9 March 2020 by Rui Ribeiro
From tracking gorillas in the jungles of Rwanda to spotting whales on luxury Antarctica cruises, there are a whole host of unforgettable wildlife experiences in the world just waiting to be discovered. And remember, whichever type of wildlife holiday you're after, our experts can create a trip that's tailor-made to your exact wishes. See below for our curated list of the world's top 10 wildlife travel experiences.
1. Spot iconic wildlife in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Marine iguana, Galápagos
The Galápagos Islands' philosophy-inspiring wildlife means a reputation in science and evolution that is world-renowned. Rugged, volcanic landscapes provide the otherworldly setting for a huge quantity and diversity of wildlife, which still appears to be completely unthreatened by humans. There's everything from remarkable marine iguanas, impossibly giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, fur seals, sea lions and a huge number of birds, spotted on everything from luxury yacht trips and glass-bottomed boat rides to wildlife walks.
2. Canoe on the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Antelope, Okavango Delta, Botswana
From the bright green floodplains of the Okavango Delta to the elephant-rich Chobe National Park and desert-adapted wildlife of the vast Kalahari Desert, Botswana's unique water-framed landscapes are packed full of wildlife. And, there are myriad unique ways to take it all in, from traditional mokoro dugout canoe paddles and 4WD adventures to guided bush walks and even horseback safaris.
3. See the Big Five in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Elephant, Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge, Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is home to nearly 20,000 square kilometres of pristine bushveld and open savannah, dotted with myriad species of bird, reptiles and, of course, those Big Five icons – elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino. Explore the park's private reserves on thrilling game drives and bush walks, returning to luxury accommodation for gourmet wilderness dining, spa treatments and private plunge pools. It's perfectly paired with a Cape Town and Winelands road trip for the ultimate South Africa holiday.
4. Discover incredible biodiversity in Costa Rica
Toucan, Costa Rica
Costa Rica accounts for only 0.03% of the earth's surface but contains 6% of the world's biodiversity. This incredible natural wealth, both in species and ecosystems, is partly explained by its geographical position, with several climates meaning prime habitats for the likes of toucans, sloths, monkeys, turtles, hummingbirds, iguanas and a host of other native species in rainforests, jungle-framed beaches and mist-shrouded cloud forests. Discover it all with hikes at the foothills of Arenal Volcano, nighttime wildlife walks, kayak paddles and more.
5. Search for tigers in the jungles of India
Tiger, Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India
India is rich in natural wonders, with 80 national parks home to the likes of gazelles, monkeys, sloth bears, one-horned rhinos, Asian elephants – and Royal Bengal tigers. The chance to see them in the wild is truly a special one, with their population, happily, having increased by 33% over the past four years, returning from the brink of critical extinction. Vast swathes of previously unprotected countryside have now become much-needed sanctuaries, and you'll head into their surrounds in search of the King of the Jungle on 4WD Jeep safaris, returning to luxury national-park lodges for the likes of gourmet dining and spa treatments.
6. Spot orangutangs in Borneo
Orangutans in Borneo, Malaysia
Among Borneo's ancient rainforests and cloud-shrouded granite peaks lies an incredible biodiversity. Its most iconic inhabitant of all is, of course, the orangutan, spotted on thrilling rainforest treks and longboat cruises alongside proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, colourful hornbills and Bornean gibbons. You'll also be reminded of the orangutan's critically-endangered status, with visits to the region's orangutan rehabilitation centres.
7. Go gorilla tracking in Rwanda
Gorillas, Volcanoes National Park
Rwanda is one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the mountain gorilla and seeing them in their natural habitat is an awe-inspiring experience that'll stay with you forever. After an in-depth gorilla briefing, you'll trek through the forest-clad slopes of Volcanoes National Park to reach a gorilla family, spending a magical hour taking it all in. Nearby Nyungwe draws in adventure-seeking travellers as the prime spot to witness our closest ancestor – the chimpanzee – in its natural habitat, while Rwanda's remote national park, Akagera, is home to all of the Big Five icons.
8. Experience the world's final frontier in Antarctica
Humpback whale, Antarctic Peninsula
A dramatic region of ice and rock, Antarctica's immense snow-clad landscapes spill down to an iceberg-studded coast home to seals, whales and huge colonies of penguin. And, it's all done in utter luxury, with five-star cruise ships guiding you on your very own polar expedition as you head on the likes of guided shore walks and kayak excursions that bring you right up close to the action, from South Georgia's millions of penguins to the Antarctic Peninsula's whales, alongside butler-served suites, all-inclusive dining and spa treatments.
9. See whales and bears in Alaska and Canada
Grizzly bear, Canada
Alaska and Canada's temperate rainforests are home to some of the best bear and whale-watching sites in the world. Search for bears, whales, wolves and eagles from June to September in Alaska's Denali and Kenai fjords, while Canada's Great Bear Rainforest offers chances to spot grizzly bear, black bear, and even the ultra-rare spirit bear. They're viewed on everything from specially-made bear-viewing platforms to boat trips, forest walks and kayaking excursions, with the chance to spot eagles, humpback and orca and indulge at luxury fjord-side lodges.
10. Explore Kangaroo Island, Australia
Kangaroos, Kangaroo Island
Hailed as Australia's answer to the Galápagos islands, Kangaroo Island consists of wild landscapes and coastlines that form the perfect environment for koalas, sea lions, pelicans, Cape Barren geese and – of course – kangaroos. Seal Bay is home to a permanent colony of 500 rare Australian sea lions, while pink pelicans, wallabies, possums, sea eagles and numerous bird species also abound. Kangaroo Island is also renowned for its diving, with more than 60 shipwrecks scattered along the coast, as well as wine-paired farm tours to explore the surrounds.