Torres del Paine from Lake Pehoé, Chile

Torres del Paine from Lake Pehoé, by Miguel V via Creative Commons

Winding Down 2012 With Our Biggest Eco Adventures Ever!

 

Late last year, when we were compiling our list of our Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2012, we had two basic criteria in mind: 1) Which ecotourism destinations did we most want to visit, and 2) Which ones could we foreseeably have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting to?

 

To be honest, this time last year Green Global Travel was a very small fish in a very big travel blogging pond. With around 5000 page views per month, nobody knew who we were yet. We had big dreams and high hopes for our future growth, but there were certain destinations (including New Zealand and Bora Bora) so far outside the realm of possibility, we didn’t even bother including them on our Top 10 list.

 

What a difference a year can make!  As we noted in our post commemorating our 2nd Blogaversary, 2012 has brought a humbling wealth of amazing experiences our way. Over the weekend, we finalized details on our biggest trip to date– one which will allow us to send the year out on one heck of a high note!

 

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Globe Cake

10 Blogging Tips We Learned From Our Second Year

 

If you’d told us a year ago that Green Global Travel would grow as much, and take us as far, as it has in our second year of existence, we would’ve laughed in disbelief.

 

This time last year we’d just gotten back from the Galapagos Islands, our first press trip landed based on the merits of GGT alone. We converted the site to WordPress, after a year on Joomla. We did our first guest post, for our friends at The Planet D. And we decided to focus on building GGT as a business after a year of running an improv comedy company.

 

The past 365 days have been a whirlwind: We’ve never in our lives worked harder, but we’ve also never felt so fulfilled by the work we do. We’ve seen our traffic grow exponentially, from under 7,000 pageviews last October to around 50,000 PVs last month. We’ve been on press trips to Yellowstone, the Peruvian Amazon, Bermuda, Panama, Dominica, Jordan and the Canadian Arctic, and we’re closing out 2012 with a 2-week trip so incredible even we can’t believe it (details coming soon).

 

We’re incredibly thankful for our good fortune, and for all the friends, fellow bloggers and loyal readers who’ve helped us get to where we are today. But this tremendous journey has not been easy, and we wanted to share some valuable blogging tips we’ve learned along the way that we think will help make the next year even better… and may help you, too:

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Cousteau-Family-Swimming

Jean-Michel Cousteau With Son Fabien and Daughter Celine

An Interview With Jean-Michel Cousteau

On His Father’s Legacy & The Future of Marine Conservation


One of my earliest influences in the field of nature/wildlife conservation was Jacques Cousteau. In films and TV shows such as The Underwater Odyssey of Commander Cousteau, the legendary explorer-turned-conservationist inspired a generation with his passion for marine life and the preservation of their habitat.

 

Jacques and his eldest son had a notoriously difficult relationship, but Jean-Michel Cousteau ran the Cousteau Society for the Protection of Ocean Life for 14 years before starting his own non-profit organization, Ocean Futures Society. Now, through OFS and books and films such as My Father, The Captain, Jean-Michel continues to spread his father’s message on the importance of marine conservation.

 

I was honored to get a chance to talk to the 74-year-old adventurer/educator about the legacy of Jacques Cousteau, the evolution of the conservation movement, and what each of us can do to help protect our planet’s precious oceans.

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Polar Bears Mirroring in Churchill, Manitoba

Polar Bears Mirroring

Polar Bears Photo Gallery

Our Favorite Polar Bear Pics From Churchill

 

When we interviewed Jane Goodall last year, she recalled that, when she first started studying chimpanzees in the wild, “it was not appropriate, especially if you were a scientist, to talk about [animals] having personalities or emotions.” But after spending 4 days on an Natural Habitat’s Tundra Lodge in Churchill, Manitoba, I’d argue that it would be virtually impossible not to anthropomorphize them.

 

When you’re in a situation where you can observe  3 to 5 polar bears on any given day, for hours on end, from a proximity that ranges from 3 to 50 feet, you begin to notice distinctive characteristics and personality traits that make each animal unique. Barely on the tundra two days, our group had come up with nicknames for several of the bears that hung out around the lodge 24/7.

 

There was Chubby, the biggest and friendliest bear, who always hung out near the dining car or the crew’s sleeper car and often looked up with sleepy curiosity. There was Gimpy, who had an injured paw, walked with a slight limp, and was a bit crusty and quick to squabble as a result. There was Freckles, who had spots on his face and seemed to come and go more often than the others. And then there was Scarface, who was much younger, smaller and more timid than the others: He tended to keep his distance from the big guys, was more skittish around the lodge, and had a noticeable scar in the center of his nose from a previous fight. But he also had the most beautiful, luscious coat, without a hint of dirt or detritus on his body.

