Wildlife & Safari
Canada – Arctic Safari
The animals and marine life that live in northern Manitoba are diverse and incredible, and the best (and sometimes only) way to see them is on an Arctic safari.
Polar Bears: The jewel of the northern animals, the polar bear is a truly majestic and powerful creature. Seeing a polar bear in the wild is one life experience you will never forget.
Northern Manitoba is home to one of the few towns in the world where polar bears can be observed in the wild: Churchill. Polar bears can be observed any time of year, but are particularly prominent in October and November when they begin their move from their summer habitat on the tundra back to where pack ice forms over the Hudson Bay. Churchill lies on this migratory path, which is why it provides endless opportunities for polar bear viewing, and why thousands of visitors from across the globe visit each year.
Beluga Whales :Few things in life can compare to snorkeling with a pod of sparkling white beluga whales as they serenade you with their unique underwater songs. Even if you are slightly less adventurous and view these charismatic mammals from the safety of a boat, it’s an experience you aren’t likely to forget as the whales dive and circle around you. With Hudson Bay home to over 57,000 belugas at certain points during the year, the sheer number of whales will leave you mesmerized.
Caribou: Watching a herd of caribou thunder across the tundra is an unforgettable experience, and one you can enjoy in northern Manitoba. The Schmok Lake region, near the Nunavut border, is home to the largest caribou migration in North America. This area is the best place to see the impressive caribou in vast numbers as they move across the plains, trying to steer clear of predatory wolves along the way.
Arctic Fox: One of the most beautiful animals in the north, the arctic fox has developed a thick white coat that blends with its environment to aid in hunting and in evading its predators like the polar bear. The arctic fox is so well adapted to its environment, that it won’t start shivering until temperatures reach -34° C. It doesn’t have to be that cold for you to see one of these amazing animals in its natural habitat, but you will have to venture onto the wild tundra. There, in Manitoba’s north, Arctic foxes are abundant. Even with their superior camouflage, there is a very good chance you will be able to snap a picture of these furry white locals
South Africa – Krugar Safari Park
Best place to see the Big Five; . Black Rhinoceros, Elephant, White Rhinoceros, Leopard , Lion and Cape Buffalo. The term ‘Big Five’ was historically used to denote the five most dangerous animals to hunt in Southern Africa. Fortunately the term is now used to describe the most popular and exciting animals to view, whilst on safari in the Kruger National Park. The largest game reserve in South Africa, the Kruger National Park is larger than Israel. Nearly 2 million hectares of land that stretch for 352 kilometres (20 000 square kilometres) from north to south along the Mozambique border, is given over to an almost indescribable wildlife experience. Certainly, it ranks with the best in Africa and is the flagship of the country’s national parks – rated as the ultimate safari experience.
Kruger Park Safaris offers a unique range of safaris, activities and tours to make your wildlife experience nothing short of incredible. In terms of wildlife, Kruger is one of the world’s greatest national parks. The diversity, density and sheer numbers of animals are almost unparalleled, and all of Africa’s iconic safari species live out their dramatic days here, along with a supporting cast of 137 other mammals and over 500 varieties of bird. The only way you can experience the magnificence of the Kruger Park is to come and experience it for yourself.
The best time for wildlife viewing in Kruger Park is during the dry months of June to September when the vegetation is less thick. August to September is a recommended time as temperatures are higher than in mid-winter and the animals are concentrated around water sources making for excellent wildlife watching.
Africa – Rwanda
Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is often described as “life changing” and with good reason. With only an estimated 880 Gorillas left in the world, to see these gentle creatures in their natural habitat is a truly unique moment. Gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo-covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. Trek to see them and you’ll be introduced by your expert trackers and guides to one of the fully-habituated families of mountain gorillas and you can stay with them for an awe-inspiring hour, often crouching just a few feet away, whilst the gorillas go about their daily lives.
Hikes in the mountains can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours + depending on the family allocated to your group and their location. The journey back can take just as long, but you are often carried along by the euphoria you feel at seeing the gorillas! Expert guides give a pre-trek briefing on specific protocols and rules for visiting the gorillas that live within an altitude of 2500 and 4000m. Porters are available to help carry backpacks and cameras, as well as helping you with your footing along your hike which can be hard work, but well worth it.
