One of the best things about travel is the full spectrum of experiences on offer. There are city tours and cooking classes for those who crave culture; riding safaris and kayaking excursions for the adrenaline junkies; and then there are the wildlife experiences which can include everything from helping out with black caiman research in Guyana to bird watching in Romania. Read on for a roundup of our top picks for animal lovers…
Bears in British Columbia
When it comes to truly memorable wildlife experiences, bear watching in British Columbia is high on the list. Venture to the wilds of Canada's westernmost province between September and November for the chance to see these huge beasts eating their weight in fish during the yearly salmon run. If you're lucky, you'll catch sight of them snatching their dinner from the air as the salmon leap upstream, or 'snorkelling' to grab them underwater.
Inspired? Check out our selection of itineraries in British Columbia here.
Polar Bears in Churchill
Another wildlife experience not to be missed on a visit to Canada, is the chance to get up close to polar bears (the biggest bears in the world). The remote town of Churchill is the prime place to see these majestic animals, as well as various other species including the Arctic hare, Arctic fox and camouflaged ptarmigan. Head out into the tundra on specially adapted tundra buggies during October and November to see them up close, or set off on an unforgettable walking safari with an expert and highly trained guide.
Riding in Iceland
Iceland's dramatic scenery is the perfect backdrop for a riding adventure like no other. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, saddle up and set off into the wilderness to experience the mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and waterfalls the country is famous for. This is a great wildlife experience for families as Icelandic horses are known for their gentle temperament, making them well suited to younger riders.
Interested in a family adventure in Iceland? Take a look at this itinerary.
Bird Watching in Romania
You don't have to travel far for excellent bird watching; the Danube Delta in eastern Romania is home to over 300 species, including huge concentrations of breeding birds and migrating flocks. This vast expanse of wetlands and waterways constitute some of the most important wetlands in the world and is an ideal destination for bird watching beginners and true twitchers alike.
Find out more about bird watching holidays in Europe here.
Vulture Hides in Portugal
Another excellent wildlife experience in Europe is seeing various vulture species - including Egyptian vultures, black vultures and griffon vultures - up close in Portugal's Faia Brava National Park. Take a seat in a well-positioned hide overlooking one of their feeding areas and keep your camera poised for the chance to snap some incredible shots of these huge raptors.
Inspired? Check out this wildlife watching trip to Portugal here.
Wildebeest Migrations in Tanzania
A roundup of our favourite wildlife experiences wouldn't be complete without mentioning Tanzania's world-famous wildebeest migration which occurs in the Serengeti-Masai ecosystem between July and October. Spend your days witnessing this incredible spectacle - which sees millions of wildebeest and zebras following the rains in search of fresh grazing - and your nights cosied up by a crackling fire in a luxury tented camp, sharing stories from the day's adventures.
Black Caimans in Guyana
The small South American country of Guyana is a paradise for wildlife watchers. 85% of the land is covered in pristine rainforests which means a huge diversity of animal species from its six wild cat species to giant anteaters and river otters. There are endless wildlife experiences to be had here but one of our favourites is the chance to take part in a black caiman research project on the Rupununi River which involves capturing and collecting data on these prehistoric beasts.
Find out more about an adventure in Guyana here.