Tag Archives: travel

Where the Wild Things Are: Why you Should Expose Kids to Wildlife

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Like most children, I grew up with a love for all things small, innocent and fluffy. For years, I begged my parents for a puppy, but since we traveled a lot, I ended up with fish, gerbils and rabbits, as they were easier to pawn-off on people when we went away.039_36

Yes, I would consider myself an animal lover from a young age. However, it wasn’t until young-adulthood, while traveling abroad, that I had the chance to see exotic animals in their natural habitat. Although I was in my mid-twenties and did not yet have children of my own, I remember thinking what an amazing opportunity it would be for a child to experiences true wildlife encounters.

Recently, as my daughter and I watched in awe, as two wild stags fought antler to antler, she expressed it perfectly when she said, “Wow! This is way better than Animal Planet!”  Wildlife documentaries are wonderful, but here are some reasons to expose kids to the real thing.

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As many parents will tell you, connecting children with wildlife helps to develop kind, thoughtful, considerate and caring qualities. As children begin to realize that not all animals are respected and cared for, they can learn about the people who are working fervently to preserve wildlife. You can discuss what your family can do to help and even visit a wildlife sanctuary to see caring in action. (Contact us and ask about such experiences!)

Promote Environmental Values

Respect for wildlife and the environment go hand-in-hand. Develop this knowledge in your kids and produce great role models and advocates of future preservation.

Do it for Health

Studies show that getting outdoors is healthy for our body and our mind. Whether you are going on a nature hike in your area, or hopping on a plane for a wildlife expedition abroad, getting children (and ourselves) to abandon computer screens will keep us moving and reduce stress.

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Education

The world is a living classroom (we can’t say it enough). Even your backyard can support a love for wildlife and educate kids about local flora and fauna. Take them on a family wildlife expedition abroad and they will return with a treasure chest of knowledge that they will never forget.

An Opportunity to Bond

A love for nature and wildlife is something that is stimulating to people of all ages. Through learning and discovering the natural world, you will find boundless wild activities to do together.

How do I find out more?

Contact us and ask about the best family itineraries for optimal wildlife viewing. Experiences can range from staying deep in the rainforest, surrounded by nature and animals, to visiting wildlife sanctuaries or locations where endangered sea turtles are nesting.

Panama – in the (Green)Spotlight

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We’re putting Panama in the spotlight this week. Sometimes found in the shadow of other Central American countries, this unique and intriguing destination has a glow all its own and deserves to be celebrated.

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Speaking of celebrations…the Carnival of Panama (also known as King Momo’s party) recently took place. Each year, in the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday, the cultural festivities come alive – complete with night parades, elaborate costumes, dance festivals and musical groups, along avenues and in city squares. If you are an advanced planner, you might want to consider this for your next February travels.

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Albeit a spectacular display of cultural pageantry, if glitzy festivity is not your thing, the remarkable natural beauty and assortment of adventurous opportunities in Panama might catch your attention more. Slightly smaller than the U.S. state of South Carolina and hugged by the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, there is an astounding amount of diversity to be found in Panama. Not only does Panama City have the largest urban population in Central America, much of the country’s flora and fauna cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

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Whether you are hiking through the rainforest with one eye peeled for the Resplendent Quetzpanama_snorkleals, or on a snorkeling expedition, spotting vibrant tropical fish, there is no shortage of wildlife viewing in Panama.

As always, the activity level of your adventure is entirely up to you. With some of the best eco-lodges around, you can wake up surrounded by the sounds of life in a tropical rainforest or with waves lapping the shores. Get out there and do something active, or enjoy unsurpassed hammock views and unwind, knowing that tomorrow is another day in paradise.

 

 

Winter – As Seen in the Glow of Nordic Candlelight

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In the northern hemisphere, we are in the middle of the coldest and darkest days of the yeafrostr and you might be dreaming of (or even packing for) your next adventure to a tropical destination. Here at GreenSpot, we are completely in favor of that strategy. However, something remarkable happened to me during the years I lived in Scandinavia.

I began to appreciate winter.

Not because I am a skier or because I enjoy the childish construction of a man made of snow (although both are true), but I learned to recognize winter as a season with its own worth. This appreciation is part of Scandinavian culture and as a native weather-complainer, I found it fascinating.

