Wildflowers, Whales, and Gourmet Picnic

 

WILDFLOWERS, WHALES AND GOURMET PICNIC

It is your lucky day! We’ll beat the weekend crowds on this Friday the Thirteenth. Pt. Reyes is famous for its spring wildflower display. Visiting the best areas at their peak display and using easy methods to identify the colorful flowers, you’ll be delighted at all you will learn.  Concentrating on several common plant families enables you to recognize plants not only along the coast but in your own backyard and throughout California as well. Pussy ears, owls’ clover, cream cups, redmaids, checkerbloom, mule ears, and lupines! From our vista at Chimney Rock we can see baby gray whales and moms lingering in Drakes Bay before they resume their slow journey to Alaska. Topping off the day will be a sumptuous picnic lunch created by chef and foodie, Jennie Oppenheimer. A perfect class for beginning or intermediate flower, whale and food lovers.

 

COST: $90

DATE: Friday, April 13

The Cerrado, the Pantanal and the Amazon

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THE CERRADO, THE PANTANAL
& THE AMAZON

During this 15-day adventure in central Brazil we visit three of the richest biological regions on the planet – the Amazon, the Pantanal and the Cerrado. We fly to Sao Paulo and then on to Cuiaba, the vibrant capital of the state of Mato Grosso. One-hour drive northwest is the charming town of Chapada and our very comfortable and intimate lodge. The little known Cerrado is the most diverse tropical savannah in the world. It has over 10,000 species of plants, of which 45% are exclusive to the region. There are over 400 species of birds and a diverse assemblage of mammals including the maned wolf, the giant anteater, crab-eating foxes, cavies, and tapirs.

The beautiful landscape is reminiscent of the American Southwest except for those brilliant macaws and parrots flying overhead. The Cerrado feeds three of the major water basins in South America: The Amazon, Paraguay and São Francisco Rivers. It’s an intersection of three biomes – the semi-arid Caatinga, the Amazon forest, the Atlantic Rain Forest. We are in the exact geographic center of South America – a true power spot. We hike, bird and botanize in this wonderland 15 degrees south of the Equator.

Next, we drive south to one of the world’s most extraordinary natural areas and a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Pantanal. It is an enormous wetland the size of Georgia. It is by far the best place to view wildlife in the New World. A mosaic of different vegetation types, this region teems with many of South America’s largest mammals—tapirs, jaguars, capybaras, marsh deer, armadillos, giant otter, and giant anteaters. And so many birds! Even non-birders can easily see 100 species in a single day. The flora and fauna of the Amazon and Atlantic forests to the north, the Chaco grasslands to the east and west, and the pampas to the south, intersect in the Pantanal to create one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.

We stay in comfortable lodges and even in a Boat Hotel We explore by vehicle, on foot, and by boat. In 2019 we saw seven different jaguars, hyacinth macaws, yellow anaconda, thousands of caimans, and so much more.

Then we fly north into the Amazon Ecosystem, where we stay at the remote and very comfortable Cristalino Jungle Lodge Reserve, a true rain forest sanctuary. This rich region of the Amazon has eight different species of monkeys, three kinds of sloths, frogs galore, toucans, macaws, screaming pihas, and more. Two amazing 164’ observation towers give us an extraordinary perspective of the canopy rarely glimpsed. It is the perfect ending to an amazing trip.

COST:        $7980. Non-refundable deposit $500

DATE:
June 18 to July 4, 2020 Full
July 3 to July 20, 2020 Nearly full

Greatest Show on Earth: The Serengeti

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THE SERENGETI:
THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH

Tanzania, not Kenya, has the best wildlife show left on the planet, and we will be there at the peak of 1.5 million wildebeests giving birth in a 3-week period! This is in addition to viewing giraffes, elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards, gazelles, impala, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs, dik-diks, and zebras. And the birds! Flamingos, storks, pelicans, white-crowned shrikes, eagles, bee-eaters, ostriches, rollers, and so many more. Comfortable private tent camping combined with cozy lodges make this the perfect trip. Resident Tanzanian naturalists accompany us throughout our visits to Arusha National Park, the Serengeti Plain, Tarangire National Park, Olduvai Gorge, and the Ngorongoro Crater. I have been leading trips to the Serengeti every winter since 1992, and it remains my all-time favorite natural history experience. I have taken over 800 people on this safari and they have all had a phenomenal time and a life-changing experience. It remains the perfect choreographed itinerary with exquisite local guides. This is indeed the trip of a lifetime; you owe it to yourself. If not now, when? And no, it’s not too hot, and yes, the food is delicious and it is definitely glamping! All three trips are filling fast.

COST:
$9650 land cost (no change from last year) Non-refundable deposit, $500.

DATE:
January 13 – January 31, 2022
January 28 – February 16, 2022
February 13 – March 2, 2022

Monday Footloose Hiking

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MONDAY FOOTLOOSE HIKING
FALL

I started this Footloose series in 1984 and some folks have been hiking with me since nearly the beginning! Monday morning hikes are such a great way to start the week. We ramble on quiet trails mostly in Marin but also in San Francisco, the East Bay and southern Sonoma county. We identify the abundant flora and diverse fauna in our gorgeous backyard and learn about the dynamic geologic and fascinating human history of the Bay Area. Our endlessly beguiling and most entertaining fellow hikers are yet another bonus! Lifetime friendships abound! Warning: there is usually a wait list for this series as current hikers get first priority.

COST:        $480 per series

DATE:        Fourteen Mondays, 10:00 to 1:30

FALL:         September 13 to December 13, 2021

The Holidays in Ecuador

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THE HOLIDAYS IN ECUADOR

My son Hunter is leading this remarkable tour of Ecuador. I have led this adventure over 25 times, and it’s time to shake things up a bit and let Hunter lead the way. He’s visited Ecuador several times and done this trip twice—you’ll be in good hands! This journey takes us to the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon, the Andes, and around the capital city of Quito.  The Amazon:  From Quito, we fly 30 minutes to the frontier town of Coca and travel by speedboat down the Napo River deep into the Upper Amazon Basin.  Biologists think that this part of the world has had no major climatic change for 100 million years! The diversity of life is astounding:  jaguars, caimans, piranhas, monkeys, sloths and more exotic tropical birds than you can possibly imagine. We will venture daily into the surrounding jungle on foot and by canoe. Best of all, there are surprising few annoying insects!  The Galapagos:  We then have a week in the Galapagos on one of the finest yachts in the archipelago, and we swim and snorkel every day.  Our yacht carries 16 passengers so we are guaranteed an intimate visit to islands where fauna show little fear of humans.  We’ll see close-up giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, lava lizards, fur seals—we’ll even swim with penguins and sea lions!  The Andes: Back on the mainland, we will tour dramatic Quito and the Highlands (9300’ high) and surrounded by the Andes snowcapped volcanic peaks. Colorful Indian markets offer incredible shopping, and we’ll have a birding and wildflower adventure on the lower slopes of Volcano Cotachaci.

COST:        $7950 land costs, $1100 single supplement. $500 non-refundable deposit

DATE:        December 9th-26th, 2020