Feb
19

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Jungle Love: Why Rainforests Are Important

Posted by on February 19, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

Anybody who has ever visited one know there’s something special about the jungle. But why are rainforests important? Not just for local people and wildlife, but for the health of our planet?

The Earth was originally packed with these regions, which are centered around the equator. They’re usually full of low-hanging vines, vibrant greenery, brilliantly colored blooms, and predators on the prowl. People travel from all across the world to explore these dense, tropical areas, and the reliance of locals on the regions continues even as threats to their survival increase.

These regions power our planet in more ways than one. They provide us with about 30% of the total oxygen used by all species to sustain life. They also serve as a protective home to millions of unique species of plants and animals. The power and productivity of rainforests is so intense that they’re often referred to as the “lungs of the earth.”

Jungle Love: What Are Rainforests Important?

Technically, the term “jungle” is more a descriptive classification rather than a scientific one. Jungles are generally associated with the tropics, and typically refer to the tropical rainforest ecosystem.

The sheer fact that they’re home to more than half of the planet’s species of plant and animal life should be reason enough to understand why rainforests are important resources. Yet still these total ecosystems are under constant threat of destruction. Sadly, human ignorance has led to greed. Now, just a century after the beginning of deforestation practices, our planet is nearly unrecognizable.

As protectors of the planet, we all need to help preserve these life-giving resources for future generations of all species. To celebrate all of the good that these jungles bring, here are three of Discover Corps’ favorite rainforests around the world:

Jungle Love: What Are Rainforests Important?

Peruvian Amazon

Many travelers dreaming of a trip to Peru have a relatively small portion of the country in mind. Namely the Sacred Valley surrounding Cusco, which includes the popular attraction of Machu Picchu.

But there’s so much more to the country, and travelers who venture off the beaten path and into the Amazon are rewarded with stunning landscapes, lush jungles, and more species of plants and animals than you can count!

Part of the vast Amazon River basin, the Peruvian Amazon stretches east of the Andes to the borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and Bolivia. This region comprises 60% of Peru’s total area, and is unique in terms of its natural features within South America. The beautiful basin greatly contributes to Peru’s world-renowned biodiversity. 

Jungle Love

It also perfectly illustrates why rainforests are important. Peru boasts the largest number of bird species of any country in the world, as well as the third-largest number of mammals. Of these, 44% of the bird species and 63% of the mammals are found exclusively in the Peruvian Amazon. Peru is also home to an incredible array of endemic Butterflies, Orchids, and other unique flora and fauna.

Unfortunately, the Peruvian Amazon is also one of the jungles that is most at-risk, largely due to the illegal logging industry that has sprung up in recent years. For conservationists, this is incredibly disconcerting. The largest rainforest in the world is under attack, and as travelers we must keep this in the forefront of our minds.

To help ensure the future of this global treasure, consider supporting non governmental organizations NGOs that are combatting this deforestation. You can also travel with sustainable organizations that are doing good in the region.

Jungle Love

Australia’s Daintree National Park

Daintree National Park takes up a significant portion of Queensland, on Australia’s southeastern coast. This gorgeous region– the largest rainforest on the Australian continent– is home to many native Australian species. Unfortunately World Wildlife Fund estimates 3.6 to 6.1 million acres of this ancient jungle will be deforested over the next 15 years.

Despite the challenges Daintree is facing, the park itself is lush, beautiful, and unique. Most people visit Australia for big cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

But visitors to the more remote Daintree rainforest are sure to be surprised by its incredible biodiversity, including the Wompoo Fruit Dove, Striped Possum, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, and several species of Kangaroo.

Jungle Love

Once you arrive in Daintree National Park, there are several exciting options for exploring the area. Ocean safaris are always popular: They include snorkeling in order to view marine species like Giant Clams and Sea Turtles.

Travelers may also want to visit the Daintree Discovery Center. Here the staff tracks sightings of the rarest species in the park, and can point visitors in the right direction! They also offer walking tours to the most popular portions of the jungle.

Regardless of your interest in seeing specific species or ecosystems, Daintree is a gorgeous and welcome respite from Australian city life. This is why conservationists in Australia are working harder than ever to protect it.

Jungle Love

Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park

Named by National Geographic as one of the most intensely biodiverse places on Earth, Corcovado National Park is considered the “crown jewel” of ecotourism in Costa Rica. The park was established on October 24th, 1975, and encompasses an area of 164 square miles.

The largest national park in Costa Rica, Corcovado protects about a third of the Osa Peninsula, which is one of the most remote areas of the increasingly popular, tourist-friendly country.

Visitors anxious to spot rare or endangered wildlife will not be disappointed. Corcovado is home to an impressive array of species, including Baird’s Tapirs, Harpy Eagles, American Crocodiles, Spectacled Caiman, Jaguar, Ocelots, Margays, and Pumas.

