Turtle and Dragonfly photographed by Bret Love in Sanibel Island, Florida

Turtle & Dragonfly in Sanibel Island, Florida

 

As an insatiably curious world traveler who rarely visits the same place twice, it’s odd to have the sort of connection that keeps drawing me back to Sanibel Island, Florida over and over again.

 

I’ve been there at least 15 times since my first visit in the early ’90s. I know the island so well that I can recall its changes over the last two decades– the massive Australian pines that were felled by Hurricane Charley in 2004, the old drawbridge that used to cause long waits when crossing the Causeway from the mainland, and old school businesses (R.I.P. McT’s) that have gradually been replaced with newer, flashier establishments.

 

When I first started going to Sanibel, I was shocked and amazed to discover that you could usually count on seeing Alligators in the tiny swamp right next to the historic Bailey’s shopping center, which was opened in the late 1800s. You’d most often spot them lurking in the middle of the water, still as statues, their foreboding eyes watching for prey. But occasionally you’d see them right along the bank, less than 20 yards from the movie theater parking lot.

 

I’ve heard stories of people being caught feeding them, of small dogs snatched from their owners as they walked along the shore, and of gators being moved deeper into the swamp to avoid human contact. I haven’t seen gators in the swamp for years. But I still visit the area every time I’m in Sanibel Island, because you never know where wildlife may turn up.

 

And so it was that I found myself walking along the fringe of the swamp on a recent evening. I was looking for gators right around sunset when I saw this Turtle surface in the water about 15 yards away. As he stared at me, this big orange Flame Skimmer Dragonfly landed right on his head. I snapped the photo with my 500mm lens, and before I could click the shutter a second time he was gone.

 

It was a perfect moment of serendipity: Not the Alligator I’d hoped for, but a reminder that Nature adapts to change and brings with it sweet surprises if you keep eyes and mind open.  –Bret Love

 

Our trip to Sanibel Island was hosted by the Lee County Visitors BureauBut we will never compromise our obligation to our readers. Our opinions remain our own.

If you enjoyed this post on Sanibel Island, Florida, you might also like: 

FLORIDA: Sanibel Island Eco Activities

FLORIDA: Swimming with Manatees in Crystal River

 

MEXICO: Snorkeling With Sea Turtles in Akumal

DOMINICA: Sea Turtle Conservation

 

Blogging, the Green Travel Industry & the Future of GGT

 

When it comes to our long-term goals and strategies, we tend to play our cards close to our chest due to having been burned before by revealing too much, too soon, to the wrong people. But the truth is that Green Global Travel was never meant to be a blog. It wasn’t meant to be just an online magazine (which is how we’ve always branded ourselves). Instead, GGT was intended to be the first component of a long-term strategy designed with a singular mission:

 

We want to help make responsible, sustainable, Green Travel more mainstream.

 

 

Red Fox in Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia

Red Fox in Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia

 

Why? Because we believe that ecotourism can change the world for the better. We believe that sustainably managed ecotourism is better for local people, wildlife and ecosystems; better for the global economy; and better for the travelers themselves. And we believe that connecting the dots between conservationists, eco-friendly companies, media and conscious travelers is the best possible way to encourage the long-term growth of this burgeoning travel niche. 

 

The development of Green Global Travel and its sister site, Green Travel Reviews, were our first steps towards this goal. But now we’re unveiling a bigger initiative that we hope will have a positive impact on the Business of Blogging and, ultimately, the Travel Industry as a whole.

 

Green Travel Media logo

 

The Next Stage in Our Evolution

 

Mary and I are proud to announce the launch of Green Travel Media LLC, the new parent company for all of our business endeavors going forward.

 

We’re assembling a top-notch group of experienced media professionals– journalists, editors, photographers, videographers, web and graphic designers, PR people and social media experts– who will work together to provide 21st Century media & marketing solutions for eco-conscious businesses. From content creation and social media marketing to website management and sustainability consulting, the company will be a one-stop shop for DMOs, Tour Operators and other organizations working to develop and promote ecotourism offerings on a broad scale.

 

Traditional Mayan Cuisine

Traditional Mayan Cuisine

 

Our primary mission is as follows:

 

  • 1.) Work with sustainable brands, providing an agency of talented media professionals who can help them reach an audience interested in traveling more consciously and sustainably.

 

  • 2.) Educate bloggers on business practices and ecotourism issues, helping them to improve their craft, operate with a business-focused mindset, and encourage their readers to travel more consciously and sustainably.

