Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community and welcome to February! Do you have plans for celebrating Valentine’s Day? I’ll be hunkered down at home as I’ve been busy this past week planning vacations for clients later this year and next. With promising vaccine news, people are forging ahead with future travel plans which is exciting! Lots for me to do which I love ❤️
Speaking of love, since February is officially the month of love, you’ll be reading about amazing travel experiences where people deep dive into their passions. For example, love of nature+wildlife, food+wine, our beautiful country, and of course each other.
This week, I have travel inspiration for people who love nature and wildlife, including avid photographers. I’m someone who will travel to see natural wonders, so this is right up my alley.
Get out your camera and binoculars! Read on for the scoop…
Explore the home of the blue-footed booby
You’ll find the blue-footed booby in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. This destination is at the top of many nature lovers and photographer’s travel bucket lists. People who love nature and wildlife rave about this trip!
If you don’t know a lot about the Galapagos Islands, the UNESCO website will give you a good sense of what this “living museum and showcase of evolution” destination offers. The Galapagos not only has an incredible variety of marine life but is home to unique land animals such as the land iguana, giant tortoise, sea lions, and many species of birds like the blue-footed booby. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was inspired here!
The Galapagos Islands are best visited by a small boat/yacht charter or expedition ship.
Because of its relationship with National Geographic and the science community, Lindblad Expeditions is an excellent option for families and couples who want to deep dive into this destination on a small ship with scientists.
Another option with more of a luxurious vibe is on the brand-new expedition ship by Silversea named Silver Origin. It’s a 100-passenger, all-suite, vessel is built for the Galapagos Islands with advanced eco-feature designs that preserve the fragile seafloor. The Knowledge Lounge has an interactive digital wall that displays photos, videos, and presentations by scientists. Native, park-certified guides lead the expeditions and bring to life this utterly amazing, precious place on our planet.
Hidden Gem Itinerary Tip: Pre- or post- your Galapagos Island experience, be sure to spend time in the magical cloud forest in Ecuador. This recommendation comes firsthand from the Hidden Gem Travel team! A must-do for people who love nature and wildlife.
The Big Five and more
Ever dream of having breakfast with giraffes, dinner with elephants, spying tree-climbing lions, or tracking mountain gorillas? Of course, Africa is where you can have these experiences specifically in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.
Virtuoso’s Best of the Best resort, Mahali Mzuri, is Sir Richard Branson’s safari camp. Each of the 12 luxury tented suites has a deck overlooking the pristine landscape. The camp is in the path of the Great Migration. On a typical game drive, you’ll spot wildebeests, elephants, zebras, lions, buffalo, topi, hippopotamuses, and more!
In Rwanda, you’ll settle into a private villa overlooking the surrounding volcanoes and lakes. Here you’ll spend a day tracking mountain gorilla in Volcanoes National Park, where National Geographic grantee Dian Fossey researched gorillas for 18 years.
Note – My partners at National Geographic Expeditions offer an escorted Great Apes Tour. It’s an epic experience through Uganda and Rwanda searching for chimpanzees, gorillas, and endangered golden monkeys. I will help you with the planning and logistics, so you can focus on anticipating this awe-inspiring, bucket list experience.
Big Sky Country USA
Have you been out west and seen Big Sky country? It’s beyond majestic and a must-do for every American. I highly recommend a ranch experience as I detailed in a newsletter earlier this year: https://hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/north-american-ranch-guide/
For lovers of nature and wildlife, you’ll be in your nirvana whether you venture west in the winter, summer, or fall. For example, my partners at Excursionist will guide you through Glacier National Park in Montana. An ex-park ranger driver-guide will take you sightseeing, hiking based on your level of fitness, and wildlife tracking. Along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the summertime, you’ll see a rainbow of wildflowers, sturdy mountain goats, and roaming bears as you visit iconic attractions such as the Hanging Gardens, the McDonald valley, and the park’s namesake glaciers.
For photography buffs, you can set out on a sightseeing photo safari through Glacier National Park and learn how to take better photos with anything from your iPhone to a DSLR. You’ll be taken to the best vantage points in the park!
Note – a visit to Montana’s Big Sky country isn’t complete without a nighttime star-gazing experience. You’ll be in awe of the sweeping, twinkling panoramic view of the stars and the Milky Way.
Glaciers, Geysers, and the Blue Lagoon
Explore Iceland, the land of fire and ice by land or sea!
Via land, you can base yourself in the capital of Reykjavik and venture out to the Golden Circle and Iceland’s most famous waterfall, the majestic Gulfoss. Visit a Secret Lagoon and set off around Southern Iceland to see more towering waterfalls, Solheimajokull glacier, and Black Sands.
The Blue Lagoon’s milky-blue water is unlike anything else found on earth. The water’s temperature is 102°F year-round, so ideal bathing temperature! National Geographic ranks it in the top 25 Wonders of the World, and Condé Nast Traveller has it on a list of the top 10 spas in the world. The Blue Lagoon has become so popular that I’ll make sure to book your time well in advance, weeks not days.
Alternatively, you can circumnavigate Iceland on a Lindblad Expeditions ship with an expert team while raising your photography game. Your onboard dream team will include an expedition leader, eight veteran naturalists, a National Geographic photographer, a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, a Global Perspective guest speaker, an undersea specialist, a wellness specialist, and a video chronicler. Wow, right?! Ideal for people who love nature and wildlife as well as photography and science!
Tip – If traveling in wintertime, I can add a Northern Lights Experience to your itinerary!
Inspired? If you’re ready to learn more about vacations that feed your love of nature and wildlife, here’s the direct link to my calendar to schedule a chat: https://calendly.com/hiddengemtravelconsulting/45min
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration about nature and wildlife experiences. And I post a video every Wednesday…
.Wishing you and your family continued good health,