Nepal: Admire the rainbow colours of the monal pheasant
Take advantage of guided walks through wildlife reserves and daily game drives in search of tigers and leopards in Nepal. Get in touch with nature by staying in tents and eat outside with binoculars in hand. A mixture of marshland and grassland habitats attracts as many as 500 avian species to the country, including the stunning Himalayan monal, the national bird of Nepal. A great place to spot feathered friends is Koshi Tappu National Park, a birdwatcher’s paradise. But if birds aren’t your thing, there’s plenty of other wildlife to get excited about, such as sloth bears, crocodiles, elephants and swamp deer.
Madagascar: Witness lemur behavior
The biodiversity hotspot of Madagascar is where many wildlife enthusiasts make their pilgrimage. The island is teeming with endemic species and new animals are being discovered all the time. Perhaps that’s what makes Madagascar so exciting; the guidebooks are constantly being rewritten. One of the most recognisable animals is of course the lemur. There are 101 species of lemur living on the island, all of which are found nowhere else in the world. It’s possible to get guided lemur tours and witness their natural behavior, or you can go on safari and experience all the wildlife Madagascar has to offer.
Costa Rica: Watch turtles laying eggs
Costa Rica is a haven for sea turtles. It’s a great place to go and experience first-hand the life cycle of one of Earth’s most ancient creatures. During nesting season, turtles line the coasts, laying dozens of eggs to bury beneath the sand for safety.
The six species have different nesting seasons at different sites. There are always turtles laying eggs somewhere in Costa Rica, which means there are almost always hatchlings emerging. The coasts of Costa Rica are strongholds for these turtles, particularly the leatherback sea turtle that has declined by 90 per cent since 1980, and much conservation work goes on here.
Its possible to stand back and take in the sight of hundreds of small turtles making their frantic dash to the sea, or you can volunteer for one of the many organisations working to protect the turtle’s future.
Norway: See polar bears on safari
Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago and one of the best places to see polar bears and other iconic Arctic wildlife. Race across the snowy tundra in the company of an experienced guide and take in the astonishing beauty of the icy landscape and secluded fjords. Many companies offer snowmobile safaris, giving you the opportunity to witness wild polar bears roaming the ice in their natural habitat.
You’re not guaranteed to see a bear but to increase your chances, it’s best to visit in the summer, before the ice freezes over and the dark days draw in.
Zig-zagging across the ice sheets on a snowmobile means you won’t have to rely on husky-drawn sleds, giving the dogs a break. If you’re lucky, you may even fit in seeing the Northern Lights.
Malaysia: Volunteer with orangutans
Few places will capture the imagination quite like the jungles of Malaysia. With dozens of places offering eco-friendly accommodation, you can immerse yourself in the wilderness. Sanctuaries such as the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre teach rescued orangutans how to live in the wild. Simply pay them a visit or sign up for a volunteer placement.