For some people, spotting wildlife will be the main purpose of their holiday. For others, it will be a feature of a mixed experience holiday. Whether you want a morning’s whale watching, a day trek into the rainforest to find orang-utans or a five day safari seeking out the Big Five, Shearwater Travel and its suppliers will be able to help.
Whales migrate to find warmer waters to eat and breed and migration patterns vary from species to species. This means that year round we can find a destination for you to see whales. Vancouver Island and Quebec in Canada, Dominica, Colombia and Baja California in Mexico are all great destinations for whale watching. Closer to home, whales can be seen in Scotland, Iceland and the beautiful Azores in the middle of the Atlantic. Further afield, Hermanaus in South Africa, Sri Lanka, South Island in New Zealand and Tonga are also reliable destinations for spotting these majestic creatures. Please get in touch if you would like to go on a whale watching trip of whatever length and we can advise you where to go.
To see elephants in the wild head to Chobe National Park, Botswana or Katavia National Park, Tanzania in the dry season. Periyar National Park in Kerala, India provides opportunities for viewing Indian elephants in the wild and pygmy elephants can be spotted by the Kinabatangan river in Borneo. In Sri Lanka you can see a migratory herd of wild elephants in Minneriya National Park. There are some great projects rescuing elephants from camps and circuses, raising orphaned or injured elephants and rebuilding populations decimated by poaching and logging. Examples of these include the 500 Elephants Initiative in northern Malawi, Sayaboury’s Elephant Conservation Centre in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, the Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth, South Africa and the Elephant Transit Home in Sri Lanka.
Bears are found all over the world from the Arctic Circle to American National parks and Southern Europe. For polar bears head to Churchill on the western shore of Hudson Bay or the Svalbard and Spitsbergen where land safaris are banned but bears can be seen from small cruises around the archipelago. Grizzlies and black bears can be seen in the Rocky Mountains in British Colombia, Canada or Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, US. Closer to home Romania, and Finland are home to species of brown bears. All should be viewed accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who knows what safety precautions to take.
It goes without saying that birds can be found all over the world. Our suppliers can organise trips to see abundant colourful birds in Peru, penguin colonies in South Georgia, the Andean Condor in Peru, Africa’s big 6 birds in Kruger National park, Puffins in Iceland, Bale eagles in Yellowstone National park and the flamingos of the Rift Valley in Kenya. Closer to home great bird spotting can be had in Lemnos, Lesbos, Crete and many other Greek Islands. In Gambia, experienced birdwatching guide Malick Suso leads half and full day birdwatching tours including trips over the border into Senegal.
You will need to travel to Indonesia or Malaysia, principally the island of Borneo in order to spot the “old man of the jungle” in his natural environment. In Gunung lesser, Sumatra, Indonesia a sanctuary abandoned when the area was deemed to be saturated with orang-utans offers perhaps your best chance of seeing wild and rehabilitated animals in the wild. Both Danum Valley and the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, Malaysia have rainforest lodges where walking trails and canoe trips provide great opportunities for an orang-utan sighting. You should also consider a visit to Camp Leakey in Tanjung Puting National park, Kalimentan, Indonesia. Here you can stay on a Klotok houseboat and venture into the rainforest with guides two or three times a day to look for orang-utans.
To see a tiger or two you will need to travel to India although tiger safaris are also available in Nepal and more recently Bhutan. Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh provides the best chance of spotting these elusive animals while Ranthambore National Park is a scenic alternative. Both can be combined with a trip to Delhi and the Taj Mahal. Safaris take place very early in the morning and early evening.
The Big Five
Of course there are hundreds of different animals to see on safari. But visitors to the safari parks in Africa often want to view the so-called Big Five – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo. Kruger National Park is arguably South Africa’s best park for seeing the Big Five and it has a vast array of accommodation from grand luxury to tented simplicity. UNESCO world heritage site Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania and the Masai Mara (where if you time it right you can also see the great wildebeest migration) are also great places to visit for a Big Five safari. The Okovango Delta , a maze of lagoons in the heart of the Kalahari allows for walking, water based and traditional safaris. Mana Pools in Zimbabwe (another UNESCO site) is also great for water based game viewing.
There are really only two places where you can go to see gorillas in the wild and they are Uganda and Rwanda. Several of our suppliers can organise a trip to see these magnificent animals and a couple offer trips combining both countries and small group conservational tours to see the gorillas. It won’t be a cheap holiday but it will be memorable.