NBNC citizen science

with North Branch Nature Center

— The Wetherell Family

Adventures Afar

Adventures Afar with NBNC


Journey to our planet’s wildest places. For 25 years, NBNC travelers have been tracking wild wolves, paddling mangroves thick with toucans and crocodiles, exploring jungles for macaws and monkeys, and sipping coffee amid clouds of hummingbirds. Whether you prefer African savannahs, tropical rainforests, or active geyser fields, NBNC’s Adventures Afar promise life-changing encounters with the world's most enchanting creatures and places. And by joining us you will be supporting NBNC's mission of Connecting People with the Natural World because we reinvest proceeds from your trip into educating children about the natural world right here in Vermont.


About our Trips

Our small-group excursions are capped at 12 participants, and many trips require an even smaller capacity.

Our commitment to small group travel ensures that each traveler has the space and comfort to develop rich, memorable relationships with the guides, with one another, and with the ecology of each destination.

NBNC participants are a family of fun, like-minded, and inquisitive travelers with a passion for lifelong learning and curiosity. Our travelers reliably fly home not only with new encounters and new species, but with new friends.

NBNC proudly guarantees expert leadership by veteran guides and world-class naturalists. Life-changing journeys require top-notch guides. Experienced travelers know that the guide makes or breaks the trip. Each adventure is led by a NBNC guide who is deeply passionate about cultivating the richest, safest, and most rewarding experience possible.

For our international adventures, NBNC also collaborates with the local operators and guides to ensure seamless logistics and unparalleled natural history expertise. By supporting trusted local outfits, NBNC can support sustainable ecotourism practices around the world.

Your NBNC Guides

NBNC Birding Ambassador Chip Darmstadt has guided NBNC excursions to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Spain, Ecuador, as well as stateside locations like Magee Marsh and Monhegan Island for over 30 years. The neotropics are Chip’s favorite destinations, where he can share with travelers skulky Antpittas, swarms of hummingbirds, and veritable rainbows of tanagers.
NBNC Program Director Sean Beckett guides wildlife and nature excursions across North America. When he's not leading natural history programs right here at NBNC or across the Northeast, Sean brings travelers to bison herds in Yellowstone, the threshold of wolf dens in Grand Teton National Park, radiant canyons in the desert southwest, and the kingdom of polar bears along the shores of the Hudson Bay.

The Goal: Our excursions are carefully customized to maximize bird and wildlife viewing. Our goal is to be immersed in nature for as much of each day as possible. You can expect to save the spas, the museums, and the gift shops for other trips.  

Pacing: Plan on full, rich days that are packed with experiences from pre-dawn to dusk. We try to build in a post-lunch siesta to recharge after early morning birding or wildlife viewing, but this is sometimes not logistically possible.

Meals and Lodging: We seek the tastiest, most comfortable, and cleanest lodges and restaurants that still maximize our access to nearby preserves and parks. Lodging is always hotel-, motel-, or cottage-style accommodations with running water, fresh linens, and comfortable rooms with single or double beds. Meals are often a combination of restaurant and picnic options.

Physical Requirements: Our itineraries accommodate travelers of all ages who are in reasonably good health. Our typical travelers range from 25 to 75+ years old. Most bird and wildlife viewing is accessible from our vehicles or via mild hiking. Participants should be able to hike 1-2 miles each day on uneven terrain. Longer or more strenuous hikes are optional. Physical exercise is not intentionally built into our programs unless required for accessing particular wildlife viewing areas. Some destinations require extended periods at 8,000 - 10,000 feet above sea level.

All of our itineraries bring travelers into the wilderness, which is, by definition, far from definitive medical care. While our NBNC guides are certified in wilderness medicine, we recommend contacting us if you are concerned about major medical conditions that may limit your ability to safely participate in our programs.

Destination nature travel is a uniquely rewarding privilege that expands our perspectives, challenges our understandings, and enriches our lives. Yet with these joys come responsibilities that we take seriously. Our excursions educate participants about the ecology and conservation landscape of each destination, empowering them to become ambassadors for the animals and ecosystems they've experienced.

Ninety-eight percent of us may never meet a polar bear, an elephant, or a resplendant quetzal. The survival of these animals relies, in part, on the other two percent sharing their experiences with their own communities.

Destination travel is also an opportunity to invest in businesses and communities that showcase best practices in conservation and ecotourism. NBNC supports lodges, parks, and operators that exemplify sustainable ecotourism.

About our Pricing:

NBNC makes every effort to price our excursions as accessibly as possible. As a nonprofit organization, we are motivated by a commitment to our mission, not to profit margins. This allows us to offer world class trips at highly competitive prices.

Our travelers care most about immersing completely in the ecology of a destination, and forego the highest-end lodging and dining in favor of comfortable, clean accommodations that gains us prime access to our nature destinations. Our priorities are the richness of our encounters, the conservation of our ecosystems, and the affordability of our ticket prices.

