Adventure Travel Company Brings Gorillas Up Close And Personal

adventure travel


Adventure travel
might include hiking or camping in the wilderness of America’s pacific northwest, backpacking through Europe or climbing a mountain in Tibet. On their own or with local guidance, adventure travelers often see places others only dream of. Not satisfied with a packaged tour, visiting the same places over and over again or waiting any longer for their dream to come true, they turn to travel companies who specialize in remote, rarely-visited locations.

Sanctuary Retreats is a travel company that knows something about adventure travel. On safari in Africa since 1999, they own and operate 11 lodges and camps in Zambia, Botswana and Tanzania. In Uganda, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is located in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a good base for a gorilla tracking experience the heart of the rainforest.Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to the Batwa Pygmy tribe and has more than 350 species of birds, 200 species of butterflies, rare forest elephants, giant forest hog, forest duiker antelope and bushbuck antelope. But it is the 11 kinds of primates, including red-tailed and blue monkeys, black and white colobus, baboons and chimpanzees, that draw adventure travelers to the Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp.

Serving as a base camp for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to track mountain gorillas, travelers venture out on custom designed itineraries through some of the most beautiful jungle in the world, as we see in this video:


Sanctuary Retreats also sails a fleet of expedition cruise ships on the Yangzi river in China and the Nile river in Egypt as well as through the Galapagos Islands.

[Photo Credit- Flickr User extremeboh]

Is Illegal Poaching In Africa And Asia A Threat To US Security?

Illegal poaching is now seen as a potential threat to U.S. national securityThe U.S. intelligence community has been issued a new charge from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Organizations such as the CIA and NSA are being asked to assess the impact that illegal poaching across Africa and Asia is having on U.S. security interests abroad. This shift in policy indicates that the administration may be preparing to get tough on the underground black market that has been built on the bones of thousands of slaughtered animals over the past few years.

While meeting with a group of conservationists, environmentalists and ambassadors at the State Department last week, Clinton called for a unified strategy across a host of regions to help combat the illegal trade of elephant ivory and rhino horns. Those two items in particular have sparked the recent rise in poaching in Africa as suppliers look to fill the rising demand in parts of Asia. In launching this new initiative, the Secretary of State pledged $100,000 to help get new enforcement efforts off the ground, but perhaps more importantly was her announcement that the U.S. intelligence community would lend their talents to the fight for the first time.

At first glance, using U.S. intelligent assets to fight illegal poaching doesn’t necessarily seem like a good use of resources. But much of the poaching is done by rebel forces and local bandits who then use the funds to purchase better weapons and more advanced equipment. Well-armed and funded militias can be a direct threat to the stability of allies throughout Africa and Asia, where a number of fledgling governments are struggling with so many other important social and economic issues. Additionally, because poachers move across borders with impunity and ship their precious cargoes around the globe, the U.S. intelligence community seems best suited to track their movements. Their efforts could lead to not only finding the poachers while they are in the field, but also tracking down buyers in Asia who are funding these hunts.This move comes at a time when poachers are becoming more armed and using more sophisticated tactics. It is not uncommon for the illegal hunters to employ the use of helicopters, night-vision goggles and sophisticated weaponry when stalking their prey, and when confronted by local authorities, they are generally packing bigger and better guns than their foes. That has made combating the poachers extremely difficult, as they are often in and out of a game preserve before anyone knows they are there, and when they are caught in the act, it frequently turns into a deadly firefight.

Secretary of State Clinton’s announcement also takes illegal poaching out of the realm of conservation and puts it squarely into the national security arena. That is a definite change in tone over what we’ve seen out of past administrations, which generally seemed more focused on bigger international issues. Obama may consider poaching a big enough issue to take on in his second term, particularly since he has deep family ties in Kenya, another nation hit hard by poaching.

The Washington Post says that an estimated 10,000 elephants are killed each year in Tanzania alone, which gives you an indication of just how bad this problem has become. In some parts of Africa, rhinos have already been hunted to extinction and if this wholesale slaughter continues, the elephant may not be far behind. I don’t care if the U.S. government did have to come up with an excuse about national security to get more involved, I’m just happy they are taking steps to crack down on this awful trade.

[Photo credit: Kraig Becker]

Soaring Over The Serengeti In A Hot Air Balloon


This video shows two of my lifelong dreams: I’ve always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon and I’ve always wanted to take a balloon ride over the Serengeti.

Kym Elder has done both, and captured her experience in this beautiful video. She soars over zebra, giraffes, gazelles and many more animals. Flying over the herds on a near-silent balloon must be the best way to see them. You can get in close without bothering them or getting in any danger. There’s an especially nice shot of a herd of bathing hippos. When my wife and I spotted hippos on Lake Tana, Ethiopia, the boatman wouldn’t get in close for fear of getting capsized – a wise move.

Kym tells us that after the ride they sat down to a champagne breakfast in the bush. Nice!

Have you flown in a balloon over an awesome destination? Make me jealous by sharing your story in the comments section!

Ivory poaching on the rise thanks to Asian demand and a legal loophole

poaching, ivoryThe poaching of elephant tusks is a growing problem due to increased demand from Asian nations, the Kenyan newspaper Business Daily reports.

A loophole in the UN law regulating the ivory trade allows Japan and China to legally purchase some ivory from selected nations under tightly controlled contracts. This has encouraged poachers to smuggle their illegal goods to Asia. Once there, it’s much easier to unload them.

African nations are split on a global ivory ban, with Kenya supporting a ban and Tanzania wanting the trade to be legal. This basically comes down to whether nations want short-term profits by killing their wildlife and hacking their tusks off, or long-term profits from safaris and tourism.

Radio Netherlands reports that 2011 was a record year for ivory seizures, showing that at least some nations are taking the problem seriously. It also suggests, of course, that the trade is on the rise.

Authorities around the world made at least 13 large-scale seizures last year, bagging more than 23 tonnes of ivory. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, says that represents about 2,500 elephants. The figure is more than twice that of 2010.

Photo courtesy Library of Congress. It dates to sometime between 1880 and 1923, showing poaching isn’t a new problem.

Travel the world through the photography of Kyle Marquardt

photography While there are a lot of beautiful travel photos out there, the images of Kyle Marquardt have a way of capturing those quick, often missed moments while helping people to discover places not often seen by tourists, like a penguin the first second he goes to jump out of the water, a cheetah in hot pursuit of a gazelle, or an iceberg half underwater and half above. So how does he capture such moving shots?

“A certain amount of planning and expectations are required to go traveling, but when I’m finally out there in the wild, I have to respect that mother nature is in full control of the itinerary,” he explains. “I might expect that I want to get to see certain things, but you just can’t ask a group of penguins to jump into the water or a cheetah to sprint after a gazelle in front of you minutes after the sun rises in the Serengeti. You just have to show up and see what you get this time.”

Marquardt is also a photography guide, leading groups into the wild and helping them to enhance their picture taking skills while capturing images they never thought possible. When possible, Marquardt also tries to help the communities he visits. For example, on a guided photography tour in Tanzania, Africa, the group visited LOHADA, a local organization providing care, education, and shelter to young children and adults. After pooling donations, the photography group went out and bought the locals in need supplies like food, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toiletries, vitamins, paper, and pens.

Notes Marquardt, “We came to Africa for travel, luxury photography and excitement and could have forgone a visit to an orphanage. In doing what we did we left with an entirely different kind of fulfillment.”

Interested in taking a Photo Safari with Marquardt? Click here. And, if you’d like to immerse yourself in foreign cultures and landscapes without leaving your chair, check out the gallery below, which contains both published as well as never-before-seen photographs by Marquardt.

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