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December 30, 2011
Calling all wildlife enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike; there are a few spaces still available on two superlative expeditions, both departing March 26, that you won’t want to miss in 2012. Our Western Pacific Odyssey, in partnership with Heritage Expeditions, makes an epic journey across the southwest Pacific—one of the most remote and least-visited parts of our planet—to seek out some of the rarest seabirds in the world. Of special note on this expedition, you will be joined by Zegrahm cofounder and renowned seabird expert, Peter Harrison, to help you identify the wealth of island endemics we’ll encounter, including the kagu, one of the world’s most sought-after bird species. Or, opt for our Jungle Rivers of South America expedition to explore some of the most bio-diverse regions on Earth as you explore the waters and shores of South America’s Amazon, Suriname, and Essequibo rivers. In addition to the rich wildlife found here—including macaws, monkeys, dolphins, and more—this journey also offers several authentic cultural encounters from visiting the eerie ruins of Devil’s Island, a French penal colony, to meeting the native peoples that call these jungle regions home. Now all you have to do is decide which of these unparalleled journeys will make your shortlist in 2012—contact our office to make your reservation today!
December 30, 2011
At Zegrahm Expeditions, we endeavor to travel outside the box—not always adhering to what the daily itinerary dictates, but capitalizing on any and all opportunities to discover whatever unnamed atoll, unvisited village, or unchartered waters we might happen upon. Indeed, many of our adventures are in areas so remote, they are rarely, if ever, visited so there is much to be discovered. And therein lies the appeal of Zegrahm Expeditions: You travel as an inquisitive, fully-engaged explorer, rather than a casual-observer tourist. To those new to Zegrahm’s expeditionary style of travel, here is a sampling of what you can look forward to on a typical day:
Awake early in the morning to the cheerful chirp of one of our energetic cruise directors. The first call comes for the nature enthusiasts to set off, scurrying away to glimpse the region’s endemic wildlife. After breakfast on board, the remaining guests will disembark, often by Zodiac, in order to get up close and personal with the regional wildlife and/or meet the locals in tiny villages that function just as they did hundreds of years ago.
Your Zodiac ride ashore can often be an excursion in and of itself as your expert leader—who often doubles as your Zodiac driver—points out marine and bird life or gives you a primer on the culture of the villagers you are about to meet. En route, you may hear your guide’s radio come to life as one optimal spot after another for the afternoon’s snorkel or dive reveals itself.
After lunch—perhaps at a local establishment where you can savor the delicacies of the region or a poolside barbeque onboard—enjoy a lecture by one of our renowned specialists as the ship repositions to an earlier-scouted water sports location. Once in place, you’ll have the option to snorkel with a marine biologist who’ll interpret the wonders below the water, scuba dive with a certified dive master, or go for a spin in the glass-bottom boat.
In the early evening, gather in the lounge, enjoying a cocktail or two before dinner, while our esteemed expedition staff and lecturers creatively recap your day. Whether it’s a tutorial (and fashion show) about your newly-procured ikat or a run-down of all the fish seen during the afternoon snorkel session, our expedition team members are the best in their fields and are each eager to share their wealth of knowledge with you as it relates to what was experienced that day.
After dinner prepared by our trained chefs, who often use some of the local ingredients they picked up at the market that day, you can relax with a cocktail enjoying live piano music, read in the library, or watch a movie in your cabin. Just be sure to get some rest—it all starts again tomorrow, bright and early.
If a day like this is calling your name, heed the call in 2013 with any of our Indonesia and South Pacific expeditions. Watch your mailbox for a preview of these voyages in the coming months.
December 30, 2011
Naturalist Mark Brazil has been leading trips for Zegrahm Expeditions for over 10 years. His explorations range from seeking out India’s rare Bengal tigers to photographing Japan’s white-naped cranes.
“Remote” and the “British Isles” are words that are not often combined in the same sentence. After all, the islands, geographically encompassing both Ireland and the UK, have been settled for millennia, are rich in archaeology, history, folklore and custom, and support a sizeable human population. What’s “remote” about that? When we think remote, we tend to think of islands in the Russian Far East, Indonesia, New Zealand, Alaska, or Antarctica, yet scattered around the fringes of the British Isles, in dramatically scenic settings, are islands that are as remote as one can imagine: Ailsa Craig, the Saltees, and the Skellig Islands, all of which we visit on our Ireland & the British Isles voyage. The region through which we travel is perhaps best known for its lively pubs, its imposing castles and country homes, and its ancient archaeological sites, but voyaging by sea around the southwest of England, the south and west of Ireland, and through southwest Scotland we see not only historical Britain, but also wild Britain.
