Eco Travel

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Low-level fires are a natural but infrequent occurrence in rainforests, but due to industrialization, logging and other deforestation, the severity of forest fires is increasing. This may pose a serious threat to the plants and animals of these regions, and many scientists are concerned for the future of the Amazonian rainforest. The impact of forest fires on local bird populations in Brazil was the focus of a recent study conducted by researchers from the U.K. and Brazil.

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When you consider some of Latin America's greatest landmarks, it's no surprise that it's such a playground for the adventure seeker. Arenal Volcano, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef are just a few of the most notable landmarks.

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The passion flower is one of the few hundred endemic plant species of the Galapagos Islands. Passion flowers can be found in South American, but only those growing on the Galapagos are white — others are purple or red. The white flowers that bloom on the islands are the most common variant of the species, which has earned them the title of the official flower of the Galapagos.

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The Galapagos Islands are legendary for their population of curious, approachable wildlife, and South Plaza island — one of the smallest in the chain — is a great place to see many of the Galapagos' endemic creatures.

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Lonesome George, the giant tortoise that became perhaps the best-known resident of Galapagos Islands passed away this past Sunday in his pen at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Scientists estimate that he was around 100 years old.

According to Galapagos National Park officials, Fausto Llerena, George’s keeper for 40 years, found him dead in his corral. With George’s passing, the Pinta Island subspecies of giant tortoise is now considered extinct.

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Costa Rica is one of the most popular ecotourism destinations in the world, and the 2012 Happy Planet Index (HPI) recently named the Central American nation the happiest country on the planet. To determine the ranking of 151 nations, the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in the U.K. analyzes countries based on their average life expectancies, ecological footprints and experienced well-being.

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International Expeditions’ Patagonia tour is expanding in 2013 and will allow guests an rare opportunity to visit Tierra del Fuego’s Porvenir, home to world’s most accessible colony of king penguins. King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) are the second largest member of the family and probably the most beautiful and charismatic species of the penguin world.

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Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic symbols of Peru and the Inca culture, but urban development threatens this archaeological treasure. UNESCO, the United Nations-run organization that protects historical and natural sites around the world, recently launched an evaluation to determine the level of preservation of Machu Picchu. The investigators found more stringent regulations are necessary to protect the ancient ruins.

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Southern Nicaragua's Mombacho Volcano is unmistakeable. Wherever you seem to turn, there it is hovering over the landscape. Whether it's walking the streets of Granada, taking a panoramic photograph from the top of Iglesia de la Merced, or boating around Lake Granada, Mombacho captures your attention. And that with Mombacho not even being one of Nicaragua's tallest volcanoes, at just below 4,500 feet. However, for the outdoor adventurist, Mombacho has a lot to offer.

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