12 Exciting Safaris Year-Round in 2015

Zebras drinking water

A year filled with tracking some of the most majestic animals around the world, covering of course Africa, but also further flung locations like Norway, Sweden, Alaska and even Antarctica.

By: Kimberly Tan

Image courtesy of Nils Aukan

Image courtesy of Nils Aukan

 January – Killer Whales, Norway

THE ITINERARY: This month, large amounts of herring can be found on the northwest coast of Norway, which in turn attracts up to 60 killer whales.Where possible, guests can dive with them. The six-day liveaboard journey with Stromshølmen on the 91ft cutter M/S Sula, will bring compressors, tanks and weights sufficient for 12 guests. The trip might include a biology course (in the fourth week in 2015 and the third in 2016) by the marine zoologist Dott. Alessandro De Maddalena.

SLEEP: Guests will sleep in bunk beds onboard the cutter, with an ensuite bathroom attached.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: Try fishing, skiing, sailing, surfing and kayaking.

SPLURGE: Prices are upon request.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: -7 to 8˚C.

Snow Leopards

February – Snow Leopards, Ladakh

THE ITINERARY: Have a glimpse of the endangered and elusive snow leopard, with a smoky gray to yellowish tan base colour and pale green or grey eyes, marked with grey to black open rosettes on its body. Find them in the depths of the Hemis National Park in Ladakh, India with Gane and
Marshall. The trek, great for serious climbers, begins on day five, leading from Phe to the entrance of the Rumbak Gorge and the expert wildlife guide will take you around the Hemis National Park. Winter months such as February and March force the snow leopard to seek refuge in lower altitudes.

SLEEP: Enjoy staying in local Ladakhi homes or camping some 3,300m above sea level.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: Rumbak is a small, traditional Ladakhi village on a Markha Valley trail, also a popular trekking route.

SPLURGE: The 15-day trip will cost about US$2,650 per person.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: -22 to 7˚C.

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March  – African Lions, Tanzania

THE ITINERARY: Traverse through the Lake Manyara, Serengeti plains and the Ngorongoro Crater for glimpses of the African lion, reputed for its sheer numbers of the species. The eight-day itinerary from Tanzania Wildlife Safaris, which can be personalised, will include four of the five northern circuit’s national parks and other areas for their lion sightings and even witnessing them agilely climbing trees.

SLEEP: Tanzania Wildlife Safaris offers three accommodations, with the most opulent being the luxury lodges such as the Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge with rock-built rooms and panoramic private balconies.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: Visit the Maasai Village, take a hot air balloon ride and hike to the crater rim.

SPLURGE: About US$4,248 per person.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: 24 to 33˚C.

India

Images courtesy of andBeyond.com

April – Tigers, India

THE ITINERARY: Visit some of the endangered tigers (just 1,500 to 2,000 are in the wild) with the 12-day Tigers and Mystics Romance package from andBeyond in their protected sanctuaries. The Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park are two of the first areas conserved under Project Tiger, adorned with lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and the Banjaar River to the southwest.

SLEEP: Stay in the Banjaar Tola Tented Camp overlooking one of India’s largest reserves, the Kanha National Park, in just one of 18 lightweight tented suites.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: Cultural immersions and sightings of wildlife like monkeys, wild dogs, birds, leopards and sloth bears. andBeyond won the 2014 World Travel Awards for Africa’s Leading Game Reserve Brand and Botswana’s Leading Safari Lodge among others.

SPLURGE: The 12-day itinerary will cost about US$7,949 per person.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: 30 to 40˚C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

May – Elephants, Botswana

THE ITINERARY: Ride on the back of a trained elephant in the desert land Botswana through the otherwise inaccessible parts of the Okavango Delta with a 10-day safari privately guided by Mike Lorentz from Journeys by Design. The itinerary would also include participating in their mud baths, training, veterinary care and conservation discussions at Abu Camp.

SLEEP: Sleep under the stars on a large double Star Bed raised high above the canopy.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: Try a scenic light aircraft or helicopter flights for truly panoramic views of the ecosystem, papyrus-like waterways and palm islands.

SPLURGE: The 10-day Botswana safari will cost about US$16,000 per person.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: 9 to 28˚C.

June – Tiger Sharks, Bahamas

THE ITINERARY: Swim with the sharks without a cage. Shark Diver offers just six guests a chance to board the 65ft long range dive vessel M/V Kate. Divers would have several opportunities in the amazingly clear azure and turquoise waters to spot about one to five sharks, including Tiger, Lemon and Bull sharks. If extremely fortuitous, divers might encounter a hammerhead shark. Shark Diver has provided the crews, cages and dive teams for the Shark Week show featuring the MythBusters.

SLEEP: Onboard M/V Kate are two double and eight single beds. The dive vessel also has an entertainment centre.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: The dive sites will also include The Mountains, a 60 to 90ft dive where turtles, flying fish and rays abound.

SPLURGE: The price for the seven-day itinerary will cost about US$3,300.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: Water temperatures average about 31˚C.

