Wildlife

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Just a strip carved out of Senegal, The Gambia may seem like it does not have much to offer. However, for those seeking nature travel experiences in this remote part of Africa, The Gambia hosts some of the continent's finest treasures. In fact, the nation has been dedicated to preserving the natural environment ever since the 1977 Banjul Declaration, which states the country's commitment to conservation.

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The hot, arid bushland that visitors traverse on a Kenya safari is exactly the type of habitat the Beisa oryx likes. Once found all across the drier regions of Africa, about 33,000 oryx are now found in Eastern Africa from Ethiopia to northeastern Uganda and Kenya, 25,000 of which are Beisa oryx.

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The Iwokrama Rainforest is home to many exotic and diverse bird, reptile, amphibian and mammal species. But it also represents one of the few protected forests in the country of Guyana and one of the last pristine tropical forests left in the world.

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The sites of pure biodiversity found in the tropical Bijagós archipelago remain pristine today thanks to the local tribe's history of preservation and respect for nature.

In fact, despite the regional industrial threats, on the majority of the 88 islands — only 23 of which are inhabited — the ethnic Bijagós people have maintained land-based values in their religion.

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Although Uganda is known for its remarkable gorilla population and hosts opportunities to come face to face with these giants, those looking for a diverse nature travel experience should also look for vervet monkeys while visiting the Entebbe Botanical Gardens in Kampala.

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Not many people go to the Galapagos Islands for a show, but that is exactly what they may get if they run into an albatross pair along the craggy cliffs of Española (Hood) Island. Between April and December, the critically endangered birds nest on this island, the only place in the world where they nest, providing visitors who stop off during Galapagos Island cruises with plenty of entertainment.

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Wildlife enthusiasts on a Costa Rica tour often hope to glimpse sea turtles, but the country is also home to a bright green lizard that can run across the surface of water at the rate of five feet per second.

While it was named for its resemblance to the legendary monster, the green basilisk lizard is more commonly known for its ability to run across streams and puddles, earning its evocative nickname.

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Although nature travel to the island of Borneo can allow visitors to see beautiful turquoise waters and hundreds of technicolor birds in the sky, venturing underground gives explorers a whole new world to discover. According to Bat Conservation International, the island is home to more than 100 species of bats, many of which live in the vast cave system there.

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 While the Amazon River may be home to larger aquatic animals, piranhas are perhaps some of the best-known residents — primarily for the lore associate with their sharp teeth and voracious appetites.

Travelers who venture into a tributary with slower-moving waters on International Expeditions’ Amazon River cruise will likely find red-bellied, white or black piranhas. Of these three species, the red-bellied variety had the strongest jaws and sharpest teeth of all of these carnivorous fish.

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Strolling along the powdery, white sand of Cerro Brujo - one first stops on International Expeditions’ Galapagos Islands cruises - visitors can expect to spot blue-footed boobies and finches as they hop about on the beach. However, it is likely that the most memorable encounter they will have will be with a Galapagos sea lion.

"Swimming with the sea lions was one of the most unforgettable highlights of the Galapagos trip,” said recent Galapagos traveler John Newman.

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