Whether soaring in a light aircraft over the dust-red dunes of the Skeleton Coast, hiking through the Indonesian jungle to spot the Thomas Leaf monkey, or watching bears congregate at Campbell river on Vancouver Island, a safari is one of the most enriching and exciting holidays in the luxury travel arsenal. An Original Travel safari offers not just the opportunity to see nature at its most raw and beautiful, but to see it while being guided by an expert, away from the crowds and all while staying at some seriously luxurious lodges and camps. And as if you needed any further persuading, here are a few of our favourite safari experiences...
Jaguar Safari in the Pantanal, Brazil
Brazil's vast Pantanal wetlands cover an expanse larger than England and reach in to both Bolivia and Paraguay. Comprising a seemingly infinite series of labyrinthine waterways and dense jungle, at first glance the Pantanal looks fairly impenetrable to the traveller's eye but, lucky for you, we know all the best spots for all but guaranteed sightings of the majestic jaguar, the third largest cat in the world. Stay at Caiman Lodge and travel out in to the Pantanal in specially adapted trucks with local experts who will teach you all about the cats and the plethora of other flora and fauna on show.
Horseriding in Botswana
Safari game, it's said, is unable to distinguish a rider from their horse, granting experienced riders the opportunity to get closer to the wildlife than on any other safari holiday. Picture galloping across the Okavango Delta's golden floodplains as part of a herd of giraffe or tracking the very shy brown hyena in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. We can even arrange for riders in the pans to camp overnight under the stars - one of the most unique safari experiences going.
Tiger Safari in Central India
As with all safaris, there are no guarantees of sightings but, as our very own Miranda Boord will attest to, the chances of seeing tigers in Kanha National Park in Central India are very high. In fact, during Miranda's last visit she spied six or seven tigers every day she was there. We wouldn't expect any less from the area that inspired Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Take camping to a whole new level (aka glamping) by staying in one of just nine thatched tents at the wonderful Shergarh, complete with your own private veranda, the perfect spot in which to relax and reminisce after a day of wildlife tracking.
Bears and Belugas in Churchill, Canada
While not a safari in the truest sense of the word, one of our favourite wildlife experiences combines seeing polar bears with beluga whales in July and August in Canada. Images of polar bears usually see them set against a backdrop of ice, snow and dark, freezing water but here you can catch a glimpse of them amongst the colourful blooms and alpine scenery of Churchill. Summer is also a great time to see Beluga whales in this area as they migrate to the warm shallows of the Churchill river to breed and feed. We can arrange for you to kayak and even snorkel with the whales, which are known for their friendly and inquisitive nature. While there is no availability left for this year, now is the perfect time to book for summer 2018.
There are very few places in the world where you can see orangutans in the wild and, while most people head to Malaysian Borneo, we also love the rugged and under-the-radar Indonesian side of Borneo, also known as Kalimantan. Head out onto the waterways of the Tanjung Puting National Park in your very own private houseboat, from which you will see countless orangutans, as well as endemic species like the proboscis monkey, as you drift gently by, stopping every so often to trek into the jungle for some close-ups.
Fly Camping in the Selous, Tanzania
To coin a rather overused Hollywood phrase, a walking safari is all about the journey rather than the destination and at Sand Rivers in Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve guests can enjoy a night's fly camping out in the bush. Set off in the evening after a more conventional game drive and walk towards your camp for the night, all the while learning about the surrounding flora and fauna. Sleep under the stars with just a mosquito net before heading back to the creature comforts of the main camp.