Welcome to STEPHANIEOCKO.COM

Exploring places where you can safely roam
 
HOMEANIMAL ADVENTURESSCIENCE ADVENTURESCONTACT

Jaguar-StoneZoo-web.jpg


 
 
This site is designed to
let your imagination fly. It will introduce you
to some unusual travel experiences. It doesn't suggest
the best hotels or restaurants,
but it will lay out the territory where you
might be able to find one interesting adventure
and link up with some of the finest travel
companies on the planet and others like yourself.
So dream a lot,
plan a little. Then go.
Enjoy!



A Jaguar thinks it over.

 

dona_paulina_and_cigar_agencebrazilnewagency-wiki.jpg

Doña Paulina, Havana, posing with an iconic cigar.

(Photo © Antônio Milena/Agencia Brasil News Agency/WikiCommons)

 
 
UNDISCOVERED CUBA
 
Trips to Cuba are all about meeting people. This one, planned for early next year by Natural Habitat Adventures, works from the geography up to land management, and the people who farm sustainably, maintain parks and botanical gardens, and create community conservation initiatives.
 
 
Valle_de_los_Ingenios_12-byGorupdebesanez.jpg
This idyllic view is of the Valle de los Ingenios, once full of sugar plantations, now a World Heritage Site. (Photo©
Gorup Debesanez/WikiCommons)
 
This unique trip Natural Habitat calls an "exploratory" voyage and subject to changes along the way. It helps if you are a flexible traveler.
 
But the basic intention is to visit places where few tourists have been before, such as the Zapata National Park, a vast reserve that includes a tropical forest with untold species of rare and endemic birds, healthy reefs which have been preserved from tourism, and the largest wetland in the Caribbean, a UN Biosphere Reserve. You will visit Cuba's underground caves, an orchid farm, and a tobacco farm.
 
Above all, you will meet with researchers, wildlife biologists, organic farmers, naturalists, park managers, scientists, and conservationists. In Havana, you will tour the historic districts with a Cuban architect. Throughout, you will have trained Cuban guides. And signature Cuban music and dance will never be far away.flamingoes_stone-zoo.jpg
 
This trip is limited to 15 passengers and is subject to last-minute changes. Get in good shape before you go: roads are bumpy in rural districts, and you must be able to walk a mile over rough terrain and be happy with rudimentary conditions in country accommodations.
 
Twelve-day trips are planned for Feb 10-21; Feb 27-Mar 10; Apr 18-29, 2015. Cost will be about $7,700, plus airfare to Miami. Call 800-543-8917; and see: www.nathab.com/central-america/undiscovered-cuba/itinerary/
 
 
 

 TRAVEL IS GOOD FOR YOU
 
According to a recent to a recent U.S. Travel Association White Paper, taking a vacation is about the best thing you can do for your body, mind, and spirit. In fact, the USTA research revealed that (especially for women), two vacations a year might be absolutely fundamental to whole-person health.
 
 
THE FIVE BLUE ZONES
 
A couple of years ago, Dan Buettner identified five places on the planet where inhabitants live not only exceptionally long lives, but extraordinarily healthy ones.  Buettner, who is a writer, TED speaker, and National Geographic Fellow, interviewed some of them to identify the elements of their healthy longevity; please see http://www.bluezones.com/live-longer/#power-9-reverse-engineering-longevity.  Pack a copy of his book The Blue Zones and see for yourself: Ikaria, a small Greek island in the Aegean; the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica; Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, especially the northwest corner; and Okinawa (an island off Japan). 
 
TAKE YOUR CHILDREN
 
It's not easy to get everybody together when the season is right and the kids are out of school. More families short on free time are making space for trips with their kids, believing that what they will learn travelling will be intrinsically rewarding to them for years to come.
 
Take, for example, (-- and many travel companies run kids-and-parents trips --) a voyage down the Amazon on a riverboat with International Expeditions. The new vessel, La Estrella Amazonica is captained by local sailors and staffed with knowledgeable guides who know the area. Tracking species in the Amazon will keep you busy -- 4,000 species of butterflies, 1,700 species of birds, 143 species of snakes, 15 species of primates, plus pink dolphins, and caimans that noisily clack their teeth before they feed. You will be able to get up close in kayaks in the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, or watch the phenomena from your shipboard balcony. Lectures on what you've seen are held evenings in the onboard air-conditioned lecture room.
 
Ten days; the trip leaves Lima, flies to Iquito, meets the guides, boards the riverboat. Dates in November and December, 2014; 31 passengers maximum; from about $3,700 to $4,800, plus $400 incountry air. Call 855-231-6861; see www.ietravel.com/central-south-america/amazon-river-cruises/amazon-kids
 
 

             TWO FOR THE GALAPAGOS
 
MYTHS AND MOUNTAINS specializes in making sure travellers maximize their experience by meeting the people who live in the areas they visit.  Not many tourists go to the Galapagos to meet the local inhabitants; nor do tourists know that the famous animals, once the domain of a few research scholars, have attracted so many tourists that, for example, local fishermen have had to change where, how, and when they fish.
 
Myths and Mountains, which offers a "hand-crafted, life-changing experience" which is people-centered, will introduce you to a local fisher family. You'll chat, eat together, learn how to make cerviche from the experts, and get to know the sense of humor that Ecuadoreans are famous for.
 
Three 7-day trips, Wildlife, People, and Volcanoes, are scheduled for 2015, May 2, May 10; and November 7. All of the animals are included, and most of the islands which you will reach by kayak, speedboat, and sailing; and on which you can hike, swim, and bird watch. About $4,900, does not include international airfare. See: http://mythsandmountains.com/component/trips/explore/MM-GAL-Wildlife/149
 
[Note: Myths and Mountains' Vice President Allie Almario has written guidebooks and created documentaries about the Galapagos, and is the former director of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association.]
 
****************************
 
TRIP TRIBE is a whole new concept of travel that ensures that you won't wind up on a trip with people you simply aren't on the same page with. 
It goes like this: Sign up, describe yourself and your travel experience (where you've been, what you do, where you live, your age, relationship status) and what you "crave" in your next adventure. Trip Tribe will match up those who crave the same experience -- "the folks who are riding the same wave," -- and take care of all the particulars involved in managing the trip.
 
For example, Trip Tribe is offering the Galapagos as a New Year's getaway, a new twist, that includes 2 days in Quito, and 4 days in the Galapagos with a naturalist guide snorkeling, hiking, and exploring, and a special New Year's Eve dinner. 
Begin in Quito, about $1,400, does not include international airfare; December 30, 2014 - January 4, 2015. Please see: https://thetriptribe.com/trips/new-year-s-eve-getaway-to-the-galapagos-islands
 
Trip Tribe also offers family trips. If you have a particular expertise, please offer to lead a trip.
 

the_galapagos_tortoise_or_galapagos_giant_tortoise_chelonoidis_nigra_santa_cruz_island.jpg      Galapagos-penguin-juvenile_ClarkAnderson-Aquaimages_wiki.jpg  GalapagosFregata_magnificens1.jpg

basilica_del_voto_nacional_drcarlos_costales_tera-wiki.JPG

 The iconic Giant Tortoise, Santa Cruz.   Photo©David Adam Kess/WikiCommons.     

      Juvenile Galapagos Penguin. Photo©Clark Anderson/Aquaimages.       

The Magnificent Frigate Bird.  Photo©E. Kirdler/WikiCommons          

     Quito. Basilica del voto nacional. Photo@Dr. Carlos Costales Tera/WikiCommons

 

 

   

CoolFor ANIMAL ADVENTURES, click Tab above.