Archive for November, 2011

November 28, 2011

Meet an Ethologist Turned Photographer


Madison, WI by Stewart Halperin

Stewart Halperin is the renowned photographer co-leading our Galapagos: Vision and Evolution adventure June 15, 2012. Since you might not know what an ethologist is, or why one would become a photographer, we thought a casual Q&A would be fun.

Stewart, where are you from?

I was born in New Jersey but moved to St. Louis for the University over four decades ago. During that time I have lived out of the country in various places, such as Cambridge, England for study, and Tanzania for working with Jane Goodall in the early 1960s with the chimpanzees.

How long have you been traveling?

My first trip abroad was when I was 18 off to Europe on a shoestring! I have not stopped traveling since. Over 6 continents, and 95 countries later, my passion and interest in seeing the world seems to grow. From the canals of Venice to the plains of the Serengeti, I love the visual diversity and variety of this world. My mentor Ernst Haas coined the phrase–and it is true for me and many photographers–“we dream with open eyes” and moving about the globe just keeps on feeding the most interesting dreams.

How did you get started in photography?

While in college in the 1960s I casually took photos, but it was not until I started my graduate training in Ethology (animal and human behavior) that I became more serious about my images, starting at the Delta Regional Primate Center in Louisiana, then off to Gombe Stream in Tanzania, under the guidance of Dr. Jane Goodall. There I had the very important ingredients for becoming a photographer: unlimited time to watch, observe and see the patterns of light and behavior all played out in a Garden of Eden type setting. It was a glorious training camp!!

The second major influence in a more formal way was working with the photographic master Ernst Haas. Haas was considered by many the father of color photography. We spent 8 years together before his untimely death in the early 1980s. His influence on composition and the boldness of use of color formed my approach to photography.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Each assignment, each trip is a unique chance to see something different. I never get bored. It is like getting to be a perpetual graduate student, approaching different subject each day, week and year. I get to see places I would have only dreamed about. Just in the past 12 months my work has taken me to Tanzania, Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, India, Uganda and Italy… How lucky am I?? Mostly importantly I have become humbled by seeing the world, and understanding the incredible things we have to learn from people and places beyond our own world.

What excites you most about this upcoming trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos?

As a one-time biologist and ethologist, the Galapagos is the Mecca for understanding diversity and the beauty of Nature. To do this trip with my dear friend Richard Wrangham is a dream come true… Richard’s understanding and insights to the animal kingdom around us will be an incredible treat for the group as well as for me.

What is your favorite food?

I am a world traveler and a world eater—from Indian food to Mexican, I love it all, although Italian food certainly I never get tired of! Even here in St. Louis it is not unusual for me in one week to have Vietnamese, Chinese and Middle Eastern food.

Do you have children or pets?

I have one daughter, Rebecca, who is a world traveler in her own right. She works in New York City as a therapist and her travels have probably added to her exceptional empathy for her patients. We have always had dogs, but right now we are between dogs—our beloved Sabrina and Gabriela passed on in the last few months, and we waiting for the next ones to come into our lives.

November 22, 2011

Our Summer 2011 Photo Contest Winners

Our photo Contest Winners! Thanks to everyone who submitted some of the most wonderful photos we have ever seen. We’ve carefully tagged, labeled and stored thousands of photos (and even hired some extra staff to help!) and we are working on getting them up to our website. In the meantime, you can see the top three from last summer, as chosen by our staff and our friends on Facebook.

A Boy and an Iguana in the Galapagos

This photo is our Number One prize winner. I like to call it ’Determination and Discovery in the Galapagos Islands’ (I love the boy’s expression!). Where else in the world can you pose with a fat iguana, and study him up close? The wildlife is so friendly and curious, it’s easy to forget there is no hugging allowed.

Leaping in Cappadocia

I know this might look fake, but I assure you this is so real. Our Second Prize winning photo illustrates one of my favorite spots in Turkey – Cappadocia. Such a magical land with a lunar landscape that takes your breath away. Add to that a brilliant blue sky, puffy clouds, a leap of joy, and a sliver of shadow – what a great photograph!

