Travel with an environmental flair

The trips International Expeditions offers are not for the beer-and-bikini crowd.

With trips to places such as the Amazon, the Galapagos and Africa, Helena-based International Expeditions is renowned for its focus on ecotourism, said President Maggie Hart.

“Ecotourism is sensitive to the environment, to wildlife and to cultures. The point is to give rather than to take,” she said. “Usually people that will take these kind of trips are well-traveled, passionate about the environment and interested in local cultures.”

International Expeditions trips usually focus on the natural beauty found in such destinations.

“Nature is something that’s at the heart of our trips,” she said.

The company’s travel packages don’t come cheap. Trip prices range from $2,000 to $10,000 per person, Hart said.

“What we try to deliver is excellent value,” she said.

That value can be found in different touches International Expeditions provides. For example, the company makes it a point to hire guides that are natives of the different countries people travel to.

“We hire guides who are naturalists. These people are usually very passionate about conserving the environment,” Hart said. “It’s one thing that sets us apart, the wonderful guides that are indigenous that know that culture and that environment.”

Tourists from all over the country use International Expeditions to plan their exotic trips.

“We have people from every state in the union who travel with us,” Hart said. “We do have local people who travel with us, but the majority of our business comes from all over the country.”

Those who travel with International Expeditions are usually highly educated and looking to learn more about the world, Hart said.

“People who take our trips are very, very interested in the environment and in wildlife, so they want expert guides and an educational component,” she said. “The average age is about 60, but you’ll have a lot of younger travelers as well. We also have families that travel. Sometimes we’ll have three generations of a family traveling together.”

Trip destinations are chosen based on natural beauty and availability of wildlife. The company’s staff also tries to choose destinations that get away from the norm.

“It’s easy to go to Hawaii on your own,” Hart said. “But to go to the Amazon or the Galapagos, you might want to go with someone who knows the area.”

People enjoy the trips so much because they’re able to improve their minds and have fun doing it, Hart said.

“They love the wildlife, they love the cultural connections with people in villages and they love the incredible landscapes,” she said. “People love to learn. People who travel with us tend to be very like-minded people, and they enjoy traveling together and meeting each other.”

For more information on International Expeditions, visit www.ietravel.com.