• South and Central America

Wild Galapagos Islands

Visit the Galapagos Islands. Enjoy fun outdoor activities, and explore the wonderful wildlife, including sea lions, giant tortoises, lava lizards, whitetip reef sharks and penguins.

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Glover's Atoll Belize
Glover's Atoll Belize

Glover's Atoll Belize

Divers and snorkelers will find an abundance of marine life at Glover’s Atoll, a protected reef system and the southernmost and smallest of Belize’s 3 atolls. Divers frequently encounter dolphins, turtles, sharks and manta rays there. 960 1280

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Whale Shark in Belize

Whale Shark in Belize

Catch a glimpse of the largest fish in the world – the whale shark – from Placencia, Belize. The gentle (believe it or not) creatures are typically found within only 20 feet of the water’s surface, and congregate in Belize each year to feed on fish eggs. 960 1280

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Carocol in Belize

Carocol in Belize

Belize has the highest concentration of Mayan sites of all the countries in Central America, and archeologists suggest that Carocol, believed to have been one of the most important political centers of the Mayan civilization, was home to more than double the number of people that currently live in Belize City, the country’s largest metropolitan area. 960 1280

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Laughing Bird Caye

Laughing Bird Caye

Laughing Bird Caye is one of the beautiful islands that make up the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage Site. 960 1280

Victoria Reay's, Wikimedia Commons  

Stingray

Stingray

A stingray is one of the impressive creatures you may come across on a snorkeling trip in Belize. Be careful not to walk along the ocean floor -- you wouldn’t want to step on one! 960 1280

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Actun Tunichil Muknal

Actun Tunichil Muknal

Actun Tunichil Muknal -- one of Belize’s many Mayan archaeological sites -- houses the skeleton of a teenage girl, dubbed “The Crystal Maiden” because of the sparkling, crystalized appearance of her bones. To reach the cave, visitors must embark on a 45-minute hike, followed by a swim to the inside of the cave. Visitors can also get a look at the remains of the 13 other humans that now share the cave with the Crystal Maiden. 960 1280

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Belize City

Belize City

Boats are anchored in the harbor of Belize City, the largest city in the small Central American country. 960 1280

anoldent, Flickr   

Sea turtles

Sea turtles

Belize is home to one of the world’s most endangered marine species, the sea turtle. Green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles can all be found between the coast and the barrier reef. 960 1280

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Blue Hole in Belize

Blue Hole in Belize

The aptly named “Blue Hole” is a large collapsed sinkhole near the center of Lighthouse Reef. Explorer Jacques Cousteau named the hole one of the top scuba diving sites in the world. 960 1280

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Red-footed booby in Belize

Red-footed booby in Belize

Visit Half Moon Caye to get a look at one of the island’s 4,000 red-footed boobies. 960 1280

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Silk Cayes in Belize

Silk Cayes in Belize

One of the Silk Cayes – tiny, serene, white-sand islands on the Belize Barrier Reef. 960 1280

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Red lionfish

Red lionfish

The exquisite red lionfish. Watch out for them -- it’s their large venomous spines that make them resemble lions. 960 1280

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Half Moon Caye in Belize

Half Moon Caye in Belize

The sun rises over Half Moon Caye in Belize. 960 1280

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Antillean Manatees in Belize

Antillean Manatees in Belize

Antillean manatees can be found in the rivers, lagoons and coastal areas of Belize. Because of their slow metabolisms, they prefer shallow, warm water, and can be spotted in water only a few yards deep. 960 1280

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Amazon Rainforest
Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Rainforest

Explore the Amazon rainforest, or Amazonia, and its indigenous plant life, including the water plant Victoria regia (pictured). This dense, lush forest covers more than 2 million square miles of South America’s Amazon basin. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, followed by Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The jungle represents more than half of the planet’s remaining rainforest, making it the largest and most diverse rainforest in the world. 960 1280

