At Zegrahm, we pride ourselves on taking our explorers to the ends of the earth, be it the continent of Antarctica, or an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean with seven syllables—we're looking at you, Thiruvananthapuram. Here is a list of our favorite, if hard to pronounce, off-the-beaten-path destinations you simply can’t miss in 2014:
Sea of Okhotsk - Wild Siberia: Kamchatka, Sea of Okhotsk & Sakhalin
The expansive region bordering the Sea of Okhotsk is one of the planet’s least-explored and most remarkable destinations for untouched forests, pristine tundra, and vast amounts of wildlife. You’ll find a number of whale species including beluga, orca, and bowhead; basking seals and sea lions by the thousands; and millions of seabirds, from northern fulmars, puffins, and guillemots to black-legged kittiwakes, auklets, and more.
Jan Mayen Island - Across the Arctic Circle: Iceland & Svalbard
Jan Mayen Island claims the northernmost active volcano on the planet. The Beerenberg volcano is entirely capped in ice and boasts numerous glaciers, many of which calve directly into the sea. We will be on the lookout for seabirds such as fulmars and puffins, and we may go ashore to view the old whaling and weather stations.
Sigiriya - Natural Wonders of Sri Lanka
In the heart of Sri Lanka lies Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, a huge granite monolith rising out of the jungle. This stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site features the ruins of a 5th-century fortress and palace, colorful murals, and the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and fountains.
Karasjok - Lapland: Home of the Sami People
Karasjok is the social and cultural center of the Norwegian Sami, a semi-nomadic culture based on reindeer herding. Both the Sami Parliament and a Sami language radio station were established here, and on our adventure, you will meet Sven Engolhm, an eleven-time winner of Europe’s longest dog sled race, plus visit his kennels and highly-trained sled dogs.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest - Uganda: A Primate Paradise
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet. It is home to half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, and our overland adventure spends two full days tracking these great primates. A plethora of bird species and other chimpanzees also live here.
It's back to school season! To help make the transition a little easier, we've provided you with the ABCs of Botswana. From aardvarks to zebras, expedition leader Lex Hes has seen it all. "Aardvark, buffalo, cheetah, duiker, elephant, fruit bat, giraffe, hare, impala, jackal, kudu, lion, mongoose, nightjar, oxpecker, porcupine, quelea, reedbuck, steenbuck, tsessebe, vulture, wild dog, and zebra. Plus, I think I can safely add YOU to the list!"
Our Rain Forests & Reefs expedition explores Belize, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama. Costa Rica alone has over 750 bird species, and all countries have an incredible array of wildlife.
In Belize, you may see an anhinga which in the Brazilian Tupi language, means snake bird. Anhingas often swim with only their neck above the water, often appearing as a snake, ready to strike.
You may come across the beautiful, colorful scarlet macaw in Costa Rica, though it's also the national bird of Honduras. Their plumage is mostly scarlet, but blues, yellows, and greens are often mixed in.
In Panama, look for the red-legged honeycreeper; this songbird was likely introduced in Cuba, but has since been found in southern Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia.
For more information on Rain Forests & Reefs, visit our trip page.
Written by Rich Pagen
Beautiful low angle sunlight was reflecting off the green hillsides of Anastasiya Bay as Zodiacs left the ship bound for a shallow river mouth. This spontaneous after-dinner trip ashore was the result of scanning back down the end of the bay, where we noticed a dark line appearing on the horizon. This region of the Russian Far East is known for its seasonal reindeer herders, who bring their herds to the coast each summer. It’s impossible to know when and where to find them, but this evening we were in the right place at the right time.
We disembarked the Zodiacs at the river’s edge below a small camp with several tents, a campfire burning, and a few dogs roaming the outskirts. Our goal was to scale a low ridge, where we would sit and wait for the massive herd of over 2,000 reindeer to approach and eventually gather beneath us on the coastal plain.
Soon we were in position, with spectacular mountains looming across the bay across from us. Within minutes, the herders had the reindeer swirling in circles around them in the most magnificent display. Then, using rope to lasso the antlers, they captured a large male and with incredible skill and precision, killed the animal and began dressing it. It was a once in a lifetime happening, and something very special very few people have witnessed.
In February 2014, join us for a 15-day adventure in Central America. At the crossroads of two continents, this expedition reveals the wonders of five countries, including Belize, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama, and is ideally timed during the centennial year of the Panama Canal.
We are thrilled to announce that in honor of the 100-year anniversary of these historic locks, we have just enhanced this already-fascinating itinerary with a VIP tour of the five billion dollar Panama Canal expansion project that began a decade ago and is scheduled to be completed in 2015. You will go behind the scenes at the Panama Canal Expansion Observation Center to observe the four billion cubic meters of structural concrete that is being poured into the ditches that comprise the new set of locks from a vantage point rarely visited by the public, plus meet one of the authorities currently working on the expansion project.
- Searching for Central America’s incredible diversity of wildlife during Zodiac cruises and nature walks—over 750 species of birds have been recorded in Costa Rica alone;
- Meeting the Kuna Indians of San Blas and the Emberá Indians of the Darién who proudly preserve their cultural heritage; and
- Snorkeling nearly every day, from Belize’s Half Moon Caye to one of the world’s largest marine parks in Coiba, Panama.
For more information, visit our trip page.