If you’ve ever been inspired by David Attenbourgh’s wildlife documentaries then you may have a bucket list of wildlife that you want to spot in their natural habitat. You may have a desire to see gorillas in the wild, to swim with whale sharks, or see the Big 5 on a safari in Africa.
From mammals to carnivores, here are some of the best wildlife holidays for solos:
Think of the Big Five and you probably think of Africa and safaris. From the Masai Mara to Kruger National Park, Africa is the original home of the safari. Nowadays, it is the most popular safari destination with over 50 national parks and game reserves.
For an authentically wild experience, it shouldn’t fail to be on every solo’s bucket list. The diverse nature, open spaces, dense forestry and the mere sightings of Mother Nature’s beasts in their natural habitat is the ultimate life-changer.
Whether you prefer roughing it in the bush, spending the night in a luxury tent with a ready-made bed, or staying in a comfortable lodge there is a variety of safari accommodation and countries to choose from. Most safaris can collect you from Cape Town or you can get an internal flight to parks such as Kruger.
Many people go on a safari with hopes of seeing all 5 of the most famous safari animals. The Big 5 are: lion, rhino, leopard, elephant and buffalo. Not all parks are home to the Big 5 and depending on the time of year that you visit they are not always visible either. Leopards for example, are really hard to spot.
If you want to see the Big Five in action, then tours in South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania should be on top of your list. If you prefer a more rustic feel then Namibia or Botswana are good alternatives.
Tanzania and Kenya capture the ideal essence of Africa’s traditional cultures. While South Africa has shark cage diving, mountain climbing and wine tasting.
Depending on whether you want to see birds, going during rainy seasons could be ideal. Otherwise, for epic sightings of wild animals in their home grounds, May and October in Southern Africa offers primetime viewing. And as the dry winter season ends weather rises, animals begin congregating more often at waterholes. The mosquitos are also minimal.
The rainy season between April and June are not completely dreary in Eastern Africa. Some of the advantages of visiting the Serengeti during long rains include having a less crowded tour and witnessing animals in migration. Otherwise, visit during July and November for more popular times and better game viewing.
If you’ve ever wanted to see gorillas up close and personal then head to Central Africa. Gorilla trekking is the best way to see these largest living primates in the wild. From mountain gorillas to Cross River gorillas, seeing these large primates in their natural habitat is definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
The most popular locations for gorilla trekking are Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Bwindi National Park in Uganda, and Mgahinga Gorilla national park and Virunga national park in DR Congo. Whether you want to spot gorillas on a day trek or a multi-day tour, there are companies who will help to arrange a permit and send you gorilla trekking with knowledgable guides.
Uganda and Rwanda are the best countries to track these amazing creatures year-round but the best times to do a wildlife tour is usually December to February or during the summer months of June to September.
Gunung Leuser National Park in Southeast Asia is one of Asia’s largest wilderness areas. The national park is one of the last remaining natural habitats for Sumatran orangutans. A sanctuary for the beautiful primates is found at Bukit Lawang, a small tourist village on the bank of the Bahorok River within the park. Some 5,000 orangutans live in the area.
Founded in 1973, the sanctuary protects orangutans from hunting, deforestation and trading. It also rehabilitates orangutans that have been living in captivity, providing these creatures with skills they need before being released into the wild. In addition to seeing orangutans at the sanctuary, a nearby platform allows visitors to get up close and personal during morning and afternoon feeding sessions.
Trekking deep into the jungle provides one of the most unique and genuine wildlife viewing experiences in Asia. Orangutans are best spotted in the jungles of Gunung Leuser National Park, especially around Ketambe where many wild orangutans live close to the village. Gibbons, Thomas Leaf monkeys, and other wildlife are also best viewed when travelling through the lush landscape. There are also elephants near Ketambe and Tangkahan.
Gunung Leuser National Park protects several ecosystems and has more than 500 species of wildlife. You can see the Sumatran elephant, Sumatran tiger and Sumatran rhinoceros here, as well the leopard, lemurs and sambar deer. The park has one of the most diverse wildlife populations in Asia.
With more than thirty-three species of whale, Canada is one of the best places for whale watching. Even in Vancouver, one of the continent’s vibrant cities, you’ll find orcas and humpback whales in Victoria Harbour. The protected waters of Johnstone Strait is known for killer whales and you may even see seals and dolphins too.
Visit Tofino in March or October to see the grey whales as they migrate north from the Baja Peninsula. It’s also a great spot for surfing but if you prefer being on the sea instead of in it, then search for otters and sea lions instead.
Quebec is the destination to see more than one species. Tadoussac is a meeting place for whales and you can find beluga, minke, blue and humpback whales amongst its waters.
You don’t have to go far to see Canada’s bears either. Their natural habitat is just outside of Vancouver Island where you can spot grizzly and black bears.
You can also combine your whale watching with bear spotting too. Companies such as Naturetrek Wildlife Holidays offer the opportunity to venture into the wilderness around Vancouver Island to spot brown bear and grizzlies. Churchill in Manitoba is known as the polar bear capital but it also has belugas which you can snorkel with.
If you prefer to snorkel with whales instead then head to Mexico during the months of June through to September.
Whale sharks are the largest sharks in the ocean and can get as big as 65 feet long, weighing three times heavier than the Great White shark. Although they are big in size, they are very gentle creatures and only eat plankton in the sea.
Snorkelling alongside them is such a humbling experience and although it isn’t cheap, it is something that you will never forget.
The Riviera Maya is a great destination to travel to. This Mexican coastline offers beaches, good nightlife, Mayan ruins and crystal-clear cenotes to swim in. It doesn’t matter where you decide to stay and fly into on the coast as tours depart from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum, where the whale sharks are most abundant. The peak months are July and August.
Going on a wildlife holiday is a great way of combining your love of travel with your love of wildlife. You can always add a different element to your trip which includes exploring the country's culture and monumental sites. It doesn’t have to be just about the wildlife.