 

  • 3.) Build a more high-profile and mainstream ecotourism industry. Our ultimate goal is to inform and inspire the average traveler, educating them on the benefits of making smart, responsible travel choices.

 

Bull Elephant Coming To Check Us Out

Bull Elephant, Londolozi Private Game Reserve, South Africa

 

How Green Travel Media Will Help the Travel Industry

 

The elephant in the room is that most big travel industry brands are hesitant to work with bloggers. In doing research for our forthcoming session at TBEX Athens on “How To Build a Better Blogging Brand,” we’ve been interviewing prominent travel industry PR reps about what they’re looking for, and the things some bloggers do to turn them off.

 

Bloggers have a reputation (often well-deserved) for overstating their influence in an effort to get freebies, not delivering on their promises, churning out substandard “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”-style stories, partying to excess, “Do you know who I am?!” attitudes, and other unprofessional conduct. Even bloggers who aspire to be professional struggle to figure out how to work with PR reps properly, unless they have a background in media or marketing.

 

But the biggest problem facing those brands who DO want to work with travel bloggers is the sheer overwhelming mass of bloggers to consider. There are sites like Blogger Bridge and organizations such as the Professional Travel Bloggers Association that list bloggers’ social media stats, traffic, etc. But there aren’t many outlets through which a brand can be assured of a given blogger’s qualitytravel industry experiencematurity level and professionalism.

 

We want Green Travel Media to be a quality conduit for brands interested in working with bloggers.

 

Bedouin Musicians Perform at Captain's Camp, Wadi Rum

Bedouin Musicians, Captain’s Camp, Wadi Rum Jordan

 

Mary and I bring a combined 30 years of management experience to the table. She worked for 10 years as manager for an Industrial/Organizational consulting company, while I’ve been Managing Editor of newspapers and magazines for 20 years. We understand the professional business environment, the need for quality control, the importance of deadlines, and how to build and manage a team effectively to guarantee maximum ROI. Green Travel Media will allow us to put our skills and experience to work for travel brands we believe in.

 

How Green Travel Media Will Help Bloggers

 

When we first started GGT in 2010, we weren’t trying to score free trips, fund our travels, or share our personal experiences with friends and family. The site grew out of our passion for Ecotourism, combined with the frustration that most of our freelance outlets were more interested in the same old advertising-driven stories about the best spas, luxury hotels and golf resorts a given destination had to offer.

 

Few of my editors seemed interested in stories that mattered– stories about animal species and traditional cultures on the verge of extinction, the people and organizations devoted to protecting them, and the unique travel experiences those initiatives offered. Blogging provided the editorial freedom to tell those stories in an emotionally impactful way that could inform and inspire readers, as National Geographic had informed and inspired me.

 

Even now, there are surprisingly few mainstream media outlets covering Ecotourism, despite the fact that this growing travel niche is estimated to represent 6% of the world’s gross domestic product, and 11.4% of all consumer spending. In short, there’s a gaping hole in the travel industry that needs to be filled. 

 

Traditional Kalinago Cultural Performance

Traditional Kalinago Cultural Performance

 

But over the years we’ve found quite a few talented bloggers– many of them experienced professionals with traditional media backgrounds– who have made names for themselves by specializing in “Green Travel” sub-niches, from adventure travel and cultural travel to nature/wildlife travel and geotourism.

 

With Green Travel Media, we’re bringing these professionals together on a project-by-project basis, connecting them with money-making opportunities that will reward them for their talent, expertise and influence without compromising their eco-friendly ethos. In short, we want to help good writers (and photographers/designers/etc) make good money by doing good work for good brands.

 

In addition, we want to educate up-and-coming bloggers with an interest in sustainable travel on how to improve their craft and their business, gradually developing an expansive team. To that end, GGT will soon be launching a free “Business of Blogging” series focused on professional development.

 

Shaman's Blessing Ceremony

Shaman’s Blessing Ceremony

 

Goals For The Future

 

We’re hoping to be able to announce our first big Green Travel Media project in the next few weeks, and have already begun assembling a team that includes over a dozen bloggers (more than half of which are currently ranked among the Top 40 Travel Blogs in the world). We’ll be actively pursuing new clients in the months to come, and are eagerly seeking experienced writers, photographers, designers, and web developers interested in working on forthcoming projects.

