IE Blog

Like many Latin American countries, Colombia offers a rich hodgepodge of ethnic influences, most of which date back to the 16th century conquest by Spain. Along with the country's magical natural wonders, International Expeditions' Colombia tours also expose you to the region's rich culture.

As indigenous native populations (primarily the Muisca, of what is now the country’s Eastern range, and the Tairona of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region) mixed with the Spanish criollos, slaves brought over from Africa, and European-born whites, a distinctively Colombian culture gradually began to emerge.

By the end of the era of regional isolation and racial segregation in the late 19th century and early 20th century, the rise of mixed-race zambos coincided with the increasing popularity of pan-cultural Carnival celebrations to create a thriving Colombian arts scene.


COLOMBIAN ART

Archaeologists believe ceramic art was produced on Colombia’s Caribbean coast earlier than anywhere else in the Americas outside the lower Amazon basin, with relics dating back to 3100 BC. The Piartal culture (750-1250 AD) created vessels with patterns inspired by animal and snakeskins, which were used in burials to hold relics and jewelry.

The San Agustín culture (200 BC-800 AD) were stonecutting artisans, erecting anthropomorphic and zoomorphic monoliths up to five meters high. Gold ultimately played a pivotal role in luring the Spanish to Colombia, and the Quimbaya and Zenú people were both masters of intricate gold work. To see stunning examples of their ancient craftsmanship, visit the Zenú Gold Museum in Cartagena.

After the Spanish invasion, 16th to 18th century Colombian art was largely devoted to Baroque-style religious depictions. But by the early 20th century a more distinctive style of modern art had begun to emerge.

Influenced by the Mexican muralists, painters such as Santiago Martinez Delgado and Pedro Nél Gomez fused neoclassic and Art Nouveau elements. Alejandro Obregon mixed Andean and European influences such as surrealism and Cubism, emerging in the 1950s as one of “The Big Five” Colombian artists. But perhaps the most famous Colombian artist is Fernando Botero, who’s known internationally for his large, exaggerated figures. His famous sculpture “La Gordita” can be found in Cartagena’s Plaza Santa Domingo.


COLOMBIAN DANCE

Dancing has been an integral aspect of Colombian cultures for centuries, and you can see numerous traditional and modern styles performed Cartagena.

Bambuco is a traditional folkloric dance most popular in the country’s Andean region. Though you’re unlikely to see anyone rocking this style at a nightclub, its influence can be seen in numerous modern dance forms. Porro, which originated in Sucre, is more formal, resembling a military march. Merengue and Salsa are both very popular, but they’re not native to Colombia: They were imported from the West Indies and New York, respectively.

Mapale is a style you’re likely to see on the streets of Cartagena, with colorfully costumed troupes of drummers and dancers performing around Parque Bolivar, Plaza Santa Domingo and the Plaza de las Coches. Originally brought to the region by slaves from Angola, the energetic dance represents an erotic couples’ courtship that resembles the movements of the Mapale fish when it’s taken out of water.


colombia-tou-musicCOLOMBIAN MUSIC

The country’s most popular dance style is Cumbia, which also happens to be one of the most popular music forms in all of Latin America.

Originating as a courtship dance among West African slaves in Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region and Panama in the early 19th century, the Cumbia was originally performed using only drums and claves. Eventually the music incorporated influences from the indigenous Kogui and Kuna tribes (including flutes and percussion), the Spanish (European guitars), and even German immigrants (who brought the accordion to Barranquilla in the 19th century).

By the mid-20th century (a.k.a. “The Golden Age”), Colombian artists such as Pablo Galán and Lucho Bermúdez had crafted a refined form of Cumbia, which helped the music spread to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and beyond.

These days, traditional Cumbia is often blended with dancehall reggae, hip-hop and electronic musical influences to create a more modern, accessible sound. And while the pop music of Shakira and Rock en Espanol of Juanes may be more widely known in the U.S., it’s Cumbia that is the epitome of Colombia’s rich, distinctive cultural fusion. 



Covering nearly 143,000 square kilometers and representing more than 11% of the country’s total area, Colombia’s 58 nationally protected areas are home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. From protected coral reefs off the Caribbean coast and the 18,700-foot altitude of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range to the tropical rainforest of the southern Amazonía Region, the country boasts an impressively broad range of ecosystems to explore. International Expeditions' nature-based Colombia tours are an in-depth way to explore Colombia's rich nature while adding an impressive number of species to your "life list."

