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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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Welcome to Lake Nicaragua. When it comes to Latin America, you probably think raging rivers and large ocean bodies like the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. However, while both of these oceans are an important part of the coastline of Nicaragua, Lake Nicaragua exists as the country's largest lake and one of the most unique lakes in Central America.

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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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Fischer's lovebirds are a delightful treat for birders planning a Tanzania wildlife safari. These colorful birds are typically seen in pairs, as they mate for life and stay close by the side of their partner. You will not likely see lovebirds mingling with other parrot species. While they have much love for one another, lovebirds tend to get into trouble with other parrots.

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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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Lions, hippos and zebras are all classic animals that can be found in Africa, but travelers on IE’s East Africa wildlife safaris have the opportunity to glimpse some creatures that are less well known and quite unique. One example is the dik dik, a small creature that resembles a miniature deer or antelope.

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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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What do you think of when you think about Costa Rican cuisine? Just because it's considered Latin America, doesn't mean that Costa Rica is the land of tacos, quesadillas, and burritos. Costa Rica's food features many types of cuisines that you've probably never even heard of, let alone actually tried. While you may find variations of it in other Latin American countries or specialized restaurants, there is a uniqueness to Costa Rican cuisine.

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The Galapagos Islands are known for the diverse array of plants and animals that call the archipelago home and few are more powerful than the Galapagos hawk. This predatory bird is one of the few animals that prey on other large creatures on the islands, and is the only raptor living on the Galapagos Islands. The hawks are also active during the day, which means you're likely to see them circling the skies during International Expeditions’ small ship cruises to the Galapagos.

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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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