December 2011

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Protecting and conserving the Amazon, a place two-thirds the size of the U.S., is a big job. At International Expeditions we’re thrilled to have teamed up with WWF for years to provide conservation focused nature travel to this precious region – and to other destinations within Peru. And it’s a special honor to wish a happy anniversary to our travel partner WWF as they celebrate 50 years protecting the world’s wildlife and wild places.

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The The Amazon Medical Project was founded in 1990 by Dr. Linnea J. Smith, M.D., who took her first Amazon rainforest tour with IE. The clinic supports the Yanamono Medical Clinic in the remote Amazon basin of northeastern Peru by providing primary care, involving locally trained people and encouraging preventative medicine. The following is Linnea's November newsletter to friends and family.

Dear Clinica Yanamono Family, Friends, and Well-wishers –

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There are many places that travelers can go to see primates in action, but only one place where nature travelers on a Borneo tour can find the Bornean gibbon.

This primate is an endangered species, based on an estimated population reduction of more than 50 percent over the past three generations, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List (IUCN). The animals suffer from "rampant" habitat loss and over-utilization, and also fall victim to hunting, the wildlife trade and illegal hunting.

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While many on an India tour hope to see the way the nation's society, history and religions blend together to form one of the most unique cultural fabrics, travel across this vast subcontinent is equally fascinating and enriching.

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Many of the stops on a Turkey and Greece cruise have more to do with ancient Greek and Roman cultures than Christianity, but Meryemana, or the House of the Virgin, is an exception.

Local legend tells that this house, now a church, is the place Mary fled to after Jesus was crucified. Located between Ephesus and Seljuk, Turkey, the site has received the official sanction of the Vatican and is now a popular site for religious pilgrims.

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Nighttime game drives and rainforest walks are always a popular part of any IE journey – from an Amazon River cruise to the Pantanal. Our naturalists had this great tip to keep in mind for your next game-viewing excursion. When searching for wildlife at night, wear a light headlamp or hold your flashlight up to eye level. Light coming from eye level will reflect the eyes of the animals around you, making them easier to spot.
 

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The Galapagos Islands are perhaps best known for their curious and approachable wildlife, but there are 560 native species of plants in the islands—plants which arrived in the islands by natural means. And of these, 180 are endemic to the islands, meaning they are found nowhere else. The islands, formed by volcanoes, have a wide variety of climates and vegetative zones each hosting a unique set of flora and fauna. The desert-like lowland areas between the coasts and the higher-altitude areas are home to the aptly named lava cactus and lava morning glory.

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The Arenal Volcano is one of Costa Rica's most extraordinary sites, drawing thousands on Costa Rica tours every year. This nearly-perfect, conical volcano reaches 5,357 feet into the sky and for the past 40 years has offered regular eruptions that fascinate locals and visitors alike.

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Guyana is tucked away in a lesser-known part of South America, and within it is a rarely glimpsed species of big cat — the jaguar.

Many people think they know plenty about the jaguar — a spotted cat that loosely resembles a leopard or cheetah. However, this elusive, South American feline may be known more for the luxury automobiles named after it than its actual qualities.

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Few islands in Indonesia’s Nusa Tenggara chain offer the same snorkeling travelers can find on Moyo Island. Lining the perimeter of the island's coast is a gold mine of untouched coral reefs. The reefs offer a trove of biodiversity that give even the most seasoned snorkeler something to revel in.

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Most people travel to Machu Picchu and Cusco to learn about the ancient "lost city" or explore the legendary rainforest of the Amazon River. However, archaeological and natural wonders aside, the kitchens and dining rooms of Peru have plenty more to offer those who travel to Peru.

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Kanha National Park is home to a wide variety of creatures from tigers to peacocks to elephants. It is such a scenic nature travel destination that Rudyard Kipling used it as his inspiration for the classic children's story, The Jungle Book.

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Paragominas, a Brazilian municipality roughly the size of New Jersey, was once the site of rapid deforestation, losing its forests faster than any other area of the Amazon. However, the Brazilian government in partnership with The Nature Conservancy has put a stop to illegal deforestation and turn Paragominas into a "Green City."

The Nature Conservancy has been working since 2009 to end illegal deforestation in the Amazon, and recent efforts by local government officials have managed to accomplish the task in Paragominas.

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Many children dream of climbing on Pride Rock in the Disney-created land of Simba and Nala, but those on an IE custom Tanzania safari can get as close to that dream as possible.

At Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania, the game drive will offer sightings of lions, the king of the big cats. One of Africa's Big Five, the lion used to be widespread across the African continent, but now is confined to the sub-Saharan region.