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Gray Whale and Sea Turtle Conservation Adventure

Gray Whale and Sea Turtle Conservation Adventure

Gray Whale and Sea Turtle Conservation Adventure

Trip Details:

Operator:   RED Travel Mexico
Price From: $1495
Ideal Age Range:  Suitable for Children (under 15), High School (15 to 18), 19 to 30, 31 to 50, Over 51
Fitness Needs:  Light Impact
Program duration: 4 days

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About this program

Experience the wonder of the gray whales, on this 5-day expedition in scenic Magdalena Bay on the Pacific coast of the Baja California peninsula where they come to mate and give birth to their calves before returning north towards the Bering Sea. You will also take part in a sea turtle conservation project recognized around the world as a model for community-based conservation. From your secluded base camp on a tiny shell island, learn about the importance of the green sea turtle’s survival and the role local fishermen play in the species’ recovery, before heading out in pangas to capture and release turtles after recording vital data.

This trip supports research on black sea turtles as part of the Grupo Tortuguero program. This information provides vital data on health, migration patterns and habitat use of sea turtles in Magdalena Bay, ultimately providing policymakers and authorities with the tools they need to make strategic decisions towards the species’ conservation.

Travelers also play an important role in conserving Magdalena Bay’s natural resources, providing a complementary, sustainable source of employment in a zone plagued by overfishing and poaching. Your hosts on this trip are part of a rigorous training and business incubation program which instills community members with principles of social equity and environmental and community stewardship. This is complemented and strengthened by the genuine personal interaction between clients and staff.

Itinerary

Project Life

Carrying out the program's activities on the beaches and forests in the area, you will live on our base at Jalova. With Tortuguero's amazing scenery, incredible beaches and through dawn patrols, spectacular sunrises as the backdrop, you will hone your research skills collecting important data. Through the processing, analysis, and recording of data, you will also get to grips with the technical aspects of field based research. Making lifelong friends, and invaluable contacts in the research world, you will live on our small but comfortable base with fellow volunteers, forging a tight-knit group experience you will never forget.

What to expect:

The center has over 60 private hectares of prime Amazon forest within which some of the animals can live freely, while others are rehabilitated prior to release. Volunteers need to be animal-lovers as well as physically fit. The work may involve opportunities to assist with teaching children or helping indigenous families to plant crops. A proportion of volunteer fees goes directly into this community.

Day 1: Arrival

Morning: Meet fellow volunteers, get settled into accommodations Mid-Day: Welcome lunch Afternoon: Introductions and Orientation; discuss goals and itinerary Evening: Discuss preconceptions and expectations. Team Building exercise. free time: shower, explore area, write in your journal, etc. Dinner

Day 2

Morning: Breakfast at hotel Mid-Morning: 9:30-5 visit to Angkor Wat temples Mid-Day: Lunch at Angkor Cafe; Journal project Afternoon: Meet with APDO to organize wheelchair project; cultural scavenger hunt activity Evening: Free time, dinner. See the sunset at Angkor Wat temple entrance.

Day 3

Morning: Breakfast at hotel, quick Khmer lesson Mid-Morning: Walk to work site; wheelchair assembly Mid-Day: Lunch Afternoon: Go to Landmine Museum; free time; go on a mission to taste Angkor beer, write in your journal, check email, explore. Evening: Free time; cooking lesson, dinner

Day 4

Morning: Give alms to monks, Breakfast, language lesson Mid-Morning: Work on wheelchair project Mid-Day: Lunch Afternoon: Visit micro library and APDO information center Evening: Free time; a cooking lesson, dinner; go to Phnom Bakheng to watch the sunset.

Day 5

Morning: Breakfast at hotel Mid-Morning: Finish wheelchairs and present to recipients Mid-Day: Lunch Afternoon: Teach English colloquialisms to novice monks Evening: Free time, cooking lesson, dinner.

Day 6

Morning: Breakfast at hotel Mid-Morning: English instruction; computer skills instruction; teach self-esteem class Mid-Day: Lunch Afternoon: Excursion to Tonle Sap Lake Evening: Free time; dinner; prepare for farewell party

Day 7

Morning: Breakfast at hotel Mid-Morning: Explore Siem Reap; free time Mid-Day: Farewell party lunch Afternoon: Visit the Killing Fields Memorial; free time, revisit temples, go to the archeological park Evening: Cooking lesson; dinner; review journal project; review scavenger hunt project.

Day 8

Morning: Breakfast at hotel; evaluations, goodbyes Mid-Morning: Depart for airport

Day 1: La Paz to Magdalena Bay

Depart from La Paz early in the morning en route to Magdalena Bay, jewel of the Pacific and home to a staggering number of migratory and marine birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals including the migratory gray whales. Breakfast will be provided en route at one of our favorite local ranchos. Settle into our secluded island camp and after happy hour, learn about the important sea turtle restoration project which will be the focus of tomorrow’s activities. Get a good night’s rest, tomorrow we search for turtles.

