Top Ten Wildlife Experiences

Giant Pandas in China

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The giant panda is one of the world’s most endangered species and has become an icon for conservation movements everywhere. On many of our adventure holidays to China we visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base at Chengdu in the province of Sichuan which was set up to ensure the survival of China’s living national treasure.

The Giant Panda is still found in parts of Sichuan but is very difficult to spot in the wild. Since its beginnings in 1987, the captive population at the base has increased from an initial population of 6 to 83 individuals.

Located just outside the city, the Chengdu Panda Base combines natural scenery and man-made landscapes providing humane living areas for giant pandas as well as red pandas and other Chinese endangered animals. The base provides our travellers with a rare chance to glimpse this cute and cuddly icon – a real highlight of any adventure holiday to China!

Elephants in Thailand

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Elephant are a highlight of any adventure holiday in South East Asia. Certain tours visit the Lampang Thai Elephant Conservation Centre. This centre was created in 1991 to maintain the wellbeing of these magnificent beasts. It cares for more than forty elephants and is a hospital for ill or injured animals. It also has programmes aimed at re-introducing elephants to the wild. Their latest initiative to raise money for the centre is ‘dung paper’ – paper made from elephant dung!

Our travellers enjoy a guided tour of the complex, stay the night in basic local-style accommodation and spend the morning in the forest watching the elephants being gathered from their overnight grazing grounds. After watching them take their morning baths, you see a demonstration of the skills that had made elephants such an integral part of the Thai logging trade. It is a great chance to get close to these magnificent animals. Their entertaining antics are always a memorable part of any adventure tour to Thailand!

Rhinos in Nepal

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A wildlife safari in Chitwan National Park is the ideal addition to any adventure holiday to Nepal. Many of our Himalayan trekking holidays include a 2 night stay here after the trek and all of our India and Nepal combined tours stop at Chitwan.

Chitwan is one of Asia’s richest wildlife reserves. Accompanied by a wildlife guide you can go in search of monkeys, sloth bear, deer and a multitude of different birds. You can also take canoe trips down the Rapti River to view the fish-eating gharial and flesh-eating marsh mugger crocodile. However taking an elephant-back excursion in search of the great Indian rhino and Royal Bengal tiger is the highlight of any safari here.

There are 503 rhinos in Chitwan and the low level grasslands combined with a seat atop the back of an elephant makes for the best possible viewing platform. Enjoy the thrill of searching out rhino and other varied and exciting wildlife in the forests and amongst the elephant grass of the southern plains. Spotting a one-horned rhino in Chitwan has to be one of the world’s greatest wildlife experiences and definitely the climax of any adventure holiday in Nepal!

The Migration in Africa

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Quite simply, a unique phenomenon. The annual migration between Kenya and Tanzania surely has to be one of the highlights of the natural world and a ‘must see’ for anyone looking to take a safari in arguably the world’s top safari destinations. Over a million wildebeest and thousands of zebra and antelope trek from the dry savannah grasslands of the Serengeti in Tanzania north to the Masai Mara in Kenya in search of sustenance. The entire journey, one giant clockwise loop, is over 1800 miles.

Calving occurs in the Serengeti January to mid-March and the animals then head to the western Serengeti in June. They then move northwards to the Masai Mara where you can expect the animals to arrive as early as July, but usually between August and September. They remain in the Mara between October and November. Between December and January they begin migrating back towards the Serengeti.

Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

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Trekking to see mountain gorillas surely has to be top of any adventure traveller’s list during a holiday in Africa and Rwanda. A gorilla trekking holiday with Imaginative Traveller is an unforgettable experience – getting close to the endangered gorillas in their own environment is a genuine privilege.

Gorilla trekking is highly controlled with only 56 trekking permits available each day. Unlike most other companies, Imaginative Traveller pre-purchase gorilla permits from the authorities to ensure that we are able to offer them for each departure. Many companies don’t pre-purchase permits so clients have to wait in Kigali to see if permits become available. On an Imaginative Traveller gorilla safari you pay for the permit when you pay the deposit, thus your gorilla permit is included in the holiday cost and guaranteed.

The trackers will have already located the gorilla family by the time you start your trek, so your actual time of walking can usually be predicted when you set off although this may take anything between 40 minutes and five hours. The trek can be strenuous on slippery paths and may reach altitudes of almost 3000m thus a very good level of fitness is recommended. It is also important that you are healthy and not carrying any bugs or viruses which may prove fatal to the gorillas. Once a trekking group encounters one of the gorilla families, only one hour is granted in the presence of the great apes before trekkers must leave the family. All this may seem like hard work, but the end result is one you are sure to cherish forever, as to stand so close to these gentle giants is indeed an emotional experience. Please note, as these are wild animals sightings cannot be guaranteed.

Tigers in India

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Taking a wildlife safari in search of tigers in Ranthambore National Park is an exciting feature of any adventure holiday to northern India. An adventure tour in the park includes taking jeep rides in search of wildlife and enjoying the stunning scenery.

Ranthambore National Park is one of the last remnants of wilderness in India and one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves. It is India’s most famous tiger reserve, set up under Project Tiger though sadly, poaching has drastically reduced the tiger population. A former hunting ground for the maharajas, the park still contains ruins of temples and mosques, as well as an impressive 10th-century fort. There is plenty of exotic wildlife here such as langur monkeys, antelope, sambar deer, crocodile and the park is a favourite among bird watchers but the main aim here is to try and spot the magnificent and elusive Royal Bengal tiger.

