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Denise&Paul STL

Nature Cruising

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We would very much enjoy going on a large cruisehip with a group of nature lovers. We are planning our cruise for next year and would like to know if anyone has already signed up for a cruise of this nature, or if anyone knows where to look for this type of group cruise.

 

Thank you,

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I have not heard of group cruises like this, but it would be fun. There are usually only a few of us up at the front of the boat scanning for birds and marine mammals on sea days, but I have had some amazing sightings!

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There really are so many great options...We managed to pack a lot of birding and nature-related touring into our 7 day pride of america cruise, and would be happy to take this same itinerary as well. Alaska cruises are already at least somewhat geared towards wildlife and nature, but I think it would be fun to plan an itinerary that includes stops in Mexico or Central America, and then hire some private guides (there is supposed to be wonderful birding near PV mexico, for example).

 

We have never signed up for a small ship eco-cruise as our kids enjoy the amenities of the mid-to-large sized cruise ships (and DW and I do as well).

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Yeah, there are quite a few "boutique" cruises on small ships out of the Alaskan fishing villages which are almost totally geared towards either fishing or narure exploration. They do tend to get pricey, though.

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Both Alaska and Mexico sound interesting. PA thanks for the info about the boutique cruises - I wasn't aware of those and will check into it. Pricey may not be the best idea for this group though as it eliminates many people that might want to join us.

 

I am totally open to ideas. I thought it would be good to book something that covers both water creatures and land creatures. I do like sticking with Caribbean or Alaska though, especially since it covers both land and sea. We would need to know the best time of year for the various wildlife as well.

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My personal feelings for both land and sea at the same time would be either a Costa Rica cruise (just about any time of the year although late winter/early spring should be drier) or Alaska (anytime from late May through early October). Costa Rica is great for land wildlife (especially if you like birds but they also have many interesting mammals). Alaska is great for both sea and land (especially if you like mammals but they also have many interesting birds). Pretty much all the major cruiselines have Alaska trips. The ones that typically come to mind, though, are Princess, Holland American, and Royal Caribbean. This summer, I was on a 14-day cruisetour (7-day cruise, 7-day land tour) to Alaska with Royal. Seventeen years ago, I did a similar trip through Princess.

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My husband and I have been bird watchers for years. One of our sons took after us and that made family trips more enjoyable.

Our first trip to Alaska was by Princess and the three of us were in the front of the boat the entire trip up. Our son that year graduated from college and his gift was a trip to St. Paul Island birding. So he took the three day option while we toured Alaska. That was a great trip for him. We then did an additional 2 weeks in the interior all three together by car.

The second trip was by Carnival and the viewing from that ship was not as great.

We started doing some elderhostels as we became of age and have done bird watching trips with them to Costa Rica and the Copper Canyon. Through these trips we met two other companions who are very good bird watchers and hopefully are planning to trip to Ecuador.

We did an elderhostel to Churchill to see the polar bears two years ago. IT is an easy thing for anyone to do. Just book the flight from Winnepeg or take the train, get the tundra buggys. Plan to do that around Halloween. Summer you can see beluga whales.

We just got back from Antarctica. We took a big ship- MV Discovery. There were 5 naturalists on board- did three landings and a cruise around Deception Island. LEctures were excellent. Our boat was big and we had 350 people on board. Well worth the trip from Ushuaia.

Was curious if anyone has ever done the Brazilian Amazon or the Pantanal? Amazon would be a river cruise. Pantanal would be a land trip.

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I have not been to the Pantanal, but a birding friend has, and is trying to talk us in to a trip there. I have birded the Amazonian lowlands of Peru and Ecuador, as well as the Ecuadorian highlands. Overall, I prefer the highlands because of the spectacular scenery and all of the hummingbirds and tanagers (and the cooler weather)...I would love to take and Amazon river cruise, however; we stayed in rustic lodges without A/C (or even electricity for that matter) in Peru, and it was very hot! The highlights of the Amazonian lowlands (for me) were the huge flights of Macaws and other parrots coming to the clay licks in the early mornings...just breathtaking!!

 

Churchill has been on our to do list for years...

