Posts Tagged ‘eco-travel’

Volunteers Rebuild Nepal, Brick by Brick

nepal travel

One year has passed since the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in April last year. While Nepal is doing everything it can to recover and rebuild, the country is still in need of significant aid and resources.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, Projects Abroad initiated a Disaster Relief Project to assist with the recovery process. Since the project began in June 2015, hundreds of Projects Abroad volunteers have made incredible progress in helping with the organization’s goal of restoring a safe learning environment for children in the Kathmandu Valley. Currently volunteers’ efforts are focused on reconstructing Yashaswi Gurukul English Secondary School, the sixth Disaster Relief site to date. Their help has been invaluable.

volunteer nepal

When the work at Yashaswi Gurukul is completed, the new building will also serve another purpose. As aftershocks continue even nine months later, and the fear of another large-scale quake remains, the school building will be able to serve as a safe gathering space for the local community, in case of further disaster. Projects Abroad staff estimate that work at this site will conclude in the next month or so, and then volunteers will move on to the next site where they are desperately needed.

Projects Abroad has made a commitment, not only through Disaster Relief but also through Teaching and Care Projects, to restore stability to the education of young students. In working with dedicated local experts and volunteers, the organization is striving to get Nepalese communities back on their feet, brick by brick!

For more information on how to get involved yourself with Disaster Relief work in Nepal, have a look here:

www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-projects/building/disaster-relief/volunteer-nepal

 

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Honduras: An Eco-Resort’s Latest Organic Offering

The Lodge at Pico Bonito’s New Organic Spa and More…

Honduras Eco Hotel

Dinner at The Lodge at Pico Bonito (c) Small Luxury Hotels of the World

We’re back from the holidays and we’re already ready to plan our next vacation. You too? If getting back to the grind is inspiring daydreams of ditching it all for a trip away from it all, we have a great suggestion for you…

The majestic jungles of Honduras!

Because really… there’s nothing like being in the middle of the glorious jungle filled with over 40 different types of tropical butterflies, toucans, motmots, and miles of private trails through canyons, waterfalls, and swimming holes. If that’s not reason enough, how about a mystical Temazcal (Mayan sauna) in the center of the jungle to get your trip – and your soul – steered in the right direction?

The Pool at Pico Bonito

The Pool at Pico Bonito (c) Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Temazcal, which comes from the Nahuatl Word temacalli, means ‘house of heat.’ Originating in the pre-Hispanic indigenous culture in Mesoamerica, legend has it that the dome shape of the steam house represents Mother Earth’s womb, and those taking part in a Temazcal are said to experience a rebirth.

Honduras’ top eco-resort, The Lodge at Pico Bonito, is inviting travelers to abandon the stresses of home, ignite a new outlook on life, and increase circulation of the senses with their new organic spa offerings and we think it sounds like an excellent idea. It’s also been named one of the top 50 eco-lodges by National Geographic Traveler.

Honduras Eco Resort Lodge Pico Bonito

The Lodge at Pico Bonita’s Standard Room in the Center of the Jungle

The new outdoor spa, set to debut on January 15th, will have three circular cabins on stilts to maintain balance and harmony with the natural energies of the environment (one cabin for individual massage, one cabin for couples massage, one cabin with a Vichy shower, one Temazcal, and a nearby plunge pool).

Here some just a few deliciously organic spa offerings:

Revitalizing Cotinga, in the Temazcal, begins with an aromatic steam therapy to oxygenate the pores of your skin. The treatment continues in their Vichy shower with a pineapple exfoliation and a therapeutic anti-inflammatory chamomile mud wrap. (Note: Temazcal rituals need two people per session so bring along your partner for a truly liberating couples experience)

Aromatherapy, or Essential Oil therapy, is also on offer. Taking a holistic approach of using extracts from plants to balance, harmonize and improve the mind, body and soul by using essential oils such as spruce, rosewood spruce, rosewood, frankincense, and blue tansy. Detox relaxes muscles, improves circulation and relieves joint pain by using essential oils such basil, grapefruit, cypress, marjoram, mint, and lavender to drain and remove toxins.

