We all need an adventure every now and then. When this sense of adventure calls, we make our way – sometimes uncomfortably – out of civilisation and deep into nature, to see with our own eyes the richness and beauty the natural world has to offer. Of course, we also know that responsible enjoyment of these priceless natural sources of wonder is the most important thing, following closely the well-known motto: take only photographs, leave only footprints.
Today, we’ll introduce you to a few of our favourite safari destinations that will lead you to the edge of adventure!
It’s a little known fact that Mexico is a so-called “biodiversity hotspot” and lies at the forefront of biodiversity: Around ten to twelve percent of all species occurring worldwide are found in the largest Central American country.
This backdrop provides the perfect opportunity to turn your entire vacation into a safari. Thanks to the vast expanses of jungle, you can mix exploring ancient Mayan ruins with being howled at by howler monkeys and observing countless native bird and mammal species, such as jaguars. Last but not least, Mexico’s Pacific coast is considered a mecca for the smallest and largest marine mammals.
Thanks to the vast expanse of jungle, you can be howled at by howler monkeys and observe countless indigenous bird and mammal species, such as jaguars, in between glimpses of ancient Mayan ruins. Last but not least, Mexico’s Pacific coast is considered an Eldorado for the smallest and largest marine mammals. For one, masses of sea turtles come here each year to breed: at one of the many stations specializing in sustainable tourism, you can get your hands dirty and participate in the conservation efforts for these majestic animals. In addition, there’s plenty to see beyond the sandy beaches, where snorkeling and whale watching provide ideal opportunities to get up close and personal with whale sharks and all manner of whales.
Photo: flickr, Julian Mason, CC BY 2.0 license
India: Ranthambore National Park
The best-known of India’s 53 tiger reserves, Ranthambore National Park in the eastern Indian state of Rajasthan, was once a hunting ground for the Maharaja. That’s why this exotic jungle is also home to a collection of remains from the 10th century, such as the impressive Ranthambor fortress, as well as a number of ancient hunting lodges. The arduous journey to the park is just part of the deal if you want to catch a glimpse of the approximately 50 tigers who call the park home, protected from poachers under the watchful eye of wildlife rangers. Welcome to the jungle book!
Africa: Kruger National Park
As one of the largest game preserves in Africa, South Africa’s Kruger National Park is home to around 500 species of bird, more than 110 types of reptiles and approximately 140 different mammals. For those who prefer to go it alone, you can explore the park in a rented jeep, where you can observe animals such as elephants, rhinos, zebras and gnus in their natural habitat. But some of the parks routes are reserved for experienced rangers and guided tours: the probability of crossing paths with lions and other large cats is notably higher on these tours. To get the full experience, it’s best to plan for at least a 4-5 day safari at Kruger National Park, but the adventure is well worth your while. How else can you get so close to the “big five?” You can get a little preview of what you can find in Kruger National Park here.
Photo: flickr, Bernard Dupont, CC BY-SA 2.0 license
Australia: Mareeba Wetlands
A safari in Australia doesn’t necessarily mean the Outback – for example, in the state of Queensland in the hinterland beyond Cairns. You can cross paths with typical Australian wildlife such as kangaroos and wallabies in the eucalyptus savannas, and an even more unusual environment can be found in the lagoon of the Mareeba Wetlands.
What’s interesting here is that these wetlands are not naturally occurring. The lagoons were planted artificially by humans in the 1990’s, to help prevent destruction of the natural ecosystem caused by the cultivation of sugar cane and to protect the more than 220 species of birds. You might even thing you’d stumbled into the Florida everglades as you glide through the swamp in an electric boat between water lilies, cranes, storks and other marsh birds. Three freshwater crocodiles have even been used here to help regulate fish stocks. A stay in one of the area’s safari lodges is another way to support nature conservation efforts in the region.
Alaska: Denali National Park
It’s hard to find a more adventurous safari than what you can experience in Alaska. Approximately three hours by car from Anchorage, you’ll find Denali National Park, the home of peaks including Mt. McKinley (which is now known in the USA by its original name, Denali). On safari in bear country, you’ll come face to face with wild nature, but hopefully not too close – after all, this wilderness is home to black bears, grizzlies and elks. Thankfully, the park’s rangers are ready to equip you with plenty of knowledge that can help if you come face to face with one of these creatures, and in general all parties in question tend to keep to a respectful distance. A safari in Denali National Park is definitely on the adventurous side, and it’s not for travelers who value comfort above all else (for example, there’s no place to stock up on supplies within the park), but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a glimpse of animals in their natural habitats, as well as majestic views of Denali and the Alaska Range.