LOS NEVADOS NATIONAL NATURAL PARK

Situated in the Cordillera Central, the highest branch of the Colombian Andes, this national park was shaped over the centuries by continuous glacial activity. There are eight volcanoes there, but the 17,400 feet high Nevado del Ruiz volcano dominates the landscape. Home to 1250 species of vascular plants and myriad trees, the park also offers a cornucopia of beautiful birds (including the Bearded Helmetcrest hummingbird (pictured right) and the endangered Yellow-eared and Fuertes’s Parrots) and mammals (including the Mountain Tapir, Spectacled Bear, Cougar, and more).

PARQUE ISLA DE SALAMANCA

On the outskirts of Barranquilla, where the fresh water of the Magdalena River meets the salt water of the Caribbean Sea, Salamanca Island Road Park was created in 1964 to protect the abundant bird life that inhabits the coastal mangroves there. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000, the park boasts an impressive array of wildlife despite its dry, arid climate, including 33 mammal species, 35 species of reptiles, 9 species of amphibians, 140 species of fish, and nearly 200 species of migratory and endemic birds, many of which are endangered.

OTÚN QUIMBAYA NATURAL PARK

Located in western central Colombia, this 489-hectare nature sanctuary was established in 1996 and provides much of the water to aqueducts throughout the famed Coffee Triangle, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Long inhabited by the legendary goldsmiths of the Quimbaya culture, the Andean rainforest is also home to massive trees, bromeliads, orchids, birds, butterflies, spectacled bears, tapirs, deer and the more frequently spotted howler monkeys, whose distinctive, booming shrieks often echo throughout the park around sunrise and sunset.


RIO BLANCO RESERVE


A perennial favorite amongst avid birdwatchers, this central Andes nature reserve is operated by Fundacion Ecologica Gabriel Arango Restrepo (FUNDEGAR) and owned by a local water company. Several hiking trails provide opportunities to spot species such as the Rusty-faced Parrot, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Rufous-banded Owl, White-capped Tanager and Black-billed Mountain Toucan. But their feeders virtually guarantee you’ll see hordes of hummingbirds and Chestnut-crowned and Brown-banded Antpittas (pictured right).

SIERRA NEVADA DE SANTA MARTA NATIONAL NATURAL PARK

Reaching an altitude of 18,700 feet, but located just 42 km (26 miles) from the Caribbean Sea, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria is the highest coastal mountain range in the world. Encompassing around 6,600 square miles and isolated from the Andes, the range serves as the source for 36 of Colombia’s rivers. Established as a national park in 1964 (making it the nation’s second oldest) and as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1979, the Sierra Nevada was named the most irreplaceable park in the world for threatened species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Its tropical rainforests are home to 44 of  Colombia’s 340 endemic species, and there are 440 different species of birds (including the Andean Condor, Santa Marta Parakeet, and the Black-fronted Wood-quail). There are also numerous mammals, such a brocket deer, otters, tapir, cougar and jaguar. 

ROSARIO & SAN BERNANDO CORALS NATIONAL NATURAL PARK

Located less than an hour by boat from Cartagena, the Rosario Islands are an archipelago of more than 40 islands established as a National Park in 1977 in order to protect the most important coral reefs off of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. There are daily tours that take visitors to the largest of these islands, Isla Rosario (which has a small aquarium) and Isla Grande (which has a free private bird sanctuary). But the main attraction here is snorkeling and diving amongst the vividly colored coral and tropical fish.


Want to learn more about ecotravel in Colombia? Watch a webinar on IE's trip led by Colombia Expedition Leader Greg Homel.

All photos ©Greg R. Homel/Natural Elements Productions


Bret Love is the co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of Green Global Travel and Green Travel Reviews, and is a passionate advocate for ecotourism, environmental conservation and sustainable living. He’s also a veteran freelance writer whose work has appeared in American Way, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine and Rolling Stone.


 

Last week, the Transportation Security Administration has announced that travelers on international flights to the U.S. may be asked to prove that their electronic devices are powered before boarding at the discretion of TSA security officers. Devices with no power won't be allowed on the aircraft. The new security effort is said to be a response to fears that dead electronic devices could be used to conceal a bomb.This goes for phones and other communication electronic devices, like a tablet.

