Eight once-in-a-lifetime wildlife safaris, from Bengal tigers in India to orangutans in the Borneo rainforest

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Wildlife safaris. Asiatic leopards in Sri Lanka. Photo by Richard Denyer.
Wildlife safaris. Asiatic leopards in Sri Lanka. Photo by Richard Denyer.

Safaris don’t just mean Africa. The top eight wildlife safaris around the world including turtles in the Galapagos Islands and swimming with blue whales in Sri Lanka.

The word safari conjures images of the sweeping plains of Africa, but there are incredible chances to observe wildlife all over the world, both on land and in the water.

Will Bolsover, founder of Natural World Safaris, shares eight of his top wildlife trips.

DISCOVER RICH WILDLIFE AND A CONSERVATION PROJECT IN BORNEO

Orangutan reaching for camera Kalimantan safari travel
Borneo: a destination of a lifetime and now you can visit the Orangutan sanctuary

Borneo has a wealth of wildlife to discover, with the chance to both relax and be exhilarated. Start an adventure by getting up close and personal with orangutan’s at the beautiful Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort. From there, get your hiking shoes on and head to Mount Kinabalu, where you can trek to the summit, rest at the hot springs and explore trails and caves.

Enter the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and move on to the wild Kinabatangan River for incredible wildlife sightings, including more orangutans, proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, crocodiles and more.

Finish the safari in the stunning rainforest conservation area, Danum Valley, which is home to a huge array of wildlife and was set up to protect the area from logging.

WALK THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS AND TRACK PUMAS IN CHILE

Green sea turtle in Galapagos islands
A green sea turtle in the Galapagos Islands

Discover the wonder of South America and its incredible wildlife on a journey through three countries. Start the adventure in Ecuador, exploring the capital city of Quito, then discover the Galapagos Islands and the wondrous wildlife that calls them home, including land iguanas, Nazca boobies, blue footed boobies, the waved albatross and much more.

Galapagos wildlife is unafraid of humans, allowing you truly close-up encounters. After exploring the Galapagos Islands and witnessing the remarkable wildlife, your final stop will be in Chile, where you will go in search of the elusive puma in Torres del Paine National Park.

COME FACE-TO-FACE WITH THREE BIG CAT SPECIES IN INDIA

Wildlife safaris. Asiatic leopards in Sri Lanka. Photo by Richard Denyer
Asiatic leopards pop down the road to the corner shop for a pint of milk

Fulfil a popular dream of witnessing big cats in their natural environment, and go in search of snow leopards, tigers, and Asian leopards in their unique terrains. You can experience different safari styles by sleeping in both camps and with local people in homestays.

You’ll spend your days tracking snow leopards in their natural environment, then move on to Delhi, India, to search for the biggest of the big cats, the Bengal tiger. Then the trip takes you to Yala National Park, Sri Lanka, home to the highest known concentration of leopards in the world.

AN ARCTIC ENCOUNTER WITH POLAR BEARS

Svalbard safari. Credit Richard Denyer
The Svalbard archipelago is home to an estimated 3,000 polar bears. Credit Richard Denyer

Climb on board the smallest expedition ship to cruise the icy waters of Svalbard archipelago, home to an estimated 3,000 polar bears, to guarantee an intimate adventure delving straight into their hunting grounds.

You’ll sail north in search of colonies of walrus, Arctic fox, Svalbard reindeer, whales and more on the M/S Malmo, which allows close encounters with these majestic creatures in the polar bears’ principle hunting grounds.

Wildlife safaris. svalbard-polar-bear-safari photo by Richard Denyer
Travelling on the smallest expedition boat means you get up close to polar bears in the Arctic

SPOT JAGUARS AWAY FROM THE CROWDS IN BRAZIL

Wildlife safaris. Jaguar in the Pantanal in Brazil
The elusive jaguar in Brazil’s Pantanal wetland, where its numbers are fast declining

By delving deep into the largest wetland area in the world, the Pantanal, you can go in search of the elusive jaguar. The jaguar is a near-threatened species and its numbers in the wild are dramatically dropping, making a trip even more special and memorable.

The focus of the trip is to succeed in spotting the jaguar in its natural habitat. To maximise your chances, a safari can incorporate night drives, jungle treks, river boat safaris and horse riding, enabling you to see all the wonders of this beautiful part of the world.

DISCOVER THE WILD ENVIRONMENT OF THE LAST REMAINING SIBERIAN TIGERS

Wildlife safaris. Siberian tiger white
Join a Russian conservationist to track and photograph tigers in Siberia

The remote forest reserve of Durminskoye, Siberia, is prime habitat for the world’s remaining, critically endangered Amur tigers. Discover the reserve by foot, skidoo and 4×4 on a unique conservation project, setting up camera-traps along the way to capture footage of these elusive and magnificent predators. You’ll spend time with Alexander Batalov, a frontline Russian conservationist who has spent the last 20 years of his life trying to protect the rare Siberian tiger.

SWIM WITH THE MIGHTY BLUE WHALE IN SRI LANKA

Wildlife safaris. Sri Lanka. Swimming with blue whales
Swim with blue wales that are part of a Sri Lankan conservation project

Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience to swim and be photographed with one of nature’s largest mammals, the magnificent blue whale, as part of a unique conservation project with local researchers.

The project is led by blue whale expert Patrick Dykstra, who was part of the first team of photographers to locate and interact with the blue whales following the nation’s civil war. From the comforts of the stunning Weligama Bay Resort, you can spend a week exploring the ocean in search of these gentle giants and witness something that will stay with you forever.

TRACK THE ENDANGERED MOUNTAIN GORILLAS OF RWANDA

Gorillas. Safari trekking Sabyinyo Guhonda 620
Gorillas. Safari trekking in Rwanda, Photo credit Sabyinyo Guhonda

Appreciate the most dramatic views in Rwanda from the rustic luxury of Virunga Lodge, a great place to relax after the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to track the endangered Mountain Gorilla of Rwanda.

At the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, you can learn about the conservation of these amiable primates and the trials and tribulations that the staff face every day in their fight to save them.

You’ll meet local villagers who have embraced eco and cultural tourism, including a local healer, and try out the locally made instruments to get a taste of what it’s like to live in this environment.

AN ALASKAN ADVENTURE WITH THE LARGEST GRIZZLY BEARS IN THE WORLD

Go grizzly bear trekking in Alaska. Photo credit Steve Morelleo
Go grizzly bear trekking in Alaska. Photo credit Steve Morelleo

Discover the Alaskan wilderness and take a cruise on the unique Grizzly Cruiser to witness grizzly bears close-up in significant numbers in a spectacular environment.

Explore the rocky coves and vibrant coasts of the Kodiak Island and Katmai National Park through boat trips, cruisers and on foot. Bears are scattered on the shorelines, fishing, foraging, playing and fighting. This is truly a great opportunity to get a taste of the grizzly bears’ natural environment.

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