 

We fell in love with these bears, and wanted to share a few of our favorite photos of them. I have a hunch you’ll fall in love with them, too…

 

Polar Bear Closeup in Churchill, Manitoba

As “Closeup” As A Polar Bear Photo Can Safely Get

 

Chubby loved putting his paws up on the side of the dining car around mealtime and sniffing the smells emitting from the kitchen. This is as close as you can get to a polar bear in the wild without getting eaten.

 

Polar_Bears_Napping in Churchill, Manitoba

Polar Bear Naptime

 

Our guides described the state polar bears are in at this stage of the season as “walking hibernation.” They slept, conserving energy for the hunt to come. This one reminded me of my dog, napping with his paw over his face.

 

Polar_Bear_Stretching in Churchill, Manitoba

Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig Stretch!

 

Because they were essentially sleepwalking, the polar bears’ movements for much of the day tended to be slow and deliberate. Somehow, this made them even more adorable and amusing. Love this big stretch!

 

Polar_Bear_Tongue In Churchill, Manitoba

Look At That Tongue!

 

Temps hovered around freezing, so at times people got cold/frustrated waiting for the bears to do something interesting. But if you were patient, you’d get moments like this, which made all the waiting worth it. Can you believe the size of his tongue?

 

Polar_Bear in Churchill, Manitoba

Striking a Handsome Polar Profile

 

It was unusual and amazing to be surrounded by polar bears. You could just sit in the dining car, lounge, or sometimes even in bed and watch them. It really was like having Animal Planet outside your window.

 

Polar_Bear_Side_Profile_CHurchill

Chilling On The Tundra

 

We were initially disappointed not to see snow on the ground, but we gradually came to appreciate the rich colors of the tundra. It reminded me of a microcosm of the colors of a mountain forest in late autumn.

 

Polar_Bear_Trio in Churchill, Manitoba

A Very Sleepy Mexican Standoff

 

Churchill is one of the few places in the world where you can see normally solitary polar bears just hanging out together. Occasionally they’d do some play-fighting, and when they got this close we always had cameras ready.

 

Polar_Bears_Fighting_Churchill

The Rumble In The Tundra

 

Though we knew their fights weren’t serious, everyone in the lodge always buzzed with excitement when they went at it. We’ll have a more detailed post coming soon on the “Anatomy of a Bear Fight.”

 

Polar_Bear_GRowl in CHurchill, Manitoba

Didn’t I Tell Not To Wake Me Up On Saturdays?!?!

 

The fights never lasted very long. These bears haven’t eaten in months, so eventually, after playtime was over, they’d settle back down for a nap. What looks like a fearsome growl is actually just a really big yawn.

 

Polar_Bear_Belly in Churchill, Manitoba

Who’s got a cute bear belly? YOU do!

 

It was hard to imagine these adorable animals doing us any harm, but in fact polar bears are the only predators who’ve been proven to actively hunt humans. Getting a chance to be so close to them 24/7, yet always having the protection the elevated lodge provided, made our trip to Churchill one of the most personally moving experiences of our lives.  –Bret Love; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

 

If you enjoyed our Polar Bear Pics, you might also like: 

CHURCHILL, MANITOBA: Into The Wilds of The Canadian Arctic

WWF Polar Bear Biologist Geoff York on Preserving the Arctic

ECO NEWS: WWF & Coca-Cola Protect Polar Bears Via Arctic Home

 

 

Caribou in Denali National Park, Alaska

Caribou in Denali National Park, Alaska

5 Reasons the Romney Platform Is BAD for the Environment

 

We’re just over a week away from an historic U.S. Election. There have been 3 different Presidential debates, one Vice Presidential debate, party conventions, and myriad campaign stump speeches run seemingly ad nauseum on cable news networks.

 

Yet, amidst all the talk about the economy, government spending, Obamacare and foreign policy, there have been shockingly few mentions of the global environmental crisis. Climate change, the increasing frequency of natural disasters, melting Arctic sea ice (which leads to rising oceans), and an unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels have given the vast majority of the world’s scientists cause to sound the alarm that the canaries in the coal mine are dying. So why aren’t these worrisome developments a more significant part of America’s conversation about our nation’s future?

 

Although the Ryan/Romney camp has revealed few details of their plan for America, the candidates’ voting records and policy positions suggest a GOP win would be disastrous for environmental causes. In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Republican Rep. Steve Pearce (NM) insisted that, if elected, Mitt Romney will turn control over public lands back to the states or private entities. “Constitutionally,” Pearce told ThinkProgress, decisions about drilling in national parks and other public-owned lands “should be left with the states.”

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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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Green Travel Reviews
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Destinations We’ve Covered:

• AFRICA
Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
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 Without 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
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- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, 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
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
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
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba
 
• CARIBBEAN