Want to see some top wildlife in 2018? We've scoured the latest tour operator brochures to bring you their newest and most exciting wildlife trips for 2018
Travel is often slow going across Alaska’s raw landscapes, and getting close to its wildest sights can take time and a gift for logistics. Pack more in on Grand American Adventures’ six-day Alaska & Kenai In-Depth tour, as it narrows its sights on the Kenai Peninsula, a wild expanse of creaking glaciers, wildlife-packed bays – including the occasional breaching whale – and nature red in tooth and claw. From Seward, hikes out to the Exit Glacier and wilderness kayaking the waters of Kachemak Bay puts you in the heart of the wild, but the true highlight is a float plane into the dozing volcanoes and ice fields of Lake Clark NP, where bears are lured to its forested shores by the splashing salmon in the waters.
Who: Grand American Adventures
When: 23 Jun, 21 Jul, 18 Aug & 8 Sep 2018
How long: 6 days
How much: From £2,769 (excl intl flights)
If you want to discover the wilds of south-western Africa sans sleeping bag, Tucan Travel’s Botswana & Namibia trip twists through delta and dunes in comfort as it winds west from Livingstone. From there, follow the Chobe River, gliding banks lined with elephants, hippos, giraffe and sable, crossing into the plains, forests, swamps and marsh of Chobe NP, and on to the reed-fringed waterways of the Okavango Delta. A new private lodge stay in Elephant Sands looks out over private waterholes offering a close-up on its pachyderms, then cross into Namibia for game drives in Etosha NP as you make for the coastal streets of colonial Swakopmund, sandwiched between towering dunes and the glistening Atlantic.
Who: Tucan Travel
When: Selected dates throughout the year
How long: 13 days
How much: From £1,219 (plus a local payment of $400 [£300]; excl intl flights)
With most visitors choosing to hop these far-flung islands on strictly regulated cruises, the chance to ride, paddle and walk one of the world’s great wildlife destinations on World Expeditions’ Galapagos trip serves up a neat twist. Pedal to El Garrapatero Beach, a glorious ride through lush midlands and arid lowland, before kayaking its twinkling bay. Then head to Tintoreras Island and the chance to spy endemic marine iguanas from the shore and sun-baked penguins by boat, before diving in to snorkel among them. Hikes up the Sierra Negra Volcano yield thrilling crater views while the packed beaches of San Cristóbal thrum to the jostling of hundreds of resident sea lions.
Who: World Expeditions
When: Selected dates from 4 Jan 2018
How long: 8 days
How much: From £2,990 (excl intl flights)
Cambodia is traditionally ‘the historical one’ – all Khmer ruins and creeper-clad temples. But InsideAsia Tours’ Wild Cambodia turns that on its head, as it sweeps through the usual Angkor sites before discovering the region’s reserves and ecotourism projects as well. From the flooded grasslands north of Siem Reap, where Bengal florican (a critically endangered bustard) tenderly step the swollen land, to spending the night in a ‘monkey pod’ and tracking gibbons at dawn, there’s chances aplenty to get closer to nature. The trip culminates in a visit to the Elephant Valley Project, where hikes into the valley afford the opportunity to shadow these pachyderms – freed from their logging past.
Who: InsideAsia Tours
When: Flexible dates
How long: 15 nights
How much: From £3,300 (excl intl flights)
When there’s good conservation news, it’s worth celebrating. Malawi’s new elephant sanctuary in Nyika NP is one such example, with more than 30 pachyderms now resettled there. The chance to meet them on Mountain Kingdoms’ Nyika Plateau & Liwonde Walking Safari trip isn’t one to pass up lightly, as you combine game drives with a three-day trek across the rolling Nyika grasslands – dotted with zebra, reedbuck and eland – to the colonial outpost of Livingstonia. From there, trips to Lake Malawi’s villages and walks into the Rift Valley reveal another world before you head south to Liwonde NP, where a three-day safari trail traverses bush, plains and riverine forest as you wild-camp among its buffalo and impala.
Who: Mountain Kingdoms
When: 29 Apr & 8 Sep 2018
How long: 16 days
How much: From £4,395 (incl intl flights)
From the capital of Minsk, travel into the wilds of Belarus to spy Eurasian wolves in their natural habitat with Explore’s Wolf Watching in Belarus trip. Based in an eco station in the Naliboki Forest, near to the Volga River, from there dawn and nighttime treks pick up the pack’s scent, zeroing in on dens and tracks leading deep in the forests, all the while keeping an eye out for native beavers, bison, eagles and deer.
When: 22 Aug, 19 Sep, 3 Oct & 12 Dec 2018
How long: 5 days
How much: From £935 (incl int flights)
ATI Holidays’ Celebrating Etosha’s Nelson trip marks Etosha National Park’s 1907 creation by exploring the park’s original area, which once stretched 100,000 sq km to the Skeleton Coast. Since then, it has been broken up into unique community conservancies. Start in the colonial Windhoek before heading to the Desert Rhino Camp to track the last freeroaming black rhino population in the world, then spend the night on the Skeleton Coast – in the first lodge to be built among the dunes – with fine views. Finish among the big cats of Ongava and Okonjima reserves, with a chance to get close to some of Namibia big game.
Who: ATI Holidays
When: Flexible dates from 1 Jun 2018
How long: 13 days
How much: From NAD75,970 (£4,100; excl intl flights)
For those who thought that Thailand had no secrets left, Audley’s Fascinating Thailand trip heads from the city bustle of Bangkok up into the Tenasserim Hills of Prachuap Khiri Khan province. Here, the lesser visited Kui Buri NP sees safari drives out into the borders with Myanmar where you can sight wild elephants roaming its forests. The animals are used to the 4WDs, so it’s a rare chance to see these creatures in their element. This is followed by a trip to Kanchanaburi, travelling by rail and boat through an area riven with caves, lakes, ruins and temples, and where the sanctuary of Elephant World lets you get even closer to its remarkable residents.
When: Year round
How long: 14 nights
How much: From £2,995 (incl intl flights)