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Eco-travel has been allowing vacationers to explore the world in search of natural beauty and unspoiled wilderness for years, and though some travelers have their heart set on scenic vistas and natural formations, others are searching to commune with some of the native wildlife in these distant regions. If rare and exotic animals are at the top of your "must-see" list, then an Amazon River cruise will be right up your alley.

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Each year, IE Production Manager Kelli Eldridge is charged with helping our staff create Environs, the quintessential guide to nature travel. The latest version will be in the mail on August 31, but you can get a sneak peek online here. Kelli took a few minutes to let us know what’s new for 2012.

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Adventurers will find a wealth of exciting and mysterious artifacts on the path to the Incan city of Machu Picchu, and many of those are found in the great Urubamba Valley. Also known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Urubamba Valley is a stronghold of Inca culture that offers those who travel to Machu Picchu a glimpse of what life for these ancient peoples must have been like.

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Although not officially endangered, the Java pond heron still finds sanctuary in Petulu, Bali. The heron sanctuary also allows incredible ornithological observation for bird lovers on International Expeditions' nature travel journey to Bali and Komodo.

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The simple temple behind the Church of St. George is a must-see in Cairo before embarking on a Nile cruise or other explorations of Egypt. The Ben Ezra Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Egypt, located on a site that has been holy to the Jews as long as they have been in Egypt. In fact, it is said to be where Moses was found in the reeds.

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Hundreds of bird species are attracted to the dense tropical forests of Trinidad. But these avian creatures aren't the only ones flocking to the Caribbean island — birders are also drawn to the area, seeking out the spectacular and rare species that live there.

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There is a reason the sparkling shoreline of Turkey is called the Turquoise Coast. Not because of any abundance of a certain mineral, but rather for the bright green-blue of its Aegean and Mediterranean waters. However, an even more apt name for the area may be something that pays homage to its historical roots, as everything in the region — from its cliffs to its bays — is steeped in the history and culture of the Lycians, an ancient group of people who made history for their peaceful democratic societies and institutions.

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The lush fields covering the mountainsides of Panama’s Chiriquí Highlands in Boquete are home to various forms of wildlife, including the sought-after resplendent quetzal, making nature travel through the countryside memorable for any wildlife or birding enthusiast. But they also produce one of the country's largest exports, a commodity that no traveler should pass by: coffee.

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