"As the traveling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers. During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening," the TSA announced. "TSA will continue to adjust security measures to ensure that travelers are guaranteed the highest levels of aviation security conducted as conveniently as possible."

The Associated Press reports that a Department of Homeland Security official told confirmed that, while the TSA cannot implement policy in other countries, it does have the power to set screening criteria and processes for flights to the U.S.

Reaction around the web to this news has predictably varied. Some travelers are concerned that they'll miss connecting flights if their children spend too much time on their device during a flight, while others wonder if airports will begin adding more charging stations in terminals. Our tip: Avoid a farewell scene with your phone or tablet by making sure your phone is fully charged and double-check that you've packed a charger (or two!).

Today, there are tremendous threats to the Galapagos Islands. Many of them are quite tangible and recognizable while others are more difficult to grasp and determine the impact of a particular alien species. Some of the recognized threats include poaching of natural resources (wildlife mainly) disturbances during critical nesting times of some birds species, the impacts of a very large tourism base and of course the introduction of non-native species. This last item, introduced species, has had an unbelievable affect on native flora and fauna and we still have much to learn about the long term affects of some of the more recent introductions to the islands.

Introductions in the past that have proven to be extremely problematic both in the devastation of habitat (flora and fauna) include goats, pigs, cats, dogs, donkeys and non-native rats. There have been many eradication programs that have been successful in removing these vertebrates from many of the islands. Once again, natural plant growth is prospering but now it seems that more tortoises are required to keep the native vegetation in check so that it can be used as nesting sites for ground nesting birds. The best example of this is on Espanola, where vegetation is becoming extremely thick and reducing the optimal area for nesting waved albatross. Today, a number of tortoises have been released so hopefully this problem will be remedied in the near future by grazing tortoises.

According to the Galapagos Conservancy, non-native introductions have included: 36 vertebrate species, one fish (tilapia), two amphibians (both are frogs), four reptiles (all are geckos), 10 birds and numerous insects and the most astounding, 543 species of plants. Insects and plants can have extremely devastating effects on ecosystems. Included in the insects introduced to the islands: scale insects that suck nutrients from their plant host, two wasps that predate upon native insect species, a parasitic fly that primarily predates on nestling birds, mosquitoes that potentially may spread West Nile Virus to both humans and birds, and fire ants. Fire ants can be devastating to ground nesting birds and reptiles as when the bird or reptile eggs hatch, the ants immediately sense this and descend upon the helpless young still in their eggs. Fire ants are the same creatures that are equally devastating to fauna in the Southern part of the U.S.

So, it is of extreme importance that cargo ships are checked for stow-aways and tourists are checked for “hitchhikers” (seeds) on their socks or shoes as they arrive from mainland Ecuador.

This will continue to be an on-going process and problem, as flora and fauna are accidentally and at times intentionally released on the islands. Nothing good comes from these introductions other than stress on an already fragile environment. Everyone can play a role in the prevention of non-native species. One easy step: Please be aware of what may be on your shoes, socks or in your luggage prior to boarding a Galapagos Islands cruise.

Learn how International Expeditions, through our partnership with IGTOA is funding the fight against introduced species.  

Naturalist Greg Greer is a favorite among IE travelers, and has gained a reputation for his friendliness and good humor, along with his incomparable knowledge of natural history. Greg's photos and articles have been widely published in books and magazines, including Georgia Outdoor News, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Alabama Outdoor News, Riversedge and Southern Wildlife.

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While this picture of Camaguey is familiar to our travelers on our people-to-people Cuba tours, the atmospheric city itself was originally closer to the coast. Camaguey was founded in 1514, and originally named Santa Maria del Puerto Del Principe. Its Colonial Historical Center is the largest UNESCO World Heritage Site. The constant pirate attacks forced the first residents to move the city in 1516 to the border of the Caonao River, in 1528 the city finally settled in the center of the province and today everybody calls it Camaguey.

Special thanks to IE's Cuba Destination Manager April Springer for the photograph.

Is there such a thing as a nocturnal monkey? Yes, and only in the New World tropics and they go by two different names, both of which are very fitting: the Owl Monkey or Night Monkey.

