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Volcano Erruption in Iceland Posted: 5/24/2011 5:00:00 AM

The Volcano Grímsvötn is one of the most active volcanos in Iceland. There were eruptions in 2004, 1998 and 1996 and many before that. They usually do not last long and ash distribution occurs mostly during the first days of the eruption. The volcano is located under the Vatnajökull glacier ice cap in the South-East of Iceland. Most of the ash did fall directly underneath the glacier in the area from Kirkjubaejarklaustur to Skaftafell. We do not operate any riding tours in this area and none of our partner farms is located there. Little ash distribution occurred in other places and the West of Iceland did not experience any ash fall. The area where your group is going to ride in is not effected. The eruption is stable for now and ash production has dropped by half. For security reasons all domestic and international flights were cancelled for one day, but flights, both international and domestic are operating again.
There are a couple of websites in English monitoring the eruption: www.icenews.is and www.iceland.is

Grapevine Canyon Ranch Closes its doors in Arizona Posted: 4/29/2011 5:00:00 AM

One of our favourite guest ranches in Arizona is closing its doors to "dudes" for good this weekend. After a successful 30 years in the business, owner and operator Eve Searle is retiring from the guest ranch business. She will keep the cattle operation, but sell of the guest ranch portion as a private retreat.
Thank you, Eve, for providing our guests with such wonderful memories over the years and we wish you a great "retirement".
The staff at Hidden Trails.

Tsunami in the Galapagos - No Damage Posted: 3/12/2011 5:00:00 AM

Further to our bulletins from yesterday, we can now confirm that the tsunami which arrived in Galapagos at around 1730hrs (local Galapagos time) did not cause the damage that had been originally anticipated. There was some coastal flooding which affected some of the urban areas in the ports of Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, but no major damage has been reported.
Some 5 hours later, the local populations In Galapagos are still waiting for authorisation from the Government to return to their homes, which were evacuated as a precaution. It is possible that this authorisation will only be granted on Saturday, so that the return to the towns can be carried out in daylight.
It is expected that Galapagos flights will be resumed on Saturday and this will allow a normal turnaround of our guests. However, due to the backlog created by cancelled flights today, some delays can be expected.
The important thing to tell you is that everyone is safe and sound.
Meanwhile, our thoughts are with those in Japan who have suffered a terrible tragedy today.

Tsunami expected in Ecuador Galapagos Posted: 3/11/2011 5:00:00 AM

We want to express our sincere and profound sympathies for our Japanese friends and the difficult moment they are going through due to the tsunami that hit their country yesterday.
Due to this tragedy and its repercussions it might cause, we want to communicate to all of you that we are aware of the situation and have taken all possible actions for a possible emergency and we are in constant contact with all of our boats and the Ecuadorian Coastguard.
We would like to inform you that this morning the government of Ecuador has declared a state of emergency in the Ecuadorian coast and the Galapagos Islands as a precautionary measure.  This means that all flights to and from the Galapagos Islands have been suspended.  Also, passengers and everyone present on the Islands have been evacuated to the higher altitude areas of every island.
Therefore, please note that that all flights have been suspended for today and all our passengers have already been evacuated to safe areas and will remain there until further notice.  Latest reports say that if the marine conditions become severe, a possible disaster would occur at a lapse of time between 2pm and 8pm.  This means that future operations remain as scheduled for the time being.  Hence, tomorrow all our cruises will be operating as normal.
Know that we are working hard in anything we possibly can to assist our passengers during these extraordinary circumstances.

Christchurch Earthquake: February 22, 2011 Posted: 2/23/2011 5:00:00 AM

Tragedy struck the beautiful city of Christchurch, New Zealand on Tuesday and everyone at Hidden Trails is thinking of those trying to find loved ones and deal with what has been declared a state of emergency.

Hidden Trails has several trips in New Zealand and almost every employee has visited this breathtaking country in the last decade. We love this place; the people, the horses, the landscapes, the architecture, the rugby – Canadians and Kiwis have a shared kinship and our hearts are with the people of New Zealand as they overcome this tragic occurrence.

A Vancouver group of New Zealanders is raising money for those devastated by this earthquake. They can be reached at kiwis4chch@gmail.com for anyone who is interested.