Organic spa treatment

Organic Ingredients Good Enough to Eat!

Organic Fruit Facials incorporate seasonal fruits like cucumber, melon, banana, lychee, papaya, pineapple and passion fruit, along with cacao and honey, to refreshen your face. The best part? Their 50-minute facial only costs US $45. For those feeling even more romantic, there’s the Romantic Rio Coloradito Treatment, a lavender-fused massage to delete back and neck tensions from all those days sitting at the computer. It’s followed with a warm foot purification scrub (using honey and flowers for her and herbs for him) while sipping on a delicious tea from local fruits and aphrodisiac spices.

Honduran Rafting Excursion!

Honduran Rafting Excursion! (c) Small Luxury Hotels of the World

The eco-lodge is worth the escape alone. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World™, its five-star amenities are set on the edge of Honduras’ second largest National Park, ten miles from La Ceiba. There’s a trio of four-story observation decks overlooking the jungle canopy and adventures like white water rafting and jungle safaris through protected mangroves make it an unforgettable experience. Plus, with only 22 private cabins, it’s the perfect place to escape city life, in eco-chic style.

www.picobonito.com 

Sustainable Cruising in the Galapagos

Sustainable Cruising on the Galapagos

Sustainable Cruising on MV Origin 

Sustainable cruising. It’s something we like to promote because, in addition to trains, it’s a great way to make the journey the destination. Plus, who doesn’t want to see big turtles in style? To that end, Ecoventura, a leader in sustainable cruising through the Galapagos Islands, has just announced inaugural departures for its newest premium class vessel, MV Origin, whose maiden voyage departs from San Cristobal Island on January 17, 2016. 
The newest and only vessel of its kind, MV Origin is positioned to redefine the cruising experience by combining modern sophistication with environmental responsibility, alternating between seven-night A & B itineraries to reduce the impact of visits to the islands’ most popular sites.  On January 17, MV Origin will join Ecoventura’s existing fleet on the B itinerary through the northwestern route. Its maiden voyage on the A itinerary departs on January 24, taking guests around the southern central route through the islands. Both itineraries include daily, personalized excursions with optional snorkel and kayak tours led by two onboard, certified naturalists.
A snapshot of the islands

A snapshot of the islands

The 20-passenger mega-yacht (we must admit, we love anything that marries sustainability… with mega-yachtdom) will feature 10 deluxe staterooms distributed throughout one deck, and a variety of onboard amenities designed especially for the discerning traveler. These will include locally inspired gourmet cuisine, and recreational equipment such as a Jacuzzi and fitness center. MV Origin will also feature expansive indoor and outdoor social and observation areas allowing for easy comfortable viewing of the islands’ unique scenery and topography.  
Rates for 2016 start at $6,500 per person, but are all inclusive. Based on double occupancy, that means all meals and snacks, Captain’s welcome and farewell cocktail, all alcoholic beverages, guided shore excursions, snorkel equipment and sea kayaks, as well as transfers in the islands between the airport and dock.

We think that sounds pretty pretty (Dar)winning to us!

Lake Mojave and Cottonwood Cove Resort’s Eco-Dive and Environmental Clean Up Day

Lake Mojave

Lake Mojave’s Cottonwood Cove and Marina

We like a good cause related adventure and in the spirit of keeping our natural habitat looking and functioning great, Forever Resorts, in cooperation with the National Park Service, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the area SCUBA diving community, will host its annual Eco-Dive and Environmental Clean-up Day at Cottonwood Cove Resort and Marina. It’s a chance for eco-conscious individuals to come out and help clean up the marina, the dock, and surrounding beach areas with others who share their passion for preserving the beauty of our National Park lands.

Did we also mention you can rent houseboats? There’s something Wild West on the Water about Houseboats, isn’t there?