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As a total non-cruiser up to this point, I don't know if you get much time off the ship when you do a canal zone voyage, but the area right near the canal is wonderful for birds as well as mammals. Pipeline Road is famous among birders around the world; when I hiked it I also saw a large family group of kinkajous, different types of monkeys, beautiful butterflies...it was great. The ABA, American Birding Association, puts out a yearly catalog listing members which has information about local guides, tour companies, etc. If you are interested in doing nature trips I would think you'd see much more on a land trip than a cruise. I am going to Costa Rica in two weeks (my 4th trip there) and you can set up all kinds of nature tours-anything from luxury lodges with everything set up for you to the kind of cheap, on-your-own trips I take. My first out of the country birding trip was to Costa Rica and it totally changed my life--standing in a rain forest looking up at beautiful toucans, seeing tiny hummingbirds with all sorts of amazing adaptations (do a google on sword-billed hummingbird)--it is a totally awe inspiring experience. Several of the birding areas have platforms set up in the forest so that you can climb a set of stairs and be at eye level with the birds and monkeys. I hope you pursue this interest; it is truly inspirational. Debby

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Now this is exactly what I was hoping to find!

 

http://home.btconnect.com/wildwings/baja.html

 

Anyone know anything about these?

We did a land-based whale watching vacation in the Baja at a place called Baja Outpost, and it was amazing...we spent one day with the friendly gray whales at Magdalena bay, and several days watching huge blue whales in the sea of cortez. I could go back every year!

 

As a total non-cruiser up to this point, I don't know if you get much time off the ship when you do a canal zone voyage, but the area right near the canal is wonderful for birds as well as mammals....
We had no time to explore the spectacular-looking rainforest of the canal zone, but did see a few "easy" birds from the canal itself...as it was our first trip to the canal, we wanted to experience the full transit. We did stop in Costa Rica for one day on that same cruise, and had some wonderful birding in the vicinity of Tortugero National Park, but I do think that a land-based tour to either country would be the better for birding and wildlife watching in general (we have also been to Costa Rica several times, and still have not seen it all!) Ecuador is another wonderful location for a land-based birding tour....it is worth going just to see those amazing Amazon Swordbills!:)

 

What lodges are you visiting in Costa Rica? I would enjoy hearing about your trip, as we are thinking about a repeat visit in the next few years (our favorite locations were Rancho Naturalista and Savegre lodge).

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I was in Costa Rica (land-based) for 10 days in 2003. Was fantastic for birds and other wildlife. I just sat outside the hotel in San Jose and knocked off about 15 bird species in 10 minutes! Went to many of the typical places - Monte Verde, Poaz volcano (and waterfalls/hummingbird garden), Arenal volcano/Tabacon Springs, Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio.

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Rancho Naturalista was the first place I ever birded in the tropics! It was wonderful, despite the fact that it poured a lot of the time we were there. I've also been to Manuel Antonio park--more sloths than I could believe and Gerardo de Dota where I saw the Resplendent Quetzal, which many people feel is the most beautiful bird in the world. It was wonderful. I have never been to Monteverde, which is one of the places almost all birders go, but if all works out, I'll be there in less than 2 weeks. My husband is a retired airline employee, so I travel space available and never know if I'll get there or get home. So planning is often on the run. Equador is also really terrific; the area around Mindo, not far from Quito, is good for Cock of the Rock. I like mountain birding just because the temperature is so much more pleasant, but the most miserably hot and humid place I've ever been was also the best ever for both birds and mammals-Borneo. I actually saw a mother orangutan and baby eating in a fig tree! And hornbills and a large cat, Palm civet, one evening. I missed the elephants, but saw droppings and was so excited I took photos of dung! I figured it was as close as I would ever get to elephants in the wild....When I did a slide show for 3rd graders on the rain forest they loved the photo of elephant poop.

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I was in Costa Rica (land-based) for 10 days in 2003. Was fantastic for birds and other wildlife. I just sat outside the hotel in San Jose and knocked off about 15 bird species in 10 minutes! Went to many of the typical places - Monte Verde, Poaz volcano (and waterfalls/hummingbird garden), Arenal volcano/Tabacon Springs, Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio.
Where did you stay in the Arenal area...this is still on our list of places to visit, especially if we could view the volcano at night from our bed!

