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Thursday, 25 July 2019 14:46

Brazil 2020

brazil

See the wildlife of your dreams in Brazil!

Brazil’s Pantanal is a mix of savanna, forest, and wetland habitats with the highest concentration of wildlife in South America. Home to the world’s largest fresh-water wetlands, the Pantanal is ten times the size of the Everglades, draining into a single channel: the Paraguay River. You’ll venture deep into this world-class wildlife hotspot from August 22 - September 1, 2020.

Discover thriving wildlife

Even a relaxed day can yield more than 100 species of birds and dozens of mammals — Capybara are everywhere! Brazilian Tapir, Maned Wolf, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, and yes, Jaguar (we saw many on our past trips!), are five of many incredible mammals we seek. Greater Rhea, Hyacinth Macaw, Toco Toucan, Red Legged Seriema, and Helmeted Manakin top the list of impressive bird sightings. Rare Green Anaconda, the world’s largest snake, may be a lucky find, while the small crocodilian Yacaré can be seen by the thousands. For many, it is the sheer number and variety of species that leaves the most lasting impression.

Saving habitat through ecotourism

Tourism can be a major part of the revitalization of a small economy. Ecotourism can have the extra benefit of saving habitat in areas where farming is a big business. Some farmers in Brazil are working with environmentalists on nearby habit to make it appealing to nature enthusiasts who then use the farms as travel accommodations. You’ll support this alternative economic model by staying at a charming (and working) cattle ranch who’s owners have worked to keep their land thriving with its own impressive and distinctive wildlife community.

We also support local economies by frequenting locally owned businesses, restaurants and attractions.

Is the Pantanal on fire?

We take the safety of our participants very seriously. The Pantanal has been affected by the 2019 fires in the Amazon. We're keeping an eye on the situation and will let our registrants know if there are any change of plans. 

Attend our Eco-Travel Information Session on Oct 29th to get more details about this amazing trip.

Save your space and go to Brazil!

Space is limited so sign up soon for this unique and exotic trip!

Reserve your spot today!

  • Hyacinth Macaw (the biggest parrot in the world)

  • Toco Toucan

  • Jabiru (a type of wood stork)

  • Jaguar

Brazil 2020 Eco-travel Details

When:

August 22 - September 1, 2020

Highlights: 

  • Try for South America’s “Big Five” Brazilian Tapir, Maned Wolf, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, and Jaguar
  • Witness the “Big Five” of birds: Red Legged Seriema, Greater Rhea, Hyacinth Macaw, Toco Toucan, and Helmeted Manakin. Add Southern Screamer,
    Sunbittern, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, and so many more!
  • Explore both sides of the Transpantaneira wilderness — by boat and road on safari-like excursions
  • Find five species of kingfisher
  • Enjoy local cuisine and hospitality at fazendas (working cattle ranches) at several stages along the road
  • Boat the Cuiabá River for an excellent chance at a Jaguar sighting
  • See water birds in mass congregation — like those of the Everglades, but magnified!
  • Find at least four species of monkeys and several hundred species of birds
  • Scan for night birds under intense southern sky constellations; spotlight for mammals, too!
  • Enjoy optional fishing at two locations (additional cost for local boat and guide)

Itinerary: 

You can download a draft of our itinerary here!

Cost:

The price per person for 11 days in Brazil is $5940 per person double occupancy. Single occupancy is $7170 and this is limited to two spots.

This price covers:

• 3 domestic flights (Sao Paulo - Campo Grande, Campo Grande - Cuiaba, Cuiaba - Sao Paulo)

• All other domestic transportation (buses and boats)

• All meals and accommodations as described in the itinerary

• Photo safaris, tours, entrance fees

• Local guides

It does not include:

• International airfare to Sao Paulo

• Tips

• Additional beverages (non-alcoholic and alcohol)

A $500 deposit secures your spot on this adventure.

Reserve your spot today!

Photo credits: Carlos Roberto ChavarrÍa

Wednesday, 03 April 2019 09:00

Belize 2020

Colorful toucan

Belize 2020: Exploring a Tropical Paradise

Belize is a beautiful tropical country with diverse ecosystems and cultures. It is home to 600 bird species and a diverse array of mammals (including 5 cat species), reptiles and amphibians. In addition to tropical forests and savannas, Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world, home to more than 500 species of fish, 110 species of coral and a variety of sponges. We will explore a number of these ecosystems and enjoy Belize’s beautiful flora and fauna, all the while appreciating the relaxed culture and “go slow” atmosphere.

