Alternative safari experiences
There is no doubt that Africa is what safari dreams are made of – its game-rich rolling grasslands and open savannah draws thousands of holidaymakers every year, with game drives, bush walks and hot-air balloon safaris often part of the holiday package. But even in this part of the world, there are many other safari options on offer. Horseback safaris provide one of the best ways to get up close to wildlife including wildebeest, cheetah, elephant and your transport’s distant relative – the zebra. With little disturbance of the flora and fauna, this is an eco-friendly, minimal impact adventure. Canoe safaris in Botswana offer a different perspective of African wildlife, spotting hippo and crocodile in the concealing waters. Or you could make a real impact by joining a volunteer project and embark on projects from saving Kenya’s black rhino and cheetah conservation in Namibia to Amazon riverboat exploration in Peru and help coffee from community to cup in Costa Rica.
Other parts of the world are worth considering for safaris too – Khao Yai National Park in Southern Thailand, for example, is home to elephant, deer and baboon as well as diverse birdlife and reptiles, and a holiday here can offer a taste of a safari experience combined with Thailand’s beaches and cultural cities. Another destination rising in popularity for wildlife-based experiences is Sri Lanka, with a range of tours and treks to view large herds of elephant, spotted deer and even the elusive leopard proving an ideal adventurous accompaniment to a beach holiday.
For those with an interest in specific creatures, perhaps join a beaver safari in Sweden, a bat safari in Zambia or a pygmy elephant conservation safari in Borneo. Search for polar bears on an Arctic safari or track Europe's last few remaining bison in Poland on a cycling tour.
Safaris don’t even need to be above ground. On an underwater safari you can encounter prolific marine life – snorkel with penguins in the Galapagos and become part of their daily hunting routine; skin dive with dolphins in Australia and New Zealand; dive with manta rays in the Maldives or even brave cold waters on a swim with seals in Scotland.
Perhaps next time that you think of researching Tanzania or Kenya holidays, consider the wildlife that doesn’t always draw such crowds and that may need to be noticed. Even if you do decide to venture to Africa to see the world- famous Big Five, perhaps spare a thought for the Little Five – the Buffalo weaver, Elephant shrew, Leopard tortoise, Ant lion and Rhino beetle – too.