Chills & thrills: 7 amazing wildlife adventures that are even better in winter

These wildlife encounters are best experienced when the temperatures drop: wrap up and head into the wild, white yonder – to encounter polar bears, wolves, and dancing cranes...

5 mins

1: See the dance of the red-crowned cranes

Cranes performing a courtship dance in Japan (Dreamstime)

Cranes performing a courtship dance in Japan (Dreamstime)


Experience the exquisite beauty of Japan’s legendary red-crowned cranes on this winter adventure in Hokkaido.

The red-crowned crane is one of the rarest in the world and a symbol of luck, longevity and fidelity. Every winter they descend upon Kushiro in Hokkaido to mate, wooing their would-be partners with an incredibly intricate dance. Performed in pristine snow, it is a performance of rare beauty – and a moment you will never forget.

There are other moments to savour as well, including skiing on world-class powder in Furano and hiking in Daisetsuzan National Park.

Trip: Wildlife & Hot Springs of Hokkaido

Who: Audley

When: Flexible departures

How long: 15 days

How much: From £4.650 (inc. flights)

2: Meet the polar bears of Churchill

A polar bear in the snow near Churchill (Dreamstime)

A polar bear in the snow near Churchill (Dreamstime)

Experience a close encounter with the Arctic’s greatest predator on this winter trip to the 'Polar Bear Capital of the World' with Wexas.

Tucked high on the Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Churchill is close to the polar bears’ hunting grounds and a superb place to see this endangered species in their natural environment. A purpose-built Tundra Buggy allows you to follow their annual migration and get closer than you would on foot. Polar bears are not the only attraction. You may also see caribou, arctic fox, red fox, arctic hare, lemming, snowy owl and other arctic birds, making it the perfect winter break for wildlife lovers and photographers alike.

Trip: Polar Bears of Churchill

Who: Wexas

When: Departures Sep-Nov

How long: 7 days

How much: From £4,995 (inc. flights)

3: Putting the wild into the wild, wild west

Bison in the snow (Dreamstime)

Bison in the snow (Dreamstime)

Enjoy thrilling encounters with the bison, elk, big horn sheep and wolves of Yellowstone National Park on this winter wildlife adventure with Wildlife Worldwide.

Accompanied by acclaimed wildlife photographer Nick Garbutt, you’ll venture to the more remote corners of the park to watch and photograph wildlife in stunning winter landscapes. At this time of the year, the park offers a kaleidoscope of breathtakingly beautiful images, from herds of frost-covered bison congregating around the park's geysers to stunning frozen waterfalls. Best of all, Nick will teach you the specific photographic techniques to work with bright snow and high contrast, landscapes and panoramas, as you drive, walk, snow-shoe and possibly ski off the beaten track in search of your subjects.

Trip: Wild West Winter Wonderland

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Jan-Feb

How long: 17 days

How much: £6.395 (exc. flights)

4: Orcas under the Lights

Orcas in Iceland in winter (Dreamstime)

Orcas in Iceland in winter (Dreamstime)

Chase whales by day and the Northern Lights by night on this short-break Icelandic adventure with Discover The World.

You’ll be based in Grundarfjordur, a pretty town on the remote Snaefellsnes Peninsula where whales can be seen from shore. You’ll enjoy two whale watching boat trips in search of orca, white-beaked dolphin and seabirds such as gannet, fulmar and eider, as well as evening trips in search of the aurora borealis. In this land of elemental coastlines and volcanoes, memorable encounters are guaranteed.

Trip: Orcas & Auroras

Who: Discover The World

When: Feb-March departures

How long: 4 nights

How much: From £1,079 (exc. flights)

5: Brown bears in the white Carpathians

Wild brown bear in the snow (Dreamstime)

Wild brown bear in the snow (Dreamstime)

Do your bit to save the brown bears of Romania on this volunteer holiday to Europe’s largest bear sanctuaries with The Great Projects.

Situated in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, the sanctuary is the epicentre for the care of rescued brown bears in Romania. As a volunteer, you’ll spend your days in the forest helping to rescue bears, or back at base helping to prepare food, feed the bears, and assist with sanctuary tours and general bear conservation tasks. The pretty medieval town of Brasov is nearby – a haven of cheerful, cosy bars after a hard day’s work.

Trip: Romanian Bear Sanctuary

Who: The Great Projects

When: Every Friday

How long: 14 days

How much: From £925

6: Winter wolves in Prince Albert National Park

Wolves in Canada in winter (Dreamstime)

Wolves in Canada in winter (Dreamstime)

Snowshoe your way through vast boreal forests in search of wolves on this exciting wildlife adventure in sub-zero Canada with Windows on the Wild.

The Prince Albert National Park is Canada’s largest forest region and home to grey wolf, moose, elk, river otter and great grey owls. Accompanied by a wildlife expert, you’ll learn to track the patterns of wildlife and select the most likely routes and locations to find the forest's wild inhabitants. February through to early March is the mating season for wolves and so they are particularly vocal. Keep your ears open as well as your eyes.

Trip: Wolves in Winter at Prince Albert National Park

Who: Windows on the Wild

When: Feb-Mar

How long: 6 nights

How much: From £1,830 (exc. flights)

7: Photograph golden eagles in winter

A Golden Eagle in the snow (Dreamstime)

A Golden Eagle in the snow (Dreamstime)

Encounter golden eagles in their natural setting on this birdwatching/photographic trip to Sweden with Wildlife Worldwide.

Golden eagles are one of Europe’s most impressive and majestic birds, and notoriously difficult to photograph. Based in a remote and rustic base north of Stockholm, you will have access to a hide in the midst of one of the most robust populations in Europe. There are no captive birds in controlled conditions here, just plenty of opportunities to photograph golden eagles in a snowy coniferous forest, and a warm and welcoming lodge waiting for you at the end of every day.

Trip: Golden Eagles in Winter

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Jan-Feb

How long: 4 days

How much: £1,295 (inc. flights)

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