South America

October 31, 2013

Beware of Vampire Bats?

Each night they emerge from caves, tree hollows and abandoned buildings to fill the skies of Mexico and Central and South America, drinking half of their body weight in blood. But are vampire bats really that scary?

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At least once a day, International Expeditions’ travel planners field the question “When is the best time for a Galapagos cruise?” So, our favorite naturalist Greg Greer sat down to tackle this popular question.

February 13, 2013

Walking Palms of the Amazon

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The walking palm – or stilt palm - is a very common palm tree found in the lowland forests of Central and Northern South America, including the Peruvian Amazon. The tree gets its name from it tall, spiny root system that may be upwards of five feet in height, appearing like multiple legs.  While the tree obviously cannot move, the walking palm may lean toward a light filtering through a gap in the canopy, as the crown of the 50–60 foot high tree seeks light. 

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The Amazon region of South America is home to so many different species of animals it can be hard to keep track of who's who, but the black-capped squirrel monkeys tend to stand out from the pack. These tree-dwelling primates have brownish-yellow coats of fur with distinctly darker heads, white masks around their eyes and fuzzy elvish ears. They can be found in many tropical regions from Brazil to Peru and Bolivia, and even as far north as Costa Rica.

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When nature travel enthusiasts head to Brazil, they are usually Amazon-bound, looking for the famous wildlife that the massive rainforest and river have to offer. However fascinating travel on the Amazon can be, the Pantanal in Brazil is perhaps a better place to see wildlife.

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The marine iguana is the only lizard species in the world that relies entirely upon the sea for its food. The marine iguana is indeed a very unique lizard. They are, to the casual observer, somewhat similar to other iguanids but other than appearance, everything else about the lizard is entirely unique to the species.

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Howler monkeys are abundant in the Amazon rainforests and as the name indicates, they are quite a vocal group of primates. There are a number of howler monkey species living in South America, from the mantled howler and the black howler to the red-handed and Colombian red howler. The black howler is one of the largest species of the New World monkeys, standing at just over three feet tall with a tail about the same length.

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Hatchet-faced treefrogs are extremely attractive greenish colored frogs with very short, sharply angular noses which give them their name — hatchet-faced. There are three species of this frog found in the Peruvian Amazon, and the greater hatchet-face and pygmy hatchet-face tend to be relatively abundant.

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