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Amazon River

Amazon River

Plan a mind-blowing excursion down the 4,000-mile-long Amazon River -- the largest river in South America, and the largest drainage system in the world. Although the length of this river is equivalent to the distance from NYC to Rome, there is much debate as to whether the Amazon is longer than the Nile River in Egypt. The Amazon River’s source comes high within the Andes Mountains, near the Pacific Ocean, and its mouth is in the Atlantic Ocean on the northeastern coast of Brazil. 960 1280

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Negro River

Negro River

Adventurous travelers can take a cruise along the Negro River from Manaus, Brazil, to experience the Amazon Rainforest and to explore the January Ecological Park. Some cruise lines offer unique excursions, including a hike through the jungle, alligator spotting, fishing, tree climbing, snorkeling, parasailing and educational excursions to learn more about the indigenous people that live along the river. 960 1280

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Ariau Amazon Towers

Ariau Amazon Towers

Stay at the Ariau Amazon Towers, a hotel built high in the treetops with canopy walkways 70 feet in the air. During your stay, enjoy the fauna and wildlife like the friendly monkeys, macaws, sloths and parrots. This exclusive hotel made Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the “25 Extraordinary Places Worth That Extra Mile.” We agree. For the perfect honeymoon hideaway, we recommend the honeymoon suite, built 110 feet up a mahogany tree. 960 1280

Jorge Andrade, flickr  

IBEROSTAR Grand Amazon

IBEROSTAR Grand Amazon

If a treetop hotel isn’t your thing, try the IBEROSTAR Grand Amazon. Guests can check into this floating luxury hotel -- featuring 73 cabins, each with private balcony -- for a 3-night stay along the Solimões River that includes a visit to a local village, bird-watching around the Igarapés and piranha fishing. For the 4-night stay, guests tour the Negro River and take a motorboat safari to the Anavilhanas Islands. Make the most out of your trip and combine the 2 options for a 7-night stay. 960 1280

Jorge Andrade, flickr  

Indigenous Nations Games

Indigenous Nations Games

While you are visiting the Amazon, you may be lucky enough to immerse yourself in a unique cultural event like the Indigenous Nations Games of Para in Altamira. Indigenous people from 38 ethnic groups participate in the Games in which athletes compete in disciplines like spear throwing, canoeing and swimming. In the photo, a member of Brazil's Kayapo tribe prepares to compete in the bow and arrow competition. 960 1280

Reuters  

Kayaking in the Amazon

Kayaking in the Amazon

Take an Amazon kayaking tour on the Urubu and Jatapu rivers. Manaus is surrounded by the Amazon Negro rivers, but some companies do not offer kayaking tours on these rivers because they are miles wide and can be dangerous for kayakers during rainy and stormy weather. 960 1280

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Boi-Bumba Folkloric Festival

Boi-Bumba Folkloric Festival

Plan a fun trip to witness the Festival do Boi-Bumba or the Parintins Folklore Festival in June. This festival is the 2nd largest annual festival in Brazil -- only Rio’s Carnival draws more participants. Held in Parintins, Amazonas, this 3-day festival celebrates a local legend about a resurrected ox, and 2 teams -- Garantido and Caprichoso -- must compete to retell the story in 2.5 hours. The teams try to outdo one another using flamboyant dances, singing and parade floats in the Bumbodromo -- a stage that holds about 35,000 spectators. 960 1280

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Uakari Mamirauá Reserve Lodge

Uakari Mamirauá Reserve Lodge

Located in Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve, the Uacari Floating Lodge is a rustic, eco-tourism getaway to observe the Amazon’s wildlife. Recognized by UNESCO as part of the Natural Heritage of Humanity, this floating lodge has 5 bungalows with 2 rooms, 2 bathrooms and a porch with a view of the river and forest. The central floating area has a natural swimming pool, kitchen, restaurant, bar, video room and library. What makes this lodge unique is that it generates income for the reserve’s 8 local communities and preserves the natural community. 960 1280

Gabriel Britto, flickr  

Zip Lining in the Amazon

Zip Lining in the Amazon

Get an amazing view of Brazil and the Amazon’s canyons, rivers, waterfalls and more, by taking canopy tour. Rafting, hiking, cycling, snorkeling and surfing are few examples of how you can keep your adrenaline pumping when visiting the area. 960 1280

