres, take a few hours to roam the island in search of all 15 murals.

Are you thinking of a trip to Isla Mujeres? Contact one of our destination specialists for our top picks on places to stay and eat, and not-to-miss activities while there.

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2908, 2016

5 DIY Travel Hacks

1. Deodorant safe. Open your existing deodorant, twist up and remove the top portion, and place valuables like credit cards, driver’s license and cash inside.
2. Tennis ball safe. One of the most asked questions we receive is ‘will our room have a safe?’. Another place to store valuables is in a tennis ball. Cut a 2-3 inch slit in the ball and place items like jewelry, memory cards, and cash inside.
3. Bar soap luggage deodorizer. One of our tried and true tips is to pack fabric softener sheets in luggage to use when dirty clothes start to accumulate. Most hotels provide scented bar soaps for guest use. At check out, take the soap with you and place with dirty clothes to keep luggage smelling fresh your entire trip.
4. Never buy travel-sized toothpaste again. Keep the empty tube and refill from a full-size tube when you get home. Put the tubes end to end, squeeze, and voila!
5. Pack a bike light instead of headlamp or flashlight. You’ll find flashlight or headlamp listed on all of our pack lists. Flashlights only leave one hand free and headlamps can be uncomfortable. This hack is our favorite on the […]

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2408, 2016

Swimming with Whale Sharks 2016 Recap

In 2009, we added Isla Mujeres whale shark trips to our Mexico portfolio. Whale shark season runs from late May to September, but we recommend traveling between mid-July to mid-August if you have flexible travel dates. Those weeks tend to be the best with respect to whale shark aggregations in the Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve.

Every year offers different experiences. In summer 2015, whale shark season was slow to start with peak numbers not arriving until early August. This year, whale shark numbers started peaking in early July with days of over 200 whale sharks commonly recorded. In addition, manta rays have been frequent visitors to the same feeding areas for whale sharks.

Reefs to Rockies’ 2016 annual whale shark trip to Isla Mujeres ran from August 6-10. Below are some photo and video highlights from our days in the water. Summer 2017 dates will be announced soon.

Are you interested in learning more about whale shark trips to Mexico?  Contact us for more information.

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2007, 2016

UNESCO’s Newest World Heritage Sites – 2016 Edition

Every year, UNESCO convenes to discuss whether or not proposed sites should be added to the list of World Heritage Sites. To make the list, a site must display great cultural, historical and/or natural significance. Think Machu Picchu, Galapagos Islands, and Great Barrier Reef to name a few.

The 2016 UNESCO World Heritage Committee added 21 new sites to the list. They’re all waiting to be explored.

1. Hubei Shennongjia, China
2. Mistaken Point, Canada
3. Archipelago de Revillagigedo, Mexico
4. Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay, Sudan
5. Lut Desert, Iran
6. Western Tien-Shan Mountains, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan
7. Ennedi Massif – Natural and Cultural Landscape, Chad
8. The Ahwar of Southern Iraq
9. Architecture of Le Corbusier, Worldwide
10. Antigua Naval Dockyard, Antigua and Bermuda
11. Pampulha Modern Ensemble, Brazil
12. Khangchendzonga National Park, India
13. Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art, China
14. Nalanda Mahavihara, India
15. Persian Qanat, Iran
16. Nan Madol, Micronesia
17. Medieval Tombstones, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia
18. Archaeological Site of Philippi, Greece
19. Antequera Dolmens, Spain
20. Archaeological Treasures of Ani, Turkey
21. Gorham’s Cave Complex, Gibraltar, UK

For photos of all the sites, check out Condé Nast Traveler’s recent article.

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1907, 2016

Whale Sharks Move from Vulnerable to Endangered Status

Earlier this month, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species announced that the whale shark has moved from vulnerable to endangered status. Whale shark populations throughout the world have declined more than 50% in recent years. This sharp decline places whale sharks at a higher risk of extinction and explains the endangered status listing.

Whale sharks, the world’s largest fish, are gentle giants that glide through oceans feeding on plankton. Whale shark excursions led by reputable tour operators are helping with whale shark conservation in several countries throughout the world. We’ve had the pleasure of swimming with whale sharks in Mozambique and on numerous occasions in Mexico.

If you’re interested in learning more about swimming with whale sharks, feel free to contact us. Swimming alongside a whale shark is a memory you won’t soon forget.

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2106, 2016

Humpback Whale Season Starts Soon in Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts two whale watching seasons for humpback whales. From mid-December through late February/early March, northern humpback whales migrate south to Marino Ballena National Park. From July through October, southern humpback whales migrate north to Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.

Ranked in the Top 10 by National Geographic for whale watching in the world, Marino Ballena provides important habitat for humpbacks as they feed, mate, calve, and raise young in preparation for their return migration. The park is also home to resident dolphin and sea turtle populations.