 

At the same time, we’re already planning the next steps in our evolution. One of our big goals is to create a charitable foundation modeled after Kiva, focusing on micro-funding small scale ecotourism and conservation projects in developing nations. We’re also currently working on getting certified as sustainability consultants, with a focus on tourism and community development.

 

We eventually hope to make strong connections on the ground through our travels, write stories to draw more attention to noteworthy projects, and use our expertise in marketing and social media promotion to help raise funds that will allow those projects to succeed. Basically, we want to facilitate the growth of symbiotic connections that will lead to a more fruitful and sustainable travel experience for everyone involved.

 

Whether you’re a travel blogger, a DMO/tour operator, or a passionate conservationist developing an ecotourism-related project, we hope you’ll be interested in working together in the future. Interested parties are invited to join the Green Travel Media Facebook group and reach out to us at info@GreenTravelMedia.com. –Bret Love

 

If you enjoyed our post on Blogging, the Green Travel Industry & the Future of GGT, you might also like:

The Benefits of Ecotourism: 20 Top Travel Bloggers on the Importance of Nature Travel

The Beauty of Nature Travel: A Blog Round-Up

GO GREEN TIP #98: 40 Earth Day Tips For Going Green

Easy Ecotourism: 10 Simple Steps To More Sustainable Travel

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Interview with Wardruna frontman  Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik about music for Vikings

Music For Vikings

Wardruna Revives Ancient Nordic Folk Traditions

 

There was a time back in the ‘80s and ‘90s when radio stations and MTV were great outlets for discovering new music. But these days, more often than not, I find my favorite artists through film and TV soundtracks. Such was the case with Wardruna, a Norwegian musical project created by Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik.

 

Selvik, formerly the drummer for Black Metal band Gorgoroth, created the project in 2003 to pursue his passion for Nordic spiritualism. Profoundly influenced by the runes of the Elder Futhark, the world’s oldest runic alphabet, he began working with former Gorgoroth frontman Gaahl (a.k.a. Kristian Espedal) and vocalist Lindy Fay Hella to craft an epic, ambient sound rooted in ancient folkloric traditions.

 

Their second album, Yggdrasil (named after the tree that connects the nine worlds of Norse mythology), was released in March of 2013. But it wasn’t until Wardruna’s music was featured prominently in the History Channel TV show Vikings that the band began building buzz. The show’s producers eventually contacted Selvik directly, asking him to collaborate with composer Trevor Morris (The Borgias) on Vikings’ season two soundtrack.

 

After tracking Selvik down via his website, we were delighted to get a chance to speak with him about his interest in Norse history, the challenges of making his own reproductions of ancient instruments, and how his success with Vikings will impact Wardruna’s third album, which he hopes to release next year.

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Sunset at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida

Our Next Adventure:

Our Favorite Place in the World

 

Around this time 10 years ago my life was a shambled mess. 

 

I was 35 years old, and coming out of an emotional divorce after a 12-year marriage. I had an amazing 3-year-old daughter I only saw about 30% of the time. I was in a torturous, on-again/off-again, long-distance relationship with a Canadian woman whose custody agreement ensured she’d lose her kids if she left Toronto, while I’d lose mine if I left Atlanta. My freelance writing career was in such a pitiful state, I barely qualified for a mortgage. And, what was worse, I saw no light at the end of the tunnel to suggest these things might eventually improve.

 

So I did what any depressed, despondent, divorced single dad might do in similar circumstances: I charged gas, food and hotel rooms to my already overburdened credit card so that I could take my toddler to the beach. Specifically, to my favorite beach in the world, in Sanibel Island, Florida.

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Urnes Stave Church, Norway

A Rare Look Inside the 900-Year-Old

Urnes Stave Church, Norway

 

Do a Google Image Search for photos of Norway’s Urnes Stave Church and you’ll find hundreds of results. But if you scan through them, you’ll notice that 99.9% of these are exterior shots, and the few interior shots that do show up are actually from one of Norway’s 27 other stave churches.

 

There’s a reason for this: Fortidsminneforeningen, the Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments (which owns 8 stave churches, 4 stone churches, and 28 other historically significant properties in  the country), strictly forbids photographs from being taken inside Urnes.

 

Knowing that we were journalists visiting Norway on assignment, our guide Marit Boen allowed us to take photos during our private tour. But we had to get special permission from Fortidsminneforenignen in order to publish them here on Green Global Travel, which they recognized as being similarly devoted to cultural preservation. So we’re delighted to offer our readers an incredibly rare glimpse inside this 900-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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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
Green Travel Reviews
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