Wildlife

World's Best Safaris and Wildlife Encounters

World's Best Safaris and Wildlife Encounters

Keen wildlife enthusiasts are always eager to include memorable wildlife encounters in their travels. Seeing wild animals up close and personal in their natural habitat is no longer the exclusive right of documentary filmmakers. It’s possible for ordinary travellers to access the natural world like never before. From the tropical jungles of Costa Rica, the savannah plains of Africa, the Arctic tundra of Canada and the ice-hopping penguins of Antarctica, the choice is endless. 

Here are our favourites:

The thundering migration of Kenya and Tanzania...

A truly once in a lifetime experience. The stuff wildlife documentaries are made of, a safari to the plains of Kenya in search of the thundering wildebeest migration is a must.

WHEN?

The best time to enjoy the migration is between the months of September to October where you can hope to see the herds crossing the mighty Mara River with predators in tow and crocodiles waiting below, and the months of January - March when the calving begins on the southern Serengeti Plains. 

WHERE TO STAY?

One of our favourites is the perfectly positioned Rekero Camp – located at the confluence of the Mara and Talek Rivers you have the opportunity to even enjoy a migration river crossing from the front lawn! 

BEST NATIONAL PARK?

The migration spreads throughout the Mara-Serengeti eco-system on a never-ending annual loop, however the best place to see the migration in Kenya if you want to see some action is along the banks of the Mara or Talek Rivers in the southern region of the Masai Mara Reserve.

The swinging orangutans of Borneo's rainforest...

The old man of the forest has to be on every wildlife lovers bucket list. 

Journey to the tropical island of Borneo (3rd largest island in the world) and marvel at these gentle primates as they feast on food at the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary or head to the Kinabatangan River where you can enjoy river safaris as orangutans swing through the trees on the river banks, or alternatively the stunning Danum Valley where you can explore the rainforest on foot…even from a 50m high canopy walkway! 

When?

June through to September are the easiest months to track the movements of orangutans. 

Where to Stay?

Myne Resort is our little hideaway that we like along the banks of the Kinabatangan River – there are no truly luxurious lodges along the river however Myne does take you away from the madding crowds. 

Best National Park?

For luxury and experience it has to be the stunning Danum Valley with rainforest walks, canopy walkways and one of the (if not the) highest volumes of orangutans, making it one of the best places to see orangutans in the wild.

The bizarrely exotic isles of the Galapagos...

A Noah’s Ark of wildlife, these islands are ideal for avid wildlife enthusiasts and perfect for that ultimate family wildlife holiday. The norm is to spend most of your time on a boat moving from island to island, however why not split this up with some time on land at one of the boutique properties that are slowly appearing. 

When?

A holiday to the Galapagos Islands is actually fairly flexible as long as when you avoid the month of September when most boats are dry docked for maintenance, etc. 

Where to Stay?

We love the Galapagos Safari Camp, a unique property offering an “African Safari” experience whilst still accessing the weird and wonderful wildlife of the Galapagos. Our favourite boats from which to explore the islands are the M/V Evolution and the M/Y Grace – the latter named after her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco.

The breathtaking gorillas of Rwanda...

A truly once in a lifetime experience. Spending time with some of the last remaining mountain gorillas is a real treat, ideal for a honeymoon safari, anniversary celebration or family safari (as long as everyone is over the age of 15!). Only a short drive from Kigali, Volcanoes National Park provides slightly easier gorilla tracking than in neighbouring Uganda. One of the more rewarding safari experiences as you track the gorillas on foot for up to 8hrs through the forested slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes. 

When?

You can track the gorillas year round although the wetter months of March – May and October – November do make it slightly more slippery underfoot. Our favourite months are February and September when you are out of the peak holiday season and the weather is still good. 

Where to Stay?

Virunga Lodge has to be our personal favourite with our MD adding to the finishing touches to some of the build when he worked for the property’s owners. Located at 2,300m and views over the chain of Virunga Volcanoes this is a stunning location. 

Best National Park?

Volcanoes National Park is THE place to go for a mountain gorilla safari. Within easy reach of Kigali (the capital and main international flight hub of Rwanda) with a short 3hr drive, you can be on the doorstep of the gorillas within only a few hours of arriving in the country. Volcanoes National Park provides slightly easier tracking of gorillas than in Uganda with slightly less dense undergrowth and, not always, less steep terrain!

The elusive tigers of India...

Ok, so Africa has the largest volume of game on the planet and is pretty much unbeatable as a wildlife safari destination…India however, has the tiger. Seeing a tiger in the wild is one of the most heart stopping moments you can imagine. Tigers are now so rare that seeing one of these beasts up close and personal is a treat to say the least – having said that, Natural World Safaris has only ever had one client that has travelled with us that has NOT seen a tiger in the wild. 

When?

You can track tigers in the wild any time between October and April with the best months being the latter months as the temperatures climb, water sources are scarce and the high grass dies back. 

Where to Stay?

Baghvan Lodge and Banjaar Tola are some beautifully appointed luxury properties, whereas the likes of Shergah Tented Camp are personally run and have some excellent resident guides. 