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Ver-o-Peso Market

Ver-o-Peso Market

Go shopping at the Ver-o-peso Market in Belem, Brazil. Locals and tourists visit this market to pick up fresh fish, handcrafts, natural essence perfumes, and native vegetables and fruits. Clock Tower Square, Solar da Beira, Feliz Lusitania and the Açaí Fair are a few places to visit and things to do when visiting this popular market. 960 1280

M.Maselli, flickr   

Amazonas Theatre

Amazonas Theatre

For travelers looking for an alternative to “roughing it” in the Amazon -- visit the Amazonas Theater in Manaus. This theater is home to the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra, which regularly rehearses and performs here. Music concerts and other popular performances are held here. 960 1280

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Amazonas Opera Festival

Amazonas Opera Festival

From March until May, the Amazonas Theater also hosts an annual Amazonas Opera Festival. The Amazonas Philharmonic is the official orchestra of the Festival. This photo shows a scene from the 2008 world premiere performance of the opera Ca Ira, composed by former Pink Floyd vocalist Roger Waters and performed by an all-Brazilian cast. 960 1280

Reuters  

Photos

Glover's Atoll Belize

Glover's Atoll Belize

Divers and snorkelers will find an abundance of marine life at Glover’s Atoll, a protected reef system and the southernmost and smallest of Belize’s 3 atolls. Divers frequently encounter dolphins, turtles, sharks and manta rays there. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Whale Shark in Belize

Whale Shark in Belize

Catch a glimpse of the largest fish in the world – the whale shark – from Placencia, Belize. The gentle (believe it or not) creatures are typically found within only 20 feet of the water’s surface, and congregate in Belize each year to feed on fish eggs. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Carocol in Belize

Carocol in Belize

Belize has the highest concentration of Mayan sites of all the countries in Central America, and archeologists suggest that Carocol, believed to have been one of the most important political centers of the Mayan civilization, was home to more than double the number of people that currently live in Belize City, the country’s largest metropolitan area. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Laughing Bird Caye

Laughing Bird Caye

Laughing Bird Caye is one of the beautiful islands that make up the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage Site. 960 1280

Victoria Reay's, Wikimedia Commons  

Stingray

Stingray

A stingray is one of the impressive creatures you may come across on a snorkeling trip in Belize. Be careful not to walk along the ocean floor -- you wouldn’t want to step on one! 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Actun Tunichil Muknal

Actun Tunichil Muknal

Actun Tunichil Muknal -- one of Belize’s many Mayan archaeological sites -- houses the skeleton of a teenage girl, dubbed “The Crystal Maiden” because of the sparkling, crystalized appearance of her bones. To reach the cave, visitors must embark on a 45-minute hike, followed by a swim to the inside of the cave. Visitors can also get a look at the remains of the 13 other humans that now share the cave with the Crystal Maiden. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Belize City

Belize City

Boats are anchored in the harbor of Belize City, the largest city in the small Central American country. 960 1280

anoldent, Flickr   

Sea turtles

Sea turtles

Belize is home to one of the world’s most endangered marine species, the sea turtle. Green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles can all be found between the coast and the barrier reef. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Blue Hole in Belize

Blue Hole in Belize

The aptly named “Blue Hole” is a large collapsed sinkhole near the center of Lighthouse Reef. Explorer Jacques Cousteau named the hole one of the top scuba diving sites in the world. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Red-footed booby in Belize

Red-footed booby in Belize

Visit Half Moon Caye to get a look at one of the island’s 4,000 red-footed boobies. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Silk Cayes in Belize

Silk Cayes in Belize

One of the Silk Cayes – tiny, serene, white-sand islands on the Belize Barrier Reef. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Red lionfish

Red lionfish

The exquisite red lionfish. Watch out for them -- it’s their large venomous spines that make them resemble lions. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Half Moon Caye in Belize

Half Moon Caye in Belize

The sun rises over Half Moon Caye in Belize. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Antillean Manatees in Belize

