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By Land and Sea: Our Ridge to Reef Expeditions Include the Best of Both Worlds

By Amanda Townsel

With our Ridge to Reef expeditions you don't have to choose between land or ocean focused experiences, we've designed these trips to give you the best of both. Join us for adventures through Kenya, Guyana, Costa Rica, or Borneo to see why you need to put these amazing destinations at the top of your list!

Costa Rica's Wild Pacific: Sea Turtles, Rainforest, and Volcanoes

An Oceanic Society traveler assists with sea turtle research. © Brian J Hutchinson

Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity and strong commitment to environmental protection, making it one of the world’s best ecotourism destinations. On this expedition we will get you off of the standard ‘tourist trail’ as we visit multiple biodiverse locations along the Pacific coast, from beaches to rainforests to volcanoes.

We begin with a visit to Ostional National Wildlife Refuge and to a nearby turtle conservation program at Playa Guiones to learn about their work. We will head out on the beach to look for nesting sea turtles and newly hatched babies making their journey to the sea. Ostional beach hosts one of the world’s largest concentrations of nesting olive ridley turtles and is one of a mere half-dozen places on Earth where this species nests en masse during the daytime in phenomena known as “arribadas.” Although the timing of arribadas is unpredictable, our expedition is timed to have a good chance to see this incredible phenomenon.

We have a chance to see all four monkey species found in Costa Rica. © Brian J. Hutchinson

Next we travel inland to the Rio Tempisque and then Rincón de la Vieja National Park, home to an active volcano and a range of geothermal activity including fumerols, mud pools, and geothermal hot springs found amid a biodiverse tropical dry forest home to many iconic species. Tropical dry forest lines the banks of the Rio Tempisque and is also found throughout the national park. This unique habitat is home to many iconic species and we may see howler monkeys, spider monkeys, green iguanas, American crocodiles, Boat-billed Herons, Ringed Kingfishers, leaf cutter ants, and much more. During a morning hike on the Las Pailas Trail in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, we will also visit beautiful waterfalls, see majestic ficus trees, and see a range of geothermal activity up close.

Scarlet Macaws on the Osa Peninsula. © Brian J. Hutchinson

We end our expedition exploring the southern Osa Peninsula’s lush rainforest, where we'll have the chance to see four species of monkeys, colorful birds like toucans and Scarlet Macaws, poison dart frogs, and so much more! Before we head home, we'll visit the cloud forest to look for Resplendent Quetzals, hummingbirds, and other unique bird species, and the páramo, a type of high altitude tropical grass/shrubland.

Kenya Safari: From Hyenas to Humpback Whales

Our expedition offers the chance to see all of the "Big Five." © Jaymi Heimbuch

Named one of National Geographic Traveler's "50 Tours of a Lifetime" in 2014, our expedition to Kenya provides the best of both land and sea.

This expedition is conservation-focused and designed to create a life-changing experience by meeting with meet with community conservation leaders and artists for first-hand exposure to how local community needs and ingenuity play a role in conservation of Kenya’s wildlife and resources.

An Ocean Sole artisan finalizes an elephant made from recycled flip flops. © Jaymi Heimbuch

When it comes to wildlife, this trip has it all! In addition to looking for Africa’s “Big Five” animals—lions, elephants, cape buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceros—we will also try to spot cheetahs, hippos, giraffes, African wild dogs, and zebras, so pack your best I-spy skills! Our safari is timed to line up with the great wildebeest migration; an annual event where more than 1.5 million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya!

A cheetah mother and cubs on the Mara. © Wayne Sentman

For our bird enthusiasts we will be on the lookout for secretary birds, bee eaters, flamingos, ostriches and many more!

A spy-hopping humpback whale near Watamu, Kenya. © Wayne Sentman

Once we reach the coast, we will snorkel among colorful coral reefs featuring lionfish, sea turtles and many more tropical marine species. We will also watch for migrating humpback whales and learn about the marine mammal projects being worked on by our partners at the Watamu Marine Association.

