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Far beyond the city limits of sparkling Rio de Janeiro lie some of Brazil's most spectacular gems for those seeking genuine nature travel. The striking yellow breast and beak of the saffron toucanet is one such wonder, and can be found in Iguazu National Park (pictured) on a Pantanal expedition.

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South America has much to offer those who are interested in nature travel with the Brazilian Pantanal — the world's largest expanse of wetlands — holding particular esteem among the birdwatching crowd. Ranging between 54,000 and 75,000 square-miles, the Pantanal is home to a wealth of rare and beautiful animals, including more than 1,000 species of birds.

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Birders have long explored the Amazon River and its tributaries, as theses waterways are home to a diverse collection of avian species, many of which are rarely glimpsed outside of the region.

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The island of Elephanta offers the epitome of Hindu cave culture and nature travel. Even its name refers to the rock art practiced by people as far back as the 6th century. When Portugese navigators landed on the island, they found a massive stone elephant commonly called Gharapuri, which is an alternate name for the island, according to UNESCO.

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The Sambas stream toad, also known as the Bornean rainbow toad, as spent years on the Conservation International list of “Most Wanted Lost Frogs,” and many feared this colorful species was extinct. In fact, it had been so long since scientists had spotted these spindly legged creatures — 1924 was the last known sighting — that only illustrations of the toads existed. That was until June 13, 2011, when scientists spotted three Bornean rainbow toads on a night search in the remote Sarawak region.

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Once thought to be a cross between a camel and a leopard, the giraffe is now a commonly recognized animal in its own right. However, spotting one on a Kenya and Tanzania safari is still a treat for nature enthusiasts.

The giraffe is the tallest living animal, measuring as high as 20 feet. Their long necks allow them to reach into trees to maintain their herbivorous diet, and their legs — usually measuring about six feet high — allow them to run at speeds of 35 miles per hour at a gallop.

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Salt mined in Maras, Peru, just north of Cusco, has always been popular among the Andean people, but markets as far away as Switzerland, Japan and the Philippines are now demanding the special mineral.

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Nature travel in Tanzania offers hundreds of opportunities to see animals that most have only gotten to know through textbooks and magazines. In the Ngorongoro Crater, visitors will have the best chance on a Kenya and Tanzania safari to spot a black rhino, a critically endangered species.

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Traveling can take a lot out of a person, and vacationers may be wondering how to stay healthy on an ecological adventure. While every trip will be different based on region and time of year, there are a few things that you can do to make your nature travel expedition as healthy and pleasurable as possible.

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