From July to September each year, a gathering of elephants congregates on the lush lands of the Minneriya reservoir. Visitors can see groups of up to 400 elephants and the event has been listed in the Lonely Planet’s Guide to Natural Wildlife Spectacles of the World. The park is also home to Sri Lankan sloth bears and more than 150 bird species. Experience the beauty of the park in an open-top game-viewing vehicle while a trained guide shares knowledge about the park and its wildlife.
Accommodation: Camping, tree houses or hotels
Safari options: Half-day, full-day, one night and two days or tailor-made
Trek the lush forests of Nicaragua, covering four wildlife reserves in a week. The trip includes a visit to Lake Nicaragua as well as the 36 islands of the Archipelago of Solentiname. Guests will also visit the El Chocoyero Reserve, a parakeet nesting site that’s also home to howler monkeys and toucans. From hiking to nature walks, 4×4 drives and boat rides, the tour is unlike any other on the planet. When visiting the Los Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge on day five, keep an eye out for sloths, crocodiles and the one-of-a-kind Jesus Christ lizard.
Accommodation: Lodging is included in tour price
Safari duration: Seven days and six nights
Yellowstone National Park is one of the few places on earth where visitors can see bears and wolves in their natural habitat. A biologist will guide small groups through the park while explaining all there is to know about these fascinating animals as well as teaching about the plant and bird life in the park. The park is also home to bison, mountain lions, Canada lynx, moose and more.
Safari options: The park offers many safari options, including a winter wolf and wildlife safari and a family safari
This trip combines two of the best spots for wildlife viewing in South America, the northern Pantanal and southern Amazon. The trip doesn’t include a lot of travel; rather, guests stay in two locations, each perfect for wildlife sightings. These destinations are popular for spotting jaguar, among many other animals, including giant anaconda, crab-eating fox, burrowing owl, giant otter, giant anteater, black and gold howler monkey, puma, tapir, armadillo, pink river dolphin and the hyacinth macaw.
Accommodation: Cristalino Lodge, Pantanal Wildlife Centre and Jaguar Research Centre
Safari duration: Ten days and nine nights
Torres del Paine National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s eighth natural wonder. The Patagonian puma roams the land, which has become one of the most popular places to see these animals in the wild. Choose between a four- or five-day trip during which you’ll track pumas on foot and by car. The trip is led by an experienced guide and puma tracker, so the chance of spotting these illusive animals is high. Other animals to look out for are the Andean deer, Patagonian hog-nosed skunk and hairy armadillo.
Accommodation: Two lodging options: Hotel Las Torees and Hosteria Pehoe
Safari duration: Four or five days
In the far north of Manitoba, Canada, lies the town of Churchill, known mostly for its polar bears. With the Natural Habitat Adventures’ Polar Rovers (reinforced tundra vehicles) as the main mode of transport, guests can really get up close to these amazing animals. There’s also the opportunity to meet a dog musher, and a sled dog trip is included in each booking. The tour begins and ends in Winnipeg, Manitoba, while most of the trip is spent in Churchill and the tundra where, as well as polar bears, you’ll spot Arctic foxes and hares.
Accommodation: In Winnipeg guests stay at the Fort Garry Hotel, while accommodation in Churchill consists of small hotels and other local properties
Safari duration: Seven days
Visit the Piatra Craiului National Park in Transylvania, Romania, to spot the Eurasian lynx, brown bears and beavers. Groups are kept small, at between two and six people, and the trip includes several days of hiking in the mornings and evenings in medium to difficult mountain terrain. As such, good hiking boots and clothing as well as sufficient accessories should be taken along. From Bucharest, guests are transferred to the small town of Zarnesti in the foothills of the park. Lynx and bears are nocturnal, and as such much of the activity surrounding them takes place early in the mornings and evenings. Guests will also visit the medieval town of Brasov for a cultural tour.
Accommodation: Full-board accommodation in a double room
Safari duration: Eight days
Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India, is a World Heritage Site and home to the largest concentration of tigers in protected areas on the planet. So, if it’s a tiger you want to see, you’ve come to the right place. The park was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006, and, although spotting a tiger isn’t the easiest thing to do, your chances here are higher than anywhere else. The park is also home to large herds of elephants, water buffalo and more.
Accommodation: There are many retreats and lodges within the park
Situated in the Indonesian archipelago, Komodo National Park is home to the fierce Komodo dragon. The park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986 and is a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve. The park consists of multiple islands, its main three being Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and includes one of the richest marine environments on earth. More than 1,000 species of fish and approximately 14 species of whale, dolphin and sea turtle are found here.
Accommodation: Hotels, bungalows and resorts
With over 509 kilometers (316 miles) of coastline, Kangaroo Island in South Australia is a paradise that boasts abundant wildlife, amazing weather, unspoiled beaches and much more. Explore the Hanson Bay Sanctuary on a self-guided or guided tour and spot koalas, kangaroos and wallabies. Animals in the sanctuary are mostly nocturnal, so mornings and evenings are best for sightings.
Accommodation: Beachfront log cabins