Guyana: Pristine Rainforest, Savanna, and Wetlands

© Pete Oxford

Take a walk on the wild side in the coastal, South American country of Guyana! Known as one of the wildest places on earth, our expedition will take you through vast expanses of wilderness including the Amazonian rainforest, savannas, wetlands, and grasslands.

This off the beaten path ecotourism expedition will reward travelers with some of the best terrestrial wildlife experiences in the world. You’ll learn from award-winning wildlife photographer and Guyana expert Pete Oxford while searching this biodiversity hotspot for primates, endemic birds, colorful frogs, giant river otters, and giant anteaters.

A giant anteater in Guyana. © Wayne Sentman

Beginning with a visit to Kaieteur Falls, you will experience the tallest single drop waterfall in the world. We’ll be there to help you pick up your jaw off the floor as you gaze at one of the Earth’s most awe-inspiring places. For a truly unique experience, we spend the night near the falls to see them in the evening and early morning while no one else is around.

Our second destination is to an isolated area along the Mapari River in the beautiful rainforest. All your dreams come true when we sleep in hammocks under a big roof while keeping an eye out for spectacular wildlife; a true wilderness experience. We aim to see harpy eagles, raptors, anaconda, various monkey species, paca, ocelot, toucans, macaws, Goliath bird-eating spiders (the largest spider in the world!), and maybe even a tapir. Activities will include hikes in the pristine rainforest, boat rides, boat drifts down river and snorkeling; a rare activity in the clear Amazonian rivers.

© Pete Oxford

Our eco-tourism trip will move from the rainforest to the savanna at Caiman House Field Station; a combination of a guest-lodge and an education center that focuses on research and conservation projects along the Rupununi River. We will spend time with community members to learn about village life at the Yupukari Amerindian Village, located next to the lodge.

Borneo: Rainforest and Reef Wilderness Adventure

Borneo is one of the only places to see wild orangutans. © Charles Ryan

The rainforests and reefs of Malaysian Borneo are some of the world's most biodiverse and are home to many iconic species of wildlife that are found nowhere else. It is hard to imagine a more "bucket list" worthy destination for wildlife lovers!

Our expedition begins in the jungle, as we wind along the Kinabatangan River looking for proboscis monkeys, orangutans, hornbills, crocodiles, and other wildlife, ending at the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, where orphaned orangutans are rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

A Borneo pygmy elephant. © Charles Ryan

Then we explore the Danum Valley Conservation Area, a protected lowland rainforest that is home to an astonishing array of plants and wildlife, including 340 species of birds, 124 species of mammals, 72 species of reptiles, 56 species of amphibians and 200 species of plants per hectare. Check a couple amazing animals off your bucket list as we search for rare and endangered species like the Borneo pygmy elephant, clouded leopard, orangutan and proboscis monkey.

© Charles Ryan

We wrap up this incredible ecotourism trip with a three day stay on Mataking Island (available as an optional trip extension in 2021). As part of the Coral Triangle region, Borneo’s reefs are among the world's most biodiverse and spectacular! From our base on Mataking we will snorkel nearby Sipadan and Tun Sakaran Marine Park, home to world class reefs and some of the richest marine habitats in the world. These sparkling reefs are famous for their hard and soft corals, diverse fish and macro life, large pelagic species, and abundant sea turtles!

Our Ridge to Reef expeditions combine exploration on land and at sea and support local conservation efforts, creating life-changing nature experiences that will be fulfilling for any world traveler. Whether you want to explore the jungle, rainforest, wetlands, or savanna, we have a trip for everyone - sign up to join us today!


Amanda Townsel is an Oceanic Society communications strategist, copywriter, and community coordinator. Amanda earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of San Diego and a Master’s in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is an avid traveler with a professional career that includes diving, marine ecotourism research, and strategic communications for conservation organizations.


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