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travel “Travel enriches the mind”


Watching National Geographic on television is the closest most of us will get to the abundance of wildlife and wilderness we see on screen but Green Bay's Alan Whittaker turned his television viewing experiences into the real thing when he headed off to cruise the Galapagos Archipelago and Upper Amazon earlier this year, with National Geographic naturalists travelling with his group. "I was away for three weeks," says Alan, "and in that time I learned


more than I did studying geography in secondary school for four years. Those naturalists were really knowledgeable and it was all just fabulous."


The Galapagos Islands are both a


Alan Whittaker in the Galapagos, dubbed a ‘naturalist’s dream’.


national park and a marine reserve protecting 7,665,100 ha of land and around 133,00 sq km of the Pacific Ocean. It's a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site and protecting the area has become more important as tourists have discovered the area's diverse wildlife. Tour operators must make significant donations towards an official conservation fund. The islands are often referred to as the 'laboratory of evolution' and the area was visited by the young Charles Darwin who used many of the species


there to prove his theory of evolution. Inhabitants include giant tortoises, marine iguanas, sea lions, blue-


footed boobies, hawks, cormorants, sea turtles and fur seals. "I loved snorkelling with the animal life and you can get really


close to them although everyone is very conscious of preserving the environment to ensure the animals are protected," Alan says. Many of the species are fearless and easily approachable. Following his Galapagos adventure, Alan flew to Peru to join a river


boat cruise that took 27 guests into tributaries that form the Amazon River.


"That was another amazing experience, not like anything I'd done


before," says Alan. "We were in the real deep Amazon jungle, right in the heart of it. "In my opinion, people are ruining many of the natural environments


of the world. We saw the river dwellers and people living in tiny villages where the locals are given lectures on the establishment of fish farms to preserve a range of species they need for food. They're


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planting trees to replace those man has taken from the forest." Alan says tourists are guilty of doing their bit to wreck the planet but it's nothing new. "In times past pirates took turtles from the Galapagos for their meat. By the late 1800s there were only about 2 females and 12 males left. The females were meatier and therefore more desirable. With hard work, that number is now up to about 14,000. "I've travelled since 1962 and been to at least one country every


year since then. I've always been an adventurous sort of man and I'm always reading travel magazines and wondering where to go next. Travel enriches the mind."


– Moira Kennedy


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