It is not always easy to spot a tiger in the wild but many of our groups over the last few years have seen wild tigers. It will certainly not only be the highlight of any adventure holiday to India but also the experience of a lifetime.

Orang-utans in Borneo

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The opportunity to see these rare apes swinging freely in the forest is an unforgettable experience. On our adventure holidays to Borneo we visit the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre and enjoy close interaction with these amazing creatures.

The orang-utan is the only species of great ape found outside Africa. A mature male has an impressive arm span of 2.4 metres and weighs up to 100 kilograms! Sepilok was established in 1964, is one of only four orang-utan sanctuaries in the world and covers an incredible 4,000 hectares. Injured and orphaned orang-utans and those previously illegally-kept as pets are brought here, which aims to teach them survival skills so that they can return to their habitat in the wild.

On our adventure tours to Borneo we walk on wooden boardwalks through the rainforest and witness the morning feeding of the orang-utans. We also get to view them swinging freely in the trees and spend a night at a jungle lodge at the centre. A truly in depth wildlife experience seeing Borneo at its best!

The Amazon

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Spreading across nine nations in South America, the Amazon rainforest region is undoubtedly one of the greatest wonders of the natural world and the largest and most bio-diverse tropical rainforest on Earth. Enjoy a memorable wildlife safari holiday to this incredible jungle in either Ecuador or Peru as part of one of our adventure tours.

Spanning 5.5 million square kilometres, the Amazon is home to thousands of indigenous inhabitants and more than a third of the world’s plant and animal species. As part of our adventure holidays in Ecuador we travel from the jungle town of Tena to our lodge on the banks of the Napo River for a two night stay. From here we take forest walks through both primary and secondary forest, canoe rides and a visit to the Amazoonico, a rehabilitation centre for injured jungle animals where you will see some of the animals that live in the more remote areas of this immense rainforest.

On our two night tours from Puerto Maldonado in Peru, we travel up the Tambopata River to our remote eco-lodge. In the company of local native guides we learn more about the various jungle food, medicine, flora and fauna. We go in search of monkeys, giant river otters, caimen, hoatzin and wading birds. We also visit a small parakeet clay-lick, where hundreds of colourful parrots and sometimes even the rare rock parakeet descend to ingest clay.

Travelling upriver deep into the heart of pristine rainforest…..surely the best way to soak up the wild beauty of the Amazon jungle and the ultimate way to enjoy a wildlife adventure holiday in South America.

The Galapagos Islands

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The Galapagos Islands are unique. Consisting of 13 enchanting islands, they are home to a most amazing collection of plants and wildlife – some species here are found nowhere else on earth. On our adventure holidays here travellers cruise between the various islands for the best wildlife experiences the world has to offer. Using small private motor yachts (8 twin berth air-conditioned cabins with private facilities) allows for a more intimate experience and better wildlife opportunities (no queues at landings thus more time on shore).

Having been isolated for millions of years from the mainland, the wildlife on these remote islands have little intrinsic fear of man presenting travellers with an incredible opportunity to get up-close with nature. Walking trails take you through mangroves, highland forests and along rocky volcanic shores to clifftop viewpoints giving you superb close-ups of flamingos, brown pelicans and the magnificent frigatebirds. Snorkel alongside colourful tropical fish, manta rays, reef shark, seals and even penguins. Laze on the soft white sandy beaches, home to sea lions, marine iguanas and the amusing Sally Lightfoot crab. Swim with turtles in historic Post Office Bay, enjoy the elaborate courtship rituals performed by the waved albatross on Espanola Island and spot all three kinds of booby – blue, red and masked – on San Cristobal.

The Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz offers visitors their best chance for close-up encounters with giant tortoises, including ‘Lonesome George’. Every adventure holiday to the Galapagos Islands includes a visit to this important research base in order to learn more about conservation efforts and preserving the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos.

Our wildlife holidays of the Galapagos Islands range from comprehensive 2 week cruises exploring both the East and West islands to an exciting active land-based adventure taking boat transfers between your island accommodation. Tours here can also be combined with adventure travel in Ecuador and Peru.

Costa Rica

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A peaceful, friendly and beautiful country with an amazing variety of natural habitats, Costa Rica is the perfect destination for a wildlife holiday. Our adventure holidays here can focus solely on Costa Rica or you can take an odyssey through Central America combining it with several other countries.

With twenty five percent of the country devoted to national parks and reserves, this is a nature lover’s paradise and the sheer quantity and diversity of wildlife is staggering. The forests of the hilly interior are home to many species of birds, plants and animals, while the Caribbean and Pacific coasts offer coastal rainforests and a wealth of marine life found snorkelling and swimming from some superb beaches.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is a highlight of Costa Rica, with the constant cloud cover enveloping the top of the mountains and providing a misty magical tropical atmosphere in a place that is home to more than 2500 recorded species of plants, 400 birds and 100 species of mammals alone! As well as unexceeded bird-watching opportunities, you also have the option of taking the giant ‘Sky Walk’ traversing a series of suspension bridges in the jungle canopy over 40 metres above ground.

Our adventure holidays here visit several national parks and reserves to discover the exotic flora and fauna, ranging from Howler monkeys, armadillos and sloths to turtles, caimans and the elusive resplendent quetzal. Costa Rica is a wildlife lover’s paradise!

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