Antillean Manatees in Belize

Antillean manatees can be found in the rivers, lagoons and coastal areas of Belize. Because of their slow metabolisms, they prefer shallow, warm water, and can be spotted in water only a few yards deep. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Baby Spider Monkey

Baby Spider Monkey

A baby spider monkey takes in some tender loving care at an animal rescue center in Costa Rica. The species is endangered due to deforestation. Spider monkeys require a large habitat: they can roam up to 2,000 meters in a single day. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Edelmar  

Spider Monkeys

Spider Monkeys

Did you know that a spider monkey female carries baby on her back? Babies are carried on their mothers' chests until they reach 2 months, at which point they switch to their mothers' backs. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Pjjones  

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback Sea Turtle

A leatherback sea turtle hatchling emerges from its nest in the sand. Leatherbacks cannot expect restful lives: according to the Journal of Experimental Biology, they spend less than 0.1% of their day at rest. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Andipantz  

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

A Scarlet Macaw looks at the camera from a tree. In captivity macaws can have lifespans of up to 50 years. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Roberto A Sanchez  

Margay

Margay

A margay lies in the grass. Margays are one of the most adept at tree climbing of the feline species, and can even descend down tree trunks head first. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/JeffGrabert  

Collared Anteater

Collared Anteater

A collared anteater, also called a tamandua, searches for food. In captivity, these animals have a more expansive diet than their name suggests: they will also eat fruits and meat. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Olof Van der Steen  

Rainbow Boa Constrictor

Rainbow Boa Constrictor

A rainbow boa constrictor relaxes in a tree in Manuel Antonio National Park. Adult rainbow boas can range from 4 to 6 feet in length. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/NirutiStock  

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

A howler monkey relaxes in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Their calls, usually a sign of marking territory, can be heard up to 3 miles away. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/GregBethmann  

Baby Howler Monkey

Baby Howler Monkey

A howler monkey baby sits in a tree with his mother. Howler monkeys are polygamous, with an average ratio of 4 females to every male in a social group. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Ian MacDonnell  

Green Lizard

Green Lizard

A green lizard is camouflaged in the leaves of a tree branch. Costa Rica has a huge amount of biodiversity and is home to more than 200 species of reptiles. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/OGPhoto  

Sloths

Sloths

Young sloths hang out on a bamboo tree. Although slow movers, sloths are not as lazy as once thought: they sleep a little less than 10 hours per day. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Pchoui  

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

A colorful red-eyed tree frog perches on a vine. In order to avoid predators, these frogs cover up their blue-colored sides with their legs to blend in with their lush, green surroundings. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/JanPietruszka   

White-Headed Capuchin Monkey

White-Headed Capuchin Monkey

A white-headed Capuchin monkey scopes out his environment. Capuchins are highly intelligent and are known to use tools to crack nuts and forage for food. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Golfladi  

Coatis

Coatis

Coatis, also known by their adorable name, snookum bears, are actually part of the raccoon family.  Although they have become popular pets in Central and South America, they are notoriously difficult to train. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Ian MacDonnell  

American Crocodile

American Crocodile

An American crocodile bares its teeth in the Tarcoles River, Costa Rica. If you encounter one, be sure to escape by land: this species can swim at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Zmeel  

Spiny-Tailed Iguana

Spiny-Tailed Iguana

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the black spiny-tailed iguana is the world's fastest lizard, reaching speeds of up to 21.7 miles per hour. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Jlazouphoto  

Green Iguana

Green Iguana

Despite their frightening appearance, green iguanas are herbivores and flee when encountered with danger. They may have reason to run: in some places in Central America, green iguanas are a source of food. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Cathleen Abers-Kimball  

Butterflies

Butterflies

Butterflies have only a 2% chance of surviving to adulthood in the wild. In Costa Rica there are many preserves and butterfly farms to preserve species' biodiversity. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Himagine  

Brown-Throated Sloth

Brown-Throated Sloth

Found in the Amazon rainforest, the brown-throated sloth is the most common of the 4 species of the 3-toed sloth. Its guard hairs are very coarse and stiff, and they have no gall bladder or appendix. Although they can swim and walk along the ground, sloths spend most of their lives high in the tree tops, eating leaves. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Macaw