Day 2: Sea Turtle Monitoring

Wake up early and grab a cup of coffee and watch the fisher-conservationists prepare the nets used in the sea turtle monitoring, or stay in bed and catch a few extra z’s. During breakfast we will learn about the monitoring protocol and how we can participate in the data collection. Every two hours you will have the chance to accompany the monitoring team in pangas to check the nets for turtles. Captured sea turtles will be transported to camp where we will help take measurements and other important data before releasing them back into the wild. Throughout the day you’ll have the chance to get all your questions about sea turtles. After dinner, take in the stars in a night sky that never disappoints.

Day 3: Gray Whale Observation and Mangrove Exploration

Head down to the beach to finish measuring and weighing sea turtles before releasing them back into the wild, concluding the sea turtle monitoring portion of the trip. Today we will learn about the gray whales, their incredible migration, and the importance of Magdalena Bay for breeding and calving to these magnificent creatures. After a brief orientation, we will board the pangas and head out in search of gray whales. Friendly whales often approach the boats, and the mothers are known to push the young calves closer, which can make for an incredible interaction between two species. In the afternoon we explore the magic of the greater Magdalena Bay complex, it’s vast, rolling sand dunes and winding mangrove canals teeming with birdlife. Budding chefs can pop into the kitchen for a class on regional cuisine before dinner. Sit by the fire tonight and swap stories with your fisher guides and learn about the crucial role they play in conserving the natural resources of Magdalena Bay by combining tourism with conservation.

Day 4: Gray Whales to La Paz

In the morning, walk down to the beach to learn artisanal fishing techniques from local fishermen. We will bid farewell to our hosts and head out in the search for whales. Make sure your camera is handy to capture images of these magnificent giants. After a picnic lunch on a secluded barrier island, we start back for La Paz where the journey concludes.

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu.

Guests will be welcomed at Tribhuvan Airport then transferred to the Marshyangdi Hotel, located in the Thamel district in central Kathmandu. Over dinner, we will discuss highlights of our upcoming journey.

Day 2: Overland from Kathmandu to Chame (approx. 10 hours).

Early morning, we start our overland journey to Manang. We will cover the initial Kathmandu to Chame segment of the voyage, driving along well-traveled highways and secondary roads. Dinner and overnight at Chame.

Day 3: Jeep transport from Chame to Manang (approx. 5 hours).

Throughout most of the day, our jeep convoy will climb the twisting, arduous mountain trail ascending from Chame (2,650 meters) to Manang (3,500 meters). We will arrive in Manang in mid-afternoon, after a lunch break along the road. Our home in Manang will be the Mountain Lake Lodge where in the evenings, around the warm woodstove, Tashi will share with us his unique experience and insight as well as the many fascinating photos and videos he has captured of the legendary snow leopard.

Days 4-8: Tracking the snow leopard.

Over the next five days, we will accompany Tashi Ghale on a series of trekking excursions to collect data from up to six of his camera traps set along ridgelines in the Manang area. Sites we will visit include Khangsar (3,800 meters), Yak Kharka (4,000 meters) and Ledar (4,200 meters). We will overnight at least once along the trail as Tashi seeks interaction with communities of migrant yak herders who today represent the most frequent point of conflict between humans and snow leopards. A large part of Tashi’s (and GPN’s) work today involves the creation of viable alternatives – to the killing of snow leopards – for the benefit of the yak herders to safeguard their livestock. Such alternatives include the construction of portable ‘safe’ corrals for young livestock as well as the supply and use of ‘fox-lights’ to discourage snow leopards from approaching herders’ encampments. Much of the funding provided by our expeditions will be allocated to the acquisition of such tools – ‘safe’ corrals and ‘fox-lights’ – to assist GPN is its efforts to reverse the trend of snow leopard retaliatory killings. As we make our way along the trail, it will be difficult not to be amazed by the collage of crystal-clear alpine rivers, jagged snow covered Himalayan peaks, Buddhist monasteries and monuments and ancient stone villages. Surrounded by the Annapurna mountain range – which includes one peak over 8,000 meters and thirteen peaks over 7,000 meters – we are reminded that we truly are on the roof of the world.

Day 9: Return journey from Manang to Besisahar (approx. 8 hours).

Our jeep descent of the storied mountain road will be somewhat more comfortable and rapid than the ascent. At the base of the trail, we will have dinner and will overnight at the Gateway Himalaya Resort in Besisahar.

Day 10: Overland from Besisahar to Kathmandu (approx. 6 hours).

