Extreme weather phenomena such as heat waves, intense wildfires and mega-storms are among the most widely reported and easily identifiable climate change-related effects. However, the rising global average temperature, caused by increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to human activities, also negatively affects wildlife. From polar bears to monarch butterflies, many creatures now face climate-related challenges and threats to their survival.
Climate disruptions are forcing certain species to seek new places to live and, in some cases, even leading to their extinction. One such loss is the Bramble Cay melomy, a rat-like rodent that once lived on a small reef island at the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. As a result of global warming, it’s now gone for good.
But it’s not all bad news. One of the best ways to help preserve species is through education. We tend to feel more passionate about and advocate for places and animals to which we feel personally connected. And the ideal way to learn is through firsthand experiences. This is why Natural Habitat Adventures is excited to announce a special series of trips for 2023: Climate Change & Our Wild World.
Three climate change-related adventures to the Peruvian Amazon, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic (created in partnership with conservation experts at World Wildlife Fund) bring travelers face to face with the effects of a warming climate to help them better understand the dire effects of climate change—and inspire positive action.
Offsetting Your Journey
Before we dive into this new series of climate change trips, let’s talk about the carbon cost of travel in general. You may be wondering how tourism, which is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, can be a force for good. Nat Hab has been a carbon-neutral company since 2007. And when you travel on any trip with us, the carbon emissions from your journey are offset entirely through our robust carbon-offsetting program. Sustainable travel also provides support for local communities by way of employment and incentives to protect wildlife and their habitats.
Court Whelan, our Chief Sustainability Officer, has the colossal task of calculating Nat Hab’s total carbon footprint. That includes vehicles, flights (in-country and round-trip), hotels and office operations, including our HQ building and mailings. He then works with South Pole, a company that actively implements projects around the world, to offset those carbon emissions.
“These can include renewable energy initiatives, carbon sequestration via reforestation and forest conservation, and other unique projects like providing hyper-efficient cookstoves to rural villages, lessening their overall carbon footprint,” Whelan says.
And for our 2023 Climate Change & Our Wild World departures, we’re upping the ante even more. When you book one of the adventures below, we’ll offset the entire CO2 output of your life for a full year (starting from the date you book your trip)!
2023 Climate Change & Our Wild World Adventures
Venture into the Peruvian Amazon, walk on Greenland’s untouched eastern side and admire polar bears in the Canadian subarctic in intimate, small-group expeditions that are both eye-opening and inspiring.
On each journey, visitors learn directly from experts from World Wildlife Fund, Nat Hab’s nonprofit conservation partner, and get a chance to meet with researchers, conservationists and experts on the ground. You’ll also discover how WWF protects habitats and works with local groups to fight the effects of climate change.
Greenland: The Fate of the Arctic in a Warming World
One of the first things that comes to mind when we talk about the warming climate? Melting ice caps. On a 10-day climate change-focused expedition to East Greenland, travelers venture into the vast Arctic wilderness and stay at Nat Hab’s deluxe Base Camp Greenland at the foot of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the world’s second-largest body of ice.
In one of the most isolated places on Earth, you can learn about the effects of climate change on wildlife, Indigenous communities and the incredible Greenland Ice Sheet. “Climate change is most pronounced at the poles,” says Whelan. “While the rest of the world may experience a 1–2 degree change over the coming decades, the poles are expected to see a 4–5 degree change.”
“Visiting the largest sheet of ice in person gives you an intimate connection to one of the most tangible and obvious signs of climate change,” Whelan continues. Travelers can watch massive icebergs calving from melting glaciers at Sermilik Fjord, catch sightings of humpback, fin and minke whales feeding, and admire blooming wildflowers and cotton grass on the tundra.
The wild, virtually uninhabited Eastern side of Greenland is rarely visited, making it the perfect place to get close to pristine nature on boating, hiking and kayaking adventures. The trip also offers a unique opportunity to meet with people from the area’s Inuit population to learn directly from them about the deeper story of climate change’s impact on local communities. “They depend on predictable fishing rounds, which are being disrupted by climate change and sea level rise,” Whelan says.
We’ll be accompanied by Nikhil Advani, WWF’s Director for Climate, Communities and Wildlife.