Despite reveling in the history and culture of my own part of the world (I was born in England), as a naturalist it is the wildlife that makes our varied voyage around the British Isles so exciting for me. This year, the draw for me is the wealth of seabirds that we will encounter, and the hope that while watching them together we may well encounter marine mammals such as seals and dolphins near our home-away-from-home, the Clipper Odyssey. The ease with which the northern fulmars slide past, their wings locked into a seemingly endless glide, is inspiring. Manx shearwaters, bold in their contrasting black above and white below plumage, careen across the sea, flittering skyward in wheeling arcs of motion. At dramatic seabird cliffs we visit crowded colonies of common murre and razorbill—living relatives of the original penguin, the now extinct great auk. Dapper in their form fitting feather coats, the razorbills are Europe’s most elegant auk, but when we approach Atlantic puffin colonies, such as those on Great Saltee and Skellig Michael, we are more than likely to lose track of time as we admire the puffins’ colorful adornments and watch their comical antics. Even as a trained ornithologist, it is hard to take puffins seriously: their permanently surprised expression, their proud portly demeanor, their whirring, blurring wing-beats, that multicolored bill and their fascinating behavior, all serve to make them irresistible to watch.
At sea, but especially around Little Skellig and Ailsa Craig, we will see and admire the largest of Europe’s coastal breeding seabirds, the northern gannet. These enormous birds, nearly three feet from bill to tail and nearly six feet across the wings, are inspirational in their command of air and water. Few things are more spectacular than watching a squadron of gannets flying effortlessly along above the waves, transform, with barely a flick of their wings, into a honed predatory dart plunging, down beneath the water to catch their piscine prey. This is a pointed bird—beak, tail and wings—all sharp and elongated, pointed in all directions. Its long, creamy white wings are smartly tipped with black, and it wears a creamy, golden-yellow cowl. Individually they are gorgeous, but en masse, in thousands at their colonies, they are spectacular—the din can be deafening, the aroma is distinctive, and the sight is unforgettable.
Our trip is by no means all about seabirds however as we enjoy visits to Dartmoor in the south-west of England; quaint Tresco in the Isles of Scilly; cultured Cork, scenic Killarney, the Dingle Peninsula, and charming Donegal in Ireland; the fabled Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland; and famous whisky-producing Islay. Yet everywhere we go, whether to castle, country home, lively pub, or distillery, the common birds of these western isles are with us. Birds of poetry, the European blackbird and European robin, are typical of British gardens and will delight us with their vibrant songs. Common wood pigeons coo their mournful and methodical “two coos sookie” chant from castle walls and woodland tops, while overhead insectivorous common swifts scream and chase at high speed as if hell-bent on tearing the fabric of time. We will listen and watch for the arriving spring warblers such as chiffchaff, willow warbler and sedge warbler, and look for scarce residents such as the red-billed chough, we’ll keep a watchful eye out for butterflies, and all this against the backdrop of early summer blossoms. I can hardly wait; I know it is going to be fun.
Join Mark, along with our cultural experts, for our 14-day Ireland & the British Isles expedition departing May 22, 2012; contact our office to reserve your space today!
December 30, 2011
Last year Zegrahm was excited to introduce several new 2012 expeditions that explore the southern coast of Africa, the first of which departs in less than two months. These voyages have been wildly popular with our travelers and we are very much looking forward to reading the trip reports once they return. With that in mind, we crafted our 2013 calendar to feature the tried-and-true Zegrahm favorites that have been equally popular in years past. As such, our expanded fleet of ships will primarily circle the Pacific Rim, spending time on each continent bathed by this vast ocean, while our land programs will expand the globe even further (thanks, in part, to help from our friends at sister companies, Travcoa and TCS & Starquest Expeditions).
Here is a preview of what’s on tap for 2013: After completing her stint in the Indian Ocean, the Clipper Odyssey will head south in search of the swaying palms, diverse cultures, and warm welcomes that have made Indonesia and the South Pacific must-see destinations for Zegrahm travelers over the years. With a Vietnam and Cambodia expedition tucked in between, the Clipper Odyssey will make the rounds to all the major islands of Indonesia, including a Circumnavigation of Sumatra, a visit to Borneo, Sulawesi, and Bali, and two voyages, that can be combined, that explore Sulawesi and Bali, plus snorkeling and diving in Raja Ampat and visits to several Asmat villages that can only be described as the Best of Indonesia. From there, the Faces of Melanesia welcome us to the South Pacific followed by a voyage through Melanesia and Micronesia for a healthy dose of traditional island culture, WWII history, and excellent snorkeling and diving. The Clipper Odyssey’s finale in the Pacific will be two weeks exploring the sacred Treasures of Japan and South Korea.