 

Rancho Naturalista was the first place I ever birded in the tropics! It was wonderful, despite the fact that it poured a lot of the time we were there. I've also been to Manuel Antonio park--more sloths than I could believe and Gerardo de Dota where I saw the Resplendent Quetzal, which many people feel is the most beautiful bird in the world. It was wonderful. I have never been to Monteverde, which is one of the places almost all birders go, but if all works out, I'll be there in less than 2 weeks. My husband is a retired airline employee, so I travel space available and never know if I'll get there or get home. So planning is often on the run. Equador is also really terrific; the area around Mindo, not far from Quito, is good for Cock of the Rock. I like mountain birding just because the temperature is so much more pleasant, but the most miserably hot and humid place I've ever been was also the best ever for both birds and mammals-Borneo. I actually saw a mother orangutan and baby eating in a fig tree! And hornbills and a large cat, Palm civet, one evening. I missed the elephants, but saw droppings and was so excited I took photos of dung! I figured it was as close as I would ever get to elephants in the wild....When I did a slide show for 3rd graders on the rain forest they loved the photo of elephant poop.
You will love the Hummingbirds at Monteverde...and should get to see another Quetzal or two:D I have never been to asia, but Borneo sounds magical.

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We stayed at the Tilajari Resort (http://www.tilajari.com/) by Arenal. Can't say how the views of the volcano are as it was cloudy and drizzly the couple days we were there. However, it is fairly close.

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Looks like a nice place. We missed out on seeing molten lava at night on our Hawaii cruise (it is no longer flowing into the sea; we did get to see some from the air by day, but it's not quite the same), so we are thinking of spending a few days near Arenal next year (and then visiting the NW corner of Costa Rica). If it is cloudy/rainy, we will just have to make do with brightly colored tanagers instead!

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Looks like a nice place. We missed out on seeing molten lava at night on our Hawaii cruise (it is no longer flowing into the sea; we did get to see some from the air by day, but it's not quite the same), so we are thinking of spending a few days near Arenal next year (and then visiting the NW corner of Costa Rica). If it is cloudy/rainy, we will just have to make do with brightly colored tanagers instead!

 

 

Plenty of tanagers. Also oropendolas, aricaris, and a host of other critters right on the resort property or in clise proximity!

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I am trying to get reservations at Cabinas Verde Azul near Monteverde park. Has anyone stayed there? The mountain lodge was booked solid. I'm also supposed to stay at the lodge at Rincon de La Vieja. Anyone been there? I would LOVE to see the quetzal again! I've also seen it in Honduras and Guatamala. I could see it daily and not have enough. Debby

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Not familiar with Cabinas Verde Azul . We stayed at Hotel Montana Monteverde. That wasn't too bad. CLose to the park, too.

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I was last in Monteverde 16 years ago, but we stayed in the Hotel Fonda Vela and loved it...there was wonderful birding right on the property, and it was walking distance from the reserve itself.

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I got confirmation for our reservations at Cabinas Verde Azul, so I guess we'll be there. Shouldn't be in the room too much anyway. I just hope they have hot water...I am NOT good at cold water showers. Now I have to decide whether or not to pack the rubber boots...take up a lot of room, not fun to wear, but make sinking to the ankles in mud somewhat easier.

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I got confirmation for our reservations at Cabinas Verde Azul, so I guess we'll be there. Shouldn't be in the room too much anyway. I just hope they have hot water...I am NOT good at cold water showers. Now I have to decide whether or not to pack the rubber boots...take up a lot of room, not fun to wear, but make sinking to the ankles in mud somewhat easier.

 

If it helps any, when I was down there, it was in February and the weather in the mountains was cloudy/foggy/drizzly. Road and trail conditions were muddy but not deep mud. Enough to splash onto your pants but not enough to get stuck in (at least where I was).

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You might want to check to see if they have pairs available to borrow...just in case. I have size 13 feet, so usually bring a pair along (and then donate them at the end of the vacation to make room in my luggage for Cafe Brit and Salsa Lizano).

 

Another footwear option: NEOS (stands for new england over shoes)...you can slip these on over tenners or even tevas!

 

Have a great trip!!!

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