The Peruvian Amazon boasts a tremendous diversity in primates and in areas of the Upper Amazon Basin from Iquitos to the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve there are 13 species. There is greater diversity in this region, where we conduct our 10-day Amazon River cruises, than any other place in the world. The owl monkey is a pretty little monkey with extremely large eyes -- the better to see you with (at night) my pretty! In the beam of a spotlight, the eyes reflect back very brightly and it allows for easy spotting these otherwise very elusive and cryptic monkeys. Only on occasion may a visitor to the area be lucky enough to see an owl monkey or owl monkeys peering from a tree cavity during daylight hours; however, Amazon tour guests frequently see these guys during the day on our rainforest hikes around Ranger Station #2. Usually daytime is a time for sleep and slumber and at dusk is when the owl monkeys alarm goes off. Owl monkeys live in small groups, usually within the same tree cavity and often in a cavity that has a riverfront view. As night descends on the forest, owl monkeys begin to stir and they often call to one another with a three-hoot call, much more owl sounding than what one might think a monkey should sound. 

Owl monkeys feed on a variety of fruits as well as insects and small vertebrates. The long tail is used mainly for balance and unlike some other New World primates owl monkeys do not have a prehensile tail. In addition, due to their nocturnal behavior, owl monkeys do not have other primate competitors for in foraging but certainly other mammals, such as opossums, kinkajous and arboreal bamboo rats may compete for the same ripe fruits. Baby owl monkeys are extremely adorable creatures with huge liquid brown eyes. Because of large eye size, owl monkeys always appear to be staring. The blink of the eye is extremely quick and almost is undetectable to the human eye, thus the appearance of staring. In regards to vision, quite a bit of research has been done with owl monkeys due to their nocturnal behavior. It appears that owl monkeys are basically color blind, but their eyes respond much better to movement, such as fleeting insects and of course superior vision in very low light, unlike any other primate.

Unfortunately, owl monkeys as well as other primate species in the Amazon, are under a tremendous amount of hunting pressure from the ever expanding population of riberenos people in cities, towns and villages. It is quite apparent when visitors to the Amazon see baby animals in villages, sometimes lots of animals from parrots to caiman and monkeys to turtles. Visitors are usually asked a nominal fee to have their picture taken with an endearing animal. Usually these animals are said to be orphaned and that typically is the case, but only because the parent or parents were killed for the food pot and then the terrified baby animal or bird is brought back to the village for commercial gain. It is always best to avoid contact with animals in villages and certainly do not promote the practice by paying to have your photo taken with a cute baby monkey or any other wildlife species.  


Naturalist Greg Greer is a favorite among IE travelers, and has gained a reputation for his friendliness and good humor, along with his incomparable knowledge of natural history. Greg's photos and articles have been widely published in books and magazines, including Georgia Outdoor News, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Alabama Outdoor News, Riversedge and Southern Wildlife.

As much of the world turns its attention to Brazil for World Cup 2014, we’re looking at the iconic wildlife of the teams facing off. Our Round 1 match-up pits Chile’s guanaco, a favorite species observed on our Patagonia tours, against Australia’s iconic kangaroo. 


Chile: Guanaco

Described by Charles Darwin as “an elegant animal, with a long, slender neck and fine legs,” the guanaco is the largest wild member of the camelid family in South America. Four subspecies of guanaco have been described in the past, based on differences in skull measurements, coat coloration and body size. However, genetic studies recognize only two subspecies, Lama guanicoe guanicoe and the more northerly Lama guanicoe cacsilensis.

Did You Know?

  • Several native groups of Andes and southern region of South America used to consider guanacos as a chief source of protein.

  • A guanaco spits when it gets angry or hurt.

  • A guanaco has llamas and alpacas as its domestic descendants and is closely related to camels and vicunas.

  • Guanaco has a specially acclimatized heart and blood cells which help it fight with the atmosphere at high altitude where air does not have sufficient amount of oxygen.

  • A teaspoon blood of a guanaco contains nearly 68 million red blood cells, which is four times the number of red blood cells present in human blood.

  • Guanacos have eyes on the sides of their heads that allow them to look all around for threats.