Asia – Borneo Wildlife Conservation
Comprised mostly of impenetrable jungle, the world’s third-largest island is shared by Indonesia, Malaysia, and the tiny, wealthy Sultanate of Brunei. Home to critically endangered rhino, elephant, leopards, and orangutans — to name but a few — Borneo’s wildlife is its top draw. Get up close and personal with these famous primates at the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in nearby Sepilok. The centre attracts tourists and researchers alike, where a boardwalk leads to a viewing gallery and feeding platform and allows fantastic views of the animals in their natural habitat. Visit the rehabilitation of orangutans in Sepilok. Before entering the sanctuary, I make use of the free lockers to store my bag. Cheeky orangutans have been known to snatch bags and loose items from unsuspecting visitors.
A walking path snakes down to the feeding area where the orangutans (and other monkeys looking for a free meal) congregate twice a day at 10am and 3pm. Your ticket gives you access to both feedings. As the clock nears 10am, the trees begin to shake, the ropes start to sway and I spy the first flashes of orange between the branches. It’s a thrilling moment. A staff member arrives and commences the feeding. The orangutans are only fed bananas – the monotony of the food available at the platform forces them to forage for more variety in their diet out in the nature reserve and trains them for their return to the wild. Nearby is the outdoor nursery. Young orangutans between six and nine years old are kept here and taught basic skills to keep them alive in the wild. With less than 105,000 Bornean orangutans left in the wild, the Sepilok Sanctuary provides much-needed protection of Borneo’s “Men of the Forest”. It’s a special place to visit.
Galapagos – Ecuador
Ecuador might be smaller than its heavyweight South American neighbours, but this audacious land stakes a legitimate claim as the continent’s most complete package. Blessed with a bonanza of perfect beaches and the remarkable Galapagos Islands, Ecuador’s wealth of natural riches make it a one-stop shop for incredible real life experiences. Come and indulge in a scoopful of the Amazon rainforest, a generous helping of the Andes and a refreshing glass of colonial Quito – Ecuador makes for a scrumptious serving of South America’s best.
Top wildlife to spot in the Galapagos:
Marine Iguanas: The only lizards in the world that can live and forage in the ocean, the marine iguana is found solely in the Galapagos. Fierce and ferocious though these Godzilla-like reptiles may appear (Darwin called them ‘Imps of Darkness’), it’s all bluff – they only feed on algae. And with lung capacities permitting up to half an hour of underwater foraging, you’re just as likely find them gorging on the islands’ surrounding seabeds as scampering about the craggy rocks they inhabit.
Hammerhead Sharks: Boasting one of the animal kingdom’s most puzzling physiologies, hammerhead sharks are found in abundance off Wolf, Bartolome, Santa Cruz and Darwin islands. Unlike most sharks, they will often merge into schools of over 100 during the day – making for some incredible and surreal photo opportunities. And with no known human fatalities and a wealth of choice natural prey on offer, diving amongst them isn’t as scary or dangerous as one might think.
Giant Tortoises: No trip to the islands is complete without a visit to its most famous residents. Weighing up to 400 kg, regularly living for more than 100 years, and able to go for up to 1 year without food, these gentle and slow-moving monsters are an intriguing and humbling spectacle to observe.
Sea Turtles: Snorkelling alongside these majestic creatures of the deep (or more accurately, the shallows) is one of those rare, life-affirming moments that makes a trip to the Galapagos immediately worthwhile. Keep your eyes peeled on the beaches for turtle nests too – the Galapagos is a hotbed of activity for these critters.
Blue-Footed Boobies: Despite essentially looking like handsome seagulls with painted toenails, blue-footed boobies, when caught hunting, serve up one of the Galapagos’ most thrilling spectacles. Diving from heights of up to 100ft, groups of boobies hit the water at speeds up around 60km per hour. They usually let out a shrill whistle before letting rip, which means you’ll usually have warning enough to get your camera out too. How considerate.
Flightless Cormorants: Granted, a flightless cormorant spotted on land isn’t one of the most invigorating sights you’ll see during your time here. But wait until you don your snorkel gear and spot one weaving elegantly through the water – the flightless cormorant will likely become one of your favourite discoveries in the Galapagos Islands for this reason alone.