Nothing beats the thrill of seeing animals in their natural habitats. Whether canoeing past a jaguar on a Brazilian riverbank, witnessing a mother brown bear emerge from hibernation with her cubs, or joining the largest gathering of elephants in Southern Asia, a natural wildlife encounter is one you’re not likely to forget.
Here’s our guide to some of the best wildlife holidays available with Imaginative Traveller in 2019 & beyond.
Watch for brown bears in Oulanka National Park, Finland
There are few animals that capture the imagination quite as much as the mighty and awe-inspiring brown bear. They are the most widely distributed bear in the world, with some 200,000 of them in the forests and mountains of northern North America, Europe and Central Asia. Typically solitary creatures, even alone they are incredibly dangerous, and so best observed under expert guidance.
On the Wild Finland tour, you’ll spend an evening in a comfortable bear hide in Oulanka National Park watching for brown bears, with a professional guide. There are thought to be around 1,500 brown bears in the vast forests of Finland, and they are very active in this area. The hide is warm and comfortable, with large windows for excellent views and plenty of openings for camera lenses, so if you’re a keen photographer you’ll have plenty of opportunity to capture shots of the brown bear or of the other wildlife in this area.
GROUP TOUR from £1679 for 6 days
Witness the Great Migration of the wildebeest
Every year from July to October, nearly two million wildebeest migrate across the plains of Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Maasai Mara in search of food and water in one of the greatest natural spectacles on Earth.
Witness the Great Migration on a tailormade tour with Imaginative Traveller. The trip can be tailored to suit your needs, but as a suggestion the trip includes four days by the Mara River in the Serengeti, in a prime position for witnessing the wildebeest as they cross the river and try to avoid preying crocodiles. You’ll stay in the Bush Rover Suite, a full working Land Rover that, once in situ, folds out into a comfortable home and viewing point.
GROUP TOUR from £5550 for 15 days
Go in search of jaguar on Brazilian safari
Organise a tailormade Brazilian safari, taking you from the thundering Iguazu Falls to the sprawling wetlands of the Pantanal in search of the elusive jaguar. Your exploration of this fascinating region begins in Porto Jofre, northern Pantanal, which boasts the highest density of jaguar population, giving you a high chance of seeing this solitary creature. Get in touch with our experienced consultants to create your own itinerary and to make this adventure your own.
GROUP TOUR from £6400 for 13 days
Enjoy a family wildlife adventure sailing among the Galapagos Islands
When Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in 1835, he was struck by the unique wildlife in area – notably, how different species of finch from island to island displayed different adaptations to the different opportunities on each island. What Darwin observed here ultimately inspired his theory of natural selection and his famous book on the topic, On the Origin of Species.
Experience the fantastic biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands on a family wildlife adventure. You’ll explore some of the archipelago's finest islands by boat, and have the opportunity to see some of the rarest animals on the planet, such as the Galapagos land iguanas, the Galapagos giant tortoise, Galapagos crabs, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies - and, of course, Darwin’s eponymous finches.
GROUP TOUR from £1919 for 8 days
Visit Corcovado National Park, the 'most biologically intense place on Earth'
Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica was dubbed by National Geographic as the "most biologically intense place on Earth", and for good reason. One of the top eco-tourism destination on the planet, it’s the largest lowland rainforest remaining on Central America’s Pacific Coast, and is home to a host of endangered plant and animal species.
Discover Wild Costa Rica with Imaginative Traveller, and look out for various types of monkeys, jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, anteaters, the resplendent Quetzal, the Red Macaw, the Red-Eyed Tree Frog, and many reptiles and insects as you hike through Corcovado.
GROUP TOUR from £3079 for 12 days
Watch breaching whales on the Sea of Cortez
Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez ‘the world's aquarium’, referring to its great diversity of marine life. A partially enclosed body of water separating the Baja Peninsula from the Mexican mainland, this narrow sea has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is visited every year by thousands of migrating whales.
Spend six days sailing the Sea of Cortez, watching fully-grown whales breach the water, and discovering the rich array of sea life – including rays, dolphins and sea lions - as you swim and snorkel in the warm, crystal-clear waters.
GROUP TOUR from £1770 for 7 days
See penguins on an Antarctic cruise
Cross the infamous Drake Passage into the heart of Antarctica on the Pristine Antarctica tour. There’s an abundance of wildlife on offer in this remote environment; scan the seas for seals and whales, spot rare birds on the Beagle Channel, and visit Cuverville Island, home to several thousand gentoo penguins. Each day on this otherworldly continent presents a new jaw-dropping scene. You’ll travel in luxury in the brand new MV Hondius, one of the strongest vessels available for cruising the Antarctic, alongside Antarctica experts who can bring you up to speed on the geology and wildlife of the region.
GROUP TOUR from £4935 for 11 days
Witness the Elephant Gathering in Sri Lanka
During the dry season, between August and October every year, over 300 elephants congregate around the Minneriya reservoir in Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka, where grasses are rich and fertile, in one of the greatest gathering of elephants in the world. But it’s about more than satisfying thirst and hunger – this is also an opportunity for the elephants to bathe, socialise, and find mates.
Witness the Gathering on the Sri Lanka Wildlife & Culture tour, a tailormade adventure from Imaginative Traveller. The sample itinerary takes you through National Parks, cloud forests and to sacred pilgrimage sites, showcasing the rich landscapes and cultures of Lonely Planet’s #1 country destination for 2019.
GROUP TOUR from £1780 for 14 days