Two elephants and their reflections in Lake Kariba (Shutterstock)
List Words : Team Wanderlust | 30 January 2019

Wildlife wonders: 2019’s top animal spotting trips

Swing with chimps in the Ugandan jungle, spot tiger from the water in India, and sleep under the stars in Cambodia. Discover the newest ways to encounter the most amazing creatures on our planet…

1: Uganda

Call of the wild: A chimpanzee in Uganda's Kibale Forest National Park (Shutterstock)

Call of the wild: A chimpanzee in Uganda's Kibale Forest National Park (Shutterstock)

Swing with chimps in the jungle

Meet your distant relatives on a primate-tracking tour deep in the Albertine Rift with Wildlife Worldwide. Its Uganda’s Unforgettable Wildlife trip roams these dense forests to take you to some of the best ape and monkey-watching spots on the planet, from gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to cruising along the Nile through Murchison Falls on the lookout for chimps. Side trips to see the southern white rhinos at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary or to spot lions lounging in fig trees at Ishasha make worthy detours. But the real draw here is Kibale Forest National Park, home to 13 primate species, and where treks bring you face to hairy face with a family of habituated chimpanzees, who you can observe going about their daily lives deep within the forest interior for a full hour.

Who: Wildlife Worldwide (01962 302086)

When: 9 Oct 2019

How long: 14 days

How much: From £4,995 (incl int’l flights)

2: Uzbekistan

These beautiful blue-cheeked bee-eaters can be seen along the Amu-Bukhara canal (Shutterstock)

These beautiful blue-cheeked bee-eaters can be seen along the Amu-Bukhara canal (Shutterstock)

Discover the Silk Road’s wild side

Most head to Uzbekistan expecting stately squares and dazzling mosaics. And while architecture is high on the check list here, Naturetrek’s Uzbekistan’s Wildlife and Culture tour casts a wilder eye on the Silk Road favourite. Here you’ll head for the country’s oases, grasslands, wetlands and mountains, from the rocky peaks of Ugam-Chatkal National Park, where montane forests reveal lammergeier and blue whistling thrush, to exploring the banks of the Zeravshan river in search of grazing bactrian deer. There’s time to visit the mausoleums and madrasas of Samarkand and Bukhara, of course, but trips out into the Kyzylkum Desert and the Amu-Bukhara canal to catch a glimpse of black-bellied sandgrouse, blue-cheeked bee-eaters and Menetries’ warblers cast this ancient land in an altogether more natural light.

Who: Naturetrek (01962 733051)

When: 19 May 2019

How long: 10 days

How much: From £2,695 (incl int’l flights)

3: Tanzania

Tree lions: Whizz straight to the wildlife on a 4WD Serengeti safari (G Adventures)

Tree lions: Whizz straight to the wildlife on a 4WD Serengeti safari (G Adventures)

Self-powered safari

Get closer to the ‘Big Five’ than you ever have before on G Adventures’ Tanzania Active Safari, which features canoeing and walking trips in the parks and reserves, as well as 4WD game drives. In Momella Lake you’ll paddle alongside hippos and giraffes, while on foot in Empakaai Crater you’ll come eye to eye with flamingos, hyenas and buffalo. In the larger Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, a 4WD safari will whizz you straight to the wildlife action. With a group size of no more than 12, this promises to be an intimate and unforgettable trip.

Who: G Adventures (0344 272 2230)

When: Selected dates, Jun–Dec 2019

How long: 8 days

How much: From £1,749 (excl int’l flights)

4: Cambodia

Spot pygmy slow loris hidden in Virachey National Park (Shutterstock)

Spot pygmy slow loris hidden in Virachey National Park (Shutterstock)

Walk virgin jungle and sleep under the stars

Cambodia’s Virachey National Park is one of those great wildernesses that you can’t hope to see in one go – and few even try. It’s so big (3,325 sq km) and difficult to negotiate that parts of it haven’t even been explored yet, which is why Walks Worldwide’s Cambodia Jungle Trek carries a whiff of real exploration about it. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to take in the country’s icons, with waterfall and cave treks around Sen Monorom, a boat trip to see the endangered Mekong dolphins of Kampi, and a visit to the evergreen ruins of the great Angkor Wat. But it’s amid the bamboo thickets, cloud forest and lowlands of Virachey, as you walk trails hacked out of the bush by your guide’s machete, spotting civet and pygmy slow loris and sleeping in hammocks under the stars, where you’ll find your second wind. A truly wild escape.

Who: Walks Worldwide (01962 302085)

When: 2 Mar, 15 Oct & 26 Nov 2019

How long: 10 nights

How much: From £2,199 (incl int’l flights)

5: Zimbabwe

Two elephants and their reflections in Lake Kariba (Shutterstock)

Two elephants and their reflections in Lake Kariba (Shutterstock)

Enjoy a safari on foot

Since Zimbabwe threw off the shadow of former leader Robert Mugabe, one of the great wildlife destinations of the world has been gifted back to travellers. Mountain Kingdoms’ Mana Pools Walking Safari & Lake Kariba tour escorts you around one of the nation’s wildest parks, famed for its incredible walking safaris that take you from camp to camp along the Zambezi floodplains. It’s far from a hardened hike, though, and along the way you’ll learn about bush life and be on the lookout for elephants, hippos, leopards, buffalo and more, while skirting woodlands, shores and plains. From there, you fly to Lake Kariba for more wildlife-viewing opportunities, including a glorious farewell game cruise at sunset.

Who: Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400)

When: 28 Jun & 23 Aug 2019

How long: 12 nights 

How much: £5,480 (incl int’l flights)

6: India

A misty morning over Periyar National Park (Shutterstock)

A misty morning over Periyar National Park (Shutterstock)

Trains & tigers

Taking a train in India is a rite of passage, but the convenience of private transport can be a relief on long journeys. Rail Discoveries’ Spectacular Southern India trip offers the best of both worlds, with a ‘toy train’ journey between Ooty’s lush tea estates and a jaunt from Coimbatore to Cochin by express train alongside journeys by private coach. You’ll take to the water, too, with a relaxing houseboat cruise on Vembanad Lake and a boat safari in Periyar National Park. Here you can hope to spot elephants, sambar and monkeys – and maybe even a tiger or two.

Who: Rail Discoveries (01904 734812)

When: Selected dates, Feb–Nov 2019

How long: 14 days

How much: From £1,795 (incl int’l flights)

 

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