Jaguars

Biologist-designed boating searches optimise sightings and photography. Observing a Jaguar from a search boat, Pantanal, Brazil. Image courtesy of Arcana Mundi Expeditions.


July- Jaguars, Brazil

THE ITINERARY: Follow in the footsteps of renowned photographer Joe McDonald, and travel on a private tour with Arcana Mundi Expeditions
to the Jaguar Research Center Reserve, where he was able to capture a courting pair of jaguar lovers’ spat, winning him the title of the Nature Photographer of the Year in 2013. The jaguars are best spotted via nine 4h boat rides over five days.

SLEEP: Stay in a 30sqm Jaguar Suite at the Jaguar Flotel, a floating hotel anchored strategically in the best area to spot the cats. The Suites have a
picture window over the Piquiri River in the 270,000ac Meeting of the Waters State Park.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: Head to the Wolf Camp to the Parnaiba Headwaters National Park to glimpse the endangered Maned Wolf, Hyacinth
Macaw, and the tool-using bearded Capuchin Monkey.

SPLURGE: The seven-day private tour will cost about US$6,400 per person.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: 16 to 32˚C.

angelica and family close

Image courtesy of Brad Josephs

August – Grizzly Bears, Alaska

THE ITINERARY: Drawn to the streams as they’re teeming with salmon, fortunate guests might be able to watch as a grizzly captures salmon in midair. The Alaska grizzlies or Kodiak brown bears are the largest subspecies of brown bears in the world and in Katmai National Park. Travellers are generally guaranteed to spot them on tours with Natural World Safaris. The eight-day tour generally accepts small groups of six.

SLEEP: Onboard the Grizzly Cruiser which explores the Hallo Bay shores and has just three cabins.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: Detours might include exploring the Alaskan wilderness or sailing away on a boat safari.

SPLURGE: Up to US$9,116.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: 9 to 16˚C.
Desert Rhino Camp inside tent

September – Black Rhinoceros, Namibia

THE ITINERARY: The Palmwag Concession’s Desert Rhino Camp is home to 70 per cent of the world’s largest free-ranging and is also one of the world’s largest natural populations of black rhinoceroses. Guides can track the rare animal on foot, followed by a picnic lunch and a nature drive. More rhinoceroses can be spotted at Etosha National Park’s numerous water holes.

SLEEP: Stay in the luxurious semi-permanent tented camp with ensuite bathrooms such as the one at Desert Rhino Camp.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: Visit the Africat Foundation in Okonjima, the centre for examination and rehabilitation of Africa’s leopards and cheetahs.

SPLURGE: Up to US$8,275 for the 14-day journey by Adventure Life.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: About 12 to 27˚C.

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October – Wolves, Sweden

THE ITINERARY: Travel with the guides from Wild Sweden and witness a unique sensory experience – a 70 to 80 per cent chance of listening to a pack of mysterious wolves howling in their natural habitat.

SLEEP: The accommodation is basic – in tents with sleeping bags, inflatable mats and pillows. Kolarbyn Ecolodge offers 12 forest huts, with two hard beds and cosy sheep skin rugs.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: These tours, run together with researchers from the Scandinavian Wolf Project at Grimsö Wildlife Research station, will also include an exclusive lecture on wolves by these experts. Extend your stay with a four-night Kolarbyn Ecolodge Wildlife Adventure and Wolf Howling.

SPLURGE: About US$714 per person for the two-night adventure.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: 8 to 19˚C.

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Image courtesy of Natural Habitat and Colin McNulty

November – Polar Bears, Canada

THE ITINERARY: The seven-day Tundra Lodge Photography Expedition with Natural Habitat includes stops at Churchill, Tundra, and Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. About 300 polar bears will gather around the Tundra Lodge in Churchill in anticipation of the seal-hunting season. Photograph them in the early morning and late afternoon. Travel the Wildlife Management Area with Natural Habitat – the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company, one of only two operations to have permits for the area.

SLEEP: The Tundra Lodge, which has just 32 rooms, similar to a train’s sleeping quarters.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: Enjoy panoramic views with the Northern Helicopter Tundra Adventure (about US$504), tracking wildlife and spotting pre-Dorset tent rings and archaeological sites.

SPLURGE: The seven-day expedition will cost about US$8,895.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: -21 to -3˚C.

Image courtesy of Christopher Michel

Image courtesy of Christopher Michel

December – Emperor Penguins, Antarctica

THE ITINERARY: Witness some of the largest penguin colonies here, with up to 80,000 emperor penguin pairs. Observing their behaviour might be entertainment enough, including their rookery building prowess. Travel with guides from Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic across Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands for an unforgettable 24-day trip.

SLEEP: Choose the suites with expansive windows and balconies and abundant storage options for your expedition gear.

ADDITIONAL RECREATION: Stop by the mysterious Easter Island (about US$3,390 for two to four days) on your way back.

SPLURGE: Up to US$43,250.

TEMPERATURE CHECK: -26 to -13˚C.