A greater number of southern whales visit Costa Rica so the July through October whale watching season tends to offer better viewing opportunities. Humpback whales put on quite the show with their acrobatic surface moves like breaching, tail slapping and rolling. Get ready for whale watching season in Costa Rica!

Are you thinking of a trip to Costa Rica? Contact one of our destination specialists for insider tips on the best wildlife viewing areas in the country.

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2005, 2016

8 Travel Must-Haves for Summer 2016

The summer travel season is upon us. Deciding what to pack can be almost as difficult as deciding where to go, especially with new travel gadgets being launched daily. With so many options out there, it’s hard to figure out what’s a must and what can be skipped. Below is our list of eight items that are tried and true must-haves mixed with some that made their way onto our pack lists this year.

#1: GoPro Camera. We’re still blown away by the quality of videos and photos produced by our GoPros, especially underwater. They keep getting smaller and better.

#2: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones. No matter how noisy the bus, plane, train, or destination, these headphones bring peace and quiet.

#3: Zolt Wall Charger. One wall outlet, multiple gadgets. You can power a laptop and two mobile devices simultaneously. One Zolt replaces three power adapters.

#4: Travel Hammock. A recent trip to Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast reminded us how relaxing a hammock and a breeze can be on a hot, humid day.

#5: Deet Insect Repellent Wipes. Protect yourself from biting insects like mosquitoes, ticks and chiggers without the hassle of traveling with liquids and aerosols.

#6: Cooling Headwear. Sun protection and cooling. Functional and versatile.

#7: […]

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1805, 2016

5 Places in 5 States to See Bison, Our Newest National Mammal

Earlier this month, President Obama signed legislation naming the American bison as the US’ first national mammal. Also known as American buffalo and once numbering in the millions, bison were hunted to the brink of extinction in America. In recent years, they’ve made a comeback.

 

Here are our top five picks in five states to see bison roaming the plains.

#1: Wyoming – Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is the only place in the US where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

#2: Montana – American Prairie Reserve. Bison are being returned to original habitat in Montana’s eastern plains grasslands. The reserve is now home to more than 700 bison.

#3: North Dakota – Theodore Roosevelt National Park. In 1956, 29 bison were brought from Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge in Nebraska and released in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Current population numbers are maintained at between 300-700 animals.

#4: South Dakota – Custer State Park. Home to an annual Buffalo Roundup, approximately 1300 bison roam freely through the state park.

#5: Colorado – Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Bison are the star attraction at this urban wildlife refuge just east of Denver. By the end of this year, the herd is expected to grow […]

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105, 2016

Carara National Park, Costa Rica – Worth the Stop

When driving to Costa Rica’s central and south Pacific coast from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), you pass Carara National Park. Located an hour west of SJO and a few km past Rio Tarcoles Bridge and its resident crocodiles below, Carara isn’t typically a stop on standard Costa Rica itineraries. It should be, though. Carara provides habitat for half of Costa Rica’s animal species. Half.

The park’s transitional forests offer the best of both worlds. Think “Goldilock’s zone” – not too sunny, not too cloudy, not too wet, not too dry. Just right.

During a recent one hour stop at Carara in the middle of the day (not the best time for animal activity), we observed scarlet macaws, green and black poison dart frogs, agouti, a two-toed sloth and a fer-de-lance. Carara is home to three of Costa Rica’s four monkey species, but they eluded us this time.

Are you thinking of a trip to Costa Rica? Contact one of our destination specialists for insider tips and suggested itineraries.

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2504, 2016

Big Cat Recap – Tanzania Trip Report

When we decided to offer a series of 10 Year Anniversary trips in 2016, the first must-do trip on the list was a Big Cats Safari to Tanzania. We scheduled the trip to coincide with wildebeest calving season. During that time, wildebeest herds swell in size by 40%. In addition to top-notch migration viewing, this is also prime time to see big cats in action.

Our Big Cats itinerary included Ngorongoro Crater, Ndutu, southern Serengeti and northern Serengeti. Over 10 days, we encountered more than 50 lions, four leopard, eight cheetah including two successful hunts. We also spotted a caracal and pack of wild dogs along the way. Right place, right time.

Are you thinking of a safari? Contact one of our travel specialists for insider tips on planning the perfect wildlife experience in East Africa.

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2204, 2016

Dance of Prairie-Chickens – Wray, Colorado

The Sandhills of eastern Colorado remain a stronghold for greater prairie-chickens in the state.  Earlier this month, we traveled to Wray in search of prairie-chickens performing their annual spring dance on the plains.  Cloudy skies and a light rain made it difficult for photography, but we managed to get some video footage showing the boys whooping, cackling, stutter-stepping and sparring.  As always, they put on quite the show.

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