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A mother once explained to me that Scandinavian children are taught the value of all the seasons. I soon realized that rainy-day recess at school did not exist. “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” is a popular saying in Nordic lands. Not only have I found this to be true (and have stocked up on wool and waterproofs accordingly), but it began to resonate with me as a beautiful way to encourage outdoor exploration during any time of year.

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Apart from a wooly Icelandic sweater, another Nordic winter secret can be found indoors, complete with dim lighting, fleecy sheepskin, and more candlelight than any other region of the world. In Denmark, they have a word for this – hygge – described as a mental state, rather than physical. Whether it be tea, wine, soft blankets, a roaring fire or family and friends…cold is combated by warmth, in every sense of the word.

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We can’t forget the spectacular northern lights! Best seen in the winter months when darkness reigns. The aurora borealus might be enough to get you packing your wooliest sweater and heading north into the cold, dark (and ever-so-cozy) Nordic regions. If not, perhaps this post will help you get through the rest of winter, or until your next trip to sunnier skies.

Ask us when to see the northern lights in Iceland!

Goats in the Highway – Travel to Turkey

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Holding hands in a circle, while a sparkly bagpipe-like instrument (a tulum) blared away with a pretty catchy tune, I was reminded once again that I was born with a very, very subtle sense of rhythm. Our Turkish hosts were attempting valiantly to show us a few of what I’m sure were the simplest traditional dances they could think of, and it wasn’t going well. Fun, but not pretty, would be an apt description.

Avoiding support posts and beams in the small dining hall as went ring-around-the-rosy-style around the room, with intermittent stomps, yells, and arm waving, couldn’t have been a more effective ice breaker.

The Eastern Black Sea Development Agency invited three board members from The International Ecotourism Society (TIES – www.ecotourism.org) to tour Turkey, especially their relatively unexplored northeast corner of the country. A secret they’d like to share a bit more, but in a sustainable way. Accompanying me was Hitesh Mehta, (h-m-design.com) the pioneering ecolodge designer, and Masaru Takayama, Executive Director of the Japan Ecolodge Association (japan-ecolodge.org).

The Turks were asking for our expertise in developing their style of travel to Turkey and sharing ecotourism experiences with the growing number of travelers looking for a deeper connection with the places we all visit. We were joined by writers and travel company representatives, all focused on experiencing places by connecting with local people and learning about local customs and daily life as part of a more meaningful form of tourism.

The view of the Kaçkar Mountains from a sleepy village speaks volumes about the natural setting in Eastern Turkey.

 

A late flight into Istanbul and the resulting missed connection to the coastal city of Trabzon, the main city in Turkey’s northeast, had us up the next at 4 a.m. and on the highway east right away. Visually, the surprise as you leave Trabzon and head into the surrounding mountains is how green this region is, everywhere. Mountains, valleys, rivers, waterfalls and coastline with dense forest spread as far you can see, broken only by small villages and the occasional town.

My longtime interest in travel to Turkey centered on the history and culture. While the east is full of diverse and living cultures, the verdant natural landscape is different than what I’d envisioned. The roadblock of a lounging goat herd or a woman leading her flock along a mountain pass was much more in line with my expectations.

Standing a few feet away from the Turkish-Georgian border, which is actually fairly porous due to some complicated negotiations with the locals in both countries, we waited for the rest of our group who hadn’t missed flights. A few steps up the hill was the first place our Turkish hosts wanted to share – a wooden mosque built in 1855. A flurry of photography quickly gave way to a peaceful, meditative moment in a unique space, designed and cared for with an eye for simplicity and peace. See out the window below…

 

A Turkish Roadblock

 

Read More on Days 2-10 soon!

 

Wooden Mosque from 1855 on the Turkey-Georgia Border

Article and photos: Richard G. Edwards @greentravelguy

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Snack Stops: an exceptional local guide stops the car at her family's working grape field on the way to the day's hike and let's you find red and white samples, full of taste and texture and juice, and brings a few for later.
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#Karpathos #greatguides #grapes
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15 hours ago  ·  

Being invited into a local family's home, like Evangelia's, to share in tradition creates the most lasting travel memories, doesn't it?
Yesterday we didn't know how to make Greek pasta, today we do (sort of).
It was delicious.
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2 days ago  ·