Our top 10 wildlife vacations

Itís no wonder that wildlife vacations are so popular. Watching animals feeding, playing and interacting with their natural surroundings is a great way to get back to nature and escape everyday life. With so many wildlife vacations on offer in so many fabulous locations itís hard to decide where to go or what species to see. So weíve put together our top 10 wildlife watching vacations around the world Ė some in the remote wilderness, and some closer to home.

Whether you have three weeks to spare or three days, thereís a wildlife vacation to suit you. As many species featured on this list are endangered, we make sure that these trips are run responsibly and respectfully. Many of our partners are actively involved in conservation projects so you can rest assured that your wildlife vacation will look after the wildlife as well as you.

1. Gorilla tracking in Rwanda & Uganda

Watching gorillas is often described as one of the most life-changing of all wildlife experiences. Itís often a moving experience too Ė perhaps because of their intimidating size combined with their unexpected gentle grace, or because they behave so much like us. And whether you want to see mountain gorillas in Ugandaís Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or in Rwandaís Virunga Mountains, we have a responsible gorilla safari for you.

2. A Big Five safari in Africa

You can practically take your pick of African safaris Ė they come in almost every shape, size and budget. Go for a classic jeep safari in East Africa, following the Great Migration across the savannah, or opt for a self drive vacation in South Africa and Namibia. The intrepid can even step out of their vehicles in Botswana and Zambia for a Big Five bush walk accompanied by an expert guide. Other guides will whisk you out on a dugout canoe along the elephant-friendly waterways of the Okavango Delta.

The Big Five (thatís the inimitable lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and black rhino) tend to take center stage, but donít forget that other creatures such as hippos, hyenas and zebra can be just as thrilling to see. Check out our African safaris to see where your adventure could take you.

3. Polar bears in the Arctic

Polar bears are an iconic Arctic species. But with rising concerns over their ever-shrinking hunting grounds, where ice is being lost to global warming more quickly than bears can adapt, it is more important than ever to make sure that your bear watching vacation is run responsibly. Thatís why all our polar bear watching vacations have to adhere to criteria that ensures your trip minimises environmental impacts to help conserve these magnificent creatures. Have a look at our Arctic cruise vacations to find the ultimate wild polar bear experience in the company of wildlife experts, researchers and conservationists.

4. Tiger safaris

Tiger safaris awaken something magical within. They can transport us back to childhood dreams and recall poetry in motion. And thereís something spiritual about seeing this most iconic of big cats prowling its natural territory, especially when one considers how endangered they are, with around 3,900 tigers left in the wild. Our responsible tiger safaris in India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh can offer unforgettable sightings, of course. But they also help to ensure that these magnificent creatures will still be around for new generations to admire.

5. Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet and a must for any wildlife enthusiast. The archipelagoís most famous visitor, Charles Darwin, began to form his theory of evolution here and itís easy to see why. With birds and animals that are found nowhere else on earth, and which are completely unafraid of humans, the Galapagos Islands are a wildlife experience like no other. Take a look at our Galapagos tours to see why.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Wildlife or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

6. Whale watching

Watching as an enormous whale breeches the oceanís surface and disappears to the ocean depths with a splash really can take your breath away. Whale watching is an increasingly popular activity, with boat trips operating wherever the whales are. From Alaska to Argentina and from Iceland to Italy, all our whale watching vacations are run responsibly, ensuring that whilst you get close enough to hear the huff of a whaleís breath before a deep dive, you wonít be disturbing these ocean giants. Whether you want to see hunting orcas or mighty humpbacks, we have a range of whale watching trips to choose from.

7. Grizzly bears in the Rockies

Grizzly bears, a subspecies of brown bears, are amongst the eight remaining bear species on the planet. Many of the bear species, such as the sloth bear, are endangered or vulnerable but brown bears arenít among them, so hopefully spotting one shouldnít be too tricky! Watching a creature so huge and powerful can be an awe-inspiring experience and if you go to the right place at the right time of year, you might just be lucky enough to spot some little bear cubs out to play. Your best bet is to take a look at our bear watching vacations.

8. Watching orangutans in Borneo

Watching orangutans in the wild makes regular appearances on travelersí wish lists Ė and with good reason. Watching orangutans can be magical. Widespread deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations has reduced this speciesí habitat to a tiny fraction of what it once was, and they are now listed as endangered. Itís therefore more important than ever to ensure that responsible tourism contributes to their conservation. All our orangutan vacations abide by a code of conduct and most vacations to Sabah include visit to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, which houses and then releases injured orangutans back into the wild when possible.

9. Antarctica

The vast, frozen continent of Antarctica is one of the planetís last true wilderness. Officially uninhabited and owned by no one, it is a place like no other on earth. But itís not empty; several penguin species, seal colonies, whales and albatrosses are among the creatures that call this frozen desert home. Small ship cruises incorporate onboard lecture programmes by biologists, geologists, conservationists and marine scientists, bringing the scenes to life. Have a look at our vacations in Antarctica to see which expedition is up your street.

10. Wildlife in Europe

Europeís wildlife may not feature on many travel posters (polar bears aside), but it is no less impressive than other places around the world. Whether you want to see reintroduced bison in the primeval forests of Poland, sea turtles in the Greek Islands, wolves and moose Sweden, or lynx in Romania, we have an exciting range of almost 200 wildlife vacations in Europe.

And finally...

Donít forget that all of our trips have to meet our criteria for environmental, social and economic responsibility, which means that they minimise their environmental impact and benefit the local community. They also abide by strict codes of conduct so as not to distress the wildlife (say, not getting too close and ending encounters when animals leave, rather than following them). Also, many of our wildlife watching specialists regularly donate to and support conservation projects to protect and preserve endangered critters. Read our stances on wildlife tourism issues to find out more.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: AdA Durden] [Whale: Sho Hatakeyama] [Gorilla: Matijn.Munneke] [Tiger: Christopher Kray] [Grizzly Bear: Peter Mulligan] [Woodpecker: Frank Vassen]