More than 19,500 pounds of debris have been collected over the last seven clean-up days at Cottonwood Cove—that’s nearly 10 tons of trash. Individuals wishing to volunteer for Clean-up Day should remember to wear loose fitted or layered clothing closed toed shoes, sunglasses/hat, and sunscreen. Tools and bags will be provided. The first 100 participants to arrive will receive t-shirts and all who register will be entered in a raffle to receive prizes.

WHEN:
Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015

EVENT OVERVIEW:
7:30 a.m. –  Registration

8:30 a.m. – Land volunteer safety meeting and departure

8:45 a.m. – Diver safety meeting and departure

9:30 to 10:30 a.m. – Harbor closure for first dive; land volunteers on beaches

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. – snack/water break

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Harbor closure for second dive; land volunteers on beaches

11:30 a.m. – BBQ begins for land volunteers

12:30 p.m. – BBQ for divers

1 to 2 p.m. – Raffle and giveaways

WHERE:
Cottonwood Cove Resort & Marina on Lake Mohave
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
Located 14 miles east of Searchlight, Nev.

Directions to Cottonwood Cove from Las Vegas:
Take US-93 S/US-95 S, and the get off at the exit toward Searchlight, NV. Merge onto US-95. Turn left at W. Cottonwood Cove Road.

Directions to Cottonwood Cove from Laughlin, Nev.:
Go North on NV-163, turn slight right onto US-95. Turn right at W. Cottonwood Cove Rd.

Directions to Cottonwood Cove  from Southern California:
Take 15-N toward Las Vegas. Take the exit for Hwy 164-E (Nipton Rd) toward Searchlight. Hwy 164 turns into Cottonwood Cove Road

www.CottonwoodCoveResort.com

Iceland’s Bill Chill Adventure

Iceland's Miraculous Northern Lights

Iceland’s Miraculous Northern Lights

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times before, but we are just a little bit obsessed with Iceland and seeing the Northern Lights.

So, when we heard that Dr. Sarah Aciego, the glaciochemist (yes, glaciochemist!) who pioneered isotope dating of ice cores at the University of Michigan and co-founder of Big Chill Adventures, was unveiling the company’s inaugural “Diamond Circle Tour” tour of Iceland, we had to let our readers know. Northern Lights sightings; exploring lava tubes, volcanic pillars, black sand dunes, stone forests, turf farmhouses, geothermal fields and active volcanoes; and stories of trolls and elves all highlight this unique Iceland adventure.
“High magnetic activity, long nights, and clear skies provide the highest chance of Northern Lights sightings all year long,” said Aciego. “The remnants of past volcanic eruptions provide caves and unique geologic formations, while the heat of the active volcanic fields combined with the meltwater from the glaciers create geothermal phenomenon unrivaled throughout the world.”

Day 1, September 21
Tour the Hallmundarhraun Lava Field and Fljótstunga Farm. Explore the largest lava tube cave in Iceland, Viðgelmir. Meet some Icelandic Horses, take the Lava Circle Walk and possibly see some migrating whooper swans.

Day 2, September 22
Spend the morning visiting trolls — first a drive to 3,300 foot tall Tröllakirkja “Church of the Trolls” and then onto the largest saltwater lagoon in Iceland where guests will investigate black sand dunes.

Day 3, September 23
Travel to Glaumbær Farm to tour traditional turf farmhouses built in 900 A.D. Dine in Akureyri, the largest “city” in northern Iceland, before traveling to the Goðafoss waterfall.

Day 4, September 24
Tour the geologically diverse and spectacular Northeast of Iceland. Continue on to Vesturdalur walking trails and the strange basalt rock formations of Hljóðaklettar, which means “echoing rocks”.

Day 5, September 25
Explore the geothermal field of Hverir, with steaming vents, hissing chimneys and bubbling hot pots of mud. Trek around Lake Myvátn toward the Sigurgeir Bird Museum. Climb Vindbelgjarfjall with spectacular views of the lake from the top.

Day 6, September 26
Visit the “Black Castles” of Dimmuborgir, a huge 2,300 year-old field of twisted volcanic pillars, tunnels and arches made of coagulated rock. Drive to Akureyri, with time to enjoy some lunch before departing for Reykjavik.

