Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! If you love to travel, I share important news that the EU lifted restrictions for fully vaccinated (World Health Organization approved vaccines) leisure travelers on March 1st. With many clients (including myself) heading abroad this year, I’m thrilled. At the same time, my heart goes out to the people of Ukraine, and I am keeping a close eye on the situation from a European travel perspective.
Also on my watch list is when the COVID testing requirement for returning to the US will be lifted. ASTA, the American Society of Travel Advisors, is working hard to exempt fully vaccinated travelers from the CDC’s inbound testing requirement, “the Administration’s repeatedly stated goal is to get more Americans vaccinated. Let’s talk about how we can accomplish that goal by using travel as an incentive, and not as a punishment… it should rescind the CDC’s testing requirement for those U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated.”
Moving onto this week’s newsletter topic, did you know that today is World Wildlife Day? World Wildlife Day’s mission is to celebrate the beauty and wonder of our planet’s wild plants and animals and protect our planet’s resources and wildlife because ultimately we depend upon them for our own survival.
If you love wildlife, I offer four must-see destinations for your travel bucket list. Read on for the scoop…
Safari in Africa – Ultimate Wildlife Trip
Most people go to Africa to see the Big Five – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, African buffalos, and other iconic creatures like giraffes. Kruger National Park is home to the Big Five as well as over 500 bird species, 100 reptiles, nearly 150 mammals, multiple archaeological sites, and a stunning diversity of trees and flowers.
Further north in the Kenyan section of the Serengeti, the Massai Mara has the largest population of lions in Kenya and is also home to families of giraffes, Cape buffalo, elephants, zebras, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, topi, hippos, gazelle, and black rhinos. While there, you can also meet with Maasai elders and native people in their villages and learn how they’ve lived for centuries.
Ever consider a gorilla or chimpanzee trek or spying tree-climbing lions? West of Kenya in East Africa, Uganda, and neighboring Rwanda are home to these amazing creatures. Fun fact – Uganda is nine times bigger than Rwanda and known as the “Pearl of Africa.”
A popular activity to add to your safari itinerary is a ride in a hot air balloon for a unique aerial view of the iconic wildlife.
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: If you’re already intrigued, you can schedule a chat with me here: www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Wildlife in the Galapagos Islands
Last week I highlighted the birds of the Galapagos. But there are so many more unique species to encounter!
Did you catch Good Morning America’s live coverage from the Galapagos Islands last week? Anchor Amy Robach was onboard Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Endeavor II ship to highlight the iconic wildlife on land and sea, dramatic volcanic landscapes, and initiatives to protect it.
The Galapagos Islands are 600 miles west of Ecuador, a two- and one-half-hour flight from Quito the capital city. If you don’t know much 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 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. Bottom line – it’s beyond amazing for nature lovers.
The Galapagos Islands can be experienced on a either boat or land-based itinerary.
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: For vacation inspiration options with the perks check out: Best Of The Best Hotels and Experiences.
Costa Rica’s Pura Vida
Located in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica is only 5.5 hours away by air so relatively easy to get to. The tropical rainforests in Costa Rica are home to 5% of the world’s wildlife. Some of the country’s best national parks are Parque Nacional Tortuguero (home to the elusive jaguar and nesting sea turtles) and Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio.
Wildlife lovers can spy amazing marine life (manta rays and coral reefs) and land-based creatures such as toucans, iguanas, sloths, mantled howlers, white-faced capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and ocelots.
Costa Rica is very accessible year-round and itineraries can be closely customized to your interests. I have a fantastic partner in CR that I work with closely who will curate the perfect itinerary for you. The land of Pura Vida should be on every traveler’s list!
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Want more ideas for your next vacation? Let’s brainstorm: www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Having been to Australia twice, I will tell you that the flight is well worth the experience. I’m also a certified ‘Aussie Specialist,’ a tourism board designation, so well prepared to curate your vacation down under.
For underwater wildlife, Queensland, Australia is the home of the world-famous Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsunday Islands are a must-visit for beach lovers – it’s not an exaggeration to say that they are out of this world gorgeous!
In southern Australia, escape to the island of Tasmania and experience Aussie wildlife in their natural habitats such as kangaroos, platypuses, Tasmanian Devils, fairy penguins, and wallabies. Animal lovers will be in their nirvana.
I fondly recall peering at kangaroos in real-time, seeing up close what a Tasmania Devil really looks like, and holding sweet, sleepy koalas.
Inspired? If you’re dreaming of a vacation focusing on wildlife in 2022 or 2023, here’s the link to schedule a chat with me www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Wishing you and your family continued good health,