28 May 2012 by Luke McCormick
We've put together our top five wildlife viewing opportunities from across the globe. Scour the earth for giant river otters, wild dogs, guillemots, black, grizzly and polar bears to experience back to nature like never before.
Wild Brown Bear Adventure in Finland
One of the few remaining wildernesses, Finland's vast forests conceal around 1,000 brown bears. To see them in their natural habitat, travellers fly from Helsinki onto Kuhmo, close to the Russian border, and at nightfall travel to specially equipped hides for night-long bear-viewing vigils. The hides, which are situated in small open wetlands with a backdrop of thick spruce pine and birch forest, are equipped with comfortable chairs, sleeping areas and all the facilities one might need. Refreshments, a sleeping bag and a private guide are included.
Spitsbergen Expedition Cruise, Norway
Experience the incredible scenery of Svalbard on this circumnavigation of Spitsbergen. Experience the low-hanging Midnight Sun with its unearthly hues; roam the realm of the polar bear and spot the Piccadilly Circus of seabird cliffs on this tailor-made cruise. The voyage begins in the original coal mining capital of Longyearbyen and travels to Bourbonhamna, Krossfjorden, Phippsoya (just 540 nautical miles from the North Pole) and more. Watch the landscape change on this fascinating journey from tundra plains to alpine peaks and calving glaciers.
Whales, Bears on Vancouver Island, Canada
This action-packed 11-night self-drive itinerary through forests and waterways offers viewings of whales and bears as well as the dramatic scenery of Vancouver Island. Spend three nights in Vancouver exploring the historic sites, excellent restaurants and vibrant nightlife before boarding the ferry to Vancouver Island where guests cruise past the rugged coastline and beaches of the Gulf Islands and along the Saanich Peninsula.
On-island excursions include a Zodiac power boat trip to look for orca, minke and grey whales, more whale watching in Clayoquot Sound and hiking across the rugged coastline as well as a thrilling floatplane to the mouth of Glendale River and Knight Inlet Lodge for sightings of grizzly bears.
River Otters in the Peruvian Amazon
Explore The Amazon rainforest for endless wildlife viewing and take the opportunity to combine the journey with a trip to the magnificent Andes and Machu Picchu. Begin by exploring the capital Lima, before flying to Puerto Maldonado, southern gateway to the Amazon Rainforest.
Stay in the new, boutique rainforest lodge, Hacienda Concepcion, recognised in Condé Nast Traveller's 2012 Hot List, before exploring the rainforest, taking sunset boat trips and dining on organic ingredients and native flavours.
Exploration of the rainforest offers sightings of the endangered giant river otter, red howler monkeys, macaws, anacondas, side-neck turtles and black caiman. Later, scale the Inkaterra Canopy Walkway for a birdseye view of the canopy and look out for snakes and amphibians on an Anaconda Walk over the aguajales swamps. Travel from the remote rainforest to Cusco and onto Machu Picchu before returning to Lima for the flight home.
Western & Northern Cape Adventure, South Africa
Enjoy the meerkats and more on a tailor-made safari – perfect for those with a sense of adventure, a love of wildlife and wilderness. Enjoy the sights of Cape Town, Kruger National Park and the Kalahari Wilderness in South Africa's Northern Cape.
Often referred to as the 'real Africa', stay at Tswalu, home to prolific flora and fauna, superb meerkat viewing and opportunity to spot cheetah, hyena, wild dogs and Kalahari lion. Tswalu, a member of Relais & Chateaux, has a strong emphasis on conservation and immersion in this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Spend the days enjoying twice daily game drives with an expert ranger and tracker, walking safaris or horse-riding. For the ultimate in African experiences, sleep out on a deck and enjoy the sounds of the bush.