The official language of Belize is English, but other languages include Spanish, Kriol (Creole), Maya and Garifuna and you will probably hear all of these spoken during your trip. The people are friendly and welcoming and the government and people recognize that their country’s forests, wildlands and reefs are national treasures that need to be preserved. As a result, 44% of the country is designated as national parks or protected areas. Wildlife corridors throughout the country are designed to allow wide-ranging animals including large cats and the white-lipped peccary to travel safely from North to South. Belize is bordered by Mexico on the north, the Caribbean Sea on the east and by Guatemala on the south and west.

Space is limited so sign up soon for this unique and exotic trip!

Click here to pay the deposit and reserve your spot today!

Belize 2020 Eco-travel Details

When:

February 8 - 17, 2020

Highlights: 

We will explore some of Belize’s diverse habitats including tropical forests, pine savannas, forested Mayan ruins, caves and tropical islands.

  • An amazing Director’s Tour of the Belize Zoo where we will meet some of the animals and learn about the Zoo’s wildlife conservation and education programs,
  • A trek through the jungles of the Runaway Creek Nature Reserve and exploration of caves that have signs of use by animals, the ancient Maya and runaway slaves,
  • Bird walks to observe both resident and migratory birds,
  • Cave tubing which will allow us to see the beauty of the cave systems,
  • A tour of Caracol Mayan ruin which was once the most powerful city in the entire Maya world,
  • A tour of Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, a large area of pine forest in the foothills of the Maya Mountains,
  • A tour of the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) or Barton Creek caves which will allow us to enter into and learn about the Xibalba (the underworld of the ancient Maya), and
  • Relaxing on a lovely tropical island. Activities include “hammock testing” (“Hammock testing is an activity” here.) Hammocks and lounge chairs can be found on your porch, on the beach and scattered throughout the island.
  • Other activities include snorkeling the beautiful Belizean barrier reef and kayaking.

We have hired local guides and will stay at locally owned guesthouses and resorts. We will dine at local lodges/restaurants and enjoy delicious homemade Belizean food during our stay. This will allow us to truly experience Belize and also contribute to the local economy. 

Itinerary: 

You can download a draft of our itinerary here!

Cost: 

The fee for this 10-day excursion is $4240 per person based on double occupancy and includes all lodging, meals, group transportation and tours. Price does not include airfare, alcoholic beverages, and travel insurance.

A $500 deposit secures your spot on this adventure.

Come along to Belize! Click here to reserve your spot

Photo credits: 

Top photo of toucan – Kelley Hopwood

Photo in cave with kayaks – Belize Nature Travel

Photos in slideshow: Belize Nature Travel & Kelley Hopwood

Wednesday, 21 November 2018 15:03

Costa Rica 2019

costarica1

Costa Rica 2019: Charismatic Megafauna!

We are excited to offer an eco-travel expedition to explore the amazing biodiversity and unique cultural history of the Republic of Costa Rica! With the largest percentage of protected areas of any country and plans to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021, the New Economics Foundation rated Costa Rica as the greenest country in the world. The wildlife in Costa Rica is also extraordinary - did you know that Costa Rica is home to as many as 225 mammals and 913 species of birds?

Speaking of wildlife, this is the Urban Ecology Center’s first time leading a trip to Costa Rica in the summer to take advantage of two magical wildlife spectacles:

First, we will be witness to the breeding grounds of Humpback Whales that spent the winter near Antarctica and are now returning to tropical waters to give birth to the calves that have been developing inside them all year.

seaturtle

Second, we will be present along the Caribbean Coast during the sea turtle nesting season as they return to their natal beaches to give birth. These are two natural events you will not want to miss!

And when we’re not looking for these two wonders, we’ll explore the amazing natural areas and biodiversity that bring visitors from around the world, while also looking into social and economic forces that contribute to some of the best examples of sustainability on a national level.

Reserve your spot today!

costarica

Can you spot the crocodile in this shot? Photo: Global Water Forum

When

August 1-12, 2019 (12 days, 11 nights)

Highlights

  • Tortuguero National Park during turtle nesting season: a unique area where the primary avenues of exploring are the many naturally-formed canals through primary rainforest. This area was preserved primarily to protect sea turtles and jaguars.
  • Tirimbina, an 850-acre, mid-elevation rainforest with a strong focus on environmental education.
  • Visiting Arenal: volcano, hot springs, and a chocolate tour (what more could you want?!)
  • Whale watching tour at Marino Ballena National Park
  • Wilson Botanical Garden, to see one of the largest plant collections on the world
  • Visiting the Paramo, the highest elevation tropical ecosystem

Itinerary

  • Click here for a sample of our itinerary!

arenal volcano blog size

Arenal Volcano, where you'll relax in hot springs, enjoy a chocolate tour, and more!

