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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 sea experiences, we've designed these trips to give you the best of both. Join us for adventures through Kenya, Guyana, Costa Rica, and Borneo to see why you need to put these amazing destinations at the top of your list!


Costa Rica
An Oceanic Society traveler assists with sea turtle researcher. © 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. Get your gear ready and join us for an adventure in Costa Rica’s breathtaking Pacific Coast! On this expedition we will get you off of the standard ‘tourist trail’ as we visit multiple biodiverse locations, from beaches to rainforests to volcanoes.

We begin with a visit to Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, where we visit a turtle conservation program at nearby Playa Guiones to learn about their work and possibly see hatching baby turtles. We will also visit the nesting beach to look for sea turtles nesting and baby turtles making their journey to the sea. This beach hosts the world’s largest concentration of nesting olive ridley sea turtles and is one of a mere half-dozen places on Earth this species nest en masse during the daytime in phenomena known as “arribadas.”

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

Next we will hike on the Pailas Trail inside Rincón de la Vieja National Park to an active volcano and its surrounding waterfalls, mud pools, and geothermal hot springs. Here, in the tropical dry forest you will find some of the most spectacular ficus trees and large groups of howler monkeys.

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

We end our expedition exploring the southern Osa Peninsula’s unique ecosystems; rainforest, cloud forest, and páramo, a type of high altitude tropical grass/shrubland. We'll have the chance to see four species of monkeys, colorful birds like toucans and the Scarlet Macaw, poison dart frogs, and so much more!


Kenya

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

© 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.

© 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

© Charles Ryan

Rainforests and reef adventures and jungles, oh my! If this sounds like your kind of expedition, you’re definitely going to want to join us in Malaysian Borneo.

We will begin in the jungle, winding 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.

© 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 Sumatran rhino, the Borneo pygmy elephant, the clouded leopard, the orangutan and the proboscis monkey.

© Charles Ryan

Wrap up this incredible ecotourism trip with a three day expedition on Mataking Island. As part of the Coral Triangle region, Borneo’s reefs are among the worlds most biodiverse and spectacular! We will snorkel nearby Sipadan and Tun Sakaran Marine park, home to world class reefs and one of the richest marine habitats in the world. These sparkling reefs are famous for their hard and soft corals, diverse fish and macro life and large pelagic species. We might also spot some sea turtles!


There’s a trip for everyone, whether you want to explore the jungle, rainforest, wetlands, or the savanna. 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.

Author

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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