Derived from the Arabic word for a long journey, safaris date back to the 19th century and have been glamorized over the years through popular fiction and film. Now in the 21st century, the expeditions to view wildlife in their native habitat first popularized in Africa have extended into the far reaches of the planet, such as in Australia, Greenland, China the U.S and India
Lions in Africa’s savannah, penguins in Argentina and India’s protected tiger reserves are some of the world’s best nature holidays.
Here’s a list of the best 10 wildlife safari experiences of the world.
1. The Big Five in Madikwe
In South Africa’s North West Province and three hours from Johannesburg is the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, one of South Africa’s largest. Expert rangers spot lions, rhinos, leopards, elephants and buffalos among its open grasslands and rugged mountains. By night, enjoy a spot of star-gazing in tranquil surroundings.
2. Wildlife-spotting in Naivasha
Towering peaks and deep lakes form Africa’s Great Rift Valley. Spot pink pelicans on Lake Naivasha, one of Kenya’s most beautiful Rift Valley Lakes, a popular stop en route to the Big Five in the Masai Mara game reserve. The annual wildebeest river crossings from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to the Masai Mara makes this region one of the top 10 safari destinations in the world.
3. Endangered orang-utans of Borneo
In rehabilitation reserves on the tropical island of Borneo, see the gentle treetop-dwelling ape in its natural habitat among exotic flora and fauna. Visit an orang-utan sanctuary, where you can observe them at feeding time, hike jungle trails past exotic plants and spot proboscis monkeys and pygmy elephants.
4. Big cats at Periyar Tiger Reserve
See the endangered tigers at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, south India. Hike the tiger trail through dense jungle of rainforest and grasslands in this ecologically rich landscape. See endangered flora and fauna, go bamboo rafting and spot wild elephants, bison, boar and deer.
5. Wildlife in Florida’s Everglades
In the World Heritage Site of south Florida’s Everglades National Park, spot rare species like the American crocodile in mangrove swamps and the elusive Florida panther. On the water’s surface, look out for the red glow of alligators’ eyes, spot tiny grass frogs and spot deer and dolphins in this subtropical wilderness.
6. Trekking in the Amazon
Manaus, on the Rio Negro, is the departure point for Amazon tours, the world’s largest, densest rainforest jungle. Stay in treetop eco-lodges, find medicinal plants, meet indigenous tribes and enjoy late-night alligator sightings. The Amazon’s wetlands are home to over 2,200 fish species and over 250 species of amphibians and reptiles.
7. Spotting bears, dolphins and whales on Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island off Canada’s west coast is prime wildlife territory. Long Beach in Tofino is part of the Pacific Rim National Park where whale-watching is all the rage from March to May. Go sea kayaking and book guided expeditions to see black bears and bald eagles.
8. Bush safari from Alice Springs
Explore the Australian outback with bush safaris around this ancient Aboriginal land. Find wallabies, possums and 73 reptile species in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, also home to the marsupial mole, woma python and the great desert skink lizard.
9. Penguins on the Peninsula Valdés
The east-coast port city Puerto Madryn is the jumping-off point for Argentina’s Peninsula Valdés, one of the top 10 wildlife destinations in the world where elephant seals, whales and dolphins flock to this narrow peninsula. At Punta Tombo wildlife reserve, observe the world’s largest colony of Magellan penguins between September and March.
10. Bird-watching in the Pyrenees
In the Pyrenees mountain region between France and Spain is some of Europe’s best birdlife. In La Cerdanya in the eastern Pyrenees, spot the endangered lammergeier, or bearded vulture, and the European honey-buzzard while golden eagles soar over the towering peaks. Early summer is prime time for spotting butterflies.
So, now that you know about the top 10 best wildlife experiences, what are you waiting for ?