Top Ten Wildlife Encounters

Top Ten Wildlife Encounters
July 2015
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Nothing can quite match seeing wild animals in their natural habitat, be it big game or small, birds and reptiles or marine life. Here are our recommendations of experiences for would-be naturalists and wildlife buffs.

Amazon
The Amazon is the longest river on earth and is responsible for about one-fifth of all fresh water that flows into the world’s oceans. In Peru the Amazon region occupies a staggering 60% of the country’s total area and is an unmissable wilderness experience. The best way to experience it is from a small ship and with A&K guests travel aboard Aqua Expeditions’ two luxury vessels - MV Aqua and MV Aria. On naturalist guided jungle treks and excursions by tender, guests venture deep into the five million acre Pacaya Samiria Reserve. This protected wildlife area teems with macaws, snowy egrets, laughing falcons and Amazon kingfishers in the air, squirrel monkeys and sloths in the trees plus pink dolphins, piranha and caiman in the water.

Antarctica
A journey to Antarctica is one of the world’s great adventures. As well as being the harshest, driest and coldest region on the planet it is also home to remarkable wildlife. The abundance of krill in the deep, icy waters feeds everything from the region’s celebrated penguins to its colossal whales. On an A&K adventure to the white continent our expedition leaders introduce guests to a variety of penguin species including the Gentoo, Adelie, chinstrap and on South Georgia, the king penguin. There are leopard and elephant seals, humpback whales, orcas, incredible birdlife and more. The A&K journey is on board MV Le Boreal which carries just 199 guests in spacious, designer comfort. With over 20 years of experience in Antarctic cruising, A&K hand picks the expedition leader and guiding team, all of whom are exceptionally credentialed.

Arctic
On the other side of the world, a journey to the High Arctic Svalbard archipelago offers wildlife of a different kind. Travelling on MV Le Boreal, guests are within 1,000 kilometres of the North Pole and are accompanied by A&K's seasoned expedition team. The mighty polar bear is king here and Spitsbergen is polar bear capital of the world. There are also Arctic foxes, walrus, reindeer, guillemots, puffins, kittiwakes and beluga whales.

Botswana
Botswana is rightly famous for the quality of its wildlife and its safari experience. Over 40% of the country is protected and conserved for wildlife and with A&K you’ll see it in abundance from rhino, lion and leopard to giraffe, buffalo, zebra and more. The most important areas for game viewing are the Chobe National Park, Selinda Reserve, Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, the Central Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans and there’s a variety of ways to appreciate both the animals and the landscape. There are trips by mokoro (traditional dug-out canoe), open-topped LandCruiser and motor boat plus walking safaris, quad bike trips and horse riding.

Galapagos Islands
A cruise around the Galapagos Islands is the ultimate biology lesson. This truly unique wildlife haven is home to a remarkable number of birds and animals which are impervious to human presence and which A&K travellers get right up close to. There is the extraordinary blue-footed booby, prehistoric looking land and marine iguanas, centuries old Galapagos tortoises, sea lions, turtles, penguins and flamingos with unique wildlife highlights on each island visited.

India
India boasts some 89 national parks, 18 Bio reserves and over 400 sanctuaries created to protect its important wildlife. Its most famous wildlife attraction is the endangered Royal Bengal tiger. Though elusive, the tiger is still found in its native habitat in a number of national parks including Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Ranthambore, Panna and Pench. Other species found are leopard, Sambar deer, nilgai, wild boar, chinkara, sloth bear plus porcupine, jackal and wild dog.

Kangaroo Island
Australia’s Kangaroo Island (K.I.) is a true wildlife sanctuary. Owing to its isolation from the mainland, the island has suffered less from the impact of European settlement and retains more than half of its native old-growth vegetation. It has also been spared the damage done by introduced species, such as foxes and rabbits, allowing its animal and bird populations to flourish. On a visit with A&K, travellers can see Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals, echidnas, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, goannas, possums, Southern Brown bandicoots plus various bat and frog species.

Madagascar
The diversity of Madagascar’s wildlife reflects the fact that the island has been isolated for about 88 million years. It has some of the world's most interesting species, about 90 percent of which are found nowhere else on the planet. Classified as a biodiversity hotspot, Madagascar is best known for its lemurs and there are over 100 different species of them plus an incredible birdlife and two-thirds of the world's chameleons.

Pantanal
The Pantanal in southwest Brazil, though lesser known than the Amazon, offers an incredible wildlife experience. It is one of the world’s largest tropical wetland areas and covers between 140,000 and 195,000 square kilometres. It is home to a vast number of birds, mammals, fish and reptiles and some 3,500 known plant species. Among the rarest animals to inhabit the Pantanal are the marsh deer and the giant river otter, the hyacinth macaw and crowned solitary eagle, the maned wolf, the South American tapir and the giant anteater. More common species include the capybara, caiman and jaguar.

Sri Lanka
In the southeast of the country, Yala is Sri Lanka’s second largest national park. Its habitat diversity supports an abundant array of wildlife including sloth bear, herds of Asian elephant, buffalo, monkey, sambar, mongoose, deer, crocodile as well as the world’s highest concentration of leopard. Bird watching is outstanding year round but one of the best times to visit is February to July when the water levels in the park are low bringing animals into the open.

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