Australia: Kangaroo

An iconic symbol of the Australian outback, the red kangaroo is the largest living marsupial, and one of the most abundant and striking of all kangaroos. And while many recognize the red kangaroo, grey kangaroos are actually the most commonly seen species when you’re in-country.

Where the Kangaroos Roam

  • Red Kangaroos are adapted to the big open plains covering the dry interior.

  • Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos prefer moister forests and scrublands of eastern, southern and south western Australia, but their habitat also overlaps with the Red Kangaroos.

  • Common Wallaroos can be found throughout inland Australia. Their preferred habitat is stone country and rocky outcrops.

  • Rock wallabies are more extreme. They live in piles of boulders, on rocky hills and even in cliff faces.

  • Tree kangaroos are adapted to living in trees (sort of, they are still clumsy). They live in the rainforests of northern Queensland (and further north in Papua New Guinea).

Who do you think wins? Leave your vote for favorite "team" in the comments below!

It takes less than 30 minutes to travel from Santa Marta to Minca, but the quaint little village in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains feels like a world away from the city.

With just 500 inhabitants – many of them indigenous peoples such as the Kággaba (Kogi), Ijka (Arhuaco), Wiwa (Arzario) and Kankuamo – this sleepy little town is an under-the-radar ecotourism gem offering attractions such as hiking, bird-watching, waterfalls and the first coffee plantation in South America.

A Spanish adventurer named Don Juan de Minca first settled the area with his family in the 19th century. He saw great potential for a coffee farm thanks to the region’s fertile soil, daily rainfall and temperate climate. He ultimately brought several Puerto Rican and Honduran families in to help him work the land, creating the first coffee plantation in the Americas. Ancestors of those families (with names like Soto and Pérez) still live in Minca today, and five rammed-earth houses from this era still stand.


HOTEL MINCA


Don Juan de Minca eventually sent his eldest daughter off to school at a convent in Barranquilla. When the Mother Superior came to visit Minca, she became so enamored with the tranquility and natural beauty of this pastoral paradise that she decided to built a convent there.

Due to the isolation of the location, the convent was closed in the 1960s. But the iconic, Colonial-style building, known as La Casona (the Big House), remained in use, serving as the town’s school and chapel at various times over the years. Eventually the Catholic Church sold it to a businessman, who planned to renovate the building and transform it into a hotel. The builders eventually found gold relics from the ancient Tayrona people hidden beneath the floor.

Bought by new owners in 2010, La Casona became Hotel Minca, with all 13 rooms completely renovated and remodeled. Set on over four acres of mature forest and gardens, the hotel’s fruit and hummingbird feeders attract more than 40 different bird species to the property. The hotel now serves as the home base for our Colombia tours as we enjoy discovering Minca’s beauty in-depth.


LA VICTORIA COFFEE

One of the town’s most popular tourist attractions, Finca La Victoria, is an organic coffee farm originally established in 1892. Built by a British company and named after their Queen at the time, the family-owned operation still uses a lot of the original 19th century machinery, which makes visiting the factory feel like you’ve taken a time machine back to a pre-Industrial Revolution production facility.

A guided tour of La Victoria’s 300-acre farm introduces visitors to the complicated journey involved in producing Colombia’s world-renowned coffee beans, from planting and harvesting to washing and roasting, all of which is powered using hydroelectric energy. Their best beans are often sold directly to Europe, but guests are treated to samples before and after the tour, and many agree it’s some of the most flavorful coffee on the planet.

Of course, incredible coffee is hardly the only reason that guests travel to Colombia and Minca…


BIRDING

Operated by the ProAves Foundation (a conservation organization devoted to protecting Colombia’s wild birds and their native habitat), Minca’s El Dorado Reserve is located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria, the highest coastal mountain range in the world. This tropical rainforest, which was named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1979, boasts a stunning array of biological diversity.

Named after the legendary city of gold, El Dorado is part of Colombia’s birding route, and is considered a Holy Grail for birding in the Americas. This 1,600-acre reserve is the only subtropical-to-mountain forest in the region that’s accessible to visitors, offering stunning opportunities to view myriad rarely-seen bird and mammal species.

More than 300 types of birds can be found in the area, including the endemic Santa Marta Parakeet (pictured right), Santa Marta Sabre-wing, and Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner; regional specialties such as the Black-backed Ant-shrike and Golden-winged Sparrow; and a variety of colorful Motmots and Toucans. Nighttime hikes occasionally reveals nocturnal species such as owls and ocelots.

