September 04, 2014 3 min read
Holidays that feature encounters with wild or exotic animals are fast becoming popular trips with tourists all over the world. If you fancy a close wildlife encounter with a gorilla, a reindeer or an elephant, read on and let these travel destinations inspire you.
The Sami people of northern Norway are famous for following the migration of their herds of reindeers to their southern coastal grazing lands. Now, the tour group Turgleder provides tourists with the opportunity to join in with the Sami and experience something truly unique. The Sami use only one or two snowmobiles to transport their heaviest equipment, otherwise they still carry on with the traditional Sami way of life. For four nights you will be sleeping in traditional tents called lavvus with a Sami family, cook outside and even go ice fishing. You will get up and close with the reindeer themselves, looking after them and even protecting them from wolves, lynxes and other predators as they migrate south.
It doesn’t matter how much you’ve prepared yourself in advance, seeing a live mountain gorilla is something that you will never forget. These awesome creatures stand around two meters tall when standing upright and weigh somewhere in the region of 200 kilos. With their coarse fur, deep penetrating eyes and the gruff sounds they make, the first few seconds can be pretty terrifying before the excitement kicks in.
Getting close to a mountain gorilla is much harder than it sounds – there are less than 700 in the wild, spread out in the deep mountain forests of the Virunga Volcanoes and the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The best place is in the Parc National des Volcans in northwest Rwanda. Over half the wild gorilla population live here and Rwanda Ecotours offers a range of one to six day tours to see seven families of gorillas. These particular gorillas have become accustomed to seeing humans.
Bears may look cute and cuddly in the arms of a child but in their natural habitat in British Columbia they are an awesome and exhilarating sight to behold. Tourists taking a trip organised by Great Bear Nature Tour will get the chance to travel to the Smith Inlet, just one of the numerous creeks within the Great Bear Rainforest. You will take a short seaplane ride from Vancouver Island and stay within the only accommodation in this sheltered region.
Guests are encouraged to arrive between August and October, as this is when the grizzly bears emerge to go crazy feeding for salmon to sustain them through their hibernation. Tourists have seen around 30 bears at one time and cute cuddly bear cubs are a definite highlight.
A favourite animal of many, there are few sights that can compare with coming up close to an elephant. Head to the Indonesian island of Sumatra where you will discover herds of elephants at Gunung Leuser. This is one of the biggest national parks in Asia, covering around 9500 square kilometres. The park is home to a variety of exotic flora including the rafflesia, also known as the corpse flower due to its rotting smell. Gunung Leuser is also home to the majestic orangutan who is sadly under threat of extinction.
Visitors can join in an elephant patrol, sitting on top of these gentle giants used to help dissuade loggers from stealing the precious wood from these animals home. If you wish to, you can also help wash your elephant and there are a range of other activities you can join in on, including bat walks, and getting up close to toucans and leaf monkeys.
Just on the outskirts of Brisbane, one of Australia’s busiest cities, there is a vast eucalyptus forest home to the shy and loveable koala bears. The koala has become the national animal of the country and experienced guides will take you on a trip through the forest to help you spot one. Araucaria Ecotours have a team of trained zoologists who have extensive experience in finding koalas and will help you spot these creatures through certain tell-tale signs. You may also be able to see other Australian iconic creatures such as wallabies, kookaburras and even fruit bats.
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