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Archive for ecotourism

The Land of Surfing Hippos

By Linda Tancs

Situated on the Equator, Gabon occupies part of the Atlantic coast of Africa. Needless to say, given its location, it’s hot year round.  So it shouldn’t be surprising to think of hippos body surfing in the Atlantic. Or elephants, buffalos, gorillas and leopards meandering among savanna, beach, forest and mangroves. Yet that’s what they do in Loango National Park, hailed as “Africa’s Last Eden” and the “Land of Surfing Hippos.” Conservation is sacrosanct in this western African nation, where 13 national parks cover 10 percent of its land mass. Loango includes part of the Iguéla Lagoon, the only western African lagoon system that is protected within a national park.

Where America’s Sun Sets

By Linda Tancs

In the heart of Polynesia, America’s sun sets.  And no, it isn’t Hawaii (although America’s 50th state does constitute one of three points of the Polynesian triangle).  It’s American Samoa, an island territory in the South Pacific comprising five volcanic islands and two atolls.  Its national park is one of the most remote in the United States.  Covering three of the islands, the predominate land mass of the park is rainforest, promising lush views amid long, unhurried hikes.  This is a must-see for the ecotourist seeking an unspoiled, uncrowded destination.

Ouzo and Olive Oil

By Linda Tancs

Ouzo and olive oil.  Those are the two famous exports of the Greek island Lesvos.  Third largest in size behind Crete and Evia, the arguably lesser-known enclave near Turkey also boasts a petrified forest, one of the rarest natural monuments in the world.  Created 20 million years ago when volcanic materials covered and petrified the coniferous forests dominating the area at that time, the 37-acre preserve spans the Sigri-Eressos-Antissa area.  Take a break from the beach and enjoy a walk through the forest of silence.

Sand and Shingles

By Linda Tancs

Heather and gorse, shingles and sand.  That’s what you’ll find at Dunwich Heath, Britain’s gem on the Suffolk coast.  The scenery is bursting with color this time of year, not to mention enviable bird watching for the likes of the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark and others.  During school holidays the ranger team provides child friendly activities such as pond dipping and bug hunting.  Geocaching is one of many new activities; you can borrow a free tracker pack at the information hut.

Take a Walk

By Linda Tancs

Writer Robert Louis Stevenson once remarked that the forest changes and renews a weary spirit.  That’s good news for England’s Midlands: the centre of England, once a hub for the Industrial Revolution, is being renewed and recharged with the dedication of 200 square miles to conservation.  Dubbed The National Forest, it embraces parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire.  And what better way to explore a forest than on foot!  This year marks the launch of the National Forest Way, a 75-mile waymarked path traversing the region.  Coinciding with the launch of the trail is the National Forest Walking Festival.  Taking place through 29 May, you’ll have over 70 walks to choose from as you ramble in the woodlands.

The Land of Canaan

By Linda Tancs

In the 1700s the wild valley on the western slope of the Alleghenies looked like the Promised Land to an adventurer in the region.  Or so the story goes.  Regardless of its veracity, that valley is known as the Canaan Valley in West Virginia.  Home to the country’s 500th National Wildlife Refuge, its cool and moist climate provides a haven for 580 species of plants and 288 different animals.  Endangered bats, salamander, dragonflies and priority bird species such as brown thrasher, Eastern towhee, and American woodcock no doubt find it heavenly.

 

Water for Elephants

By Linda Tancs

November is Manatee Awareness Month in Florida.  Despite their popular nickname “sea cow,” these aquatic mammals are actually related to the elephant.  This time of year, when the waters of the Gulf cool down and subject these gentle giants to cold stress, you’ll find them instead in the balmy waters of Crystal River, less than two hours north of Tampa.  During manatee season, more than 150,000 people will visit the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge to snorkel and kayak among manatees, the only place where such interaction with this endangered and federally protected species is allowed.

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