We’ve put together our top 5 wildlife experiences in some of the world’s most remote and exotic locations to help you decide where to visit to get back to nature. Read on for our guide to encountering some of the world’s most amazing species.
Coming face to face with a wild gorilla has become one of the most popular and life changing wildlife experiences available today. Visitors are entitled to one magical hour with these amazing creatures and it is likely to be the most thrilling hour of your life. There are fewer than 800 mountain gorillas living in the wild and massive efforts are going into the conservation of this majestic species. Tourists must pay for a gorilla permit which buys you an hour with the gorillas in an 8 person group. Only 80 people per day get to see them and every time a tourist steps foot in the forests, they are leaving a footprint in the gorilla’s very fragile home. Trekking through the likes of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is not for the faint hearted and visitors should be fit enough to undertake hours of hacking through jungle if required. But the effort is more than worth it, this is a once in a lifetime experience you will never forget.
Fly to: Kigali (Rwanda), Entebbe (Uganda)
The polar bear is the world’s largest carnivore and can be found roaming the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas. They can weigh as much as 680kg, stand on hind legs up to 10 feet tall and have been known to have paws as big a 12 inches wide. A formidable species that has to continually adapt to living in one of the most delicate locations on planet earth, the arctic king is an iconic species. Known as the polar bear capital of the world, Churchill in Canada is a prime viewing spot especially in October and November when hundreds of bears move from their summer habitat on the tundra to the shores of Hudson Bay, waiting for the ice packs to form. With no natural enemies and no fear, these curious bears often get extremely close to the specialised viewing vehicles. This is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience.
Fly to: Churchill (Canada), Svalbard (Norway)
With over 40 tiger reserves, India is making a great effort to conserve their tigers as this species is on the endangered list due to loss of habitat and poaching. Tigers are known for being elusive which makes spotting them all the more rewarding. However, seeing tigers up close is becoming more and more difficult as the world’s population has dropped by around 95% in the last 100 years. Certain national parks within India offer the best possible opportunity for sightings – Bandhavgarh National Park is best known for its spectacular setting, as well as having the highest concentration of tigers in any park in India. Ranthambore National Park is very popular due to its proximity to Delhi, Jaipur and Agra and the fact that tigers are relatively easy to spot there. Regardless of which park you visit, the moment you set eyes on this jungle king will be a moment to remember forever.
Fly to: Jabalpur airport for Bandhavgarh National Park, Jaipur airport for Ranthambore. Various other airports for other tiger reserves/national parks.
The term ‘Big 5’ comes from old safari hunting days where leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant and rhinoceros were considered the most difficult to hunt. Several countries in Africa offer the opportunity to track the big 5 and deciding on where to go may come down to the type of experience you want. The southern part of the Kruger Park in South Africa has many exclusive, luxury lodges that provide haute cuisine, fine wines and excellent guides and has the densest population of leopards in Africa (still not a guarantee that you will see one). Whereas Chobe National Park & Okavango Delta in Botswana offer more of a back-to-nature, deep bush experience boasting Africa’s largest elephant herds, huge numbers of lion and buffalo and healthy populations of leopard. But without doubt, the annual wildebeest migration across the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya is one of nature’s most spectacular events. Taking place against the stunning backdrop of widescreen Africa, this wildlife show along with the chance of big 5 viewing, is a must for any wildlife enthusiast.
Fly to: Kruger Mpumalanga or private lodge airstrip (South Africa), Livingston (Zambia, for Chobe in Botswana), Arusha (for Serengeti, Tanzania), Nairobi (for Masai Mara, Kenya).
Orang-hutan means ‘person of the forest’ and these playful creatures who share over 96% of our DNA, are only found naturally in the beautiful rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Due to mass deforestation making way for palm oil plantations as well as other threats, the orangutan’s habitat is rapidly depleting and as a consequence, the species is increasingly endangered. But sanctuaries and refuges are being built and volunteers are working tirelessly to reverse this trend. Orangutan tourism is helping towards their conservation and a visit to a sanctuary or tracking orangutans in the wild offers a magical and memorable encounter with one of the most intelligent beings on earth. As individuals, orangutans are sentient animals and display unique and rich personalities. The lure of seeing something so unique attracts many people and each visit to a sanctuary, rehabilitation centre or remaining area of virgin rainforest supports the conservation of these amazing creatures for generations to come.
Fly to: Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan (Malaysian Borneo), Iskandar (Indonesian Borneo), Medan (Sumatra).
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