Articles in ‘Nature holidays’
Voluntourism is still one of the major buzzwords when it comes to holidays, but according to Acacia Africa, a softer version where charitable pursuits are juxtaposed with adventure is winning out with today’s travellers. The tour operator’s new 9-day Cheetah & Kruger Combination Voluntour is the perfect example.
Heath Ashcroft, Marketing Director of Acacia Africa, comments: “A growing number of travellers are looking to give something back to the host country they are visiting, hence our decision to launch a dedicated voluntour section late last year. However, adventurers still want to experience the destination as a whole, whether that’s enjoying the traditional African safari, participating in village visits or travelling off the beaten track on a overland journey.”
A “hands on” experience, Acacia Africa’s new itinerary includes opportunities to be directly involved in the care and rehabilitation of animals at the “Race Against Extinction Project; volunteers working in close proximity with the brown hyena, suni antelope, wild dog, cheetah, and a wide variety of vulture species. Adventurers can also enjoy Big Five safaris in the Kruger National Park, two days of game viewing completing the tour.
An established venture, the project, which is set in the foothills of the beautiful Magaliesberg Mountains, is one of the oldest conservation volunteer schemes for the African cheetah and has been in operation for 37 years.
£1,085pp (based on two sharing) + local payment from £94pp. The price includes all tour highlights, transport, accommodation, park fees, sleeping mat, road tolls and taxes, meals as indicated, camping and cooking equipment and services of driver and tour leader. Excludes, visas, travel insurance, flights, departure taxes, airport transfers, tips, sleeping bag and items of a personal nature. Accommodation is based in single, twin, triple and quad rooms with shared bathroom facilities (5-nights), twin share rondavels at a private lodge (one-night) and pre-erected two person dome tents (two-nights).
Departures Monday, Wednesday & Saturday year round..
One of the best ways of experiencing the Finnish Arctic is by going what they call a husky safari. This holiday offers a stay 230kms north of the Arctic Circle, in a “wilderness” hotel combining Scandinavian style accommodation with a great range of activities designed to take you to the very heart of Lapland’s winter wilderness.
The huskies will pull your sled through the beautiful winter scenery close to the Pallas-Ounas National Park in Western Lapland. You will pass through forests, across hills and over frozen lakes and rivers covering up to 40km per day. Only the “swish” of the sled’s runners breaking through the snow will disturb the perfect silence and you very quickly realise that you have well and truly left behind the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
These 7-11 trips around Alaska look extremely exciting. Watch as a 40-ton humpback whale launches itself out of the ocean in Frederick Sound; see brown bears fishing for salmon in a rushing river; float among icebergs as a part of a glacier tumbles into the sea. Read more here
This self-drive tour around Namibia is just the sort of thing I’d love to do. The tour takes you to Etosha and Damaraland, and allows you to meet Himba people and San Bushman living traditional lifestyles. You start at Okunjima – home to the AfriCat Foundation – where amongst others you will be able to track radio collared leopards and see the feeding of the resident cheetahs. In Damaraland you will be guided through the dry river beds to encounter the uniquely adapted desert elephants. Read lots more here
Sri Lanka is possibly the best place to see blue whales and sperm whales in the world (see here for a good trip report and related issues). Increased sightings of both blue whales and sperm whales off the southern coast of the island have now opened up a window of opportunity for whale watching tourism in the island’s Deep South. More here
A high concentration of blue whales and sperm whales have been spotted in the seas off Dondra Head along the deep south coast of Sri Lanka, during the months of January to April. Some of the blue whales off Dondra Head could be resident whales while others could be migratory ones crossing over to the Arabian Sea from the Bay of Bengal.
This company offers 8-day trips with a naturalist (exl. flight) for £690.
Fancy following in the footsteps of Stephen Fry and visiting the places he went to in Last Chance to See? Balesworldwide.com has recently launched a series of tours which will take you to try and see the same endangered animals such as the ring-tailed lemur in Madagascar and a trip to Brazil to spot manatees.
Fascinating holiday in the Piatra Craiului Mountains of central Romania, one of the wildest corners of the Carpathian Mountains. The holiday is based around the ideas that for centuries the locals have existed in harmony with a rich variety of rare wildlife, including Europe’s highest concentration of bears, wolves and lynx. You’ll spend your time walking through spectacular canyons, virgin forests and Saxon villages. You’ll stay in a guesthouse owned by a local family, providing a good standard of accommodation and delicious food. There is a visit to the Beaver Reintroduction Programme and the former research centre for the Carpathian Large Carnivore Project, which is home to two hand-raised wolves, Poiana and Crai. I see from the very positive comments of people who have done this, that bears are sometimes seen.
One of the best and most interesting ways of seeing the Okavango Delta in Botswana is by taking a trip in a mokoro, a type of canoe. The mokoro is propelled like a punt by a poler standing in the stern as you lie back glide through the shallow waters of the delta and enjoy the scenery. You won’t see as much wildlife as on a conventional safari, though hippos and crocodiles are likely, and rather exciting as the boats are somewhat vulnerable to attack by hippopotamus, which are said to be able to overturn them with ease. They are reputed to have developed this behaviour after the use of makoros and other boats for hunting. I spent several exciting but tense hours on the return leg of a trip in a makoro some years ago, as we approached a pond where we had angered a male hippo on the way out. When we got there, it had thankfully gone.
Makoros are traditionally made by digging out the trunk of a large straight tree, such as an ebony tree or Kigelia tree. As these trees take many years to grow and only last for five years, these days makoros are often made of fibre-glass. Note, although Makoro safaris are a popular way for tourists to visit the delta, they are still a practical means of transport for the local BaYei people to move around the swamp.
These people (above photo) organise trips:
A mokoro poler will be introduced to you and will be your boatman and guide throughout the trip. Depending on the length of the trip, you can expect to spend a few hours poling on the mokoro, having lunch along the way, and doing game walks into the bush.
If you are over-nighting, the poler will find a nice campsite and help you collect some firewood for cooking. Hey, and remember, this is the bush and there are no facilities – back to basics, no showers, no toilets. While you are on the trip, remember to listen to your guide – he has grown up and lived in this area most of his life. He will not only show you many fascinating things, he will also keep you out of trouble and safe while you’re in the bush. At the end of your tour, an Audi Camp vehicle will pick you up at a prearranged time and bring you back to the camp.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through public education. AWCC takes in injured and orphaned animals year-round and provides spacious enclosures and quality animal care. Animals that cannot be released into the wild are given a permanent home at the center. AWCC encourages you to visit the center with your walking shoes and camera in hand for an educational Alaskan experience to remember. More here