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Take a walk on the wild side

  • Wildlife
  • By Jadeene Burrage
  • Published 26 October 2022
  • Revised 24 November 2022

It’s time to find your sense of adventure on your next holiday and get up close and personal with the locals. But we aren’t talking about the people. From butterflies to Bengal tigers, the world is full of dazzling, awe-inspiring animals, each one offering you unique sightings in the most impressive locations. Winged Boots is on hand to introduce you to the world’s creatures, with the ability to plan an amazing range of experiences, from koala cuddling to safaris. With so many opportunities to choose from, here is our rundown of the top places to go to experience the most unforgettable animal encounters.

Pandas in Chengdu, China

Nestled amongst the Tibetan foothills is the vibrant city of Chengdu, capital of China’s Sichuan region and famous for its Szechuan sauce, tea houses and Buddhist monasteries. But above all else Chengdu is most known for its conservation of the Giant Panda with many reserves and bases which allow you to visit these magnificent creatures including the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Overall, the region is home to about 1,500 Giant Pandas, about two-thirds of the total world population, making Chengdu an absolute must if you want to witness this wonder of nature.

Where to stay: The Shangri-La Hotel Chengdu will offer you complete luxury on your stay in Chengdu with four excellent restaurants, a superb location and luxury spa. 

Top travel tip: As a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, Chengdu is an ideal destination for foodies; make sure to try some of the famous dishes including the Chengdu hotpot. 

Tigers in Ranthambore National Park, India

In the heart of the Indian subcontinent lies Ranthambore National Park – almost 100,000 acres of rolling hills, lush rainforests and trickling streams, home to one of the largest populations of Bengal tigers in the world. Centred on the 10th century Ranthambore Fortress, the park is widely known for its scenic ruins, inscribed in 2013 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s the unique tiger encounters that really draw in the tourists. With around one tiger in every six square kilometres, Ranthambore is certainly the best place to go to see these majestic beasts, as they lay in the sun or cool off in the shade of the park’s banyan trees.

Where to stay: Located on the edge of the reserve, you will find Aman-i-Khás. An intimate, tented luxury camp offering privacy and daily safaris through the reserve. 

Top travel tip: Ranthambore National Park is also home to a variety of wildlife besides tigers, including the sloth bear, sambar deer, wild peacocks, Indian leopard and plenty of monkeys, so make sure to keep an eye out.

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Sloths in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is made up of acres of rainforest and jungle that is brimming with an abundance of wildlife and exotic flora and fauna. Mostly known for its population of around five million sloths, this slow-paced creature can be seen on many of the wildlife walks and reserves on offer. 

Where to stay: Find luxury amongst the jungle at Nayara Tented Camp, where private pool accommodation, delectable dining options and expert nature guides are all onsite. 

Top travel tip: With so many wildlife encounters to enjoy and adventure activities to experience, we recommend booking a luxury Costa Rica tour so you don’t miss a thing. 

The big five in the Serengeti, Tanzania

With four million animals residing here, it’s unsurprising that Tanzania is one of the most popular safari destinations in Africa. And if you want to live out your Lion King moment, a visit to The Serengeti National Park is an absolute must. Not only will you spot the big five of lions, leopards, rhino, elephants and buffalo but zebras, hyenas, hippos, giraffe, gazelles and more can grace your path. 

Where to stay: Complete with an infinity pool overlooking an active watering hole, the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti is the ultimate luxury safari stay located in the heart of the Serengeti and offering five star service with excellent amenities.

Top travel tip: Visit from late June to August to witness The Great Migration at its best.

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti

Koalas in Cairns, Australia

For a wildlife encounter that is on everyone’s Instagram list, you should head to the city of Cairns, in northern Queensland, Australia. In the hills to the west of the city you’ll find the Kuranda Rainforestation Nature Park – a verdant Eden packed full of flora and fauna and without doubt one of the most memorable experiences on offer here is the chance to get up close and personal with everyone’s favourite cuddly critter – the koala. In addition to koala cuddling, visitors to Kuranda can embark on a range of journeys of discovery, from an amphibious safari through the Australian jungle to the chance to learn about Aboriginal culture and traditions, including trying on face paint and playing the digeridoo.

Where to stay: A trip to northern Queensland is not complete without a stay in Port Douglas, and it doesn’t get much more luxurious than a stay at Peppers Beach Club. With golfing and diving amenities close by and an award-winning spa, you won’t want for anything. 

