Natural wildlife encounters are a reminder of the absolutely awesome world that we live in. They make you stop and think of mother nature and the truly precious world that she created. Depending on the animal encounter, this can also be a moment in time to feel very small in this big world – think swimming with a whale shark or coming face to face with a solid silverback gorilla!
A question we are often asked by travellers is ‘Where can I go to see wildlife in its natural habitat?’ so this blog post will cover a few of our top experiences which offer the chance to view creatures, both large and small, where they belong – in the wild!
Spotting Gorillas in Rwanda
Our Gorillas & Rainforests small group tour is a life changing journey through Rwanda, a land made up of rainforests, volcanoes, jungles and primates. The critically endangered mountain gorillas of Rwanda live in forests high in the mountains, at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet. They have thicker fur, and more of it, compared to other great apes. The fur helps them to survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing. But as humans have moved more and more into the gorillas’ territory, the gorillas have been pushed farther up into the mountains for longer periods, forcing them to endure dangerous and sometimes deadly conditions.
What might have been a bleak outlook for the subspecies just a couple of decades ago has brightened in recent years due to conservation efforts. Despite the ongoing civil conflict, poaching and an encroaching human population, populations of mountain gorillas have increased in numbers.
Gorillas & Rainforests small group tour offers our travellers the opportunity to witness these giants in their natural habitat and be in awe at their gentle nature and human-like qualities. Spending time with the Gorilla Doctors, who run a mountain gorilla veterinary project, you will learn about their efforts and projects to help save these endangered primates as they not only educate the locals on anti-poaching practices but how to sustain the fragile environment the mountain gorillas need for survival.
Salmon Run in Wild Kamchatka (Russia)
Rugged and remote, The Kamchatka Peninsula is a vast blade of land stabbing southwestward through cold seas from the mainland of northeastern Russia. The scalloped coastline is in sharp contrast to its highlands which rise to cone-shaped volcanic peaks, snow-streaked in summer, and to ridges of bare, grey rock. Depending on the timing of your visit, the countryside is an upholstered tapestry of boreal greens, fire engine red, nasturtium yellow and saucy gold. It’s a wild place, in which brown bears and Steller’s sea-eagles thrive on a diet rich in fatty fish. And those fatty fish are one of six species of Pacific Salmon.
Wild salmon are the foundation of Kamchatka’s ecological, economic, and cultural welfare. Many of Kamchatka’s rural and indigenous Koryak and Itelman people still rely on salmon for basic needs. Salmon supports one in five jobs in Kamchatka and provide food for over 137 species. Kamchatka provides nesting and stopover sites for millions of waterfowl, and as already mentioned supports the largest wintering area for Steller’s sea eagles, and hosts the highest brown bear density in the world.
Our Wild Kamchatka small group tour is a chance to view the salmon (as well as brown bears and scores of varied birdlife). Our guides will share their local knowledge of the area and also help you to understand the recent conservation efforts that have been undertaken to ensure that this wild salmon territory remains for many years to come.
Amazon wildlife comes in all shapes and sizes. To date, at least 40,000 plant species, 427 mammals (e.g. jaguar, anteater and giant otter), 1,300 birds (e.g. harpy eagle, toucan and hoatzin), 378 reptiles (e.g. boa), more than 400 amphibians (e.g. dart-poison frog) and around 3,000 freshwater fishes including the piranha have been found in the Amazon. These numbers are dwarfed by estimates for the smaller life forms: just in Brazil, between 96,660 and more than 100,000 invertebrate species have been described by scientists. Whether it’s high up in the rainforest canopy, or all the way down, where the worms move underground, the Amazon abounds with life.
Our Amazon Wildlife Rehabilitation small group tour offers you the opportunity to help build a world where nature conservation and sustainability thinking are cornerstones of a society’s development and well-being. The result, a healthy and prosperous Planet Earth for everyone. This is a hands-on experience – be part of a project focusing on scientific research; learn about local environmental education; help out at the local wildlife welfare and rehabilitation shelter. be guided by the field coordinators and learn first hand about the wildlife research and conservation work that is undertaken. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of something that is making a difference.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.