Ticked off the big five? There are plenty of other animals around the world to fascinate adventurous travellers.
Polar Bears in Churchill
With his huge size, thick white coat and almost magical appearance, the polar bear is the undisputed king of the snow. Every Autumn, hundreds of the big white bears descend on the Canadian town of Churchill, preparing for their migration north, deep into the ice and snow. Wildlife Adventures have a range of polar bear watching trips, for all levels of enthusiast. Combine your time bear spotting on the ice with cultural tours of the town, or commit to the cold and head out to the Tundra Buggy Lodge at Polar Bear Point, with your days spent out on the Tundra in the eponymous buggy.
Polar Bear itineraries from CAN$7295 per person.
The Life Aquatic at Heron Island
For diversity – and sometimes downright weirdness – you’ve got to delve deeper. Deeper underwater, that is. The Great Barrier Reef is possibly the best diving site in the world. Formed of 2,900 individual reefs, it covers an area of 2,600 miles and is home to an amazing array of marine life, from whales to crocodiles, from clownfish to Great Whites. Heron Island is one of the best diving spots, a natural coral cay 89kms off the coast of Queensland – actually on the reef. The island is the perfect spot for either an amazing family trip, or a romantic escape: sandy beaches, a luxury resort with lots of room options, spa and several restaurants. Plus, one cute touch is the ability to check in at the marina when you arrive, so you can immediately don your gear and get into the water.
Rates from AUS$314 per room per night.
Whales in South Africa
South Africa might be most famous for its safaris, but it is also one of the best places in the world for spotting whales. Last Word Long Beach is a stylish six-room hotel on 8km of sand on the south coast of the country, just a 30minute drive from Cape Town. During whale season (July to October, when the whales come to this area annually to mate and calve in the Indian Ocean), the hotel offers day trips to nearby Hermanus, for land and sea based spotting trips, where you’ll see Southern Right, Humpback and Killer Whales. And if that’s not enough whale action, the annual Whale Festival in Hermanus (24-28 September) plays host to a range of culinary, artistic and musical events.
Rates from ZAR 3,500 per person per night.
Bird watching in St Lucia
After you’ve roamed land and sea, there’s only one place left to look – in the air. Bird watching has been stealthily gaining in popularity over the past years, leaving images of anoraks and binoculars firmly in the past. For a real dose of avian glamour, head to one of the most romantic luxury resorts in the Caribbean, Anse Chastanet in St Lucia. The island is home to many tropical birds, several unique to St Lucia such as the St Lucia Parrott and bright green and orange St Lucia Pewee. The birds are there all year round, either in the nearby forests or visiting the hotel! However, from 1-15 October 2010 Marty Kenefick, renowned Caribbean based ornithologist and author, will be hosting bird watching events.
7 nights with ITC Classic from £2,585 per person; Tweet Package from £287 per person and can be added to any stay of 7 nights or more.
Cruising the Galapagos
This tiny group of volcanic islands 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador, are home to all sorts of amazing creatures, such as giant Galapagos tortoises, iguanas, flamingos, penguins, blue footed boobies and the famous Darwin finches. The best way to get around is by boat, and Scott Dunn offer luxury accommodation onboard La Pinta. As well as outside cabins for all 48 guests, the ship has sky bar, gym, jacuzzi and sundeck, as well as a natural history library for when you want to brush up on your facts. One of the magical things about these islands is the fearless nature of many of the species that inhabit them, giving travellers unique opportunities to get closer to the animals, both on land and sea.
£4395 pp for 2 nights at Villa Colonna (b&b) and 7 nights on La Pinta (fb inc. excursions) with all flights, taxes, and transfers.
Orangutans in Borneo
Whether they are our closest relatives or not, there is something fascinating about the calm, stately-looking orangutan. The only place to see these magnificent apes is in Indonesia and Malaysia, where they live in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo rescues abused or orphaned orangutans and teaches them how to live in the wild. Head here to learn more about the species on expert-led day and nighttime treks. Responsible Travel run several Borneo packages which involve activities from photography to conservation. The Orangutan Conservation Holiday involves tours with experts from the Orangutan Foundation UK to maximise your chances of seeing one of the orange apes in the wild.
12 day orangutan conservation trip from £2,595 per person.
Brown Bears in Slovenia
You don’t have to jet off to exotic locales to see amazing wildlife. Slovenia might not leap to mind when planning an animal-themed trip, but it is home to 15,000 animal species and 3,200 plant species, including one of the most stable and important brown bear populations in Europe. Just Slovenia’s bear-watching holiday takes travellers to the Javornik forest. Staying in a family-run farm-hotel, you’ll get the opportunity to head out at dusk in a 4×4 to go bear watching. There are about 600 brown bears in Slovenia, so the chances of seeing one is pretty high. A longer trip also enables you to study photography of the species.
3 day bear watching trip from £523 per person.