DISPATCHES FROM EXOTIC LANDS
With thirty years’ experience in planning wildlife and wilderness holidays to some of the planet’s most thrilling destinations, we struggled to pick just five of our favourite experiences! When it comes to bespoke travel almost anything is possible, from encounters with weird and wonderful species that virtually no one has heard of, to iconic experiences such as witnessing the Great Migration on a tailor-made Serengeti safari tour.
We hope the following provides some ideas for inspiration…
Camp with penguins on an Antarctic ice shelf
Early Antarctic explorers returned from their voyages to the seventh continent with tales of a magnificent, ice-covered land teeming with life, which may seem difficult to believe when you imagine a vast white desert, presumably devoid of life. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Venturing below the Antarctic Circle presents the chance to enter a different world more rarely seen, and even if you have travelled north to the Arctic, this feels entirely different. The South feels more isolated and colder than the Arctic Circle, with far fewer traces of human settlement, great swathes of pack-ice and dreamlike icebergs. Threading through the pack ice and narrow channels you’ll be surrounding by feeding whales and lumbering seals, but camping on the pack ice amidst a colony of penguins is an experience more immersive than any other. With all the lively chatter, don’t expect a good night’s sleep, but you’ll soon forget any sleep deprivation when you’re reliving the memories and dining out on the bragging rights! Read more about our Antarctic Penguin Safari here.
Track big cats in India
As the only country where lions, tigers and leopards all inhabit the same region, India is arguably the finest ‘big cat’ destination in the world and certainly a place to rival any African wildlife safari!
Lions are notoriously tricky to see in India since their range is limited and access is tricky, but travelling to the beautiful and ancient Aravali range, you can enjoy remarkable sightings of leopards in stunning natural surroundings. Staying at the elegant Suján Jawai, you can enjoy an ‘out of Africa’ style tented safari in a wildly beautiful landscape where leopards, sloth bears and the rarely seen Indian wolf have coexisted with the vibrant Rabari herdsmen for centuries.
Tigers are the country’s most iconic species and for good reason. There are very few places on Earth you can spot this huge, majestic creature. In Pench and Kanha National Parks you can creep through the shimmering jungles of Rudyard Kipling’s imagination, tracking tigers among the whole cast of Shere Khan’s supporting characters. Meanwhile in Ranthambore you can stay in the luxurious Sher Bagh eco-camp, designed to evoke the glamour of the 1920’s Raj era, and head out on safari style game drives for the unique sightings and photographic opportunities of tigers lounging among the ruins of Ranthambore Fort.
Play with pink river dolphins in the Peruvian Amazon
Travel to Peru from Australia to voyage deep into the Amazon Basin aboard a luxury Aqua Expeditions cruise vessel, spotting a plethora of astonishing creatures – everything from tarantulas to three-toes sloths – in the company of specialist guides. Among the most sought-after species to spot is the rare and ethereal pink river dolphin, which, thanks to local folklore, is culturally protected from poaching. Local mythology says that dolphins may whisk you away to a magical underwater city if you swim with them alone, or that they morph into handsome men known as “boto encantado” to seduce women at night, but the result is that it is considered bad luck to harm the dolphins, and numbers are buoyant as a result.
Although they are considered shy creatures, in reality pink river dolphins tend to be curious and playful. On daily skiff excursions from a luxurious Aqua Expeditions expeditionary cruise vessel you are highly likely to see them jumping in and out of the water, playing with one another and checking out any visitors to their home.
Walk with the ‘Maneaters of Tsavo’ in Kenya
African wildlife safari lovers will relish this opportunity to head out into the bush for an extended period of time, traversing the land as the explorers of yesteryear would have done and finding themselves a participant, rather than an observer, of the ecosystem.
Leaving the 21st century behind, you’ll embark upon a 11-day, 100-mile (160 km) game tracking walk across the wilderness landscapes of Kenya’s Tsavo – the largest park in Africa – which is home to the biggest elephant herds in Africa. Following two of the most beautiful rivers on the continent you’ll catches ghostly relics of the First World War and pause at the place where the infamous “Maneating Lions of Tsavo” halted the British Empire in 1898.
At times adrenalin fuelled, and at others idyllically peaceful and beautifully silent, this unique safari offers a rare glimpse of the Africa first seen by the explorers on foot and showcases the African wilderness in all its glory. Read more about The Great Walk of Africa here.
Slow down with giant tortoises in the Galápagos Archipelago
Though famed for the work of Charles Darwin, the Galápagos Islands are actually named after the old pre-Roman Spanish word for tortoise, ‘galápago’. The population of giant tortoises across the archipelago was once believed to exceed a quarter of a million! Hunting reduced that number significantly, but these tortoises are now protected species and can be found on islands including Isabela, Santa Cruz, and Fernandina.
In the spirit of the ‘extreme tameness’ that Darwin noted of all the Galápagos creatures, encountering these animals is easy and rewarding and makes for an enjoyable wildlife experience for people of all ages, but especially for children. We offer a range of expeditionary cruises to the Galapagos Islands to bring you face to face with the charismatic tortoises, but if you would like to take the experience a little further, guests aboard the Aqua Expeditions Aqua Mare Galapagos cruise will be able to visit the Fausto Llerana Tortoise Centre on Santa Cruz Island to witness the conservation work by the Ecuadorian government and the Galapagos National Park to protect the tortoise population.
We offer bespoke travel arrangements and plenty of options for tailormade wildlife experiences.