Trek Through Afghanistan Or Explore The Congo With Wild Frontiers

Wild Frontiers takes travelers to AfghanistanIf you still haven’t settled on an amazing adventure for 2013 then perhaps you’ll want to take a look at some of the trips that Wild Frontiers has to offer. The adventure travel company that operates out of the U.K. specializes in unique, one-of-a-kind tours to a number of great destinations on the planet and this year two of their itineraries are unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere.

The first of those trips will take adventurous travelers deep into the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan as they spend a month trekking the Wakhan Corridor. This narrow piece of land once served as a neutral zone between the British and Russian Empires but now it is a seldom-visited region populated only by local herdsmen. Wild Frontiers is one of the few travel companies in the world that guides trekkers through this remote destination, which boasts breathtaking views and pristine valleys rarely seen by outsiders. This is a physically demanding and difficult trip but for those who truly want an off-the beaten-path adventure, it is tough to top a trek through the Wakhan Corridor. It is truly one of the most isolated places you could ever hope to visit. The price is £4495 or about $6820.

Wild Frontiers takes travelers to the CongoThe other unique itinerary on the Wild Frontiers schedule for this year is a 20-day journey by boat down the Congo River. Travelers on this excursion will follow in the footsteps of the famed explorer Henry Morton Stanley as they go deep into the wild and untamed African interior. They’ll visit villages inhabited by the last pygmy tribes, encounter a wide array of wildlife and observe life along the river as they slowly cruise past. For more of an idea of what to expect from this journey checkout the YouTube clip below. The price is £5995, which converts to $9095.

Some travel companies promise their customers an adventure but few actually deliver it in the truest sense of the word. But Wild Frontiers is a company that really does focus on putting the “adventure” in adventure travel. The two expeditions that I highlighted above are a good example of this, but they are also just the tip of the iceberg. Take a look at their full catalog by clicking here.

[Photo Credit: Wild Frontiers]


New National Park In The Congo Will Protect Lowland Gorillas

Lowland gorillas get a new preserve in the Republic of CongoThe Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is hailing the creation of a new national park in the Republic of Congo as a major step towards protecting western lowland gorillas. The park, which was officially created on December 28 of last year, is believed to be the home of more than 15,000 of the creatures, which have been on the “critically endangered” list for many years.

Located in the northern region of the country, the Ntokou-Pikounda National Park spreads out over 1765 square miles. The interior of the forest is said to be so dense that explorer J. Michael Fay, who spent 455 days walking across the region back in 1999, once called it a “green abyss.” The lush rainforest is the perfect place for the gorillas to make their home, however, and they share the new preserve with an estimated 8000 elephants and nearly a thousand chimpanzees – two other species who face extinction as well.

Because the park is still so new, there isn’t a significant tourism infrastructure built up around the destination just yet. But the region is home to a number of small villages and towns, which hope to see a boost to the local economies in the future. Tourism dollars have been used effectively in nearby Rwanda and Uganda to not only improve conditions for the people that live there, but also fund conservation efforts for gorillas and other animals.

When the WCS visited the Republic of Congo back in 2008 they were surprised to find a population of 125,000 gorillas living in remote regions there. But the species continues to come under threat from increased deforestation, illegal poaching and the Ebola virus, which has been known to decimate gorilla populations. The creation of this new park should help ensure that the lowland gorillas that live there will have a measure of protection for the future.

[Photo Credit: Fred Hsu via WikiMedia]

Central African Ivory Wars Ravage Elephant Population

The demand for ivory has resulted in the slaughter of elephants in AfricaAn ever-increasing demand for ivory on Asia’s black market is creating conflicts across Africa and having a devastating effect on the elephant population there. According to a somber and in depth report published by the New York Times on Monday, the high price of ivory has now made elephant tusks akin to blood diamonds, a natural resource to be plundered at all costs. As a result, elephants are now being killed by the tens of thousands on an annual basis with poaching at its most rampant in over thirty years.

According to the article, ivory is now sold on the illegal underground market for more than $1000 per pound. That kind of cash has lured in organized crime syndicates in China that work with rebel resistance groups throughout Africa who obtain the ivory by hunting down and slaughtering elephants in the wild. The tusks of the animal are then smuggled out of the country and shipped to Asia, where it is used in the creation of ornamental goods. Ivory has long been seen as a symbol of wealth and status in that part of the world and it has grown in demand with a rising middle-class, particularly in China.

