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Animal Adventures: Five Great Wildlife Experiences

by andrew August 2010 - last edited February 2013 by Community Manager

In a wide world full of diversity, there are many amazing wildlife-based holidays to be had. Here we've rounded up our five favourite animal experiences, the best we think the planet has to offer, from the jungles to the plains and wide-open seas.

 

Tiger Tours in Northern India

The tiger is the true king of the big cats and its endangered and mythical status makes it even more intriguing for the animal enthusiast. The indescribable awe - that mixture between wide-eyed-wonder and frozen-to-the-spot fear – that accompanies a close 'meeting' with this mightiest of mammals is a feeling many of us dream of.

 

Tiger at Ranthambore National Park by Koshyk on Flickr

Tiger at Ranthambore National Park by Koshyk on Flickr

 

Since these magical creatures became so rare, tiger conservation has thankfully gone into overdrive, and so the best way to see them in the wild is at one of India’s national parks/reserves. Two of the best, Jim Corbett National Park and Ranthambore National Park, are in the north of the country (the Bengal tiger's natural habitat) with relatively easy access from Delhi. Corbett Park is also one of the few reservations with onsite accommodation, and offers suggestions of customisable 'Tiger Trail' tours. While tiger spotting generally requires a lot of time and patience, both these parks are additionally blessed with an almost unfathomable array of animals, including leopards, crocodiles, rare species of deer and an abundance of beautiful birdlife.

 

Visit the Orangutans in Borneo

Our other favourite (and more friendly) orangey endangered animal is of course the orangutan. Once again, for most people to see such a creature in its home surroundings requires something of a trip, but what a trip! The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, where orphan orangs are reared ("survival training") for release into the wild, is one of the marvels of modern conservation and sightings are guaranteed at feeding time.

 

Orangutan mother and baby by Dcubillas on Dreamstime

 

The main draw of Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo, may be our furry primate cousins, but it's a heaven-on-earth location anyway, with diverse flora and fauna and almost endless adventure opportunities amongst its mountains, jungle and beautiful beaches. If you’re wowed by wildlife and want to get really close to nature, make it more than a daytrip and stay at the Sepilok Nature Resort, just 5 minutes from the centre.

 

The Great Migration

Wildebeest (gnu) may not be among the world’s prettiest animals, but along with several thousand (more aesthetically pleasing) zebra, they are part of what is arguably nature’s greatest spectacle, The Great Migration. This annual event is not just something to see, but also hear and feel as more than a million sets of hooves rumble across the plains of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania, up to Kenya’s Maasai Mara.

 

Wildebeest crossing the Mara River in Kenya

 

Like most natural phenomena, the migration runs to a slightly unpredictable schedule. However, its circular nature and the sheer volume of the herds, mean the chances of a good safari experience are high between July and October. Perhaps the most spectacular sights are the crossings of the Grumeti (Tanzania, around July) and the Mara (Kenya, around September) rivers, where the real life-and-death drama of it all unfolds.

 

Swim with the Dolphins of Kaikoura

Swimming with dolphins: it's one of those classic things-to-do-before-you-die clichés, but it's true and the Kaikoura Dolphin Experience is the one, the real deal. This is true eco-tourism, done, as the organisers put it "on the dolphins' own terms", in their own environment with no artificial enticement. Luckily, for the visitor no such underhand tactics are necessary, as the coastline around Kaikoura, on New Zealand’s South Island is teaming (podding?) with the dusky dolphins, a highly sociable species, known for showing off their acrobatic skills.

 

Dusky dolphin in Kaikoura

 

Tours with the Experience are open to passive viewers as well as swimmers, but who'd want to miss an open ocean experience with such unusual and intelligent company?

 

Dolphin Encounter from DolphinEnc on Vimeo.

 

The Great Grizzly Getaway

Beautiful British Columbia is Canada's adventure paradise, full of unspoiled and unending wilderness and the primary place to see North America’s most famous and formidable land predator, the grizzly bear. The best way to see them is to take a seaplane from gorgeous Vancouver Island to the remote edges of the Great Bear Rainforest and stay for a few days in their neck of the woods. There, surrounded by conifers and coastal waters, at either Grizzly Bear Lodge on Knight Inlet or at the Great Bear Lodge, you can take daily trips with the experts and get to know the grizzlies (at close hand but from a safe enough distance). Tours are carefully organised around the bears' seasonal habits, but the prime time is autumn, with good chances for furry fishing action as the salmon make their annual run.

 

Grizzly Bear bathing in British Columbia by Karoline Cullen

 

The forest is also home to black bears, grey wolves, otters and bald eagles, while the waters around Vancouver Island are noted for whale – including killer whale - watching opportunities as well as sea kayaking.

 

For Tiger trips and The Great Migration, you can book with Virgin Atlantic for direct flights from London to both Delhi and Nairobi.

Of course, the above are just our personal picks, what are yours? Any tips or recommendations for animal adventures? Please let us know in the comments below. 


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August 2010
That video brings back memories. I did this dolphin swim in 2004, one of the very best days of my life! No feeling like it on earth... the dolphins come and swim alongside you, completely of their own volition. As far as I remember, only about 12 or 13 people are allowed in the water at a time, and they weave in and out of you, mimicking your movements, swimming right next to you and then leaping up into the air. Under the water you can hear their funny clicks and squeaks, and you're encouraged to sing back to them down your snorkel. It really is an absolutely amazing and special experience. Absolutely frigid in winter though! But worth every shiver.
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SouthAfricaE
August 2010
Published on August 6th, 2010 by Andrew Bowman We recently posted a piece on the ultimate Animal Adventures, featuring some of the most exciting and interesting encounters across four continents. But if you
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Ilya
April 2011
The thing about the orangutans in Borneo is that not that far from the sanctuary you can actually spot them in their natural (well, at least what's left of it) habitat; along the banks of the Kinabatangan River (only a 3 to 4 hour 4x4 drive from Sandakan). Often, travelers combine a visit to Sepilok with numerous other great eco-tours.
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opsingh
April 2012
nice posting keep it up ur blog. i like ur blog every time
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faizlimra
April - last edited April Moderator

awesome post, i love it, I love the tiger sighting in dudhwa or ranthambore, and guys the video that you offered here is really enjoyable..

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About the author: andrew

Andrew Bowman

Andrew is an occasional contributor to the Virgin Atlantic blog. He lived in the Japanese countryside for two years until he could no longer resist the pull of London's galleries, pubs and clubs. He likes to pretend he can speak Japanese and also sometimes writes about music.