Reasons to Go
7 Wildlife Safaris That Go Beyond Africa
For most of us, the phrase “on safari” quickly conjures thoughts of tracking lions, elephants and other big game across the African plains. But that experience can transcend the place whenever you have the perfect combination of rare animals and wild, far-flung destinations. Here are seven of our favorite safari destinations beyond Africa, pith helmet optional.
A Galápagos luxury cruise affords you endless opportunities to spot unique species, be it the blue-footed boobie or the Galápagos tortoise. Galápagos travel also offers the chance to see sea lions up close while swimming and snorkeling offshore. During an island expedition, some species even take guests by surprise. Some guests even have the chance of seeing species such as sharks. Galápagos tours may also reveal species few guests are familiar with before they arrive, such as the flightless cormorant. Ancestors of these agile diving birds had strong wings that carried them to the island. Once here, however, the bird was able to make its living exclusively in the water. As the need for flight diminished, generation by generation, so did the size and power of its wings. Today, the species can no longer fly, thus serving as a living example of how natural selection works in “nature’s laboratory.”
For a complete 180, consider a luxury Antarctica cruise to view hot-blooded creatures both up close and from your private balcony aboard an exclusively chartered, all-balcony mega-yacht. Penguin species seen during Antarctica travel may include the elusive emperor; the king, whose large populations rule South Georgia Island; the fast-swimming gentoo; the small-but-striking rockhopper and the distinctively bearded chinstrap. In the savage logic of survival in such harsh surroundings, any of these tuxedoed treasures could fall prey to the leopard seal, whose agile power and toothy jaws make it a highly successful hunter. Seals, in turn, are a favorite meal of the orca, also called the killer whale — largest member of the dolphin family and the apex predator of the region.
India travel offers an incredible array of species, including the Asiatic lion, saltwater crocodile, Asian elephant and wild dog. Travel to India and you may even spot the rare golden langur as well as the sloth bear, pangolin, Indian rhino, cobra and a variety of monkeys. Lording over all of everything, however, is the Bengal tiger, the undisputed king — and queen — of India’s great game reserves. Though the tiger is endangered, A&K’s long-standing relationships with the finest game guides in India make sighting one of these rare and magnificent creatures a strong possibility on any of several India tours.
Not to be outdone, Costa Rica travel reveals lush, green landscapes and a staggering number of wildlife encounters. If travelling to Tortuguero National Park from July through September, you may spot the Atlantic green sea turtle nesting. Endless tropical bird species — toucans and the dazzlingly colored quetzal, for example — can be spotted year-round. On boat tours in the park, the American crocodile, spectacled caiman, green iguana and southern river otter have been known to make an appearance, along with the three-toed sloth. A&K luxury travel in Costa Rica features our expert team of hand-picked naturalists, who use all five senses to locate species and share their knowledge with the group. This interaction is exactly what Natalie Ewing of A&K Costa Rica enjoys most about sending guests on safari here. “It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to hear young guests or adults discussing ecology, conservation, rainforests and wildlife after a day in the field,” she notes, “And to have guests say the tour they have just finished with me is the best, or one of the best ever, even when they have been to Africa.”
If there is one place where the majestic megafauna of North America still roams free, it’s Alaska. Boasting mountainous, forested terrain dotted with glacier-fed lakes and rushing rivers alive with salmon, the 49th state is a rugged place for an alternative safari. Set out with a seasoned naturalist on a hike or drive through the Alaskan mountain range to spot a moose beside a river or glimpse a grizzly bear rambling up a hillside to better survey its kingdom. Look up to perhaps spy a bald eagle, gliding slowly in wide circles high above, searching for an unsuspecting rainbow trout or rabbit for dinner. Alaska is also home to black bears, brown bears, caribou, wolves and foxes as well as sure-footed mountain goats and dall sheep. Venture along its southern coast, such as in the amazing Kenai Fjords National for the opportunity to see the many gray, humpback and beluga whales that come to feed in the summer and the orcas patrolling offshore for sea lions, seals and otters.
Granted, Madagascar sits just 250 miles off the coast of East Africa, but the wildlife available for viewing on this island republic is distinct not just from the mainland but from anywhere else in the world. Because it is an island — and the fourth largest in the world at that — a tremendously diverse menagerie of creatures evolved in isolation here, with stunning results. On a Luxury Tailor Made Journey with A&K, an expert local guide can help you track down dozens of indigenous inhabitants, such as the leaf-tailed gecko, the Madagascar fody, the aptly named tomato frog and the colorful panther chameleon. Then there’s the main event — trying to identify a variety of Madagascar’s iconic, curious, comical and all-too-human lemurs, more than 100 species of which call the island home.
The wildlife of Indonesia, a nation that ranges across South Pacific islands large and small, from Sumatra to New Guinea, is among the world’s most exotic and iconic. Diving with a serenely gentle whale shark makes for an unforgettable animal encounter, as does trekking through the fast-dwindling forests of Borneo to observe the human-like behavior of their famous “Man of the Forest,” the orangutan. Elsewhere in Indonesia, on a tiny, palm-treed island to which it lends its name, lives the fearsome Komodo dragon. This largest of all lizards, with some adult specimens reaching up to 10 feet long and weighing 150 pounds, it is a powerful hunter, known to easily kill small deer and pigs, and not afraid to attack prey as large as a water buffalo. Countless lesser-known mammals, reptiles, birds and fish grace Indonesia and an A&K Travel Consultant can help you or your travel professional plan a private safari journey, one that puts you in the best position to see exactly what you’re looking for in this spectacularly diverse animal kingdom.
This post was originally published on May 1, 2015. It has been updated with new information.