it's not luxury - you'll share a simple beachside bungalow and daily chores with your teammates on the st. croix leatherback recovery project - but it is profoundly rewarding. when you're done, slip down to cane bay, where you can get a gander at a multitude of sea life by snorkeling (there's easy access right off the beach) or diving the famous cane bay wall. cost for the 11-day trip is $2,195; earthwatch members pay $2,095. www.earthwatch.org, (800) 776-0188

poison dart frogs, pygmy marmosets, caiman crocodiles, giant anacondas, and primate plethora
northeast peru's tamshiyacu-tahuayo reserve is home to some of the best wildlife viewing in the amazon; given the abundance of amazon life, that's attention getting. many species here exist nowhere else in the world. with such diversity at hand, amazonia expeditions responds in the only way that makes sense. guests, who stay in a lodge on the tahuayo river, request what they would like to see, and a guide escorts them into the jungle. looking for birds? birders have compiled a list of more than 500 area species. primates? the reserve boasts the highest number of primate species of any reserve in the world. the offerings vary according to season (july to october offer the best odds of seeing caiman crocs; june to october are your best chances of finding a giant anaconda), but there is no let up in the action. the seven-day trip includes lodging, meals, and excursions for $1,295; pay $100 for each additional day. www.perujungle.com, (800) 262-9669

bizarre critters