26 Wonderfully Weird Animals

 

Let’s face it, the world can be an ugly place. From flame wars on social media to heartbreaking stories on the nightly news, humanity’s awfulness can occasionally be overwhelming. Every once in a while we like to take breaks from stories about poaching, habitat loss, and the effects of global warming to marvel at the incredible array of beauty that still exists on this planet we call home. And so it is that we present to you 26 Wonderfully Weird Animals (from A to Z)– many of which are endangered– that we believe make this world a more interesting place…

 

Weird Animal Species, Aye Aye

Aye Aye, photographed by Frank Vassen via Creative Commons

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Responsible Horseback Riding Tours on Morro Strand State Beach

Horseback Riding on Morro Strand State Beach, by Mike Baird via Creative Commons

Go Green Tip #106:

Responsible Horseback Riding Tours

 

Imagine yourself astride a magnificent Arabian horse, his mane blowing in the wind and tickling your hands as they hold the elaborately tasseled reins, your eyes falling on the magnificent sight of the Pyramids of Giza looming before you. This is the sort of horseback riding experience that’s meant to be savored for a lifetime.

 

Now imagine that the reins are attached to a bit that fits uncomfortably in the horse’s mouth. He shifts from side to side to take the weight off of his painfully overgrown hooves. He hasn’t had adequate hay for days, or possibly even weeks. And he’s been beaten to force him to perform. The experience doesn’t sound so ideal anymore, does it?

 

As responsible travelers increasingly eschew attractions that profit from captive animals, the tide is slowly shifting towards an industry that favors viewing animals in their natural habitats. Companies like Sea World are seeing their business models crumble, and attractions like Thailand’s Tiger Temple watch their visitor numbers decline steadily as people become more and more committed to ethical practices regarding the exploitation of animals.

 

Responsible Horseback Riding Tours, Arabian Horse

A Rabiccano Arabian Horse, photo by Montanabw via Creative Commons

 

Unfortunately, for domestic animals like horses, things widely remain unchanged. It’s easy to see that a dolphin in a tank  a caged tiger are in unnatural, uncomfortable surroundings. But, for the layperson, it’s not as readily apparent when a horse at a tourist attraction is unhealthy, in pain, or lacking basic care. When tourists choose an irresponsibly managed horse activity, they may unknowingly be contributing to improper care or abuse of these amazing creatures.

 

If you’re considering joining a horse tour or taking a horseback ride during your travels, these are a few simple ways to tell if the horse you’ll be riding is properly cared for. And choosing a responsible horseback riding tour can make all the difference between perpetuating the cycle of poor horse management or ensuring that the horse will enjoy the experience just as much as you do. Here are a few tips on what to look for:

 

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Ecotourism in Asheville, North Carolina

Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions in

Asheville, North Carolina

 

With its historic art deco buildings, hip indie sensibilities and thriving restaurant scene, Asheville, North Carolina is a burgeoning progressive Mecca in the traditionally conservative Southeast. With a tiny population of just 84,000, the city has earned comparisons to hipster hotbeds such as Portland (another mountain town famous for its gorgeous natural surroundings, thriving cultural scene, and forward-thinking environmental consciousness). Nicknamed “the Land of the Sky,” this eclectic, colorful community is surrounded by some of America’s most unspoiled natural beauty, which turns truly spectacular as the autumn colors change. Here are five of our favorite Asheville ecotourism attractions, all located within an hour’s drive of the city:

 

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Bret Love & Mary Gabbett at the Acropolis of Athens

James Ray Love, 1920-1996

Ancestors & Expectations at the

Acropolis of Athens

 

Nothing is going right. My mind is numb from lack of sleep, unable to process the jarring reality that our tour of the Acropolis of Athens may not even come close to measuring up to my dreams.

 

It’s barely 8:30AM, but already tour groups stampede up the hill towards the Parthenon. They move in tightly congested packs, pushing, shouting in a variety of languages, stopping abruptly in our path, seemingly oblivious to anything other than their guide, who leads them like a shepherd, holding aloft a sign featuring their bus number instead of a staff.

 

Mary follows my lead and we veer off-road to our left in order to circle around the flock, quickening our pace and scrambling over rocks, shedding layers of clothes as our body temperature rises. We pass one tour group, then another, moving like lions intent on heading off a herd of buffalo.

 

Restoration Construction on the Acropolis of Athens

Restoration Construction on the Parthenon

 

At last we ascend the steep stairs of the Propylaea, the monumental gateway that serves as the entrance to the Acropolis. As we emerge on the other side, I blink at the sight of The Parthenon before me, its entire front side obscured by scaffolding used in the restoration project that’s been going on since 1975.

