In the city of Copán, Honduras, there are secret places: ancient Mayan ruins that rise on hills and grassy valleys of red clay and earth, one of the most well-preserved archeological sites in the world. But Copan is famous for more than its treasures from the past. It is also one of few places in Central America which showcases a park of living jewels.
The jewels are not of the cut stone variety. They are, instead, birds. A dizzying array of extravagant splendor, more than 330 varieties of wild native birds live on the edge of the Mayan ruins, in a cross between sanctuary and tourist park called Macaw Mountain.
At this part nature reserve for endangered and rescued birds, and part eco-friendly coffee plantation, visitors can walk among trails of lush plantings of tropical flowers and coffee plants heavily laden with red coffee berries. Rising above and in between the foliage of this green oasis are birds of every color and size, so close that one doesn’t feel like a guest so much as a bird, too. Continue reading
We’re not really big on “stuff” in general, but in the past 6 years of traveling together Mary & I have learned that there are some products that simply make traveling easier.
Since we tend to explore a lot of different climates, over time we’ve developed a different Travel Packing Checklist for different temperatures and cultural norms. And of course there are certain things, such as our camera gear and luggage, that we always take with us everywhere we go.
With just 8 shopping days left to go before Christmas, we thought it’d be a great time to share some last-minute gift ideas for the travelers in your life, each of which come GGT-tested and approved. And don’t forget that you can make a gift donation to #JustOneRhino, contribute to a wonderful cause AND have a chance at winning more than $30,000 in prizes!
One of the main reasons Mary and I work so well together as both romantic and business partners is that we had a lot of things in common long before we met.
Both of us have a deep-seated passion for immersing ourselves in other cultures, and did so through art, music and food long before we had the means to travel the world. Both of us have Acadian (or French-Canadian) blood on our maternal side– her mother’s maiden name was Coté, while mine was Beaudet. And though serendipity never led to our meeting at the time, both of us used to frequent a killer Cajun restaurant across the street from Emory University, which Mary attended.
Given our mutual love of cuisine and culture, I suppose it’s odd that we’d never done a food tour until we got to Lafayette, in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun country. Lafayette was recently deemed “the tastiest town in the South” by Southern Living magazine. And our day with Marie Ducote Comeaux– the veteran Louisiana history teacher who founded Cajun Food Tours in 2012– offered an incredible overview of the rich culinary traditions of Acadian culture.
Whatever you may think of Christmas, something shifts in the air when December rolls around. In the Northern Hemisphere Christmas ushers in crisp skies and bright winter stars and the smell of freshly cut pine needles. In the South, summer breezes and surfing and swaying palms might welcome the holiday season, the air heavy with the sizzling aroma of BBQs.
Wherever you live, Christmas is also trees with heavily-weighted branches and houses that heave beneath blinking lights and tons of tinsel. Sadly, this seasonal bling carries a hefty environmental price. It brings out the old arguments in the Great Christmas Tree Debate – artificial or natural? – and a cascade of seasonal information about the impact of the season’s packaging, transport or waste.
Christmas also fuels a race for the biggest, best and brightest illumination, as recent as the artificial materials and modern inventions required to make Uncle Harry’s blinking penguin and strobe-light igloo visible from space.
I remember the first time I saw a Rhino in the wild like it was yesterday (though it was actually 14 years ago). I was on my first morning safari drive in South Africa‘s Londolozi Private Game Reserve. The ground was charred black from a controlled burn, and the newly-grown grass was almost impossibly green. An adult female seemed to savor every bite, looking for all the world like an armored, overgrown cow. Minutes later, we oohed and ahhed as her tiny baby came into view from behind a bush. I have goosebumps now, just thinking about it.
My experience at Londolozi changed my life, influencing everything I do today. Once you’ve seen them in the wild and read reports on how they’re being slaughtered on a daily basis, you can’t help wanting to save rhinos, elephants and other endangered wildlife. Which is why our company, Green Travel Media, has banded together with the blogger-driven Travelers Building Change non-profit to launch the #JustOneRhino fundraiser, which begins today and runs through March 1.
#JustOneRhino will benefit the Rhinos Without Borders project, which is spearheaded by National Geographic Explorers In Residence, acclaimed wildlife photographers/filmmakers, and wildlife conservation advocates Dereck and Beverly Joubert. The Jouberts are working to save Rhinos, translocating 100 of them from South Africa to Botswana in 2015 to protect them from the tragic rise in poaching. It’s an extremely expensive project, with costs estimated to range around the $5 million mark.
Working together with 125 of the world’s top travel bloggers, we’re trying to help Rhinos Without Borders raise $45,000– the cost of moving #JustOneRhino. But we can’t do it without your help! Fortunately, we’ve got 20+ Sponsors offering up more than $30,000 worth of AMAZING prizes for those who Donate via Travelers Building Change. A $20 donation will get you 10 entries, $30 will get you 20, $50 will get you 30, and so on. And the prizes are nothing to sneeze at, including tours/resort stays in 11 countries spanning 5 continents!
Read on for details about why you should donate to this exceptional charitable cause (including those great prizes), and then visit the Travelers Building Change site to make your secure donation…