Macaw

Tourists will find this colorful-feathered friend in the Amazon. Macaws are the largest tropical parrots, reaching up to 3 feet from head to tail. The blue and yellow macaw -- also called the blue and gold macaw -- is one of seven species of macaws that live in the Amazon. And you won’t have to go far to spot these birds -- they generally hang around popular food sources, including hotels and lodges. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Piranha

Piranha

Contrary to popular belief, most piranhas eat fallen fruit. No, it’s not as thrilling as stripping the meat off the bone. Rest easy -- no confirmed fatalities have occurred from a mass attack. Some tour companies offer fishing expeditions, providing tourists with the opportunity to fish for piranhas with just a stick, a hook and a piece of meat. 960 1280

Getty Images  

White-Knee Tarantula

White-Knee Tarantula

The White-knee tarantula is a species of tarantula native to forests in Brazil. It’s a medium-sized, but fast-growing spider that’s usually very hungry. This creepy creature’s bite is actually worse than its venomous bite, often leaving extensive puncture wounds. Usually this spider’s first line of defense is its urticating hairs that can be quite irritating to human skin. 960 1280

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Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel monkeys -- the most abundant monkey in the Amazon Rainforest -- stick together in groups of around 20 to 100.Their diet consists of fruits, insects and sometimes flower nectar. Mothers give birth to their young during the rainy season, and they take exclusive care for the young. Their connection is heartwarming. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Toucan

Toucan

About 40 species of toucan live in the Amazon. They have bright-colored plumage and bills. Toucans usually nest in tree holes or holes already created by woodpeckers. Although more often heard than seen, toucans are usually seen only in near a tree’s crown or canopy. So it is probably unlikely that birdwatchers will ever be able to catch a glimpse of these colorful characters. 960 1280

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Eyelash Viper

Eyelash Viper

Eyelash vipers are arguably one of the world’s most beautiful, but most dangerous snakes. They have distinctive modified scales over their eyes to give them the appearance of having eyelashes. This type of pit viper is largely nocturnal, consuming small rodents, frogs, lizards and birds. It’s not an aggressive snake, but they do strike if harassed. 960 1280

sdbeazley, Flickr  

Poison Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frog

Poison dart frogs acquired their name because Amerindians -- indigenous, pre-Columbian people of North and South America -- used the frog’s toxic secretions to poison the tips of blowdarts. Dart frogs usually grow up to 6-centimeters long. Their brightly-colored, patterned skin is a warning to potential predators -- making a meal out of this toxic frog could be hazardous to their health. 960 1280

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Capuchin Monkey

Capuchin Monkey

Capuchin monkeys are intelligent and clever, using stones to crack open nuts, shellfish and crabs. The tree-dwelling monkeys were named by explorers after their resemblance to an order of Catholic friars, the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Black Caiman

Black Caiman

The black caiman is the largest predator in the Amazon basin. Its skin color keeps the meat-eating reptile camouflaged while hunting at night. An adult male caiman can grow to be 16-feet long and weigh more than 800 pounds. It only has a few natural predators, but a large anaconda has been known to take on a young caiman. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Puma

Puma

Pumas are powerful predators that stalk and ambush their prey. They are small cats usually 22 to 30 inches long and range between 10 and 20 pounds. Fish, frogs, reptiles, birds, rodents and small mammals are potential food choices for a male puma if they are within 45- to 56-mile radius territory. Bon appetite! 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Take a look above when you’re in the Amazon’s thick jungle. That’s where you’ll find howler monkeys, jumping from tree tops. These agile creatures can grasp a branch with at least 2 hands and or 1 hand and their tail at all times. Their tail is so strong that it can support their entire body weight. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Jaguar

Jaguar

Meet the ultimate Amazon predator. The jaguar is at the top of the food chain. Revered by local tribes, this feline beast hunts close to the water for large animals, including deer, capybara and peccary. 960 1280

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