The 6-day/7-night tour departs September 20, 2015 and starts at $3,850 per person.

For more information on this Iceland holiday or other tours to Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and the Canadian Rockies:

http://bigchilladventure.com/

Embracing the Outdoors This Winter

Someone has a taste for snow

Someone has a taste for snow

Even in winter, national wildlife refuges hold infinite pleasures and surprises for nature lovers. Ducks and geese in profusion, a furtive red fox darting past, animal prints stamped clearly in the ground, the creaking of trees in the cold. So, we thought, what better way to flex your eco-adventuring muscles than to try exploring some trails by snowshoe or take a wildlife tour … on a horse-drawn sleigh. Whatever your mode of transportation, national wildlife refuges will make the outing unique (not to mention visually inspiring).

So, warm up at one of a host of special National Wildlife Refuge events – from wreath-making workshops to wildlife presentations – and make the most of this time of year.

Winter Photography Lecture and Hike
Saturday, January 4, 9:30 a.m. to noon — Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Taking photos in winter can be a challenge. Learn how to set your camera to keep skin tones true and the snow from looking dingy grey. The lecture will also cover shooting techniques, shooting locations and how to stay warm and protect your gear. Bring any type of camera and warm winter clothing.

Winter Bird Count for Kids
Saturday, January 4, 8 a.m. to noon — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Young Birders in its 4th annual event for kids. The event will include presentations, an introduction to eBird, and a tally rally with hot pizza and beverages.

Game Day Sunday
Sundays, January 5 and 19, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Enjoy fun, educational games for the whole family in the Discovery Room.  Try your skill at “Bird-opoly” or perhaps you might get “Caught in a Web” with insect trivia. No reservations are required. First-come, first-served. Games for ages 5+.

Bird Walk: Winter Waterfowl and Other Birds
Sunday, January 9, 9 a.m. to noon — John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA
Join a free, guided bird walk, featuring waterfowl, woodpeckers, sparrows, raptors and herons.  Bring binoculars or borrow them from the visitor center. No experience necessary.

All About Snakes
Saturday, January 11, 10 a.m. — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Learn about snakes from an expert in this Second Saturday nature program.

2nd Annual Festival of the Cranes  
Saturday, January 11, 8 a.m. — Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, AL
See thousands of wintering sandhill cranes as well as whooping cranes and white pelicans. Enjoy refuge tours, birding workshops, nature walks, live raptors and kids’ activities.

Marsh Bird Walk
Sundays, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Explore native birds and raptors with a guided walk at Sweetwater Marsh. Meet at the Living Coast Discovery Center (LCDC) entrance. While the refuge is free to enter, this guided tour with LCDC docents requires LCDC admission ($14).

Second Saturday Nature Programs
Saturday, January 11 — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy a free nature program about the snakes of north Texas. The program includes an indoor talk and a brief field trip on the refuge.

Photo Workshop
Saturday, January 11, 10 to 11 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Learn tips and tricks to great wildlife photography from visitor services staff. Get the inside track on the best locations for refuge photos during this auditorium program. After the program, take advantage of a special photo op.

Bird Walk
Sunday, January 12, 9 to 11 a.m. — Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge, CA
Take a free guided bird hike with Audubon Society walk leaders. Borrow binoculars; share the walk leader’s spotting scope. Bird walks usually cover a distance of about two miles. Beginners are welcome.

Wichita Mountains Eagle Watch    
January and February dates TBD, 1:30 to 4 p.m. — Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, OK
Enjoy an interpretive program at refuge headquarters, followed by a bus tour to search for bald and golden eagles. Children must be 8 or older. Wheelchair accommodations can be made by request. Reserve beginning December 31:  580-429-2151. Bring binoculars if possible.