Cost

The price for this 12-day trip is (all-inclusive except for airfare):

$3375 for single occupancy

$2,595 for double occupancy 

$1600 for children sharing a room with an adult

Click here to pay your deposit and reserve a spot


If you are interested in this trip, have questions, or would like more information, contact Tim Vargo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (414) 964-8505


The Urban Ecology Center Eco-travel program offers a unique way to explore local and international destinations while exploring issues around sustainability. Your participation supports the Urban Ecology Center’s mission.

Top photo by Carlos Roberto Chavarría

Monday, 05 November 2018 15:09

The Great Alaska Adventure

Nothing prepared me for the first time I went to Alaska. Mountains everywhere, turquoise blue rivers, friendly people and yes, a seemingly unending expanse of wilderness that captured my heart and changed the way I viewed the world. It is a true pleasure to be able to share the best of Alaska with all of you. My friends from Premier Alaska Tours and the Denali Education Center, both Alaska owned and operated, will be our hosts for the eight-night, nine-day experience. Our visit will include some of my favorite adventures including a trip from Anchorage to Seward on the iconic Alaska Railroad, a boat tour into magical Kenai Fjords National Park and a bus ride all the way to Eielson Visitor Center deep into the wilderness of Denali National Park.

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 16:43

Michigan: The Sunset Side 2017

Join the Urban Ecology Center for an Eco-travel adventure focused on exploring the sunset side of one of our greatest freshwater resources Lake Michigan!

Eco Travel MichiganSunset at Sable Lighthouse in Ludington State Park. Photo: Dan Chrenka

View the sunrise from the deck of the Lake Express ferry as we travel to Muskegon, Michigan to tour the diverse ecosystems, industries, and communities of the state's northwest Lower Peninsula before returning to Wisconsin aboard the National Historic Landmark ferry, the S.S. Badger.

Sights on our jounrey will include:

  • The industrial port city of Muskegon
  • Ludington State Park's renowned coastal ecosystems
  • Huron-Manistee National Forest and the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly habitat
  • The motor vehicle-free Main Streets and Gilded Age living of Mackinac Island
  • The steep sandy slopes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

 

Sleeping Bear Dunes
Discover the surreal, wind-swept topography of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Photo: Bailiwick Studios

 

When: Saturday, August 19th through Friday, August 25th, 2017

Cost:  $1,800 per person ($2,325 for single occupancy room)

Includes:

  • 7 day trip exploring the sunset side of Lake Michigan
  • 3 ferries on Lake Michigan (technically one is also on Lake Huron)
  • 6 nights of hotel accommodations (double occupancy)
  • 7 days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (or Per Diem allowance)
  • Entrance fees to State Park, National Forest, National Lakeshore, and museums
  • Urban Ecology Center transportation throughout
  • Charming Urban Ecology Center guides who will worry about planning all the details—from guided excursions to getting you to historic Main Streets with time to explore on your own
  • Support for the Urban Ecology Center’s mission

Does not include: Alcohol and optional activities, such as during free time to explore Ludington State Park and Mackinac Island (e.g., carriage rides, bike rentals, high tea, additional tours).

A $500 mostly refundable deposit reserves a spot on the trip.

To learn more or to sign up, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

karner blue 2
Visit the habitat of the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) in Huron-Manistee National Forest.

 

Mackinac Island
Explore the preserved Victorian architecture of Mackinac Island. Photo: Brandon Bartoszek

 

Traverse City wine countryTour Michigan's oldest winery, the Grand Chateau Traverse during our visit to Traverse City.

 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 16:38

Costa Rica 2017

We are excited to offer an eco-travel expedition to explore the amazing biodiversity and unique cultural history of the Republic of Costa Rica! With the largest percentage of protected areas of any country and plans to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021, the New Economics Foundation rated Costa Rica as the greenest country in the World!

Poas Volcano Crater
Explore the crater at Poás Volcano National Park!

When

This 12-day excursion is scheduled from Wednesday, February 1st through Sunday, February 12th, 2017.

About the Trip

Our adventure begins with a visit to Poás Volcano National Park, followed by an exploration of the Sarapaqui region with opportunities for either white-water rafting or a leisurely wildlife-watching boat tour. We will spend time pumping up the adrenaline with a zip-line tour and then relaxing in the hot springs near Arenal Volcano. We will make our own chocolate using traditional methods and then of course sample our creations during the Rainforest Chocolate Tour!

