Here at H&L we have a huge soft spot for animals and for us there is nothing more magnificent than seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat. Every continent provides you with an entirely new wildlife experience and each and every animal is an inspiring reason to take better care of our planet to protect these beautiful creatures for future generations. With this in mind we have put together a list of what we believe are the world’s best wildlife holidays.
The Kermode (Spirit) Bear
Bears hold a particularly special place in our heart here at H&L so we could not be more thrilled to share with you one of the most wonderful bear spotting experiences. The Great Bear Rainforest, on BC’s Central Coast, is said to be the last intact temperate old-growth forest in the world. Just offshore is Princess Royal Island, home to the rare Kermode (Spirit) bear, a subspecies of black bear found only in this part of the world. About 10 per cent of the black bears born in this area carry a recessive gene that gives them a naturally white coat. (These bears are the official mammal of BC.) Companies operated by the local Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations people in the nearby village of Klemtu offer tours to view the bears, with September and October being the months offering the best chance of a sighting.
For more information please visit www.hellobc.co.uk
Bermuda Humpback Whale Parade
Each year, during March and April, an estimated 15,000 Humpback whales migrate to the north Atlantic feeding grounds with their young, captivating the residents of Bermuda as these magnificent creatures swim through the crystal clear waters around the island. Known locally as the ‘Humpback Parade’, this spectacular natural procession signifies the start of spring. The best time to see the Humpback whales on their journey is from early March through to the end of April, when it is possible to watch them from various vantage points on shore. Or for a truly breath-taking experience, head for the open seas on sailing or glass-bottomed boats to get up-close-and-personal, while still respecting their space.
For more information visit www.gotobermuda.com/Whale-Watching
Best known as the ‘natural Keys,’ the Lower Florida Keys have long advocated the responsible use and preservation of the natural wonders found in their midst. Stop at the 9,200-acre National Key Deer Refuge to see the endangered Key deer, the smallest subspecies of the North American white-tailed deer, which stand at around one metre tall and weigh between 65 and 85 pounds. Unique to the Lower Keys, Key deer inhabit 20-25 islands in the area, ranging from No Name and Big Pine Key westward to the Sugarloaf Keys and close to 1,000 remain in the wild. One way to try to spot the deer is on an eco-kayaking trip with local legend, Captain Bill Keogh of Big Pine Kayak Adventures. Navigate the shallow waters surrounding the mangrove islands of the Great White Heron and Key Deer National Wildlife Refuges in sit-on-top kayaks to explore the backcountry’s sponge and grass flats and mangrove forests during this unique nature experience.
Three hour group tours are priced from $50 (£38) per person. keyskayaktours.com
For more information about the Florida Keys please visit www.fla-keys.com/
A boutique hotel dating back to the 1930’s and situated in 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi, the extraordinary Giraffe Manor draws tourists from all over the world to view its once in a lifetime stay. With its stately façade, extravagant interior, luxuriant green gardens and sunny terraces a stay feels like you are stepping straight into a scene from ‘Out of Africa’ and with one bedroom furnished in Karen Blixen’s furniture given to the manor it is easy to see why. Despite the romantic history of Giraffe Manor one of the real draws to stay here is the herd of resident Rothschild giraffe who frequent the gardens morning and evening poking around in hopes for a treat. It is the only place in the world where you can feed giraffe from your bedroom window when you wake or over lunch in the sun room.
Four nights available through Aardvark Safaris from £1866 per person, based on two adults sharing.
Includes, all meals, soft drinks, beer, house wines, transport around Karen, airport transfers, entrance to the giraffe centre and laundry. For more information please visit www.aardvarksafaris.co.uk / 01980 849160
South Australia is home to Kangaroo Island, a haven of indigenous wildlife with its own unique Kangaroos, often referred to as Australia’s Galapagos. Launching on 1st October 2016, The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail will be a brand new 61km, five-day trail walk around some of the island’s most rugged and remote landscape. Skip the camping for that added element of luxury whilst on the trail and stay at Kangaroo Island’s Southern Ocean Lodge located in the secluded south-west corner. It enjoys a reputation as one of Australia’s finest five-star experiences for its fusion of modern architecture, superb dining and incredible clifftop location offering magnificent views. Additionally the lodge offers private touring to make sure you see all the wildlife (koalas, echidnas, native kangaroo species and wallabies) as well as experience highlights like walking with rangers among a sea lion colony in Seal Bay. Outstanding cuisine using local ingredients has also long been the hallmark of this luxury retreat. It offers a hugely popular Food Safari, hosted by much-loved chef Maggie Beer, who leads guests across the island, visiting the like of the Sheep Milk Dairy, Southrock Lamb, and the oyster farm at American River.
