Top 10: wildlife holidays
Glimpsing gorillas in the mountains of Uganda. Watching hummingbirds flitting between flowers in Costa Rica. Seeing a tiger prowling through the jungle. Witnessing wildlife in its natural habitat is always a special moment. We've picked out our top 10 holidays for incredible wildlife experiences, from cruises to see Antarctica's penguins to trips into the rainforests of Borneo.
Orang-utans and pygmy elephants in Borneo
Borneo’s tropical forests hide a unique cast of characters. Venture into the wild here and you might spot orang-utans swinging from branches, proboscis monkeys nibbling on young leaves and pygmy elephants roaming along river banks.
Our tour travels in a loop from Kota Kinabalu, taking you deep into the rainforest for stays in national parks and authentic jungle lodges. We’ll also visit sanctuaries and conservation centres to learn how some of the world’s most endangered species are being cared for.
Find out more about 'Wild Borneo'.
Weird & wonderful wildlife in the Galapagos
Imagine ambling along a pathway and coming across a group of creatures. They might be marine iguanas, sea lions or perhaps blue-footed booby birds. But instead of those creatures running or hiding, they just get on with their daily business – completely unfazed by your presence.
Welcome to the Galapagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago floating 850-odd miles off the coast of Ecuador. This is a place where you can expect unforgettable wildlife experiences at every turn. Swim alongside lizards, penguins and dolphins. Glide through mangroves accompanied by groups of rays. Watch brightly coloured crabs scuttling across rocks and sea lions lazing on white-sand beaches.
Embark on an adventure here and you’ll quickly realise why this archipelago is nicknamed the ‘Enchanted Islands’.
Find out more about 'Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands'.
Uganda’s mountain gorillas
The mountain gorillas of Uganda are the world’s largest living primates. A meeting with these stunning – and fascinatingly familiar – creatures is a spine-tingling experience that’s hard to replicate. Our tour includes a gorilla trek in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, plus plenty of other memorable wildlife moments, from nature walks and game drives to boat safaris.
Product Manager Phil was lucky enough to see mountain gorillas on his trip to Uganda. Read his experience of gorilla trekking for a first-hand account.
Find out more about 'Great Apes of Uganda'.
Tigers in India
An Indian safari is like stepping into a real-life version of ‘The Jungle Book’. Among the grasslands and forests, monkeys play, leopards laze on tree branches and sloth bears forage for food. The star of the show, though, is the majestic Bengal tiger.
India is one of the best places in the world to view these endangered creatures in the wild. On our safaris here, we’ll head out in small jeeps or canters (open-top vehicles) in search of them. Expert guides and drivers give us the best chance of finding them, keeping up to date with the latest sightings and spotting half-hidden tracks in the undergrowth.
Team your Indian safari with the temples and fortresses of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Or go off the beaten track on our ‘Wild India’ tour, where we venture into the wild and remote national parks in the country’s heartland.
Find out more about our holidays to India.
The Big Five in Kenya
In Swahili, ‘safari’ means ‘journey’. And for the classic romance of an African safari, there’s nowhere better than Kenya. Slow-paced elephants and graceful giraffes silhouetted against savannahs. The Big Five stalking prey on sun-baked plains. Watercolour sunrises and vibrant sunsets. You’ll see it all - and much more besides. On our tour, you'll enjoy ten days of wildlife magic, from flamingo-flecked Lake Nakuru to the game-filled plains of the Masai Mara.
Travel between August and October and you’ll have the possibility of witnessing the Great Migration. This spectacular drama plays out on a breathtaking stage. Herd after herd of wildebeest (accompanied by gazelles and zebras) follow the rains north from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara, dodging lions, leopards and the huge crocodiles of the swirling Mara River.
Find out more about 'Grand Safari Kenya'.
Toucans and hummingbirds in Costa Rica
Costa Rica plays host to more than 850 bird species. Tiny, jewel-like hummingbirds flit between tropical flowers in Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. Scarlet and green macaws swoop above the creeks and canals of Tortuguero National Park. Toucans perch in the trees of Monteverde Cloud Forest, their oversized beaks instantly recognisable.
It’s not just birds you’ll see here, either. As we travel around, we might spot a sloth or squirrel monkey hanging from a tree, a tapir dozing in the greenery or perhaps a red-eyed tree frog hopping from leaf to leaf.
Our 11-day tour celebrates the country’s natural wonders, travelling from the capital, San Jose, to the lush landscapes of Tortuguero, Arenal and Monteverde. It finishes in neighbouring Panama with a journey along one of the world’s greatest man-made wonders: the Panama Canal.
Find out more about 'Natural Wonders of Costa Rica'.
Penguins in Antarctica
Seeing penguins in the wild is one of the highlights of a cruise to the 'bottom of the world'. There are three types of penguin that you’re likely to meet on a visit to the Antarctic Peninsula: gentoo, adélie and chinstrap. Each has their own character, call and way of life. As there are no trees in Antarctica, they all build nests with rocks. (And ALL of them steal rocks from each other’s nests – watching them chase each other is a very funny sight to see).
On a cruise to Antarctica, you'll be asked not to go within five metres of a penguin – and you should give them right of way along their ‘penguin highways’. The penguins don't always get the memo, though, and will often happily waddle up to investigate boots or camera equipment!
Find out more about 'Antarctica Expedition Cruise'
Marine life in Australia
The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,300 kilometres along Australia’s north-east coast. In terms of numbers, it’s impressive to say the least. 3,000 individual reef systems, coral cays and small islands. 1,500 types of fish. 133 varieties of shark and ray. And 600 types of soft and hard corals. Slip on a mask and flippers and you could be swimming alongside angelfish and clown fish or watching turtles nibbling on seagrass. Not a fan of snorkelling? No worries, as the locals might say – hop on board a glass-bottomed boat instead.
We think a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef is a must while you’re in Oz, so we include one on each of our Aussie tours. Combine it with time in the Outback and days exploring waterside cities and you’ve got an ideal introduction to the Land Down Under.
Find out more about our holidays to Australia.
Looking for more wildlife inspiration? Take a look at our online Nature and Wildlife guide.
Although she loves a lie-in at home, Laura is often up and about before dawn on holiday. She’s watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Angkor Wat, but her favourite was seeing the first light of the New Year sweeping across the yacht-dotted waters of Sydney Harbour.
Laura | About the author
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