Tourism Returns to Tunisia Posted: 2/18/2011 5:00:00 AM

With revolution fever gaining momentum across the Middle East, many are cancelling travel plans and waiting for calmer skies. Tunisia, however, carried out its revolution with a combination of passion and efficiency and tourism is once again returning to the country.

According to the Tunisian National Tourism Office, tour operators will resume flights and tours in the country beginning February 27. The UK and Ireland Director of the office, Anissa Ramoundi, says,  “During the last month Tunisia has experienced a period of political unrest and great change, however the situation has now calmed down, and we are pleased to see that the FCO has changed their advice accordingly. With free elections in sight and a more open and liberal government in the making Tunisians are now optimistic about the future”.

Last year the tourism in Tunisia grew unprecedentedly, with a 28% rise from 2009.

More information at travelmole.com

The Myths and the Truths about Stallions Posted: 2/17/2011 5:00:00 AM

We recently received a trip report from a client that had a wonderful time on one of our rides in Mexico (Colores de Mexico Ride), but was not very fond of the fact that the ranch was using stallion and geldings in their remuda together. She wondered if it had something to do with “not wanting to spend the money on castration” or maybe some sort of “Macho” thing in Mexico.
Here what our partner, Uschi, had to say … my comments will follow at the end of this blog.

Uschi Wichpraechter:
“Just a short comment on the remark of these guests about keeping stallions. Since about two years I do have more and more stallions in the group of horses (32 horses / 12 of it stallions).
It is an old myth that you can not keep stallions together and that they behave badly together and on the rides. If you observe their comment they say, they might behave badly, nonetheless, they did not or rather they do never behave badly.
When they see a mare, most of them don't even notice them and if they do, they just make a cute noise of ihihihihih (really funny) and then they walk just by.
What you have to do if you integrate more stallions into your group... you have to close your eyes and ears for a couple of days until they know where their place is in the group and keep them happy with food, so there is no reason to fight about and obviously... no mares in the group. Only stallions and geldings... and all works out fine.
It is not about the money and not about machismo, it is not necessary to geld a perfectly perfect horse. They are outside together the whole day, get their little quarrels sometimes, but once they are saddled up they behave great. Up to date, we did not have one bad experience.
And if you go to other places like Morocco, Jordan, etc they even ride stallions and mares in the same group, once saddled they behave normally very well. What people are really not used to is to see them outside together. I am sure, they are much happier like this and I did have some bad experiences with the gelding of a stallion, so if not necessary I will not do it anymore.
The horses are a great ride thanks to the great life and interactions they do have here at the ranch. No need to keep them in separate boxes living frustrating lives all day long.
I walk daily between all my horses in the corral and... they come up to me like dogs and are really in a good mood.
So why not promote a free stallion life. The only thing we humans fear, is that they could get hurt and do not look as nice as if they are prisoners each in one of his own cell. A little bite, a little kick, some fun and you have a great horse for your next ride.”

A last comment from myself…

“I have been around horses for over 40 years and at times owned a remuda of 60. Our horses had a lot of room to roam and we never separated them. The formed their little groups and families and I believe they were extremely happy and a very good ride … we rode mares, geldings and stallions together without ever having any issues.
Watching them play their roles in their little harems it warmed my heart  every time realizing that they were all very happy.  In contrast when I go to some of the most sophisticated stables in more urban areas that have all the fancy gadgets for their horses … I seldom saw happiness in their eyes ….  Let’s not forget …. horses are herd animals and not pets.”
Hidden Trails

Namibia Declares Entire Coast a National Park Posted: 2/15/2011 5:00:00 AM

Namibia has declared its entire coastline a National Park. The Skeleton Coast Park covers over 26 million acres, making its total size larger than the country of Portugal! The national park even defies borders as it connects with South Africa’s Richetersveld National Park in the south and Angola’s Iona National Park in the north.

One of the objectives behind the national park designation is twofold: increasing tourism and keeping poaching at bay. The Skeleton Coast National Park includes abundant wildlife such as hyenas, black rhinos, desert elephants, African penguins, Cape fur seals, and the small prides of lions that have recently returned to the area, perhaps knowing they were being given a protected home!

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