Snowshoe Clinic 
Saturday, January 18, 9 a.m. to noon — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join Sudbury Valley Trustees and Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) of Acton, Marlborough, and Northborough for a snowshoe clinic at Memorial Forest in Sudbury. EMS will provide snowshoes and instructions for those who need them. Space is limited. Sign up early.
SVT’s Memorial Forest includes the southern unit of Assabet River Refuge. Register here.

Wildlife Viewing Tours
Saturday, January 18 to Sunday, January 19, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Let a naturalist be your guide for this family-friendly bus tour. See bison, hawks, eagles, deer and more in a winter landscape.

Bird Watching Trek
Monday, January 20, 8 to 10 a.m. — Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, MN
The Wilkie Unit is a great place to see winter birds. Trumpeter swans, sucks, rough-legged hawks, bald eagles, and northern shrikes have overwintered here in the past. Bring your binoculars and favorite field guide.

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival 
January 22 –27, Eastern Florida State College, Titusville, FL
The 17th annual event is billed as the largest birding and wildlife festival in the United States. . Festival includes field trips to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Eagle Watch    
On selected Saturdays in January. Dates TBD, 9 a.m. — Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, OK
After an orientation at the refuge office, take a guided bus tour to see nests through scopes. Contact: 918-773-5271.

Ecuador & Eco-Travel Voluntourism

The Amazing Yasuni National Park

In the mood for a little eco-travel and voluntourism? Brand spankin’ new programs in the field of international volunteering have just been launched… hurrah! United Planet, a leader in the field, has recently added to its offerings in the beloved country of resource rich Ecuador. United Planet is an international non-profit based in Boston that strives to create a world in which all people understand, respect, and support one another. Their global network of leaders and volunteers fosters cross-cultural understanding and addresses shared challenges to unite the world in a community beyond borders.

Sue, a Nurse, Volunteering in Ecuador

Over the past ten years, they’ve worked with local communities all over the world to find meaningful work for volunteer travelers; and have placed thousands of volunteers in those communities to live and work – for periods ranging from a week to a year. Volunteers may now work with wildlife/animals in the Amazon; indigenous people in the Amazon jungle; or in environmental conservation in the Galapagos.

Amazon River Dolphin!

These programs supplement the long-standing and popular programs in Quito and the Cloud Forest, where volunteers can work with children (teaching, childcare, working with at-risk youth);healthcare; or on environmental projects. We likey. Did we mention our father-in-law has lived there for the last 20 years. Ecuador is one of those still-off-the-beaten-track countries for mainstream tourists so it’s managed to hold onto it’s indigenous culture (and it’s inexpensive prices), unlike some it’s competitors.

Why are these new programs so great? you ask.

Because volunteers ‘get to experience more of Ecuador’s diversity,’ says Theresa Higgs, Vice President of Global Operations at United Planet. “United Planet is looking to provide its volunteers with new experiences in a variety of projects. Ecuador is a wonderful place for almost anyone seeking to volunteer: it’s easy to get to, the dollar is strong, and the people are famous for their warmth and hospitality. ”

At the Wildlife Project, volunteers have the opportunity to care for animals that have suffered from maltreatment or been victims of animal trafficking. Volunteers can work at an Animal Rescue Center and help protect the wildlife of Ecuador’s Amazon. Volunteers also have the opportunity to island-hop through the Galapagos.  At Tortuga Bay, they can observe marine iguanas and turtles, sharks and hike through an ecologically diverse rainforest. If they’re looking to relax, volunteers can enjoy the stretches of white-sand beaches.

The White Sand Beaches of Tortuga Bay - Galapagos Islands

In Floreana, volunteers will be exposed to the history of the island, having the opportunity to explore caves once inhabited and used by pirates. Snorkeling in the crystal bay after a day of new discoveries in the caves is also available. At the Charles Darwin station, volunteers will continue to explore the history of the Galapagos and enjoy the clear-water that yields sights of reef sharks. There is also a chance to see colonies of Galapagos Penguins who have recently been relocated to this site.

So, I don’t know about you, but taking off to give and receive some Amazonian love sounds really good right about now.

http://www.unitedplanet.org/volunteer-in-ecuador


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