We are honored to announce that our Florida Manatees' Ecosystem and Conservation expedition has been selected as one of National Geographic Traveler's "50 Tours of a Lifetime" for 2015. This is our second "Tours of a Lifetime" award in two years (our Kenya: Hyenas to Humpback Whales program was recognized in 2014), and sixth overall.
The selection process for the annual "50 Tours of a Lifetime" awards was competitive and National Geographic Traveler's editorial team worked long and hard to find 2015's most authentic, most innovative, most immersive, best-guided, and most sustainable tours. "This year marks 10th year of our editors selecting the world's best guided tours," said Norie Quintos, acting editor in chief of National Geographic Traveler. "In that time the types of immersive and experiential trips have only multiplied; tours are going farther and deeper than ever before. The trips and operators we selected are a model for the rest of the travel industry: They open the world to travelers and at the same time leave a positive impact on the destinations and its people."
Our Florida Manatees' Ecosystem and Conservation program was launched in 2014 in partnership with conservation biologist Samantha Whitcraft, who hosts the trip on a private 1,100 acre tree farm in Inverness, FL. This one-of-a-kind trip integrates the experience of seeing manatees in the wild with an in-depth exploration of how their ecosystem is dependent on the preservation of the native ecology of the region. Participants stay at the Espedeco Tree Farm, which protects disappearing habitats where many of Florida's native species can still be found in abundance including alligators, bobcats, endangered gopher tortoises, armadillos, opossums, white tailed deer, foxes, and a wide variety of birds including osprey, owls, and hawks.
Watch the video below to see what this incredible experience is all about, and visit the trip page for a detailed description or to sign up to join us in 2016:
Brian Hutchinson is Oceanic Society's vice president of outreach, co-founder of the State of the World's Sea Turtles Program, and program officer of the IUCN-SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group. Brian holds a B.A. in zoology from Connecticut College, and has been working to advance global marine conservation for more than a decade.