Wildlife holidays of a lifetime

Rachel Burge

Whether you are a devotee of wildlife conservation or simply enjoy the odd nature programme on TV, the feeling of watching a wild animal in its own environment is one that is hard to beat.

If wildlife features on your 'must do' list, here are some of the most breath-taking experiences the world has to offer.

Wildlife holiday experiences
Wildlife holiday experiences

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Whale watching

It's hard to imagine just how big a whale is until you have seen a humpback or killer whale emerging from the depths. But there are opportunities to do just that all over the world.

For a variety of species, a whale watching tour setting out from British Columbia, Canada, is hard to beat – with the chance to see Blue, Sperm, Minke, Sei, Grey, Fin and Humpback whales (not to mention Orca, Harbour porpoise and Steller sea lions) the stunning Canadian coastline and majestic wildlife will live long in the memory.

If you would prefer to stay closer to home, however, whale and dolphin-watching holidays are available in Italy's Ligurian Sea, Andalucia in Spain and even Pembrokeshire in Wales.

Gorillas in the mist
David Attenborough sites it as one of his most memorable experiences... take a gorilla trekking vacation and it'll be easy to see why. These huge primates have long-since shaken off the King Kong image and, with a trip to Rwanda or Uganda, you'll have the opportunity to see either the lowland gorilla or the famous Silverback mountain gorillas in all their glory. Some operators even offer photographic tours, ensuring you will never forget the experience.

African safari
An African safari no doubt features on bucket lists across the world – elephants, black rhinos, giraffes, lions... most of us are well aware that many of these animals are endangered species.

Often people are moved to tears by the sight of such magnificent wildlife in their natural habitat and, with cheetah, wildebeest and antelope also to be found on the plains of Kenya or Botswana, the chances of going home without seeing something spectacular are slim to none.

Tiger tours
India is home to almost 50 per cent of the world's tiger population and the plight of the Bengal tiger is well-known here in the UK. But thanks to experienced researchers, striving to maintain numbers of this beautiful big cat, tiger conservation holidays in the country are now available.

With guided walks, night-time safaris or trips aboard an elephant, these tours offer the chance to see these rare and amazing animals as well as learn about their behaviour and the research and conservation efforts trying to save them from extinction.

Orangutan in Borneo
The forests of Borneo are home to the orangutan but, as with so many other species, their numbers are dwindling. Responsible tour operators now offer the opportunity for visitors to explore these forests, with the possibility of glimpsing these great apes amongst the trees.

Furthermore, you may even get the chance for a close encounter with some of the rehabilitated orangutans, thanks to the feeding platforms that aid their return to the wild.

A wildlife holiday can take your breath away and will undoubtedly leave you with memories that you will treasure for a lifetime. But if you are considering a wildlife safari, take the time to find out where your money goes – responsible tour operators will work closely with conservation projects and local communities to ensure that the wildlife and its habitat is protected.