Best National Park?

Our personal favourite is Kanha National Park; one of the larger parks, Kanha reminds us of a traditional African safari park covering a larger surface area and having much more of a wilderness feel to it.

The exotic wildlife of the Costa Rican jungles...

Great value for money lending itself to being a great honeymoon or family holiday destination. Mist shrouded forests, volcanic peaks, white water rafting and beaches to relax on, Costa Rica really does offer the adventure traveller a bit of everything. 

When?

September and October are probably the wettest months so try and avoid these; if you want to witness green and hawksbill turtles then the best months are from July to September, with humpback whales arriving from November to December to start their mating. 

Where to Stay?

Our favourite place to stay is the renowned Lapa Rios Lodge due to its proximity to the Corcovado National Park.  

Best Area to Visit?

Osa Peninsula has to take the title with tropical birdlife, dense rainforests and primates galore.

The wildlife and wilderness of the Arctic north...

A true Arctic wilderness and one of the best places to see polar bears in the wild. Whilst Arctic Canada is also good for polar bear viewing, Svalbard provides a truly wilderness feel as you spot the bears out on the ice floes scavenging for food. 

When?

For a real life Arctic cruise then the best months are June to September with the pack ice being more present in the earlier months. If you are looking to circumnavigate Spitsbergen then go for the latter months when the ice has melted and accessibility proves easier. 

Where to Stay?

We offer a variety of Arctic expedition ships however for us the smaller the better; our favourites include the M/S Stockholm, the M/S Malmo and the M/S Freya – book early though as these book up well in advance! Other favourites include the Ocean Nova or M/S Quest

Best Area to Visit?

It’s all good! This really comes down to what you want to see; if you want polar bears with a white background then earlier in the season is going to be better, if you want to circumnavigate Spitsbergen then the latter months will be your best bet!

Track the King of the Arctic...

Spending time with the largest land carnivore in the world is not an experience to underestimate. Whether it be in Arctic Canada, the far reaching areas of Svalbard, on foot, vehicle or by boat, this is a real life experience you will not forget! 

When?

If heading to the Arctic north of Canada then the months on the southern shores of Hudson Bay you should visit are October – November, for mothers and newborn cubs however there is a small window of weeks in March. Svalbard is best in the earlier months of June and July for those white snow backgrounds! 

Where to Stay?

Watch’ee Lodge is the only option for the polar bear mother and newborn cubs as they emerge from their dens, whilst the M/S Freya is our favourite ship in Svalbard. 

Best Area to Visit?

Depending on what you want the areas differ; the shores of Hudson Bay give you great volume of sightings as the polar bears gather in anticipation of the waters freezing over so they can set out across the ice in search of food (unsuspecting seals!); Watch’ee Lodge is probably one of the only areas in the world where you can see polar bear mothers exiting their dens with their newborn cubs…

Join grizzlies fishing the salmon run...

Often only seen in wildlife documentaries and not really considered as an actual wildlife trip, grizzly bear watching holidays are an underestimated wildlife thrill. Whether watching from a small boat as you float down river and bears dive for salmon in the running waters, or tracking them on foot as they graze the sedges and grasslands of riverine floodplains, seeing a grizzly up close and personal is certainly an experience that you will not forget. 

When?

June through to September is one of the best times to see grizzlies on our Kodiak Bear Tour as the grizzlies descend from the higher altitudes with cubs in tow, graze the grasslands and then fish the rivers. A huge amount of interaction can be seen during these months as mothers protect their cubs, dominant males protect their fishing rights…and we…keep a low profile! 

Where to Stay?

Our grizzly cruiser is the only place to stay in this region that will provide you with the best access to grizzly viewing. Being mobile, our boat means you can follow the grizzlies along the coastline and check out where the best action is! Another slightly cosier place to stay is the lovely Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, located on the banks of the Atnarko River in the remote Bella Coola Valley. 

Best Area to Visit?

It has to be Katmai National Park – this really is the only place that you can get up close and personal on foot with grizzlies under the guidance of world class bear specialist Brad Josephs.

Track the ghost of the mountains...

A truly once in a lifetime experience! Tracking the ghosts of the mountains in their own terrain is both hard work and utterly rewarding. 

When?

The best time to enjoy a snow leopard safari is during the months of January to March. This is when the temperatures drop (often to minus 30 celsius!) and the snow leopards themselves descend from the higher altitudes in search of their prey. Sightings are often at a fairly long distance, however spotting these elusive beasts even if it is through a spotting scope is truly remarkable. 

Where to Stay?

Well there is not really much choice! Throughout the trip you stay primarily at a “basecamp” and follow the movements of the leopards in the region meaning that you may focus on different valleys or ridgelines on different days. Subject to sightings, we often mix this up with some local village homestays which affords you the privilege of spending time getting to know the local customs and traditions as well as the snow leopards! 

Best Area to Visit?

For us this is ultimately the Ladakh region of Northern India and Hemis National Park. Home to a variety of snow leopard individuals, we have a 100% sighting record to date.

Want to have one of these incredible wildlife encounters?

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