March 2011

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We've just received this update from our Expedition Leader Jorge Salas, who is currently leading a group of International Expeditions' travelers in West Africa.

"We are now at Segou, on our way to Bamako, after exploring Timbuktu, Mopti, The Dogon Country and Djenne. It was a thrill to meet the Tuareg -- the "Blue Men" (and women) of the Sahara. The expedition is running perfectly and the amount of content is superb, thanks to our A+ lecturer and local guide. This is one of the greatest destinations of our planet."

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For the past seven years, Travel + Leisure readers and our guests have named IE one of the "World’s Best" Tour Operators and Safari Outfitters! To qualify for the awards, tour operators were judged on six criteria: staff/guides, itineraries/destinations, activities, accommodations, food and value — everything that goes into creating the experience of a lifetime for you!

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Scientists have just discovered two new species of fresh water stingrays in the Amazon rainforest near the port city of Iquitos, Peru. These two stingray species both look like pancakes with noses. The two "pancake" species belong to the first new stingray genus found in the Amazon region in more than two decades. They also represent just the fourth neotropical stingray genera. In addition to their pancake-like appearance, both rays are big, have slits on their bellies and a tiny spine on their tails.

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A quick survey of our Travel Planners has uncovered the most popular question they get about our Amazon tour: When is the best time to go?

In truth, though it may sound cliche, there really is no bad time to visit the Amazon River; however, your personal preferences and activities will play a big part in choosing which time of the year you should take an Amazon cruise.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials have announced that Wisom, the oldest living wild bird known to scientists, has returned to the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge after fears that the tsunami may have killed the 60-year-old Laysan albatross along with thousands of other sea birds. Officials believe the tsunami killed an estimated 110,000 Laysan and black-footed albatross chicks and 2,000 adults.

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IE was fortunate to welcome guest Kathryn Lamb and her father, both from London, aboard our Galapagos Islands cruise. Kathryn was good enough to share her daily diary and photos from their Galapagos vacation.

Friday
Today we were at North Seymour where we took a hike and saw all the wildlife we had seen over the course of the week in one place which was fantastic! So we took advantage and made sure we took plenty of photographs!

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As loggers, farmers and builders clear more and more patches of forest, the reproductive efforts of trees in the Amazon rainforest are being helped out by tambaqui, a fruit-eating species of fish.

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Those who come to the vast Amazon rainforest to learn about the jungle’s natural bounty of medicinal plants often encounter a complex combination of medicine and spiritual ritual administered by a local Shaman. While sometimes overlooked by those studying modern medicine, the Amazon’s medicinal plants and Shamans provide a vital link between nature’s ecosystems, ancient medicine and modern cures.