Brilliant Peru

Tom Close took this Third Place photo, on his family adventure in Peru. I personally have accused him of doing something tricky to capture such brilliant, lively color and expression but he insists he just waits until the right moment and then the photo takes itself. I loves this because it truly captures the magnificence of Peru, and makes me want to hurry up and go back!

Thanks to everyone for the awesome contributions; many of them grace the pages of our new brochure.

Starting with our December trips we’ll have a zippy new annual contest with big prizes for photography, art, video, and writing too. Sharpen up those creative skills!

November 16, 2011

Sneak Preview – Big News


Families in Peru

Nice!! Press Release due out this week:

Smithsonian Journeys Launches New Family Tours with Thomson Family Adventures®

Featuring Tanzania, Peru, Costa Rica, Turkey and China

Experiencing the world through travel can teach your kids more about life and what it means to be a part of this earth than any textbook ever could. To that end, Thomson Family Adventures has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution to offer some truly exceptional travel experiences for your family. These Smithsonian Family Adventures make experiential learning a central focus, and broaden your family’s horizons in some astounding ways.

You’ll see how people really live in the cities, farms, mountains, and rain forests of China, Costa Rica, Turkey, Peru and Tanzania. In addition to the “must-see” sites and some extraordinary wildlife viewing, we’ll take you well beyond the cookie-cutter tourist destinations and deep into the real landscapes and cultures that give each country its character and true identity. Join us on our Smithsonian Family Adventures for a genuinely unforgettable family experience.

Smithsonian Family Adventures will include itineraries in Tanzania, Peru, Costa Rica, Turkey and China.

November 7, 2011

Egypt! A Miracle Offer for December Travelers.


If you are bold, adventurous and you really want to get off the beaten path… if you don’t yet have plans for your December holiday…How about something extraordinary? How about visiting Egypt at a super serious discount? How about below cost?!

Like, $2990 per person, plus the local flights of $400 adult, and $300 under age 12 for 9 days in Egypt, on our scheduled itinerary. Why would we do this? Here is our story.

We know the scoop. We know there has been some stuff going on in Egypt. Since last January we’ve watched this exotic and wonderful destination slide from one of our most popular to one of our most avoided. Well not completely – families still ask about it, and want to know about it – but they aren’t quite comfortable enough to go for it. Even though the travel warnings are lifted, and our colleagues in Egypt are confident they can provide something safe, comfortable, easy, and oh-so-special for your family. And for $700 less per person this year over December 2010! But still, it feels hard for most of you (exception: the excited family heading there for Thanksgiving! Yay!)

Case in Point: Not a single tourist has been harmed since the January 25, 2011 uprising, and Egypt has consistently and publicly declared that tourists will be safe. Because tourism is their biggest economy, and because they really want us to come visit.

So we decided to Go For It. We’re going to step up and help our friends. The heck with Margins and Spreadsheets and Business. We love our colleagues in Egypt, and they’ve been waiting for too long for the opportunity to have honorable work to support their families. So we’ve decided to send you off at Below Our Cost.

This means you still have a US partner who speaks your language and will help you prepare for this great adventure For Free. We’ll spend time on the phone, we’ll mail you information. For Free. Because we want to support our local colleagues in Egypt right now, when they are ready for work.

You’ll have every perk we normally include – airport transfers, included visas, bottled water, fabulous hotels, entrance to the Great Pyramid, access to the most wonderful sites, delicious food, trip insurance. You’ll be cared for every step of the way. We’ll organize all of this for you. You’ll pay only for the effort our colleagues in Egypt – who need this work so much – will provide. Thomson Family Adventures will donate our time, our resources, our postage, and our knowledge of the glories of Egypt, to help you plan for a real trip of a lifetime.

Is this for you? Do you want to be one of the first to visit this burgeoning new Egypt, without the crowds of past years? Do you love a bargain?? Call us now. This offer is good for any date planned for our family itinerary December 2011 or January 2012. We want to help you have a great time in Egypt! 800-262-6255