Great for twitchers, or anyone into flora and fauna, this trip takes you to some of France’s very best areas for birds and wildlife, from the famous Camargue, with its pink flamingos, semi-wild Carmarguais white horses and black fighting bulls, to the awe-inspiring scenery and wildlife of the High Pyrenees.
The rich diversity of habitat make the Camargue one of Europe’s most exciting birdwatching and wildlife areas – just the number of herons alone is unique. Home to more than 400 bird species, its saline ponds provide an ideal habitat for stork, bittern, ibis and black-winged stilt, whilst raptors, including white-tailed eagles, are always patrolling the skies. After three nights exploring, travel across the South of France to the High Pyrenees and Luz St Sauveur where, amidst some of Europe’s most inspiring scenery, you can explore the vast variety of mountain birds and south-bound migrants patrolling the cliff faces, together with a huge variety of animals and fascinating flora who call this beautiful place home.
From £1,895 including flights to Marseille and return from Toulouse wildlifeworldwide.com
If you prefer flippers to feet, this is the one for you. The world-famous Blue Hole of Belize forms part of Lighthouse Reef, the northernmost of Belize’s three atolls. Originally a cathedral-like cave, the roof fell in 10,000 years ago, leaving a perfectly circular hole. At 40 metres deep see stalagmites and stalactites and swim through the maze of quartz and limestone while spectacular marine life swims below.
Closest to Belize’s coastline is Turneffe, the largest of the three atolls which has large mangrove areas providing a haven for juvenile marine life. It’s famed for excellent wall diving and sea gardens and divers here can expect to see eagle rays, turtles and large snapper, on the atoll’s healthy reefs.
A 10 day trip, it includes up to five dives a day, over five and a half days of diving. Real underwater highlights include the sheer walls of Half Moon Caye and Painted Wall, adorned with gorgonians, rope sponges and an abundant marine life. Weather permitting, divers can explore the Blue Hole, no doubt one of the most popular dive sites in the region. For water babies, it’s got to be a bucket list highlight.
Prices from £3,295 including flights from the UK diveworld.com
Mongolia is a wonderfully diverse country in terms of landscape. The magisterial Western Altai gives way to the fertile central Heartland. The forested North fades into the endless sea of green steppe which in turn becomes the Gobi in the South. It’s one of the world’s last wildernesses.
The people of Mongolia are wonderfully adapted to their climate. Temperatures can differ by as much as 80°C between summer and winter but the Mongolian ger is perfectly designed to withstand such extremes as well as being portable to fit their nomadic way of life. Such a demanding climate leads the people of Mongolia to exhibit magical hospitality and every traveller here receives an unreserved welcome at every turn. Take the fast-paced Gobi, Heartland and Altai Eagle Festival Tour and spend most of your nights at the unique ger camps (with full facilities). Start in the heart of the desert and join the search for wildlife, ride camels and climb the Singing Dunes before heading north to the ancient Mongol Empire to trek the foothills of the Khogno Khaan mountains and see the wild Przewalski’s horses. Fly west to Ulgii and stay amongst the eagle hunters and travel with your hosts to the Sagsai Eagle Festival where hunters show off their best furs and better eagle skills.
From £5,150 panoramicjourneys.com
Trekking in the Himalayas is on many traveller’s tick lists and this one, to the amazing Annapurna Sanctuary, rightfully deserves its reputation as a classic it’s widely regarded as one of the easier but still incredible Himalayan treks.
The 15-day itinerary takes in Kathmandu, Pokhara and transfers to Nayapul where the trek begins.
Pass through delightful villages with neatly terraced rice fields to forests of rhododendron and oak, with awe-inspiring mountain panoramas before heading further up the Modi Khola into bamboo woodlands, where you emerge through a previously secret portal to enter an amazing ‘throne room’ of mountain gods, the Annapurna Sanctuary. Watch the snow-covered Himalayas turn pink as the sun rises, enjoy the view of the Fishtail’s twin summits, and pass the Hinko Cave in the upper reaches of the Modi Khola to reach the grass covered moraine at Machhapuchhare Base Camp before beginning the descent to Jhinu Dhada and its hot springs.
From £1,199 for a guided group tour walksworldwide.com
Want to go for a walk? Why not head west to the rugged beauty of Northern Ireland and walk the Causeway Coastal Route, see the iconic Giant’s Causeway and enjoy the dramatic mountains and glens of Donegal.