Top travel tip: With the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest on your doorstep, there are plenty of exciting wildlife opportunities in this tropical paradise. 

The world's aquarium in Los Cabos, Mexico

Located at the southern tip of the Baja California, Los Cabos is a popular destination thanks to its golden beaches and delicious cuisine. But it’s also home to one of the most diverse aquatic ecosystems in the world. There is a good reason why Cousteau named it ‘the world’s aquarium’, as the waters around Los Cabos are packed with marine life, from turtles and manta rays to a plethora of brightly-coloured fishes and corals. With blue, humpback and gray whales all regularly visiting the area to breed and feed, as well as the peaceful whale shark and a wide array of seals, everyone is sure to be captivated by the wealth of life to be found here. Be sure to pack your snorkel or hire equipment from your hotel.

Where to stay: Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort is an award-winning beachfront resort boasting luxury accommodations, world-class spa and sublime service. 

Top travel tip: Whilst you are there, be sure to go and see the natural rock formation, The Arch of Cabo San Lucas, mostly explored via kayak for the best experience.

Pigs at Pig Beach, the Bahamas

Famous worldwide, the island of Big Major Cay in the Bahamas is more commonly known as Pig Beach, due to the thriving population of pigs found there. Supposedly the pigs’ ancestors were stranded on the cay during a shipwreck, and ever since they have provided a biological oddity, adapting to semi-aquatic tropical life with ease. It’s truly a unique experience paddling around in the warm waters alongside these trottered cuties, and it will certainly make your holiday one to remember.

Where to stay: Book a stay at The Cove, Atlantis, one of Bahamas most iconic hotels, known for its exemplary amenities. Here you can travel to Nassau Airport and catch a domestic flight to Exuma before arriving at Pig Beach via boat.

Top travel tip: Not only will you get up close and personal with the pigs, but an intimate meet and greet with the native nurse sharks will also be an experience you can enjoy. Plus there is a nearby island full of endangered iguanas that you can visit on most tours.

Whale sharks in South Ari Atoll, Maldives

Swooning honeymooners may be a targeted audience for the Maldives, however the abundance of wildlife that surround these paradisal islands mean nature lovers often flock to explore what the waters have to offer. In the South Ari Atoll you will often be greeted with sightings of one of the largest variety of shark on the planet, the whale shark. However do not fret, these gentle giants only have the taste for plankton and tiny shrimp meaning swimming with these incredible creatures is a popular bucket list activity. 

Where to stay: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is located in the heart of the South Ari Atoll and is in close proximity to 42 dive and snorkelling sites. Not to mention the ultra-luxury beach and overwater villas providing an extraordinary stay. 

Top travel tip: Don’t just set your sights on whale sharks. This lively Atoll is brimming with marine life including hammerhead sharks, manta rays, stingrays, turtles and an abundance of exotic fish. 

Gorillas in the Virunga Mountains, Rwanda

Put on your hiking boots and set off to see the magnificent mountain gorilla, the largest primate in the world. There are just three countries in Africa you can view them in their natural habitat, so this really is a once in a lifetime experience. Bespoke trips and expert guides are key to ensuring you get a perfect sighting. Head out from June to September for the optimal time to see the gorillas with the best trekking conditions. 

Where to stay: For an experience like no other, you can enjoy a front row seat to the mountain gorilla sanctuary at One&Only Gorillas Nest. This jungle haven boasts luxury treetop accommodations and an incredible infinity pool with endless forest views. 

Top travel tip: Temperamental weather conditions, high altitudes and long hiking days can make this wildlife experience challenging. Training and knowing your fitness levels is important before booking this type of trip, but one that we guarantee will be worth it. 

Whales and dolphins in the Algarve, Portugal

A trip to the Algarve offers endless sunshine, sprawling beaches and a rich culture making it the perfect holiday destination. As well as this, many wildlife lovers will head to the shores to spot the five most present cetaceans in the area which are the common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, harbour porpoise and minke whale. Excellent snorkelling opportunities with tropical fish and other marine life will also keep you company.

Where to stay: Located near Quinto do Lago, Conrad Algarve Hotel is the five star resort of dreams. With six onsite restaurants and bars, world-class spa and excellent vineyards nearby this hotel is one that you will have returning time and time again.

Top travel tip: Whilst in the area, be sure to visit Ria Formosa National Park where wetlands and forest are home a wealth of wildlife.

For more inspiration on your next wildlife getaway or to book one of our fantastic recommendations, contact one of our personal travel managers on 0203 816 0985 or click here to submit an online enquiry.

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