For bird-watchers, wildlife lovers and other travelers who simply love getting away from it all, Minca remains a precious gem just waiting to be discovered.

Want to learn more about ecotravel in Colombia? Watch a webinar on IE's trip led by Colombia Expedition Leader Greg Homel.

All photos ©Greg R. Homel/Natural Elements Productions


Bret Love is the co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of Green Global Travel and Green Travel Reviews, and is a passionate advocate for ecotourism, environmental conservation and sustainable living. He’s also a veteran freelance writer whose work has appeared in American Way, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine and Rolling Stone.

 

The high temperatures of summer are here, bringing high energy bills in tow. But a few simple tips can help reduce your energy costs and help keep your home more eco-friendly.

Program Your Thermostat: Program your thermostats to begin cooling about 30 minutes before you return home (unless you have heat-sensitive pets, of course).

Raise The Temp. Lower Your Costs: Love to keep your home ultra-cold during the summer months? For every degree you lower your thermostat, your cooling costs increase by about seven percent.

Unplug: Save money and keep small appliances from radiating heat all day by plugging cell phones, computers, etc. into a power strip that you turn off each morning.

Fan Yourself: Using your ceiling fans along with the AC makes rooms feel about four degrees cooler, allowing you to raise the thermostat and save energy without feeling the heat. Turn fans off when you leave the room; windchill makes you feel cooler but doesn't actually drop room temperature or ventilate the house. Don't forget: Set the fan to counterclockwise rotation, which pulls hot air up and away.

Redecorate: For windows that catch direct sun, use blackout blinds or heavy drapes to minimize solar heat gain. 

Delay Your Chores: Run clothes dryers and dishwashers at night to avoid peak energy rates and the humid heat they generate. Excess humidity makes your air conditioner use extra energy to process the moisture, making it more expensive to run.

Have another tip for eco-friendly summer living? Leave it in the comment section below. 

The Humboldt penguin is very similar in both size and appearance to the more southerly Magellanic penguin. When observed from the front, they are quite easily distinguished by looking at the dark chest band or bands depending on the species. The Humboldt penguin has a single black chest band on an otherwise white chest and belly whereas the Magellanic penguin has two black chest bands.

Humboldt penguins are penguin
s of the Humboldt Current which flows from south to north from southern Chile up to Ecuador, where it turns abruptly west and bathes the Galapagos Islands in food-rich up-welling. The range of the Humboldt penguin is from central coastal Peru to Los Lagos, Chile. These adoring penguins are fearless climbers at their nesting sites and their burrows are often amid cactus or in large sea caverns that allow for elevations above the high tide mark. It is a very strange sight to see penguins in or around large clumps of cactus and it just does not seem a likely habitat for what is usually thought of as a “cold loving” species. This being said, the Humboldt Current is a cold current that is fed from the Southern Ocean, so a dip in the ocean allows the Humboldt penguin to thermo-regulate very effectively.

Humboldt penguins spend the entire Austral winter at sea, thus they are known as “pelagic” birds. While at sea, they feed on small slender fish, small squid as well as crustaceans captured at depths up to 200 feet. Penguins at sea float horizontal to the ocean surface thus appear very long. Often the head is held at a slight upward angle with the beak the highest point and their short little tails are often chocked upwards as well. It is always a pleasure to see a small group of penguins “rafting” on the surface. Sometimes they become very inquisitive and may approach quite closely to boats as long as the boat is not u
nderway. 

Of special note: There are many birders who quest to observe the entire world’s 18 species of penguin. It is quite a quest and one that I would take great pleasure in accomplishing as well. Thus far, on International Expedition nature tours, I have observed 10 species, so I am just one species beyond the half-way mark. I am hopeful that future trips will allow for observations of the other eight species. IE's expanded Patagonia tours take-in the world's most accessible colony of king penguins in the wild at Porvenir, adding to my list.


Naturalist Greg Greer is a favorite among IE travelers, and has gained a reputation for his friendliness and good humor, along with his incomparable knowledge of natural history. Greg's photos and articles have been widely published in books and magazines, including Georgia Outdoor News, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Alabama Outdoor News, Riversedge and Southern Wildlife.

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