In July, the Caledonian Sky explores the wild (and wildlife-rich) side of Alaska on a journey that visits the remote Pribilof and Aleutian Islands with plenty of opportunities to view the region’s iconic wildlife, especially the endearing families of brown bears. We will then cruise along the northeastern Ring of Fire calling on the Best of the Russian Far East—meet nomadic reindeer herders, discover island outposts steeped in WWII history, admire unimaginable numbers of seabirds, and more. Later in the year, the Caledonian Sky will explore Australia’s remote Kimberley, one of the most sought-after destinations as determined by our travelers, along with Tasmania, New Zealand, and the Sub-Antarctic Islands. And, travelers take note: Zegrahm is one of a small number of operators allowed to travel to the far-flung, ecologically-fragile islands of Macquarie, Campbell, Enderby, Auckland, and Snares.
Several other ships join the ranks in 2013 to help us round out our calendar. The Island Sky shows travelers the Rainforests and Reefs of Belize, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama in March; the highlights of the Baltic and Black Sea in July and September; and, due to the popularity of our 2012 expedition, will be Tracing the West Coast of Africa in November. The Clipper Adventurer, of course, makes her annual visit to the southernmost realm visiting Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands in addition to tracing the West Coast of South America in epic fashion. And, last but not least, the Isabela II takes 40 lucky travelers on an expedition through the Galápagos Islands in the company of Zegrahm cofounder, Jack Grove. Also, stay tuned for details on one expedition that has just been added to the drawing board: Iceland and Greenland.
And, if that’s not enough, we are pleased to present a grand line-up of land programs, catering to just 12-24 travelers each. In addition to Myanmar and Laos, Japan, Bhutan, Mongolia, Brazil, Madagascar, India, and several safaris in Africa with Lex Hes, we have two new land programs. In March, Zegrahm field director, Kevin Clement, will take travelers to explore the rugged natural beauty of Samiland in northern Scandinavia, while Mark Brazil seeks out endemic wildlife in Western India’s national parks.
We will also be partnering with our sister company, Travcoa, on three unique journeys in 2013. First, a 14-day expedition to one of the most isolated nations in the world: North Korea. Here, get a first-hand glimpse into the lives of the people with privatelyguided visits to a middle school, the largest library in North Korea, and an art studio where most of the country’s public art is fabricated. We’ll also venture down the Ancient Silk Road on an expedition to China, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, and take travelers on a Grand Safari through Kenya and Tanzania.
Finally, in collaboration with TCS & Starquest Expeditions, we are excited to offer a private jet tour of History’s Lost Cities in which we will touch down in Uzbekistan, Mongolia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, India, and Jordan.
We hope you are as excited as we are about 2013! Let us know if any of these expeditions are of interest to you on the enclosed reply card and you’ll be the first to know when the itineraries are released.
December 27, 2011
Time to hit the ground running! Arriving into the Chennai Airport, one has no other option than to immediately give in and acclimate to the beautiful organized chaos that is INDIA.
We convened at the gorgeous Taj Coromandel hotel. From the second we arrived their fabulous staff - all dressed in beautiful saris and royal colonial-era uniforms - made us feel like royal guests. After a quick welcome and lunch, we wasted no time in grabbing our cameras and hopping onto buses.
Our premier tour of Chennai introduced us to 10 AD bronze statues of the Hindu gods Pavarti, Shiva, and Ganish at the National Art Gallery. During our visit to the gallery, the ever intrepid Jack Grove was keen to point out an entire tree full of humongous red flying foxes and parakeets. From there we visited the colonial Fort St. George Museum as well as the San Thome Cathedral.
The highlight for all was our final visit of the day to the Kapaleeshwara Hindu Temple. The temple itself sits in the middle of a bustling market where vendors weave beautiful garlands of marigolds. We obliged with the rest of the worshippers and removed our shoes before entering the open-air temple, where devout Hindus walked underneath the temple’s ornate spire, praying and chanting; they laid flowers and lit candles below the gaze of thousands of colorfully painted statues.
The night ended with a welcome dinner and reception back at the hotel. Everyone went to bed early, all anxious for the next day’s adventures!