Dates: August 4–13, 2023 (View all dates for Nat Hab’s East Greenland Arctic Adventure)
Amazon: Climate Change & the World’s Greatest Rain Forest
On a nine-day deluxe riverboat journey on the Upper Amazon in Peru, travel hundreds of miles of the mighty river’s tributaries and witness the wildlife of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve to learn about rain forest conservation and its challenges. The five-million-acre haven on the eastern side of the Andes teems with some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet.
The Amazon boasts 10% of the planet’s biodiversity, produces 20% of the world’s oxygen and absorbs 5% of the Earth’s CO2. On this unique journey, visitors travel by boat and go hiking with expert naturalist guides to look for rare pink river dolphins, sloths, scarlet macaws, monk saki monkeys and butterflies.
At first glance, the Amazon jungle may not seem all that vulnerable to climate change—no melting icecaps here!—but it’s just as much at risk, says Whelan. “As one of the world’s largest concentrations of freshwater river habitat, changing temperatures, humidity and rainfall patterns can have pronounced effects,” he explains.
These changes affect both wildlife and humans. Water vapor from the Amazon is responsible for “flying rivers” in the atmosphere, which aid in agricultural production in central and southern South America. Meanwhile, deforestation releases up to 0.5 billion metric tons of carbon annually, making the Amazon a hotspot for climate regulation. The changing climate has already resulted in unprecedented droughts. Dry seasons are getting longer and hotter, causing forest fires and destroying fisheries and crops, along with wildlife habitat.
Travelers on this trip will also learn how a changing climate influences plants. Although animals can sometimes migrate to cooler areas as temperatures warm, plants take much longer to “move.” It’s food for thought to consider what happens when animals leave, but plants stay put. “The plants depend on animals just as much as animals depend on plants,” Whelan says.
Our WWF expert in the Amazon is Shaun Martin, the organization’s Vice President for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience. He’ll share what’s at stake in this vital ecosystem—and how we can all be forces for conservation.
Dates: June 24–July 2, 2023 (View all dates for Nat Hab’s Great Amazon River Expedition)
Churchill: Polar Bears in a Changing Arctic
In the fall, head to the Canadian subarctic on an exclusive expedition to polar bear country in Manitoba’s Churchill Wildlife Management Area—a fragile ecosystem that’s heating up faster than most other places on Earth. Polar bears are the largest bears in the world and the Arctic’s top predators. They are also uniquely susceptible to climate change, as they depend on sea ice for hunting.
On this seven-day, small-group journey, you’ll admire the beauty and majesty of the polar bear set against the white expanse of tundra as you stand on the outdoor platform of a Polar Rover. Each vehicle features slide-down windows and a see-through, steel outdoor deck for prime polar bear viewing.
“Without ice, polar bears cannot hunt and therefore cannot eat,” says Whelan. The trip gives guests an opportunity to understand why these animals are spending longer periods on land, as the sea ice is receding earlier in the spring and forming later in the fall due to global warming. Not only does this mean they have to go for longer stretches without food, but having to spend more time on land also means polar bears are coming into more contact (and conflict) with humans.
Our Nat Hab Expedition Leaders have been leading tours in the region for decades, gaining vast knowledge of the region, its people and wildlife, and the conservation challenges they face along the way.
Additionally, travelers have an opportunity to sit down with the elders of First Nations, Métis and Inuit groups in Churchill to learn about their connection to the land. A tundra excursion after dark is the icing on the cake (and an opportunity to potentially witness the northern lights in all their glory)!
On this special climate-focused departure, we search for polar bears and explore the tundra alongside not one but two WWF experts—Elisabeth Kruger, WWF’s Manager for Arctic Wildlife Conservation, and Rachael Axelrod, WWF’s Senior Program Officer for Climate Communities and Wildlife—who will share in detail how climate change is affecting the bears, habitats and humans in the Canadian North.
Dates: November 9–15, 2023 (View all dates for Nat Hab’s Canada’s Premier Polar Bear Adventure)
Learn more: Churchill: Polar Bears in a Changing Arctic
Interested? Learn more about our Climate Change & Our Wild World trips for the opportunity to travel with climate scientists to explore some of the areas of the world most threatened by climate change!