Spot polar bears in Spitsbergen, Norway with Exodus (Paul Goldstein)
List Words : Clare Wilson | 18 March

Top 9 trips to take… for wildlife

Swim with whales, walk with chimps, snap polar bears or help conserve leopards – here are the nine best trips if you want to walk on the wild side

1. Tanzania

Spot chimps on a secret island

Combine Tanzania’s premier park with an uninhabited enclave that’s virtually untouched by tourism on Expert Africa’s BBC Wildlife Tanzania Safari. After three days of sublime game-viewing in the Serengeti, fly to Rubondo Island on Lake Victoria. Here, you can hike in search of wild chimpanzees, take boat safaris and fish for Nile perch.

The island’s shores, forests, marshes and remoteness make for a completely different experience to the African savannah.

Who: Expert Africa
When: tailormade
How long: 7 nights
How much: from £3,703 pp (incl flights)

2. China and Borneo

Tick off two wild wonders

Get two wonderful wildlife experiences in one on Bamboo Travel’s The Exotic Wildlife of the Orient trip. First stop is Chengdu, Western China, to volunteer with giant pandas. Then head to Borneo: stay on Turtle Island, meet orang-utans at Sepilok and explore the Kinabatangan River and Danum Valley. 

Plus, Bamboo Travel will donate US$50 to the WWF for every trip booked.

Who: Bamboo Travel
When: tailormade
How long: 16 days
How much: from £3,295 pp (incl flights)

3. Baja California, Mexico

Meet the friendliest giants

According to zoologist, conservationist, award-winning writer, TV presenter and Wanderlust’s contributing editor (phew!) Mark Carwardine, watching grey whales is one of the world’s greatest wildlife experiences. Each year these inveterate travellers – the ocean’s friendliest giants – migrate along the entire length of the western North American coast.

And for several months, practically the entire world population of greys gathers to mate and calve in four magical, mangrove-lined lagoons in the warm, shallow waters of San Ignacio, Baja California.

Wildlife Worldwide’s Festival of Whales trip – led by Mark – coincides with this spectacle, and includes experts talks and workshops as well as two boat trips each day. These excursions allow you to get up close and personal with these playful, trusting creatures, which will float right by, waiting to be scratched and tickled!

Who: Wildlife Worldwide
When: 20 & 26 Feb 2014
How long: 9 days
How much: from £3,095 pp (excl flights)

4. Sri Lanka

Delight in diversity

Explore Sri Lanka’s lush rainforests and teeming seas on Cox & Kings’ Wonders of the Wild. The trip introduces you to endemic birds, leopards and wild elephants in Uda Walawe and Yala national parks, to hatching turtles in Kosgoda and to blue and sperm whales off the coast of Galle.

Who: Cox & Kings
When: tailormade (Oct-Mar best for whales) 
How long: 12 days
How much: from £2,207 pp (incl flights)

5. Madagascar

Go wild for two weeks

Meet loads of lemurs – and much more – on Rainbow Tours’ convenient new Madagascar Wildlife Discovery Express. This group trip explores the island’s diverse landscapes and wildlife, and fits perfectly into a two-week window. 

Who: Rainbow Tours
When: 3 May & 30 Aug 2013
How long: 12 nights
How much: from £3,350 pp (incl flights)

6. South Africa

Learn about leopards

Tracks Safaris’ Leopard Conservation Safari gives you the unique chance to spend time with a local leopard charity, where you’ll go behind the scenes and help with research. There’s time for a traditional safari in Kruger too. 

Who: Tracks Safaris
When: tailormade departures 
How long: 14 days
How much: from £2,595 pp (incl flights)

7. Dominican Republic

Swim with humpback whales

There are only a handful of places in the world where swimming with humpbacks is permitted – the perfect reason to take join Naturetrek’s new Swim with Humpback Whales in the Dominican Republic trip. A mix of magical encounters and Caribbean sun. 

Who: Naturetrek
When: 14 Mar 2014
How long: 10 days
How much: from £4,295 pp (incl flights)

8. Indonesia

Find the famous five

Explore Borneo, Sumatra and Komodo with Steppes Discovery. On its Indonesia Wildlife – Asia’s Big 5 trip, you’ll walk in tiger territory, track orang-utans, spy Komodo dragons and snorkel with rays. 

Who: Steppes Discovery
When: 16 Jun & 8 Sept 2013
How long: 12 days
How much: from £2,995 pp (excl flights)

9. Norway

Spot polar bears in Spitsbergen

The spectacular Svalbard Archipelago is a captivating land of peaks and glaciers. Take to the wilderness with Exodus and its photographic expert Paul Goldstein to spot and snap polar bears, walrus, foxes and birdlife on the Spitsbergen in Depth trip. 

Who: Exodus
When: 15 Jul 2013
How long: 13 days
How much: from £3,650 pp (excl flights)