Your adventure travel directly supports NBNC's mission and work! 100% of the proceeds from our trips support NBNC's youth education, from creating Forest Preschool scholarships to offsetting Young Naturalist registration fees to supporting family-friendly nature events and beyond. 

Simply put, our trips are conservation missions... and they are a heck of a lot of fun.


All of our trips have a standard payment plan of an initial deposit plus two installation payments. 

  • Deposit of $500 required upon registration.
  • Half of balance due 180 days before departure (or upon registration if the trip departs in less than 180 days).
  • Remainder of balance due 90 days before departure (or upon registration if the trip departs in less than 90 days)

Please contact us if you need to arrange an alternative payment plan that meet your needs.

Cancellation Policy

We understand that incidents and emergencies arise that may force you to cancel your trip. However, North Branch Nature Center invests considerable time and, in many cases, nonrefundable payments to lodges and local contractors to secure our rooms and programming. NBNC aims to be as flexible as possible in our refund policy, but a full refund of your payments may not be possible after the dates indicated. All cancellations must be made via email to: [email protected].

Here are our standard policies:

  • Cancellation more than 180 days before the trip: Full refund of deposit and any other payments.
  • Cancellation 90-180 days before the trip: Refund of any payments minus the $500 deposit. If your space is filled by another traveler, we will also refund your deposit.
  • Cancellation 30-90 days before the trip: No refund guaranteed. If your space is filled by another traveler, we will provide a full refund minus the $500 deposit.
  • Cancellation less than 30 days before the trip: No refunds guaranteed.

We advise travelers to purchase independent travel insurance through companies such as Allianz when booking a trip to recover reimbursement in the event of a cancellation that does not qualify for a refund as outlined in the policies above.

COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Policy

All participants are required to affirm negative test results from a rapid antigen test taken prior to arrival on the first day of the program, and confirm that they have not had any known recent exposure to someone with COVID-19.

We recommend all travelers on our Adventures Afar trips to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

We will not solicit the vaccination status of our participants.

Please see NBNC's COVID-19 page for other information.

NBNC is proud to announce that all of our trips from 2025 onward are 100% carbon-neutral. This includes each traveler's flights to and from this destination, as well as carbon emitted during the trip.

How it Works: The voluntary carbon market has come under intense scrutiny in recent years as the legitimacy and effectiveness of many carbon offsetting projects have been called into question. That's why we're proud to be working directly with the Northeast Wilderness Trust's Wild Carbon program. The carbon credits we purchase to offset our carbon emissions are used to permanently conserve forestland as wilderness. Why wilderness offsets?

  • It's Permanent: Unlike most contracts in the voluntary carbon market that have a lifespan of just 10-20 years, wilderness conservation is forever
  • It's Additive: Acreage purchased and conserved through wild carbon offsets would not be protected anyway through another mechanism later.
  • It's "Leakproof:" Forest protection often just shifts and concentrates timber harvest elsewhere. But wilderness conservation is different–wilderness protection here doesn't just move carbon emission over there. That's because old forests function very differently than young ones. Big trees and old soils capture and store vastly more carbon than a young forest of the same acreage. Growing an old forest is like building a natural carbon sequestration factory!
  • It's More than Carbon: With wilderness protection comes additional co-benefits like biodiversity conservation, flood resilience, and habitat connectivity. This way, going carbon-neutral isn't just negating our carbon footprint, it's also actively helping conservation in other ways.

Want to learn more?: 

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2024 Adventures

Texas Solar Eclipse and Birding

Hill Country to the North Coast
April 5 - 13 2024 | $3450 | FULL

South Africa's Fangs and Feathers

On Safari in Kruger & Cape Town
September 5 - 18 2024 | $5250 | FULL

The Pantanal

Birds and Wildlife of Brazil
August 11-25 2024 | $5500

Japan's Winter Birds & Culture

Cranes, Fish-Owls, Eagles, Castles, & More
December 2 - 15 2024 | $6400

2025 Adventures

Interested in a "Coming Soon" trip? Please contact us to reserve a space
and receive notice as soon as the trip becomes available.

**All 2025 trips are now 100% carbon neutral!**

Costa Rica: Intro to Tropical Birding

January 16 - 25, 2025 | $2,750


Dogsledding in the Boreal North

Coming Soon | March 2025 | Contact us to reserve a space

Oregon: Birding Malheur NWR and the Seacoast

April 25 - May 3, 2025 | $2,750

Cuba: Birds, Nature, and Culture

March 14 - 22, 2025 | $4,650

Arizona: Birding the Sky Islands

April 19 - 27, 2025 | $3,200


Alaska: Birds, Wildlife, and Scenery

Coming Soon | July 2025 | Contact us to reserve a space

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"“A vacation is external. A pilgrimage is internal. An adventure combines them.”

— Eddy L. Harris, Mississippi Solo: A River Quest

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206

Hours: Center Open Monday-Friday 9-4
Trails Open 24/7