Just go with it.
Sadly the local hero of the Galapagos Islands, known fondly as ‘Lonesome George’, was found dead on Sunday, 24 June, 2012. George was a Galapagos tortoise and tragically it seems likely that his death marks the end of the Pinta Island subspecies.
It was hoped that he had many good breeding years in him yet, as he was thought to be a sprightly 100 and they often live close to 200 years, but there’s been no romance for George in a long time and attempts to produce George Juniors or little Georginas have all failed. George lived at the Charles Darwin Research Station, where he had become a symbol for the Galapagos Islands and pin-up boy for endangered species.
In late January, when the 19th Egyptian Marathon took place in Luxor, one special entrant caused some surprise and consternation. In fact the policeman at the car park said that young Felix wasn’t allowed.
After much negotiation by Felix’s companion, Kim, he was able to proceed and win hearts along the way. You see Felix is an orphan and resident of Animal Care in Egypt (ACE). That’s right, Felix is a donkey!
In 1835 Charles Darwin described the Galapagos Islands as a “living laboratory”. Fortunately centuries later the islands are still a haven for unique flora and fauna, but there is a growing threat – tourism. In an effort to protect the native animals, new cruising restrictions will come into effect in 2012, but more can be done to travel responsibly in the region.
Intrepid’s Active Galapagos is a great example, because you stay on the islands and support communities by dining in local restaurants, rather than just running up a tab on the boat. And as Sean Kennaway discovered, your wildlife encounters will still be amazing…
Ask travellers to Costa Rica what they love most about the country and 9 times out of 10 they say the diversity. Elly Athey couldn’t agree more and her trip highlights were worlds apart…
“There have been two things I have always wanted to do – take a surf lesson, in waters so warm that I didn’t need a wet suit, and walk at the base of live Volcano! Two extremes I agree, but those two activities were what drew me to Costa Rica.
“This island-hopping trip explores the Galapagos by panga boats and you stay in hotels, which means you have more time to meet the locals…”
The ancient Greeks believed that dolphins were closely related to Gods and Goddesses, Australian Aborigines consider the dolphin a spiritual guide and protector and dolphins hold special significance for Maori people of New Zealand. So it’s no wonder Zoe Rees felt it was a real privilege to swim with these captivating creatures…
“As I floated in the deep blue water, I looked up, admiring the piercing sapphire sky and back drop of the dramatic mountains surrounding the harbour. It was spring, but still some snow remained on the highest peaks. I glanced down, trying without luck to see the ocean floor, shivering with a mixture of cold water chills and anticipation. Suddenly someone on the boat moored nearby let out an excited “behind you! behind you!”
Seen one herd of elephant, think you’ve seem them all? Wrong! There’s no way you can ever tire of seeing these incredible creatures in the wild and getting up close to a bull elephant is still one of Sean Elliott’s most magical moments in Kenya…
“From the very first game drive we were just blown away by it all. And that excitement didn’t let up until our last day in Kenya, when we topped it off with an amazing experience. Throughout the Intrepid trip we were lucky enough to come in close contact with giraffes, zebras, lions, warthogs (like pumba from The Lion King!), hyenas, rhino and hippos, but it’s the elephants that I’ll always remember.
When the ‘call of the wild’ comes to you, it’s good to keep in mind how you can view wildlife in an optimum way. A way that enables you to experience wildlife behaving naturally and that doesn’t stress the animals. Intrepid’s friends at the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Born Free Foundation have helped us compile the following tips:
– Respect the ‘personal space’ of the wildlife in their habitat. If a visitor or vehicle causes an animal to alter its behaviour, then the visitor has invaded its space and influenced its normal behaviour. Observe nature as it occurs naturally and not as to how it responds to your presence there.
It might be hard to put into words what it’s like to spot your first wild animal, but Intrepid’s Danielle Jeffreson still can’t stop talking about her South Africa experience…
“It’s 5.30am and the temperature is hovering around a fairly chilly 10 degrees Celsius (50F). We are about to set off on our first game drive in search of the Big 5 in Kruger National Park. The open backed safari vehicle definitely gets the cool wind rushing through your hair and everyone is excited with the prospect of sighting their first animal.