Latin America

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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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Our second full day in the Amazon on our International Expeditions River Cruise started at the crack of dawn, as we left on our skiffs for an early morning birdwatching expedition on a small tributary of the Ucayali River. We saw dozens of species along the way, but the light was largely too low (or the birds too far away) for good photos, even with my 400mm lens. But this gorgeous Dusky Headed Parakeet proved remarkably cooperative, posing atop a stump near the water.

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You will see many different species of monkeys on International Expeditions’ Amazon River cruises, but few compare to the uakari. This endangered animal stands out from the crowd with distinct features including a red face, short tail and bald head. IUCN Redlist classifies all three subspecies of the uakari as vulnerable, just one step away from being endangered. When the animals become excited, their faces flush. This may be a tactic for attracting mates, as pale skin is often a sign a uakari monkey is sick.

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Iguana, piranha fishing and capped heron...and it was just Day 1 of Bret and Mary's Amazon River cruise with IE! Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is a website devoted to ecotourism, nature/wildlife conservation & sustainable living.

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Although not the most natural of attractions in Central America, the Miraflores Locks are still an important part of society in Panama and have important implications there. It is hard to imagine a time before the Panama Canal, even though it was not too long ago that it was dug out. Finished in the early 20th century, it forever changed the face of shipping in North and South America. Locks are a crucial aspect of the canal, lifting ships up 85 feet to the main elevation of the canal.

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Many distinct animals make their homes in South America's Andes mountain range, including the brilliantly colored Rupicola peruviana - commonly known as the Andean cock-of-the-rock. And since Peru is home to the most known bird species in the world, the Andean cock-of-the rock had to beat out some impressive species to earn the title of “national bird. ” The main reasons this bird was chosen above the other hundreds of bird species found in Peru are its striking plumage and unique mating rituals.

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Alligators are some of the most dangerous predators in the world, and few are more feared than the black caiman. These semi-aquatic reptiles are the largest alligator species on the planet, and the deadliest killers in the Amazon rainforest. They tend to stick to shallow waters, so your Amazon River cruise guides will be on the look-out for these creatures on skiff excursions through the South American jungles.

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The landscapes of Chilean Patagonia are so impressive and brimming with sights that nature travel enthusiasts can’t absorb everything in just one trip. After you’ve explored the famed glaciers and landscapes of Torres del Paine, adventurers should consider venturing off of the beaten path to the Marble Cathedral near General Carrera glacial lake on the border of Chile and Argentina. The remoteness of this location makes it a bit complicated to reach, but once you get there, you'll be glad you made the effort.

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Tortuguero National Park, one of Costa Rica's most famous wildlife refuges, is best known for the thousands of turtles that flock to the beaches to lay their eggs each summer. However, there are also many other unique species of animals and plants living in the region. Many trails wind their way through the park, and the El Gavilan Trail is just the ticket if you want to catch a glimpse of the park's wildlife and still get a chance to see turtles nesting on the Caribbean shore.

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