Would-be naturalists and wildlife buffs can take their pick from some of the world’s most exotic destinations and discoveries offered by luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent.
The longest river on earth is also responsible for about one-fifth of all fresh water that flows into the world’s oceans, and in Peru, the Amazon region occupies a staggering 60% of the country’s total area – and is an unmissable wilderness experience. The best way to experience it is from a small ship and with A&K, guests travel aboard luxury vessel Aria Amazon. Naturalist-guided jungle treks and excursions by tender take guests deep into the five million acre Pacaya Samiria Reserve, a protected wildlife area that teems with macaws, snowy egrets, laughing falcons and Amazon kingfishers in the air, squirrel monkeys and sloths in the trees, plus pink dolphins, piranha and caiman in the water.
3, 4 and 7 night cruises are available with prices from USD$3,645 per person.
The abundance of krill in the deep and icy waters feeds everything from the region’s celebrated penguins to its colossal whales. A&K’s polar cruise expert expedition team introduces guests to the wonders of the white continent on a series of shore excursions and lectures throughout the journey. The exclusively chartered MV Le Lyrial carries just 199 guests in spacious, designer comfort and offers a fully inclusive experience.
The 12-day ‘Classic Antarctica’ journey is priced from USD$12,845 per person for bookings before 31 March 2017.
At the opposite end of the world, a journey to the High Arctic Svalbard archipelago offers wildlife of a different kind. Travelling on MV Le Boreal, with a seasoned expedition team, guests can expect to see polar bears, Arctic foxes, walrus, reindeer, guillemots, puffins, kittiwakes and beluga whales. Also included on A&K’s expedition are visits to Greenland and Iceland with added opportunities of seeing musk ox, reindeer and a further array of sea birds.
The 15-day Arctic Cruise Adventure is priced from USD$15,890 per person.
The whale shark is the largest known fish species in existence and every year from April to July, these gigantic fish congregate along Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef. As filter feeders, they scoop up plankton (along with any small fish that happen to be around) with their colossal gaping mouths while swimming close to the water’s surface. Ningaloo Reef is one of the only places on the planet they appear regularly in large numbers and the chance to snorkel with these gentle giants is the opportunity of a lifetime.
The 6-day ‘Pristine Waters of Ningaloo Reef’ journey is priced from AUD$4,540.
… and there’s more …
Over 40% of the country is protected and conserved for wildlife – rhino, lion, leopard, giraffe, buffalo, zebra and more. The most important areas for game viewing are the Chobe National Park, Selinda Reserve, Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, the Central Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans and there’s a variety of ways to appreciate both the animals and the landscape. There are trips by mokoro (traditional dug-out canoe), open-topped LandCruiser and motor boat plus walking safaris, quad bike trips and horse riding.
The mountainous province of Sichuan is one of the best places in China to see the giant panda and with A&K guests visit Chengdu’s Panda Research & Breeding Centre where captive breeding programs and educational tourism are conducted, as well as important scientific research into the endangered and much-loved icon of China.
This small Central American country is renowned for its biodiversity with a wide range of habitats including rainforest and beaches, volcanoes and mangrove swamps each supporting a fascinating variety of wildlife. In Tortuguero National Park alone travellers can observe both Olive Ridleys and leatherback turtles as well as monkeys, sloths, caiman and incredible birdlife while the Arenal Volcano National Park supports populations of capuchin monkeys, jaguar, deer, coati and snakes like the fer-de-lance and parrot snake and the remote Osa Peninsula is home to the country’s largest population of jaguars and tapirs.
This truly unique wildlife haven is home to a remarkable number of birds and animals which are impervious to human presence – blue-footed booby, prehistoric looking land and marine iguanas, centuries old Galapagos tortoises, sea lions, turtles, penguins and flamingos with unique wildlife highlights on each island visited.
India boasts some 89 national parks, 18 Bio reserves and over 400 sanctuaries created to protect its important wildlife. The Royal Bengal tiger is still found in its native habitat in a number of national parks including Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Ranthambore, Panna and Pench. Other species found are leopard, Sambar deer, nilgai, wild boar, chinkara, sloth bear plus porcupine, jackal and wild dog.
The diversity of Madagascar’s wildlife reflects the fact that the island has been isolated for about 88 million years. It has some of the world’s most interesting species, about 90 per cent of which are found nowhere else on the planet. Classified as a biodiversity hotspot, Madagascar is best known for its lemurs and there are over 100 different species of them plus an incredible birdlife and two-thirds of the world’s chameleons. Still largely untouched by tourism, the wildlife found in Madagascar’s rainforests, clear blue seas and spiny forest habitat are guaranteed to amaze.
The Pantanal in southwest Brazil, is one of the world’s largest tropical wetland areas covering almost 195,000 square kilometres. It is home to a vast number of birds, mammals, fish and reptiles and some 3,500 known plant species. Among the rarest animals to inhabit the Pantanal are the marsh deer and the giant river otter, the hyacinth macaw and crowned solitary eagle, the maned wolf, the South American tapir and the giant anteater. Other species found in the area include the capybara, caiman and jaguar.
In the southeast of the country, Yala is Sri Lanka’s second largest national park. Its habitat diversity supports an abundant array of wildlife including sloth bear, herds of Asian elephant, buffalo, monkey, sambar, mongoose, deer, crocodile as well as the world’s highest concentration of leopard. Bird watching is outstanding year round but one of the best times to visit is February to July when the water levels in the park are low bringing animals into the open.