Most Wanted: Wildlife Encounters
As the other half and I look forward to our safari in Tanzania this Summer it has got me thinking about the other wildlife encounters that form part of my bucket list travels and thought I would make this part of my Most Wanted series. (Please note: all photos bar the last 2 are sourced via pinterest)
1. Gorilla Safari/Tracking
Regarded as one of the most exhilarating and rewarding wildlife experiences you can buy, trekking amongst the beautiful foliage of Rwanda and Uganda to find endangered mountain gorillas is right at the top of my most wanted list. It would be a push to be able to afford any of the trips to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat as most cost upwards of £4000 per person; so this really is a once-in-a-lifetime trip but if this is something that you felt you really wanted to do then I am sure most people would be able to work towards saving for this over an extended period of time.
2. Face to face with a polar bear
After watching the majority of the Sky Atlantic series ‘Fortitude’ (before it all got a little scary!) the beauty of seeing a polar bear amidst an Arctic landscape keeps hooking me in. Surprisingly there are a fair number of options if you wanted to take on this epic adventure. One of the more affordable options from Intrepid Travel is on board the Spitsbergen Explorer provides a wealth of other amazing highlights in addition to looking for bears such as kayaking, snow-shoeing and walrus and whale spotting.
3. Breakfast with Giraffes
I know that this is not an experience with animals in their natural habitat as such but as it’s something so unique I decided it had to have a place in this list. Giraffe Manor, in Nairobi Kenya is home to a herd of resident Rothschild giraffes who are free to roam the land surrounding this beautiful building and to also drop in on guests having their breakfast. It’s one of the only places in the world where you can interact with these animals in such a way, you can actually feed the giraffes some of your breakfast if you do want to share.
4. Walking with elephants
There has been much coverage in recent years over the detrimental impact domesticating elephants for tourist rides has and is something many tour operators have removed from their itineraries. There are still ways to get an up-close encounter with the elephants without causing any of them unnecessary stress and at the Elephant Nature Park (Thailand and Cambodia) you can volunteer to spend a day with these gentle giants and experience feeding, walking and bathing times. The majority of the elephants here have been rescued and the sanctuary does much to help ensure their welfare from arrival is paramount.
5. Babysit an Orangutan
I am so excited about this addition as this something on the list that I am actually going to do in the next few years! At the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, Sabah, Borneo you can visit the Orangutans that have been rescued from the wild due to being orphaned and brought here to become schooled in how to be a proper orangutan. For something a little more luxurious you can stay at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge on the banks of the all important Kinabatangan River in the hope of seeing Orangutans in their natural habitat.
And to finish off I thought I would add a picture of one of the most remarkable wildlife encounters I have had to date. On our honeymoon to Mexico last year we debated whether or not we should book onto one of the whale shark swimming tours as I had read some really grim accounts of huge numbers of boats circling one whale shark in the hope of ensuring tourists would be able to swim with them. After extensive research I decided we had to do it but only if we booked with a reputable company such as The Whale Shark Daddy, Cancun. It was an amazing experience to swim (or try and swim – whale sharks are very fast!) alongside such amazing creatures and the other half and I were both incredibly moved by it.