7 best wildlife spotting trips

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From giant turtles to polar bears and exotic orangutans, the spectacle of seeing elusive animals in their natural habitat is always an overwhelming experience. To mark World Animal Day (October 4), we’ve chosen seven of the best trips for responsible wildlife viewing – perfect for animal lovers who rejoice in the great outdoors!

Galapagos Islands – snorkel near sea lions on San Cristobal

Few places in the world can rival the Galapagos as a prime wildlife destination. Well over 500 miles west of continental Ecuador, the isolated islands represent a spectacular and striking world of volcanic landscapes and fearless animals. No wonder Charles Darwin developed his ‘Theory of Evolution’ on this wildlife sanctuary – more than 875 species of plants and 289 types of fish can be found at this Pacific Ocean archipelago of untamed beauty. Accompanied by a specialist naturalist guide, snorkel with sea lions, search for giant tortoises and see iguanas basking in the sun on our 8-day active adventure where you bike, hike and kayak your way around the Galapagos Islands.

Sumatra Jungle – get up close with orangutans

Hike deep into one of the few surviving habitats of the indigenous orangutan, the Gunung Leuser National Park between North Sumatra and Aceh – Sumatra is the only place to see in the world (besides Borneo) where you can see in the wild the endangered species! Its tropical climate and diverse rainforests ‘explain’ its rich biodiversity, which also includes species of elephants, tigers and rhinos. Expect incredible scenery as you cross through thick tropical forest on our 13-day Sumatra Jungle Trek to reach the summit of Sibayak Volcano and visit Lake Toba, the highest and deepest volcanic lake in the world.

Kenya and Tanzania – ‘Big Five’ African safari with a twist

An active safari that starts with white water rafting on the River Tana in Kenya, ascending to the crater rim of Mount Longonot for panoramic views of the Great Rift Valley, and spending a day cycling alongside zebras and giraffes around Hell’s Gate, known for its giant rocky limestone outcrops. Our Kenya and Tanzania: Raft, Bike and Hike adventure is jam-packed full of highlights in the spectacular east of Africa. After searching for ‘the big five’ in the Maasai Mara and visiting a traditional village, you will make your way to Tanzania for a night on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, followed by incredible game drives in the spectacular locations of the Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater.

Image: David Lazar

Alaska – furry encounters in Denali National Park

Explore Alaska’s breathtaking landscapes and come face to face with its indigenous wildlife on a trip that brings together the very best experiences of the 49th state. Enjoy the hospitality and character of rustic-yet-comfortable lodging while you keep an eye out for Alaska’s incredible marine and mountain wildlife, from caribou, moose, wolves, foxes to bald eagles, grizzly bears, Arctic ground squirrels and beavers. Our Great Alaska Adventure finishes with a memorable crossing of Prince William Sound on the Alaska state ferry, where you will be on the lookout for whales.

North Spitsbergen – go in search of polar bears

A land of massive ice sheet, glaciers and fjords high in the Arctic archipelago, Spitsbergen (meaning ‘pointed mountains’) has about 2,500 inhabitants – this is roughly the same as the number of polar bears, which during the summer months you can observe in their natural habitat under the midnight sun as they roam the ice in search of food. Administratively part of Norway, the remote island is known for its frozen tundra and unique wildlife, with six national parks protecting the largely untouched yet fragile environment. Our North Spitsbergen – Polar Bears & Park Ice expedition cruise takes you to the most wildlife-rich part of the Arctic where you get the chance to walk amongst the tundra up to high points where there are sweeping views across the vast glaciated inland.

Botswana – see herds of elephants

Botswana’s first national park, Chobe National Park, is also the country’s most biologically diverse, however it is its elephant population that it is most famous for. Its estimated 50,000 animals (mostly Kalahari elephants, the largest in size of the species) are considered the highest elephant concentration of elephants anywhere in Africa. Our Botswana Elephant Trail tour is designed to showcase the country’s diverse and beautiful wilderness. Highlights include big game haunts such as Moremi and the Okavango Delta, UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage site and one of the few inland deltas that floods in the dry season.

Zambia Liuwa Plains – witness the wildebeest migration

The stunning North Western part of Zambia is ideal for the wildlife enthusiast after a more intimate ‘migration’ experience. Our 14-day adventure tour takes in the second biggest wildebeest migration in Africa, at the remote Liuwa Plains National Park in Zambia. Every year, from late October and for the next few weeks, thousands of blue wildebeest can be seen travelling from the Cameia National Park in Angola to western Zambia in search of palatable grass. As the dry season comes to an end and the rain brings the Liuwa Plains back to life, more than 40,000 animals make this journey, many along with their new-born calves.

Feeling inspired?

Travel deep into the heart of the animal world and have the best experience viewing animals in their wild habitat, in a 100% animal-friendly way! View our range of wildlife safari experiences >

Want to know more about being an animal-friendly traveller? Read this informative 10-step guide.

What animal would you love to spot in the wild? Let us know in the comments below.

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