The Nepalese highway system will feel like 5-star comfort after our mountain ‘off-road’ experience! Closing group dinner in Kathmandu followed by overnight at the Marshyangdi Hotel. **Optional Add-On** Day 11: Optional trip extension to visit sites in the Kathmandu valley or transfer to and departure from Tribhuvan Airport.

Trip Includes:

All local transportation Airport pick-up and drop-off Meals Guides All accommodations All entry fees Research donation on behalf of the expedition

Day 1: Arrive Panama

Arrive Panama Tocumen Airport and transfer to Panama City luxury hotel.

Day 2: Darien Gap Base Camp

Helicopter flight from Panama City to our Darien Gap base camp.

Days 3-7: Various Excursions

Trekking excursions from base camp to one or both of Pirre Mountain and Guayavio (Colombian border) to implement the jaguar trapping/electronic collar project.

Day 8: Return to Panama City

Return trek from Darien to Boca de Cupe village, followed by dugout canoe to Yaviza, followed by a drive to Panama City and transfer to luxury hotel. Dinner and evening in Casco Viejo historic district, Panama City. 

Depart following day.

Project Life - Seychelles

While living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, your time will be spent rotating between a wide range of conservation efforts. Volunteers can expect to work from Monday to Friday with weekends free to explore the surrounding area. Volunteers will spend the majority of the time on foot, working in the forests and on the beaches, experiencing the different field techniques and varied project sites. At the end of each workday, you will return to base with the rest of your team to relax and get ready for another exciting but rewarding day. Accommodation will be shared dormitory style and duties such as cooking and cleaning will be shared amongst the volunteers on a rotational basis. On weekends you are encouraged to explore the nearby area and islands. Visit Praslin, home to the Valle de Mai (a world heritage site) thought by early explorers to be the original Garden of Eden, go snorkeling in the sparkling blue waters, relax on the beautiful beaches, trek through this tropical paradise alongside your fellow volunteers or visit Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles and catch up on some retail therapy.

Phang Nga

Throughout your stay in Thailand, the various projects you participate in will very much depend on the needs on the ground and the time of the year. From November to March, you may be involved in sea turtle research and conservation. The rainy season of May to October sees more terrestrial and community work such as mangrove research and planting, biodiversity surveying in nearby National Parks and environmental education. Volunteers may also have the chance to take part in various environmental education workshops with the local community. Projects can vary from environmental education with the general community, schools, hotels and tour operators to English language teaching. Accommodation will be small but comfortable with shared facilities, with enough space for people to relax together or in private. If you would prefer to stay in private accommodation while in Thailand, this location does offer upgrades. Contact us for more information, or mention to your Country Expert who will be able to assist you.

Chiang Mai

Your elephant adventure in Chiang Mai begins when the sun rises, with early mornings and long days spent in the field. After breakfast the local mahouts will lead groups of volunteers and staff out to where the elephants have stayed overnight. Occasionally you will the opportunity to assist with a quick but thorough health inspection of the elephants, providing a few minutes of close contact time. The rest of your hike will be spent following the elephants as they move through the forest, socializing and foraging. During our time observing the elephants, you may help collect data on their social interactions, what food sources they are utilizing and survey forest biodiversity. Afternoons will see you returning to base where you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local community by helping to teach English, weave baskets, play football with the Mahouts and cook with your homestay family. Weekends will be yours to relax, explore the nearby area or travel back to Chiang Mai for some sightseeing. Accommodation will be very basic, so you should be prepared to adapt and appreciate the living conditions that are sure to be very different from your home.

Project Life

The majority of your time will be spent working directly in the field, collecting data for ongoing projects and learning vital research techniques. The work you do is extremely important, and days can be long and work can continue throughout the day and night. Apart from nest checks and possible nest excavations during the day, you will be conducting some night-time patrols along the tropical beach, looking for nesting turtles and counting tracks. In the event of finding a turtle during your patrol, you may assist the GVI Patrol Leader by helping to measure the turtle, count the eggs being laid, look for previous tags and distinctive markings and record the data. You may also be lucky enough to see and record the juvenile turtles emerging from the nest and record data on hatchling success, poaching rates and mortality rates. When not in the field, the rest of your time will be spent at our base, processing data and getting to know your fellow volunteers. In order to study and track these turtles in their natural habitat you will be living in a basic and remote setting. The base is a one hour boat journey from the nearest small shops, phones and internet facilities. Our base is small but comfortable, with enough space for people to relax together or in private.

Day 1: Arrive Quito

Today you will be picked up upon arrival to the Quito airport and transferred to your accommodation in a shared room at a hostel. Get settled in and have free time to enjoy the beautiful city of Quito on your own. Get a good night’s sleep at your accommodation.

