12 top destinations for a wildlife holiday
Whether you like to walk, cycle or kayak, an outdoors holiday will usually offer the chance to see a wealth of wildlife, too. I’ve picked a selection of some of the best places to visit for a wildlife holiday.
Chile, South America
Magnificent mountains, both inland and coastal, as well as volcanoes and desert of Chile offer incredible views. Of course, Chile is also home to the fabulous Torres del Paine National Park.
Did you know that nowhere in this country is more than 180km wide and Chile is separated from neighbouring Argentina by the Andes Mountains?
Of particular note, are possible puma sightings in the national park. Bird watching is a must in Chile, too, and you should look out for Andean condor, Andean avocet and plovers, such as Magellanic and Diademed Sandpiper.
The coastal waters are alive with myriad marine life and inland you might see mammals such as the Andean deer and Guanaco.
This is not a cheap destination but, oh wow, it’s a fantastic one for wildlife.
Did you know?: Antarctica is the coldest, driest, windiest, iciest and highest of all the major landmasses of the world?
The landscape is incredible with vast glaciers, huge icebergs and snowy mountains. The land is circled by Southern Ocean, which is a sea that supports Antarctica’s impressive concentration of wildlife.
Every spring, as the pack-ice retreats, millions of penguins, seabirds, such as albatross, and other creatures leave the water to converge on the continent to breed and raise their young.
Namibia is country of deserts and sunshine. Did you know?: The name Namib is a Hottentot word, from Afrikaans, meaning “great plains”?
Perhaps you have heard of the Etosha Pan, often featured on wildlife documentaries on TV, and the stunning Namib Desert, which stretches along the full length of the country’s coastline.
Wildlife to travel for includes seabirds off the Skeleton Coast, massive herds of game in Etosha and seal, penguins and dolphins at Walvis Bay.
Maybe you have heard about Kazakhstan because of the Old Silk Road? The country is vast, around the size of entire western Europe and extends from the Caspian Sea to western China.
This might not seem like an obvious choice for a wildlife holiday but Kazakhstan, which is located in Central Asia, has an incredible
range of wild landscapes, away form urban areas, including huge stone and sand deserts, as well as grassy steppes. There are also many lakes. To the south-east of Kazakhstan is the magnificent Tien Shan Mountains.
Did you know?: The Tien Shan Mountains form a 1610k spine of Central Asia and are a northern extension of the Himalaya.
Waters flowing off these mountains give rise to flower-filled meadows, forests of Tien Shan Spruce and lowland Turanga. There are more than 6,000 species of flora and an amazing bird fauna.
The fourth largest island in the world and lying off the coast of East Africa, Madagascar is famous for its varied wildlife, both flora and fauna.
Madagascar is home to animals found nowhere else on earth.
Did you know?: Some 90% of all plant and animal species found in Madagascar are endemic, including lemurs?
Some of the favourite wildlife spots are the lemurs and sifakas, as well as chameleons, geckos and weevils.
Finland is famed for being a vastly under-populated country with many great lakes and islands, as well as forest and fens.
Did you know?: Finland is the seventh largest country in Europe, yet is home to just five 5 million people.
Finland has 60 native mammal species, including brown bears, wolves and elks, and some 250 breeding bird species.
The forests are home to a great deal of wildlife, including an array of owl species.
Belize, Central America
Situated in Central America, Belize is home to rainforest, savannah and mangrove coasts, as well as spectacular coral reef. It is a leading ecotourism destination.
Did you know?: English is the official language of Belize.
Wildlife fans will enjoy superb bird watching, including hummingbirds, trogons and manakins, and there are many fascinating mammals to spot.
The most southerly of the six republics that were previously part of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Macedonia became independent in 1991.
Macedonia is at the heart of the Balkans and offers an interesting place to visit thanks to a rich history and wonderful landscape.
Did you know?: Macedonia is landlocked.
There are three national parks and, for a small country, a relatively rich fauna and flora.One unusual trip to consider is the Butterflies of Macedonia through Naturetrek wildlife holidays.
The Azores, Europe
The island chain extends 600 miles in he miles Atlantic Ocean, midway between Europe and North America.
There are nine volcanic islands, which lie in an arc along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Did you know?: The highest point in the Azores is Mount Pico, at just over 2350 metres.
It’s the ocean that attracts many wildlife enthusiast, especially to spot whales, dolphins and porpoises. Some 27 species of cetacean have been recorded in the waters around the Azores, including sperm whales, blue whales and even rare beaked whales. There is also an interesting mix of bird and plant-life.
The Republic of South Africa is located, as the name suggests, in the south of the continent of Africa. The country is large and has three main geographical regions: Mountains, plateau and coast.
Did you know?: Table Mountain, one of the iconic landmarks of South Africa, is one of the oldest mountains in the world – and has more than 2,200 species of plants, 70% of which are endemic.
This means there is a diverse range of habitats and, consequently, many different animals to spot.
Some of the wildlife highlights include lions, leopards, cheetahs, leopards and several, as well as African penguins and ocean crustaceans. A top tip is to visit Kruger National Park.
The Maldives are situated to the south-west of India and are famous for beautiful beaches and coastlines.
Did you know?: There are 1192 islands in the archipelago, with just 30 inhabited.
The islands boast fabulous coral reefs with myriad marine-life. Divers and snorkelers will believe they have arrive din a wildlife dream with so much to see underwater. Expect many different species, including dolphins, whales, fish and other marine life.
An island boasting some amazing wilderness areas, there is a host of wildlife to spot. How about birds on Mount Wellington, fairy penguins on Bruny Island, a boat trip to spot seabirds, whales and dolphins, or Mount Field National Park for alpine flora and land mammals?
Tasmania’s wildlife includes wombats, wallabies, quolls and Tasmanian devils.
Did you know?: Tasmania is located 240km of Australia’s south coast.
The hardest decisions will be choosing your wildlife holiday destination. And then buying binoculars.