Grab your cameras and binoculars and take a look at some of the best wildlife adventures in the world.
Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
Founded in 1980, this is the largest protected wildlife area in southern Thailand and one of the favourite ways to explore the stunning flora and fauna is by canoe as you paddle gently down the Khao Sok river. The rainforest is one of the oldest in the world – millions of years older than those which can be found in South America, and is home to a wide variety of animal life including elephants, bears, leopards and tigers.
Madikwe Game Reserve, North West Province
This 75,000 hectare reserve has numerous private lodges to suit all tastes – perhaps the Thakadu River Camp is your thing with your own viewing deck or maybe the Royal Madikwe Luxury Game Lodge if you’re feeling extravagant. Since 1991, more than 8000 animals have been released into the reserve, so the safari fan is almost guaranteed to see any one of 66 mammals and 300 bird species. Flights to Johannesburg make the most sense for this one with a three hour drive to follow.
Twasulu Kalahari Game Reserve, Northern Cape, South Africa
After buying your flights to South Africa, if you want to experience the freedom and space of the country, then this is the place for you. It is the largest privately owned reserve in South Africa and covers around 100,000 hectares. The lodges cater for small groups and a maximum of six game viewing vehicles are allowed out at any one time, where guests can explore the stunning scenery and hopefully spot one of the celebrated Kalahari lions. As one of the owners says, "If you see another Land Rover, complain!".
Croajingolong National Park, Victoria, Australia
This enormous 87,500 hectare park has been classified by the United Nations as a World Biosphere Reserve, and is a pristine wilderness of beaches, estuaries, deep rivers and eucalyptus forests. Visitors can hope to see koalas, kangaroos and any one of 306 bird species which represent a third of all of those in Australia. There’s a variety of accommodation to suit all budgets, from campsites to the luxurious Gypsy Point Lakeside boutique resort sitting in the heart of the park. It may be more pricey than a tent, but as you relax having a sun-down cocktail on the banks of the Mallacoota Inlet, your long flights to Australia will have been worth it all.
Live aboard diving, Red Sea, Egypt
Despite its popularity, the Red Sea still offers divers some amazing encounters with marine life. One of the best ways to get away from other divers is to head off to more remote locations accessible only if you’re actually staying on a boat. All meals and dives are generally included in the price, and expert dive instructors are on hand to help you out. The quality of the boats can vary widely so do some research to find the vessel most appropriate for your needs and budget.
Horseback Safari, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (Idaho and Montana), USA
What better way to explore some of the 9000 km of Yellowstone than by saddling up and becoming a cowboy (or girl) during your holiday. A number of outfitters and guides offer this service and so check around to find the trip best suited to you. You’ll get to discover areas not seen by tourists in their vehicles, and will feel much closer to the stunning scenery. There’s a wide variety of mammals in Yellowstone including bison, grizzly and black bears, moose, mountain lions, bobcats and currently thirteen wolf packs too.
Gorillas Safari, Rwanda
Gorillas are now carefully protected in Rwanda after years of poaching. Thankfully someone realised they are worth a great deal more alive than dead, and the prices of gorilla treks are reflected in this. Aside from being well off, you’ll also need to be physically fit since there is potentially a lot of jungle walking through tough terrain. It is advisable to book well in advance since only 56 permits a day are granted which enable eight visitors to spend an hour with one of seven family units.
Killer Whale Watching, Vancouver, Canada
A number of large marine mammals can be seen in the waters off Vancouver, but one of the most popular has to be the distinctive Orcas. Between April and August approximately 80 whales return to the area every year and visitors have a 90% chance of seeing an Orca pod. Boat trips last 3-5 hours and come with expert naturalists; some will even offer free repeat trips until you successfully spot one of these beautiful creatures.
Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya
Who’d be a wildebeest? Their life is just one long journey interspersed with some terrifying danger and a constant lookout for hungry lions. Their woes aside, the annual migration of 1.4 million of them between the Serengeti and Masai Mara game parks is one of the great spectacles of the natural world. The chocolate brown Mara river represents the final hurdle for them in July and August and if the crossing place is shallow, then the majority make it; if deep water needs to be navigated, then the water will boil with wildebeest and enormous crocodiles.
Bear adventures, Manitoba, Canada / Churchill, Alaska, USA
Bear enthusiasts will be keen to learn that tours can be arranged where you can see both black and white bears in the same trip. A stay in Churchill to see migrating polar bears is then followed by a stay in the Riding Mountain National Park where moose, elk and bison can be spotted as well as the furry stars of the show. The trips are led by expert guides and naturalists who will be able to answer all of your questions – and keep you safe.