Learn about the natural world through inspiring eco-travel adventures. Here are five to consider:
1 Paddle the Headwaters, Orlando, Fla.: Catch a glimpse of Old Florida and the abundant wildlife in the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. Shingle Creek, just minutes from the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, is a world away from the bustling modern resort. Nestle into a kayak for a leisurely two-hour paddle during which your guide will point out native species and share the region’s history. Expect ibis, limpkin, osprey, barred owls and bald eagles to break the peaceful ambience of the waterway. For contrast, spend the following days in the pool, on the Greg Norman-designed golf course or at nearby theme parks.
2 Observe egg-laying turtles, Ostional Wildlife Reserve, Costa Rica: Over the course of a five-day arribada (Spanish for arrival) an impressive gathering of olive ridley and Kemp’s sea turtles will lay up to 5 million eggs on this pristine beach. Families can watch the adult turtles swim ashore, drop their eggs and then return to the sea. Hatchlings emerge from the sand and follow the scent of the ocean back to the safety of water. Volunteers can help protect the young ones from predators as they make their journey to the sea.
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3 Retreat to the Nature Inn at Bald Eagle, Howard, Pa.: Through their everyday practices, which include geothermal heating and cooling, solar hot water heat generation, rainwater harvesting, native habitat restoration and the use of rain gardens, guests can look forward to an eco-friendly retreat. Look forward to hundreds of miles of trails, paths and trout streams in the Pennsylvania wilds. Be sure to check out the nesting pair of bald eagles across the lake.
4 Visit Belize: This Central American gem offers more than 87 distinct types of ecosystems, making eco-tourism the lifeblood of its economy. Along with 150 identified species of mammals are rain forests, Mayan temples, the world’s second longest barrier reef and an abundance of eco-lodges educating travelers about the fragility of its ecosystem. Stay at the Lodge at Chaa Creek for early morning bird-watching tours, to visit the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm and for medicine trail tours where you’ll learn about the native plants that provide globally significant remedies.
5 Whale watching in the Baja, Mexico: Did you know that gray whales migrate thousands of miles from their Arctic feeding grounds to give birth in the lagoons of Mexico’s Baja region? Learn about this extraordinary natural phenomenon as you watch the species known as the “friendly whale” roll and dive and look after their newborn calves. You’ll also spot sea lions, turtles and elephant seals in the protected waters of the San Ignacio Lagoon. Spend the nights in rustic, beachfront cabanas.