Jungle Love

Hikers visiting the region can attempt to catch all four Costa Rican monkey species (Central American Squirrel Monkey, White-faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler, and Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey) playing in the canopy. Along the way, they may also see Sloth, Collared Peccaries, Northern Tamandua and, if they’re lucky, even the Silky Anteater.

In addition, the coastal waters of the Osa Peninsula are home to Bull Sharks, Dolphins, Sea Turtles, and even Whales, which breed in the warm, protected areas during winter months.

Visiting Corcovado National Park is always ranked among the top things to do in Costa Rica for families. But this special park is really a must-see for wildlife enthusiasts of any age. With overnight stays in the Osa Peninsula possible, there’s no limit to what you might see and experience in this magical jungle paradise.

Do you have a favorite jungle paradise, or one that’s been on your “must-see” list for too long? Please let us know in the comments why rainforests are important to you!  –Sara McDaniel

Learn more about Sustainable Travel

BIO: Sara McDaniel is a San Diego-based educator who uses her summers to explore the world, often alongside her students! In addition to writing for The Volunteer Traveler, she has directed international programming for various travel organizations. When she’s not writing or researching, she can often be found swimming in the ocean, eating all of the delicious foods she can find, and teaching in San Diego State University’s College of Education.

Feb
14

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The Best Travel Blogs for Couples

Posted by on February 14, 2017 · 1 Comment  

The best travel blogs all have a few things in common.

For one, they manage to be both informative and inspiring, striking a delicate balance between education and entertainment. For another, they have a charming inclusive quality that encourages readers to get out and explore this big, beautiful world of ours. Perhaps most importantly, they have a passion for exploration, and the challenges of getting outside your comfort zone.

This Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the some the best travel blogs in the world created by couples. Couples travel blogs don’t tend to get as much attention as solo travel blogs. But there’s something undeniably attractive about a couple who shares their passion for the world with each other, and their passion for each other with the world.

Here, then, is our look at 10 of the Best Travel Blogs for Couples, with an emphasis on those who focus on ecotourism and outdoor adventure…

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Feb
8

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The 10 Best Festivals Around the World Every Traveler Should Experience

Posted by on February 8, 2017 · 1 Comment  

The best festivals offer a way to celebrate the people and culture of a place, with revelers from all around the globe. They have the power to bring cultures together in events that range from solemn to silly, providing attendees with lifelong memories and stories to share.

With Mardi Gras right around the corner, this is a great time to explore some of the best festivals around the globe. Many of these take place in the countries where people can volunteer with Discover Corps. Timing your volunteer vacation to coincide with one of these celebrations is a great way to reward yourself for a job well done!

Take a look at our picks for the Top 10 festivals in the world

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Feb
5

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Beyond Machu Picchu: Our Top 7 Attractions in the Peruvian Andes

Posted by on February 5, 2017 · Leave a Comment  

In Peru, tourism is having its moment in the sun, growing annually at a rate of 25% over the past five years. Anyone who has visited this South American nation returns with a deep appreciation for the friendly people, beautiful landscapes, and rich and diverse cultural heritage that is on constant display.

The country is as complex as the most intricate and exquisite weavings made there. For travelers, there are so many things to do in Peru. Festivals spill from churches into the surrounding streets, shaman ceremonies mark ancient rites, and bustling urban centers seamlessly turn to quaint towns and cobblestone streets as you wander.

The vast majority of Peru tourism takes place in the Cusco region and revolves around visits to the famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Under UNESCO protection, the archeological masterpiece has been placed under restrictions by the Peruvian government for its preservation. So it’s not as easy as it once was to visit Machu Picchu.

But there’s so many others things to do and see in the Peruvian Andes beyond Machu Picchu. So this week, we’re using the blog to help travelers make the most of their trip to Peru’s Sacred Valley, beyond simply snapping some shots atop South America’s most Instagrammed location.

The Peruvian Andes (which includes the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, and colonial city of Cusco) is rich in archaeological sites and opportunities for cultural immersion. Check out these seven attractions in the Peruvian Andes, and leave us a comment if you’ve got suggestions to add to our list!

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Feb
1

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17 Top Travel Blogs to Follow in 2017

Posted by on February 1, 2017 · 5 Comments  

The travel blogging field has exploded exponentially over the past decade. What began as a simple way for a few adventurous souls to share their journeys with friends and family has become a lucrative industry. These days, the best travel blogs are transforming the way people travel.

As a result of this rapid growth, there are tens of thousands of blogs out there catering to just about every travel interest you can imagine. From Baby Boomers to family travel, budget to luxury, cultural travel to sustainable travel, the world’s top travel blogs are increasingly niche-driven.

What they all have in common are engaging stories, beautiful photography, and an adventurous attitude that encourages travelers of all experience levels to get out there and explore our amazing planet. Check out our guide to some of the top travel blogs to follow in 2017, and please let us know your favorites in the comments below!

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