It isn’t just outlaws and mob bosses that are caught up in the ivory trade, however. The armies of some African nations are also likely being used in poaching operations as well. The Times says that armies from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan have all been implicated in the poaching of elephants. The article even implies that Ugandan soldiers have employed the use of military helicopters to hunt down and kill elephants inside the neighboring DRC. Those soldiers are blamed for the slaughter of a herd of 22 elephants that took place in April.And where is all of this ivory going? For the most part it ends up in China. It is estimated that 70% of the ivory finds its way into that country and last year more than 150 Chinese citizens were arrested in Africa on charges of smuggling ivory. Experts feel that if China cracked down on the demand for ivory amongst its growing middle-class, the systematic poaching of elephants would drop off dramatically.

For their part, most of the African nations try to protect their elephant herds as much as possible. Those herds are generally found inside national parks, which are of course protected lands. But those countries don’t have enough manpower, money or other resources to patrol those large sections of wilderness, thus poachers can come and go almost with impunity. When they are caught in the act, however, it often results in a bloody conflict between anti-poaching units and the outlaws, who are often very well armed.

Just how badly has the elephant population been hurt by the ivory trade? No one knows exactly for sure, but in the Congo’s Garamba National Park the creatures once numbered in excess of 20,000. Today it is believed that just 2400 still freely wander that region, which was also once home to the white rhino. Sadly, that species has already been hunted to extinction within the park as poachers harvested rhino horns, which are also in high demand across Asia.

Reading the New York Times piece is both shocking and sad. Having seen elephants in the wilds of Africa with my own eyes I found it impossible to not be struck by the intelligence and nobility of those animals. It is hard to believe that in the 21st century man’s greed could possibly see the last of these creatures roaming free.

Drunken pilots delay flight

Drunken Pilots delay flight

We’re used to waiting on the tarmac for luggage to be loaded. Some people make a game out of looking for their bags. Sitting at the end of the runway too is to be expected. We don’t want the planes colliding in mid-air. But a flight delayed because the pilot is drunk is hard to anticipate.

A Boeing 737-700 full of passengers is nothing to be flying drunk but that’s exactly what would have happened on a charter plane in Costa Rica. Apparently the pilots had been partying for seven hours at a hotel before they were to take to the air

“The assistant captain underwent an examination of alcohol (which) turned out to be positive, while the skipper refused to blow in the balloon.” Alvaro Vargas, Assistant Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Costa Rica told TravelMonitor

The flight was delayed by 24 hours to allow time for the pilots to sober up. No word on if passengers were allowed off the aircraft.

The charter company was sorry though. “They were not in the right condition to lead the plane. They were relieved of their duties” at least until the end of the investigation” the company said in a statement.

Give dad a custom vacation from Kensington Tours this year

Father’s Day may still be a couple of weeks away, but if you’re struggling to figure out what to give dad this year, than Kensington Tours is here to help. The travel company, which specializes in private guided adventure travel to more than 80 countries around the globe, has officially designated a Vacation Valet who is prepared to help create a custom itinerary to fit your dad’s needs.

Kensington has named Brad Crockett as their official Vacation Valet for Dad, and he is ready to help apply his years of experience in the travel industry to create an unforgettable vacation experience. Whether your dad is an experienced global traveler or this is his first time abroad, he’ll have a custom designed itinerary that has been developed with his interests in mind. Best of all, these custom trips are surprisingly affordable, ranging from $200 to $2000 per day depending on your destination and options.

Of course we all know that every dad is different and each has their own idea of what constitutes a great travel experience. Fortunately, Kensington has the resources to deliver those experiences to even the most demanding traveler. For instance, if your dad is an adventurous traveler, then perhaps he’d enjoy trekking in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco or hunting with Pygmies in the Congo. Is he a history buff? Then let Kensington send him on a tour of famous battle fields in Vietnam or on an archaeological expedition through Egypt. Other options include exploring Kenya by motorcycle, dog sledding in the Yukon, white water rafting in Peru, or fly fishing in Chile. And for the dad who’s passion is golf, Kensington can even arrange a trip to the British Open in Scotland, including rounds of golf and whiskey tasting.

If you have one of those dads who already has everything, perhaps this year you can give him something that he has been lacking in the form of an international adventure of a lifetime. For more information go to Kensingtontours.com.