From polar bears to giant turtles and exotic lemurs, seeing shy, elusive animals in their natural habitat is always a remember-forever experience – but how do you know which time of the year you should plan your trip?
July – Bears, Alaska
The bears tend to avoid human contact if they can but viewing them in the wild in Alaska is great post-hibernation and throughout the summer. Particularly in July, with the salmon spawning, bears descend from the mountains to join in this feeding “frenzy” in the rivers.
August – Whales, Canada
With Arctic ice shrinking, more and more bowhead whales use the Northwest Passage to move across the top of the Americas – while every August more than 20,000 belugas gather in Hudson Bay.
- World Expeditions’ High Arctic Explorer (15 days) delves deep into the far north, travelling from Canada’s most northerly community and all the way to Greenland. Departs on August 2, from £2,585 / US$3,995 per person.
September – Orangutans, Borneo
Borneo is a year-round destination but for cooler, more pleasant temperatures come in September, at the peak of the dry season. The endangered orangutans like to spend most of their time in trees and, apart from Sumatra, this is the only place to see them in the wild.
- Untamed Borneo (11 days) introduces you to the very best experiences on the island, including a visit to the famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Departs on September 1, from £1,490 per person.
October – Lemurs, Madagascar
Found nowhere else in the world, lemurs are easy to see in several parts of Madagascar (there are more than 70 different kinds) and October is when several species give birth, allowing plenty of opportunities to view the newborn primates.
- Book the trip: World Expeditions’ Madagascar Adventure offers a complete exploration of the island’s rich ecosystem over three weeks. Departs on October 5, from £2,390 per person.
November – Emperor penguins, Antarctica
The emperor penguin breeds in the perpetual darkness of an Antarctic winter so by November (springtime in Antarctica) there are plenty of opportunities to walk among their vast colonies and enjoy watching the new chicks as they explore their homes.
- Book the trip: Take in the wonders of the earth’s least visited continent with World Expeditions’ 11-day Antarctic Highlights cruise. Departs on November 29, from £3,389 / $5,240 per person.
December – Green turtles, Galapagos
A huge population of green turtles gathers off the shores of the Galapagos Islands to mate, socialise and then lay their eggs. The prime season for nesting starts in December but remember that it most often occurs at night so there is protection from predators.
- Book the trip: Accompanied by a naturalist guide, World Expeditions take you on a cruise around the Galapagos Islands (8 days) aboard the deluxe Beluga vessel. Departs every Friday in December, from £2,790 per person.
January – Bleeding heart baboons, Ethiopia
The rare gelada monkeys (also known as “bleeding heart baboons” because of the distinctive red patch of skin on their chest) live only in the high mountain meadows of Ethiopia. They seldom climb trees, spending most of their time sitting upright and picking spears of fresh, green grass.
- Book the trip: Trek the Highlands of Ethiopia (17 days), search for bleeding heart baboons and admire the dramatic landscapes with World Expeditions. Departs on January 15, just before the rainy season starts, from £2,090 per person.
February – Wildebeest, Tanzania
Every February the Serengeti, Tanzania’s spectacular ecosystem, hosts a remarkably synchronised event: the wildebeest spend their time on the short grass plains grazing and giving birth to approximately 500,000 calves within a two to three-week period.
- Book the trip: World Expeditions offers the ideal introduction to the untouched Southern Parks of Tanzania (7 days), where lodge development is embryonic and tourism numbers low. Departs every Sunday in February, from £2,890 per person.
March – Tigers, India
By March the dry season in India is taking its toll on the fauna of the country’s wildlife reserves. The long lush grass following the monsoons has dried out, making tigers far more visible as they drink from the few remaining watering holes.
- Book the trip: World Expeditions’ NEW! Tigers and the Taj Mahal (9 days) takes you to India’s most famous national park where tigers can be easily spotted even during the day time. Departs daily in March, from £1,090 per person.
April – Pandas, China
Meeting a giant panda in the wild requires patience, persistence and luck and searching for clues such as remains of bitten bamboo, droppings and footprints. The mild weather in early spring suits better the animals, as they tend to be more active during the latter part of the day.
- Book the trip: World Expeditions’ weeklong Pandas, Yangtze And Shanghai offers a unique opportunity to visit the world-renowned Panda Breeding Research Centre. Departs daily in April, from £1,190 per person.
May – Mountain gorillas, Rwanda and Uganda
Are you prepared to trek up steep paths in order to get up close and personal with these great apes? While mountain gorillas can be seen any time of the year, it is not uncommon for tracking permits to be significantly discounted during the rainy months in the spring.
- Book the trip: World Expeditions has crafted an itinerary especially for animal lovers with hikes into the natural habitats of the Primates and Wildlife of Rwanda and Uganda (13 days). Departs on May 18, from £3,690 per person.
June – Polar bears, the Arctic
A land of massive ice sheet and fjords in the Arctic archipelago, Spitsbergen has about 2,500 inhabitants, roughly the same as the number of polar bears, which in June you can observe in their natural habitat under the midnight sun.
- Book the trip: World Expeditions’ 8-day cruise to North Spitsbergen is ideal for anyone short on time who wants to see polar bears as they roam the ice in search of food. Departs on June 17, from £2,490 / $3,850 per person.
For more information on World Expeditions please visit www.worldexpeditions.co.uk or call 0800 0744 135. World Expeditions’ policy ensures there are no local payments. Prices do not include international flights.