List 20 April

9 of the world's best wildlife holidays, from Sri Lanka to Costa Rica

Whether viewing rare rhino on the Masai Mara or glimpsing your first breaching whale in Colombia, these great wildlife adventures will provide wild encounters you'll never forget

1. Sri Lanka – Get close to park life

Leopard at Yala National Park (Dreamstime)

Pitstop at parks and reserves across Sri Lanka’s central highlands and southern coast on Pettitts’ Wild Sri Lanka trip. 

Spy over 100 bird species at Udawattekele Sanctuary and Yala NP, which also boasts the highest density of leopards on Earth, then comb Gal Oya NP for swimming elephants, wild boar and large game. 

A trek through Sinharaja reveals the island’s largest surviving tropical rainforest, before finishing on the coast of Galle, spotting whales and dolphins.

Who: Pettitts

When: Oct-Apr (best time to visit)

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,985 (incl flights)

 

2. Namibia – Step into a researcher’s shoes

Rhino at Etosha National Park, Namibia (Dreamstime)

Team up with African conservationists on Steppes Travel’s Big Cats, Desert Rhinos and Desert Elephants tour across Namibia. 

Track the trip’s namesake big beasts at conservancies in and around Etosha NP, while learning the methods used to protect its signature wildlife from predators and poachers. Plus, spy oryxes, giraffes and springboks on game drives and spend a day as an AfriCat Foundation researcher. It's bound to be enlightening.

Who: Steppes Travel

When: 27 May 2017

How long: 15 days

How much: From £5,590 (incl flights)

 

3. Finland – Find bears in the boreal forest


A wild bear in the forest, Finland (Dreamstime)

Spend your evenings seeking out brown bears, wolves and wolverines on Wildlife Worldwide’s Boreal Predators Photography tour. 

Base yourself beside untouched boreal forest, near Finland’s Kuikka Lake, and hole up in local hides, as wildlife snapper Bret Charman drip-feeds you tips for when the big photo ops arise.

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: 17 Jun 2017; 16 Jun 2018

How long: 6 days

How much: From £1,995 (incl flights)

 

4. India – See a trio of beasts

Tiger walking in the jungle, India (Dreamstime)

See a diverse mix of wildlife first-hand on Travel the Unknown’s Tigers, Lions & Rhinos of India tour. 

Spy Asiatic lions slinking through Gir NP, before heading to prime tiger territory in both Khana and Pench reserves. 

Finish in India’s far east at Kaziranga NP, glimpsing one-horned rhinos, sloth bears and Bengal tigers.

Who: Travel the Unknown

When: 22 & 23 Nov 2017; 11 Mar 2018

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,695 (excl intl flights)

 

5. Costa Rica – A world of wildlife in one place

Turtle in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

Geodyssey’s Costa Rica Nature Explorer tour sees you work your way from the southern jungles of Piedras Blancas NP to the wildlife refuges of Maquenque in the north, spotting everything from Tortuguero’s turtles and sloths to howler monkeys in Bosque de Paz’s cloud forests. 

In one of the world's most biodiverse countries, one that's been ahead of the curve for years on the importance of conservation, you're sure to see species, from mammals to birdlife, that will blow you away. 

Who: Geodyssey

When: Year round

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,775 (excl flights)

 

6. Brazil & Chile – Hunt a pair of big cats

Chilean puma (Dreamstime)

Get two predators for one on Naturetrek’s South America’s Big Cats tour. 

Seek out pumas against the backdrop of Chile’s Torres del Paine NP, keeping an eye out for guanacos and hog-nosed skunks. Then switch to Brazil’s Pantanal and its ‘Flotel’, taking boat safaris out in search of jaguars.

Who: Naturetrek

When: 1 & 8 Oct 2017

How long: 16 days

How much: From £6,495 (incl flights)

 

7. Colombia – From coast to jungle


Pink river dolphins (Dreamstime)

Marvel at a wealth of unforgettable marine life on Amakuna’s Wild Colombia trip. 

Journey to the lesser-seen volcanic beaches of Pacific Coast Nuquí, where river otters and Humpback whales roam off shore, before heading inland for the wetlands of Amazonian Leticia, drifting among pink river dolphins and mata-mata turtles.

Who: Amakuna

When: Year-round

How long: 9 nights

How much: From £3,100 (incl flights)

 

8. Ecuador – Capture the Galápagos on camera

Galapagos penguin (Dreamstime)

Hop onboard the Galápagos Photographic Charter with snapper Stig Brøndbo and Exodus to sail wildlife-rich waters. 

Head ashore for sea lions paddling lava-ringed pools, the mating rituals of blue-footed boobies and beach-basking marine iguanas. 

It's also worth taking to the depths to snorkel with turtles and sharks back out at sea.

Who: Exodus

When: 3 Nov 2017

How long: 11 days

How much: From £5,099 (incl flights)

 

9. Kenya – Get close to the Marsh Pride

Male lions in Maasai Mara (Dreamstime)

Brush up on your camera skills and join TV presenter and African wildlife expert Jonathan Scott on a Masai Mara Safari with Rainbow Tours. 

Custom-made 4WDs ensure everyone gets front-row views of the Marsh Pride of lions (as seen in Big Cat Diary), as well as the chance to spot wild cheetahs and wildebeest along the way.

Who: Rainbow Tours

When: 8-15 Oct

How long: 8 days

How much: From £4,595 (incl flights)

 

Main image: Brown bears playing in Finland (Dreamstime)