Often when people think of “adventure travel” the wild animals of other continents are called to mind – the mountain gorillas of central Africa, the orangutans of Southern Asia, the big five game of Southern Africa, and penguins in the southern hemisphere. Wildlife is one of the most appealing aspects of world travel.
The mountain gorillas, found mainly in Uganda and Rwanda, are considered the ultimate experience in animal adventuring. As a group of 12 or less, you are met at your “arrival point” by your guide and trackers and often depending on your physical condition, taken via different routes to visit a family of gorillas. As your guide leads you through the wilderness, the trackers scout ahead, knowing how to find the gorillas, making your chances of not seeing any gorillas rather slim.
The gorillas reside in their family units, and you will suddenly see a baby or young gorilla rolling around playfully, followed maybe by a mother. Eventually you may catch a glimpse of the silverback – the gorilla patriarch – as he casually monitors your group from where he is perched or lying down. He may or may not show interest, but he knows very well that he is being watched and is aware of the activity unfolding around him.
The young gorillas are less aloof and more carefree – if they roll too close to the group, the guides know how to speak “gorilla” and will grunt at them in a motherly way meaning “that’s too close!” Watching their activity unfold around you is truly a spellbinding experience that nobody could ever forget.
Over in the jungles of Borneo reside the orangutans. Unlike the trek through the jungle to see the wild gorillas, the orangutans live in a complex where they are being conditioned to be released back into the wild. At the feeding station, onlookers can watch as the orangutans eat – the alpha male goes first, as the other apes look on, draped from the ropes on the ceiling, carrying their babies and waiting eagerly for the alpha male to finish. If they don’t wait their turn, they will get a beating!
It is wondrous to be among these fascinating apes and be so close to a natural experience. If you want to see some truly remarkable animals without the need to hike anywhere, the orangutans of Borneo are definitely an amazing highlight of any trip to Asia.
Back in Africa, tours to see the “Big Five” are popular throughout Tanzania, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe, among other countries, and include Elephants, Lions, Rhinos, Buffalo, and Leopards. In this Jeep-driven experience, your guide will drive around in pursuit of these animals and try to get as close as possible to give you the most up-close and personal experience. Jeeps throughout the area are all connected by radio so every driver knows when the game is spotted and can make the most of your time. Plus, as you drive in search of these remarkable animals, you are pretty much guaranteed a glimpse of other amazing animals like zebras, giraffes, and gazelles among many others! It is incredibly exciting to see and be close to these groups of animals in the wild, and if you are ever considering a safari, this tour is not one to be missed!
Down below the equator is home to some of the world’s goofiest animals, the penguins! There are many varieties of penguin, and while the penguins of the Antarctic are usually the first to come to mind, there are also smaller species of penguins in Australia, New Zealand, and Ecuador, all the way down the coasts of South America.
Penguins are fun to watch as they slide and twaddle around. They are social creatures and quite curious, so they may stop to give you a sidelong glance before they disappear into the water to grab a meal. Penguins are an entertaining lot and a great addition to any trip where they may be found!
If any of these tours appeal to you, be sure to ask Lesli about which trip may suit you best. She is our resident expert in adventure travel and would love to help you book your trip!