Top 10 Unusual Safari Destinations

Hannah Champion

27 May 2016

The best, most unusual safari destinations

Here we choose our top 10 unusual safari destinations.

We here at Natural World Safaris love to push the boundaries when it comes to offering our wildlife-loving clients new safaris!

Whether it be that they are newly accessible locations, stunning accommodations that wouldn’t spring to mind as safari destinations or parks with access to endangered creatures we want to offer you unusual yet unforgettable experiences.

1) Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Congo

Did you know, Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo lies within the second largest area of tropical rainforest in the entire world?! This relatively undiscovered park is home to western lowland gorillas as well as a range of buffalo, elephants and giant forest hogs. Not your traditional African safari destination, the Republic of Congo offers African enthusiasts something vastly different to the rolling plains of the Masai Mara or Kruger National Park. The ‘Bais’ are marshy grasslands which draw animals in with their constant water supply, so are perfect for wildlife encounters.

The best time to visit Odzala-Kokoua National Park for gorilla sightings is June to October.

2) Zakouma National Park, Chad

The rugged landscape of Zakouma National Park is one of Africa’s true remaining wildernesses. It is a real privilege to explore this park and on our Wildlife and Wilderness in Zakouma National Park safari you have the opportunity to stay at the unique Camp Nomade. Enjoy sundowners overlooking the large waterhole beside your camp before retiring to your Bedouin-style tent. Lion populations are healthy in Zakouma, as are crocodile, buffalo and elephant; this alongside a wide variety of other wildlife ensures regular encounters. Arriving at the park by Cessna Caravan you swoop over the plains in search of wildlife before you even touch down! If you’re a bird-lover Zakouma is a real paradise – just read Will Bolsover’s blog detailing his group’s numerous sightings!

The best time to visit Zakouma National Park is January to March with our small group departure leaving on March 12th 2017.

3) Ladakh, India

Lying so high up in the Indian Himalayas, one may not think of Ladakh as a safari destination. However, it is in fact one of the only remaining habitats of rare snow leopards. Travel with your expert guide, following tracks and trails of the snow leopard’s prey, to locate the big cats and perhaps even other predators such as the Tibetan wolf. A trip to the mountainous region of Ladakh will be a truly unforgettable experience: the scenery surrounding your campsite is astounding; keeping your eyes peeled for the camouflaged snow leopards is thrilling; and learning about the important snow leopard conservation that is helping to protect this rare species will ensure you return home enriched.

The best time to visit Ladakh is November to March.

4) Yukon, Canada

This remote region, just south of the Arctic Circle is home to a natural wildlife phenomenon that occurs nowhere else on earth: the “ice grizzlies”. Venture to the area surrounding the Bear Cave Mountain Camp, at the optimum time of year to explore the breath-taking Yukon Territory while watching and photographing these grizzly bears in their natural habitat. Thanks to the drop in temperature during Canada’s autumn/winter months (with water continually flowing due to thermal springs below the river) the wet fur of these huge bears freezes into icicles providing fantastic photography opportunities. Although this is an extremely remote safari destination, the experience will be worth it! Join the Ice Grizzlies of Bear Cave Mountain safari.

The best time to visit the Yukon to see the ice grizzlies is late September to November.

5) Khabarovsk, Siberian Russia

Another remote, yet unforgettable safari destination is the Durminskoye Reserve in Khabarovsk in Siberian Russia. An obscure region like this may not seem to lend itself to flora and fauna, however, it is the only place in the world that Amur tigers can be found. Conservationist, Alexander Batalov, has spent his life researching and protecting Siberian tigers and he now leads our Siberian Tiger Safari in order to teach others about his vital conservation efforts. Roam through the snowy reserve setting up camera traps and looking for notable markings as well as purely enjoying the thrill of knowing you are standing in the habitat of one of the world’s largest felines!

The best time to visit Khabarovsk is November to March, our 2017 departures leaves in February.

6) Réunion Island, Indian Ocean

Réunion Island is relatively unknown when it comes to Indian Ocean destinations but it does offer wonderful wildlife opportunities. Officially a French département, Réunion is a stunning destination with crystal clear waters, perfect for spotting the variety of marine life that surrounds the island. Between June and November each year thousands of humpback whales relocate to Réunion to give birth and nurse their offspring. Travel out by boat with your expert marine and photography guide, Patrick Dykstra, on our Swimming with Humpback Whales Safari to spend time with these majestic whales and even get in the water alongside them! After your day at sea, continue your adventurous experience with a hike through the forested, volcanic interior of the island.

The best time to visit Réunion Island is August to September.

7) North Island, Seychelles

The Seychelles are often synonymous with luxurious beach honeymoons, and although we know they are fantastic for this, we also rate them highly as a safari destination for those who are looking for a bit more than just sea and sand during their relaxing break. The impeccable North Island resort allows you to stay in pristine accommodation while enjoying wildlife encounters that are suitable for all the family. Not only can you swim with stunning marine wildlife among the coral reefs, see giant tortoises wander around the site and spot huge numbers of birds in the trees, but the owners also take it into their own hands to nurture endangered animals and reintroduce them into the wild! This is a truly unique place to combine wildlife and relaxation.

The best times to visit the North Island are April to October (with a little more wind during July/August).

8) Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania

Mentioning Tanzania as a safari destination may not seem unusual at all, however, there is more to a Tanzanian safari than the classic Serengeti game drive. Although we love looking for wildlife on the rolling plains of Tanzania’s better-known national parks, for more seasoned travellers or those just looking for something a little different, Mahale Mountains National Park offers something altogether alternative. The Mahale Mountain Range is a ruggedly beautiful area in the west of the country home to large populations of chimpanzees. Trek deep into the range in search of habituated families of chimpanzees and enjoy observing their cheeky characteristics and family dynamics! After a somewhat strenuous trek to find the chimpanzees, relax back at your luxurious camp, Greystoke Mahale, or go out onto Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest freshwater lake.

The best time to visit Mahale Mountains National Park is June to October.

9) Baffin Island, Arctic Canada

Go further than the usual Arctic Canada expeditions as you travel to the remote area of Baffin Island to experience the Great Migration of the North West Passage. This unique safari is far from anything you will experience in Africa! Staying on the floe edge in safari-inspired, tented camps, snorkel and kayak alongside hundreds of belugas and narwhals – unusual whales that many don’t even realise exist - as they migrate with their young. Transfers to and from the camp are provided by light aircraft and qamutik (Inuit sled) which gives you a fantastic opportunity to see this extraordinary landscape from above as well as experience traditional transportation methods.

The best time to visit Baffin Island for the great migration is June during the period of 24 hour daylight in the Arctic Circle.

10) Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti

Djibouti is located on the “Horn of Africa” on the north-eastern coast of Africa. This tiny country, not often frequented by travellers, is home to healthy populations of whale sharks as well as other intriguing sea life which makes it the ideal location for a marine safari. As you explore off the coast of Djibouti, you will know you are one of very few to visit this region and to experience swimming with whale sharks up close in the Gulf of Tadjoura. Not only is this marine experience unusual, the topography surrounding Djibouti City is unique too! Visit Lake Assal, a crater lake which happens to be Africa’s lowest land depression. The saline lake lies at 155m below sea level and is a vital part of the local community.

The best time to visit Djibouti to swim with whale sharks is December to January.

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