Starting in Belfast you’ll travel north to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway, and hike along cliff tops as you follow the coastal route past ruined castles, spectacular sea stacks and stretches of pure white sand – this is pure Game of Thrones’ territory. Head to Malin Head, the northernmost point of Ireland known for its wild and windswept landscape peppered with ancient archeological remains and take in Horn Head, passing quartzite cliffs that plunge precipitously into the foaming sea below. Day five brings you to Glenveagh National Park with its waterfalls and native oak woods. Stroll on the shores of the lake to the mystical castle before finally hiking along Slieve League Cliffs – jaw-droppingly beautiful, they are some of the highest in Europe.
From £1,695 wildernessireland.com
Time poor but with plenty of pennies to spare? This one’s for you. In just three days you can conquer the North Pole. Fly from Longyearbyen in northern Norway to the research base Ice Camp Barneo at 89 degrees north. Then jump on a helicopter for the ride of your life where you’ll find yourself in pole position at the convergence of all lines of longitude. Here the Arctic Ocean beneath you is 4km deep. Weather permitting you’ll spend an hour at the Pole, plenty of time to capture the moment on camera. Cool! (It will be).
Three days cost from £15,825 and the short but epic trip includes a heated tent in Ice Camp Barneo and the helicopter to the North Pole. swoop-arctic.com
Shrouded in mist, Nambia’s jaw-droppingly beautiful Skeleton Coast National Park begins at the Ugab River and runs roughly 500 kilometres up the Atlantic Coast to the Kunene River. Described by the San Bushmen as ‘the Land God Made in Anger’, the beaches are strewn with bleached whale bones and the wrecks of over a thousand ships, and the interior is an uninhabited desert of rolling, endless sand. But it’s magical and hauntingly picturesque, and, in our books, that makes it an absolute must-see.
Stay at Shipwreck Lodge, located in an unrivalled spot in the Skeleton Coast Central Concession Area, a piece of land between the Hoarusib and Hoanib rivers and roughly 45 kilometres from Mowe Bay. Enjoy game drives within the park, beach combing, fishing, animal tracking and sundowners atop the dunes. It’s a wilderness you won’t forget.
Got a thing about bears? Not the cuddly kind, more the grizzly type. Bear watching in British Columbia combines scenic boat tours, a stay in a floating eco-lodge and daily expeditions with expert guides in the search for a big old bear or two. This six day bear trip includes one night in Vancouver, seaplane transfers, three nights in the Great Bear Lodge and one night in popular Port Hardy.
The seaplane journey itself is an adventure as you fly over the breathtaking coastal area and the Queen Charlotte Strait, home to orcas and humpback whales. Once at the lodge you will be accompanied to various viewing sites depending on where the bears have been active recently. Estuary sites are reached by boat, while river sites are reached by a wilderness track. The bears are generally most active in the early morning and late afternoon hours, so viewing sessions are focused on these times. Other activities include a guided sea-kayaking tour of the inlet, a boat cruise to explore the glacier-carved inlet or a rainforest walk – the Great Bear Rainforest is home to many intriguing animals, including grey wolves, otters, black bears, mink and bald eagles. Going on a bear hunt has got to be on everyone’s bucket list.
From £3,065 responsibletravel.com
If you are looking for an Arctic adventure that includes plenty of comfort then look no further. The adult-only, boutique Wilderness Hotel, Nangu will be your base on an action-packed, three day trip of a lifetime. Experience the thrill of a husky safari as you guide your own team of dogs through the snow-laden forest, learn how drive your very own snowmobile across the frozen lakes and search for the Northern Lights on a snowshoeing adventure and at a special Aurora Camp. There will also be the chance to visit a traditional reindeer farm and learn all about these incredible creatures from a Sámi reindeer herder.
From £1,495 including flights, transfers, full board and activities theaurorazone.com
Riding out daily from your camp to explore an area of the Okavango Delta – accessible only by horse, foot or canoe, has to be on every adventurer and keen equestrian’s bucket list. A safari with a twist, the seven night, horseback safari roams across a private concession within the delta giving guests a unique opportunity get up close and personal with Botswana’s wildlife. Your camp will travel in advance, by canoe or donkey depending on water levels, whilst you enjoy the exclusivity of the reserve with experienced guides. Reaching your new camp every night, you’ll gather round the campfire to enjoy dinner served by the camp chef. Riding in the Kalahari is also an option, or combine this incredible experience with a trip to Victoria Falls, or continue your search of game into the wilds of Zambia.
For prices and more information contact bushbucksafaris.com