Day 2: Equator Line Day Trip

Today you will receive a briefing on your volunteer project with all of the important details on the program. Feel free to ask as many questions as you want so you can fully understand your responsibilities. In the afternoon you will take a tour to see the equator line which divides our planet in half “la mitad del mundo”. Get ready for your exciting trip to the Galapagos islands tomorrow and make last minute preparations. Overnight in a hostel.

Day 3: Flight to Galapagos (Not Included)

Today you will be transferred to the Quito airport for your flight to San Cristobal Island (SCY) in the Galapagos (flight not included). Upon arrival you will be transferred to the volunteer house accommodation of your project in shared rooms. Enjoy the rest of the day to get settled in and get to know the area where you will be staying and working for the next week on your own.

Days 4-8: Volunteer Program in Galapagos

Enjoy a week working on your project and giving back to the community where you are located. You will stay at the volunteer house in shared accommodation this week. GALAPAGOS PRESERVATION PROGRAM: This project is a private initiative located at farm in the highlands (approx. 20-30 min. from town) that works closely with the Galapagos National Park to replace invasive plant species with endemic plants on both private and public lands. Volunteer responsibilities include: hard yet rewarding field work removing invasive plants, replacing them with endemic species, working in the nursery and preparing soils. Occasionally you may have the chance to see giant Galapagos tortoises in the field. * Please note that the volunteer coordinators speak limited English *Accommodation: Shared same-gender dorm accommodation only with shared bathroom which is located outside of the house. Please be aware that there is no wi-fi available.

Day 9: Free Day

Enjoy a free day in the Galapagos and take an optional activity of your choice on your own at an extra cost. Enjoy your last night in the Galapagos, pack up your belongings for your return flight to Quito tomorrow and rest up at your accommodation.

Day 10: San Cristobal Airport Drop-Off

Today you will take a transfer to the San Cristobal Airport (SCY) in time to catch your flight to the mainland where your trip will come to an end (flight not included). We wish you safe travels for your onward journey.

Day 1: La Paz to Magdalena Bay

Depart from La Paz early in the morning en route to Magdalena Bay, jewel of the Pacific and home to a staggering number of migratory and marine birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals including the migratory gray whales. Breakfast will be provided en route at one of our favorite local ranchos. Settle into our secluded island camp and after happy hour, learn about the important sea turtle restoration project which will be the focus of tomorrow's activities. Get a good night's rest, tomorrow we search for turtles.

Day 2: Sea Turtle Monitoring

Wake up early and grab a cup of coffee and watch the fisher-conservationists prepare the nets used in the sea turtle monitoring, or stay in bed and catch a few extra z's. During breakfast, we will learn about the monitoring protocol and how we can participate in the data collection. Every two hours you will have the chance to accompany the monitoring team in pangas to check the nets for turtles. Captured sea turtles will be transported to camp where we will help take measurements and other important data before releasing them back into the wild. Throughout the day you'll have the chance to get all your questions about sea turtles. After dinner, take in the stars in a night sky that never disappoints.

Day 3: Gray whale observation and mangrove exploration

Head down to the beach to finish measuring and weighing sea turtles before releasing them back into the wild, concluding the sea turtle monitoring portion of the trip. Today we will learn about the gray whales, their incredible migration, and the importance of Magdalena Bay for breeding and calving to these magnificent creatures. After a brief orientation, we will board the pangas and head out in search of gray whales. Friendly whales often approach the boats, and the mothers are known to push the young calves closer, which can make for an incredible interaction between two species. In the afternoon we explore the magic of the greater Magdalena Bay complex, its vast, rolling sand dunes and winding mangrove canals teeming with birdlife. Budding chefs can pop into the kitchen for a class on regional cuisine before dinner. Sit by the fire tonight and swap stories with your fisher guides and learn about the crucial role they play in conserving the natural resources of Magdalena Bay by combining tourism with conservation.

Day 4: Gray Whales to La Paz

In the morning, walk down to the beach to learn artisanal fishing techniques from local fishermen. We will bid farewell to our hosts and head out in the search for whales. Make sure your camera is handy to capture images of these magnificent giants. After a picnic lunch on a secluded barrier island, we start back for La Paz where the journey concludes.

Country Fast Facts

Mexico

Flag  Flag_of_Mexico.svg
Continent: North America
Official Language(s) No official. National language is Spanish
Capital: Mexico City
Population 119,530,753 (2015 estimate)
Climate(s) Tropical Wet/Dry, Semi-arid, Arid Desert, Temperate, Humid Subtropical, Mediterranean
Major Airport(s): Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX), Cancun International Airport (CUN), Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport (GDL), General Mariano Escobedo International Airport (MTY)
Economic Driver(s): Agriculture, Industry, Oil, Energy, Manufacturing,Tourism

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