By now, you’ve most likely visited the zoo at least once, if not multiple times. And, while it is fun to see the various animals, it doesn’t in any way compare to taking a wildlife excursion and viewing them in their natural habitat. In fact, on a safari, you are almost certain to come across species that you would never find in the zoo, such as the rare black rhino.
Today, wildlife excursions are becoming an increasingly popular vacation option, at least for anyone who has thousands of dollars to spend. If you have a love of wildlife, this is definitely the type of trip you want to look into. Fortunately, there are quite a few to choose from in all parts of the world. To help you narrow down your options, here are five of the most exclusive and highest quality wildlife excursions available.
Grand India Wildlife Adventure: Starts at $8,995
Available through Natural Habitat Adventures, the Grand India Wildlife Adventure is a 12-day wildlife excursion that involves covering a distance of more than 2,000 miles to see the incredible array of wildlife that calls India home. The excursion includes travel by plane, rickshaw, 4×4 safari vehicle and bus, as well as stays at a variety of India’s top 5-star hotels, such as the Taj Mahal Hotel, ITC Sonar Hotel, and Kings Lodge, a high-end ecolodge that offers a watch tower that offers amazing views of Bandhavgarh National Park.
The Grand India Wildlife Adventure begins in Delhi and includes an introduction to India’s culture and history before traveling to Bandhavgarh National Park, which has the highest density of tigers than any other place in India. In addition to tigers, you can expect to see striped hyenas, wild boars, spotted and sambar deer, langurs, red faced monkeys, Bengal fox, Indian bison, Asiatic jackals, nilgai antelopes, and more, as well as plenty of birds, including the Changeable Hawk Eagle, and of course, reptiles, such as cobras, pythons, and various species of lizards.
After a few days at the park, you’ll move onto Kanha National Park & Tiger Reserve, where you will spend three more days on the lookout for the wildlife listed above, along with rhesus monkeys and possibly a leopard. You’ll then continue to Kaziranga National Park, which includes a river that is home to gharials, otters, and the elusive Gangetic dolphins. You should also catch a glimpse of the one-horned rhinoceros.
Jaguars and Wildlife of Brazil’s Pantanal: Starts at $8,795
The Jaguars and Wildlife of Brazil’s Pantanal excursion takes place over 10 days in Brazil’s Pantanal, which sprawls over 75,000 square miles. Over the course of the trip, you’ll stay in several amazing hotels, including the Porto Bay Rio Internacional, Araras Ecolodge, and Caiman Ecological Refuge, largely considered to be the best wildlife viewing spot in the area.
On this safari, you will venture by 4×4, boat, private chartered jet, and foot into the Pantanal, South America’s primary wildlife sanctuary to see a diverse array of wildlife that includes the gorgeous jaguar, giant anteaters and armadillos, caiman, maned wolves, marsh deer, howler monkeys, and capybaras (the world’s largest rodent). When you make your way into the marshlands, you can expect to see tons of birds and of course, a few alligators and crocodiles.
Ultimate Kenya and Tanzania Safari: Starting at $16,795
The Ultimate Kenya and Tanzania Safari is an epic 14-day adventure that starts with a welcome dinner before embarking on a trek that spans thousands of miles and takes you through some of Africa’s most remote areas, including the Namiri Plains in East Central Serengeti. This unique wilderness excursion includes stays in various deluxe mobile tented camps and the Arusha Coffee Lodge.
The safari takes you through the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, which is home to the critically endangered black rhino, white rhinos, 70 other mammal species and an astonishing 440 species of birds. It is also home to African lion, African elephant, African leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros, collectively known as “the big five.” After several days, you’ll head to the 50,000-acre Mara Naboisho Conservancy, where you’ll (safely) stay among the wildebeest, antelope, lions, zebra, giraffes, zebras, and more, while taking part in off-road safaris and night drives.
The second part of the excursion takes you through the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation area, one of the world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera that is home to Africa’s densest concentration of wildlife, including leopards, cheetahs, elands, and gazelles.
Sri Lanka Wildlife Safari: Starts at $9,495
The 12-day Sri Lanka Wildlife Adventure, a newer excursion offered by Natural Habitat Adventures, gives you the opportunity to visit virgin rain forests, national parks, and gorgeous beaches. Your travels are both on land and sea, allowing for chances to not only see jackals, wild boar, sloth bears, and leopards, but blue whales, orcas, dolphins, sea turtles, and sperm whales. During the excursion, you’ll stay in a variety of places, including Jetwing Lagoon Negombo, a luxury resort on the Indian Ocean, and Kulu Safaris, a deluxe canvas tent set on raised wooden platforms.
This excursion starts in the Hurulu Forest Reserve, home to Asian elephants, Indian and gold palm civets, grey slender loris, collared scops owls, and a wide variety of birds, including changeable hawk eagles and blue-tailed and green bee-eaters. Later, you’ll move onto two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa, where well-preserved 12th-century ruins provide the perfect spot for viewing the monkeys who have made this their home. Your excursion will continue to several national parks, where you’ll come across everything from spotted deer, sambar, grey langurs, toque macaques, black-naped hares, and even mugger crocodiles.
Alaska’s Coastal Grizzlies: Starting at $9,295
The 8-day Alaska’s Coastal Grizzlies excursion is perfect for anyone who not only wants to see a wide variety of bears, wolves, sea lions, sea otters, and eagles, but also wants to be entranced by the spectacular scenery. The excursion includes several days on the M/V Natural Habitat Ursus, a privately chartered ship that was designed to explore Katmai National Park’s remote waters, as well as stays in two quaint, locally owned hotels.
Your trip starts in Kodiak, giving you the opportunity to explore the historic town before setting off to Kodiak Island, where you are will see several varieties of birds, puffins, otters, and even the occasional whale. You’ll continue through coastal Katmai, an area that many brown bears forage for food in an effort to fill up with plenty of protein rich food for their winter hibernation. Depending on when you schedule your trip, you may come across cubs playing together.