Costa Rican zipline by Micah MacAllen
Get your heart racing ziplining through the rainforest canopy... (Photo Micah MacAllen)

Steve Jurvetson hot springs EDIT crop 2 resize
...then relax in the volcanic hot springs. (Photo: Steve Jurvetson)

The trip also takes us to the beautiful cloud forests of Monteverde, rife with orchids, hummingbirds and home of the Resplendant Quetzal and Three-wattled Bellbird. Monteverde is also home to a strong Quaker community who moved there from Alabama after World War II. Uncomfortable supporting war efforts at home, they preferred a  country with no military. We will get an in-depth look at bats with one of Costa Rica’s premier bat biologists and visit the Children’s Eternal Rain Forest.

Cloud Forest Costa Rica by Micah MacAllen
The cloud forests of Monteverde stand in contrast... (Photo: Micah MacAllen)

Guanacaste by Leland Jackson
...to the Tropical Dry Forests of Guanacaste. (Photo: Leland Jackson)

Then we head to the beautiful and historic Tropical Dry Forests of Guanacaste, home of peccaries, Howler and Capuchin monkeys, iguanas and five species of big cats! Guanacaste also offers a chance  to swim under some of the most picturesque waterfalls in the world! 

The last few days of the trip will be spent as it should, relaxing on the gorgeous beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Costa Rican beach by Arturo Sotillo
Wind down on the lush beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. (Photo: Arturo Sotillo)

We will travel with Carlos Chavarria, the Director of Costa Rica Rainforest Experience. Carlos has lived his whole life in Costa Rica, was the Executive Director of La Tirimbina Rainforest Center, and is an avid Packers fan. Carlos is very intentional in creating an itinerary that supports local businesses and sustainable industries.

Cost

The price for this 12-day trip is $2,555 for double occupancy ($3,325 single), and is all-inclusive except for airfare.

 


The Urban Ecology Center Eco-travel program offers a unique way to explore local and international destinations while exploring issues around sustainability. Your participation supports the Urban Ecology Center’s mission.

Monday, 08 February 2016 09:23

Sailing Maine 2016

What a better way to explore the world than by one of the cleanest renewable energy sources we have: wind! Join the Urban Ecology Center for 4 nights aboard the Lewis R. French, a two-masted schooner built in 1871 that is the oldest schooner in the United States! We'll island-hop through Penobscot Bay looking for seals, dolphins, puffins and whales. Participants can help sail the boat, jump in the ocean and partake in a beach side lobster bake.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Schooner Lewis R FrenchSail aboard the Lewis R. French, the oldest schooner in the US! Photo: Fred LeBlanc

When: Monday, May 30th through Sunday, June 5th: 2016

Where: The trip begins and ends in Rockport/Camden Maine.

Cost:  $1625 per person

Included:

  • 4 nights aboard the Lewis R. French, the oldest schooner in the United States and a National Historic Landmark – the only remaining schooner of thousands built in Maine in the 19th Century.
  • 2 nights at the charming Country Inn of Camden
  • All meals including an island lobster bake
  • Admission to the Maine Lighthouse Museum
  • Local travel in and around the Camden/Rockport/Rockland area
  • Two charming Urban Ecology Center employees who will worry about all the details for you so you can enjoy the creature comforts of the trip!

Maine coastline photo by Dan Doornbos
Explore the Maine coastline! Photo: Dan Doornbos

Not Included: Airfare/transportation costs to Camden (although we will help with logistics).

A $500 mostly refundable deposit reserves a spot on the trip.

Please come to an information session and slideshow at our Riverside Park branch on Saturday February 13 at 2 pm to learn more or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

mike steering
The Center's own Mike Larson had a chance at the wheel!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 12:36

Join us in Alaska!

I've just returned from spending 18 days in Alaska visiting a variety of destinations including Denali National Park and Preserve. I'm really excited to lead another Great Alaska Adventure from September 4 through the 13th, 2014. The Urban Ecology Center has put together a wonderful opportunity for friends of the Center to experience Alaska unlike any other tourist can. The reason I love going on this trip is one, autumn is the most beautiful time of the year, and two, I am able to show you some of my favorite spots in the world. I hope you can join us for this amazing trip of a lifetime.

 

Wednesday, 02 April 2014 13:20

A Video Message from Willie in Alaska

Our Washington Park branch manager, Willie Karidis is leading an eco-travel trip to Alaska in September. Since he is there visiting friends right now he created this little video inviting you to come with him in September. Doesn't it look great?

 

It was the kind of adventure that inspired unbridled cheers as well as quite moments of awestruck reflection. A week-long trip in Alaska has that effect on people.

The Urban Ecology Center led its second Great Alaska Adventure this past September and this year we’re doing it again. The camaraderie displayed by our participants was truly inspiring and we looked forward to each day and savored moments wishing they would never end.

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