Remember going on field trips as a kid? Knowing a field trip was on the docket was even better than going to class and unexpectedly discovering that 32-inch Zenith strapped to a rolling cart at the front of the classroom (no disrespect, Bill Nye). The excitement of disrupting routine and leaving school shortly after getting there isn't something we get as adults. Hopping on the bus for a mid-morning ride to a destination devoid of desks and blackboards were good times that just can't be replicated.
Or can they?
The Cincinnati Zoo has a program that just might recreate the excitement of disrupting the mundanity of daily life with something wildly more fun. And no, it doesn't involve actually going to the Zoo itself.
This year, the Zoo is offering a series of four different guided travel experiences known as Cincy Escapes. Each trip is led by Cincinnati Zoo's knowledgeable staff. While the organization does well to bring exotic animals to Cincinnati for our convenience, there's nothing quite like observing them in their natural habitats.
Unlike the field trips of our youth, buses are replaced with jets. Travelers leave Cincinnati—and the United States entirely—to explore distant places in the world with animals and natural wonders alike.
While the excursions showcase wildlife that isn't native to North America, natural landscapes and plants also feature prominently into the itineraries. Very brief summaries are listed below for an idea of what each trip entails.
WHERE: Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, South America and Pacific Ocean
WHEN: From June 21 to July 1, 2019
WHO: Led by Brian Jorg, Cincinnati Zoo's Manager of Horticulture
WHAT: Dive into the culture of Ecuador while checking out snow-capped mountains, UNESCO World Heritage sites in Quito, and shopping in Otavalo. Spend your nights in the best available hotels, and take a yacht to the Galapagos Islands where you'll interact with animals found nowhere else on the planet. Enjoy hiking with experienced guides while taking in the cerulean beauty of South America's popular islands.
WHERE: Botswana, Africa
WHEN: From July 23 to August 2
WHO: Led by Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo's Curator of African Mammals
WHAT: Hopping from place to place in small planes, experience the otherworldly natural landscapes of the Kalahari Desert and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Take in the wetland wilderness of the Okavango Delta from the air, then land and explore the lush habitat filled with exotic birds, elephants, lions, and other wildlife. Ride 4x4s, canoe, and hike to get around.
WHERE: Tanzania, Africa
WHEN: From November 4 to 14
WHO: Led by Doug Feist, Cincinnati Zoo's Volunteer Education Program Manager
WHAT: Travel back in time to Tanzania where one of the earliest fossils of humankind was discovered. Visit a Maasai village, and check out Oldupai Gorge before heading into the Serengeti. There, you'll see roaming lions and elephants as a driver shuttles you around the plains (wildlife photographers will have a field day). Drive down into the Ngorongoro Crater—Africa's "Garden of Eden"—and stay the night in a lodge with a view.
WHERE: London, Europe
WHEN: From May 18 to 25
WHO: Led by Steve Foltz, Cincinnati Zoo's Director of Horticulture
WHAT: For those seeking azaleas over zebras, this trip to the English Gardens & the Chelsea Flower Show is right up their alley. Learn all about the English past-time of careful garden curation while enjoying the sights and smells of colorful flowers. The tour around London takes travelers to the most beautiful and well-known gardens of Britain. Fans of horticulture and those who visit the Cincinnati Zoo for the botanical garden side of it will find this trip especially enthralling.
GET IT ON THE CALENDAR
So how about it? Find a trip in that list that piques your interest? If you're still on the fence (get down from there, that's dangerous), we've only scratched the surface of what each entails. The Zoo has much more information on its website, including day-by-day itineraries and a breakdown of pricing.
Reading through the information can be daunting, though. If you're interested in taking a trip this spring or summer and want to learn more, the Zoo will be hosting an event on February 13th from 6 PM to 7:30 PM to discuss the specifics of each trip.