For more information on Kangaroo Island please visit http://www.kangarooislandwildernesstrail.sa.gov.au/home
For more information on Southern Ocean Lodge please visit southernoceanlodge.com.au/
South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula: Penguin Safari
This 16-day adventure begins in Buenos Aires where travellers will enjoy its heavily European-influenced heritage before being whisked away on a private charter flight to explore Ushuaia prior to setting off. At sea, passengers can photograph majestic albatross and pintado petrel as they swoop and soar around the ship, heading toward South Georgia. Beaches teeming with king penguins and elephant seals will greet passengers on this fabled island providing a wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity to be cherished.
For more information please visit http://www.quarkexpeditions.com/en/antarctic/expeditions/south-georgia-and-antarctic-peninsula-penguin-safari
Japanese Winter Wildlife Photo Expedition
On this 13-day photography trip you’ll be able to see Japan’s nature and wildlife in all of its stunning glory. See the famous snow monkeys bathing in the hot springs and the endangered red-crowned cranes that are the Japanese symbol of luck, love and a long life. Visit Lake Kussharo and be enchanted by the breath-taking caldera that is home of 300 whooper swans migrating from Russia every winter and see the extremely rare Stellar’s sea eagle at Hokkaido. All of this as well as the chance to catch a glimpse of common buzzards, brown hawk owls, sika deer and mountain hares along the way. This trip offers a uniquely rare opportunity to see and photograph these magnificent animals in their spectacular natural habitats with the expert guidance to ensure you return with the best mementos- wildlife photographer of the year here we come!
Prices for 12 nights start from £7295. For more information please visit www.vidados.com/winter-wildlife-photo-expedition/39331/overview
Jaguar Spotting in South America
If you are looking for wildlife in South America then there’s one big must see on everyone’s list, the jaguar. Jaguars are South America’s supreme predator, but they are also one of the most elusive animals on the planet. Thankfully Bespoke Brazil have just launched a brand new tour focussed on the best wildlife in Brazil. This new tailor-made holiday combines the 3 best wildlife lodges in the country, featuring the Northern and Southern Amazon plus the Southern Pantanal. It enables you to experience some of Brazil’s best wildlife experiences including a dedicated day for jaguar spotting where sightings during the dry season are very high. The best lodge in the Pantanal is called Caiman Ecological Refuge, which is where the recent BBC Two documentary, Jaguars: Brazil’s Super Cats was filmed and was narrated by Sir David Attenborough, king of the animals.
Bespoke Brazil’s Ultimate Luxury Wildlife Tour is a 16 day tour including the best wildlife lodges in the country, flights, tours and transfers and is priced at £8,990 per person. For more information please visit http://www.bespokebrazil.com/bespoke/ultimate-luxury-wildlife-tour/
Galapagos By Sea
Renowned for being one of the most spectacular places on earth for wildlife, the Galapagos Islands are a must on every wildlife bucket list. This comprehensive cruise around the highlights of the archipelago allows visitors to discover the Galapagos on land and in the water, and explore incredible wildlife and landscapes in depth. After two days exploring the Ecuadorian capital of Quito with a local guide, guests fly out to the Galapagos and board a first class yacht for their 7-night cruise. On Santa Cruz see giant tortoises in the wild and visit the Darwin Centre; walk across Floreana Island to spot Flamingos then go snorkelling in Devil’s Crown crater; on the Tintoreras islands visit a colony of the tiny and rare Galapagos penguins; explore the lava fields of Punta Moreno where penguins live alongside marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies; walk amongst the flightless cormorants on Fernandina; and snorkel with playful sea lion pups and penguins at Pinnacle Rock.
Prices from £4,350 per person based on two sharing, including internal flights, 2 nights’ B&B hotel accommodation, private guiding and transfers in Quito, and a 7-night full board cruise with all guiding and activities with Pura Aventura. International flights extra. For more information please visit www.pura-aventura.com/latin-america/ecuador/galapagos-by-sea-classic-galapagos-cruise
Sable Island Experience
Not necessarily a first thought when it comes to a wildlife holiday but the Sable Island Experience Wildlife Cruise from Discover the World is magnificent. This nine day voyage, departing from St John’s in Newfoundland, gives travellers the chance to explore a truly remote windswept island of sand off the coast of Nova Scotia. Covering just 34 square kilometres, Sable Island is home to just five permanent human residents, one of the world’s last wild horse populations, the world’s largest grey seal colony, the rare Ipswich sparrow and many rare and beautiful plant species. Sable Island is the country’s newest national park, accessible only by private air charter or vessel with all visitors required to register in advance of their trip. This nine day cruise has two days at sea (delving into the history of the island) before a full three days are moored just off the coast and offers ample opportunities for guests to go ashore by zodiac. Amid the 42km of beaches (protected as Canada’s 43rd national park) guests can explore shipwrecks and abandoned settlements. Finish with a journey across The Gully- a vast Marine Protected Area based 200km off the coast of Sable Island- to the French territory of Saint-Pierre, before heading back to St John’s.
For more information please visit www.discover-the-world.co.uk/