 

This is not my dream. Everything is wrong.

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yemaya-resort-little-corn-island-nicaragua

Win A Tropical Island Vacation Worth $10,000!

 

(The following post was sponsored by Yemaya Island Hideaway and Spa, but our opinions remain our own.)

 

There is a preconceived perception most people seem to have when we tell them we’re travel writers/bloggers.

 

They always imagine us relaxing in some blissful tropical hideaway, lazily stretched out on a shady hammock with a piña colada, with the soothing waves of the crystal-clear ocean in front of us and the gentle rustling of the wind through the palm trees behind us, tapping away at our laptops as a legion of cabana boys fan us with palm fronds. “You’re so lucky!” they inevitably respond. If they only knew…

 

yemaya-resort-little-corn-island-nicaragua

 

The truth is that we’re typically so ridiculously busy working when we travel, we’ve forgotten what it’s like to take a REAL vacation.

 

You know, the kind of trip that leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. The kind of trip that nourishes your soul and your spirit (as well as your stomach). The kind of trip where the biggest decision you have to make each day is whether you want to snorkel, hit the spa or simply sleep after lunch.

 

It’s been YEARS since we’ve had one of those…

 

yemaya-resort-little-corn-island-nicaragua

 

 

Truth be told, we’re more than a little jealous that we can’t enter the Yemaya Island Hideaway and Spa’s Best Vacation Ever Video Contest.  This tranquil boutique resort on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua– which features just 16 eco-luxury cabanas– is a dream come true for anyone who needs a break from the 9 to 5 world. And now they’re offering one lucky winner a 10-day trip for two to visit this remote tropical paradise.

 

The Grand Prize package includes 10 nights’ stay for two; up to $2,000 USD reimbursement for airfare from winner’s home country (economy class, advance purchase) to Managua; free airfare and boat transport from Managua to Yemaya; all meals and house beer, wine and cocktails; and Wellness “Happy Packs” for 5 days of your stay, which includes yoga, meditation, different physical activities, daily spa treatments and more.

 

 

yemaya-resort-little-corn-island-nicaragua

 

The contest, which runs through November 23, is open to residents of the USA, Canada, UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Nicaragua and Mexico. To enter, follow these simple steps:

  1. Create an original 30-second video that explains why you want to win. Have fun with it and be creative, as Yemaya wants to see the real you and why you think you’re the best candidate for the Best Vacation Ever. Then upload your video to YouTube or another video hosting website.
  2. Fill out their official entry form with all of your pertinent details and the link to your video. Don’t forget your email address, as that’s they’ll notify the winner.
  3. Post your video link to the Yemaya Facebook page, and give them a like while you’re there so you can stay updated on the contest.
  4. Only the videos on the Yemaya Facebook page with the most Likes will be eligible for judging. Make yours one of them by encouraging your friends and family to Like and share your video far and wide.

 

Enter the Contest Here!

 

yemaya-resort-little-corn-island-nicaragua

 

Valued at nearly $10,000, this Grand Prize sounds downright heavenly to our overworked, under-slept ears. Ten days in an unspoiled eco-friendly haven located miles from the hustle and bustle of civilization, not to mention 5 days of meditation and spa treatments, sounds like precisely what we need after months of nose-to-the-grindstone work.

 

Like I said, we can’t enter, but you can! Hopefully one of GGT’s readers will be the lucky winner, so they can come back and tell us all about it. And then WE’LL be the ones saying, “You’re so lucky!” –Bret Love; photos provided by Yemaya 

 

If you enjoyed our post on Yemaya’s Best Vacation Ever Video Contest, you might also like:

Little Corn Island: A Taste of Nicaraguan Nirvana

NICARAGUA: The Corn Islands

PANAMA: Big Game Fishing & Dolphins

PANAMA: Coiba National Park & Sharks 

PANAMA: Our Own Private Island

COSTA RICA: Scuba Diving Caño Island

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Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is an ecotourism, nature / wildlife conservation & cultural preservation magazine. More about us.

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Check out our other sites! Green Travel Media
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Proud members of: The International Ecotourism Society

As Seen In:

Destinations We’ve Covered:

• AFRICA
Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

 
• ANTARCTICA
How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
 
• ASIA
India- Ranthambhore National Park
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
 
• AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities

 

• NORTH AMERICA
CANADA
Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

UNITED STATES
America’s Best Volcanoes
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

MEXICO
Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba
 
• CARIBBEAN