TOP WILDLIFE DES­TI­NA­TIONS

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SA­MAN­THA WIL­SON AU­THOR

KATMAI NATIONAL PARK, ALASKA: Set off on a sea­plane from An­chor­age to Katmai National Park, home to more than 2200 griz­zly bears, one of the largest den­si­ties in the world. It is a wild land of jagged peaks, smok­ing vol­ca­noes and streams laden with fat salmon. Brooks Falls and its lux­ury lodge are the hub of bear-view­ing ac­tiv­i­ties; kat­mai­land.com.

THE PANTANAL, BRAZIL: Take a multi-day trip into the heart of the world’s largest wet­land in search of gi­ant blue macaws, capy­bara, howler mon­keys and, if you’re re­ally lucky, jaguars. Stay on a rus­tic cat­tle ranch and ride on horse­back through swamps in­hab­ited by caiman al­li­ga­tors, pi­ra­nhas and ana­con­das; scte-brazil.com.

SVAL­BARD, NOR­WAY: Em­bark on a week-long cruise of Nor­way’s Sval­bard Is­land, a re­mote and wild place where po­lar bears eas­ily out­num­ber hu­mans. Keep your eyes peeled for this largest of car­ni­vores and you might also spot bow­head whales, seals, nar­whals and wal­ruses; nord­norge.com; sval­bard.net.

VALDES PENIN­SULA, AR­GENTINA: At var­i­ous times of the year you can stand on the shores of the windswept penin­sula and see south­ern right whales and their calves, and mil­lions of tiny Mag­el­lanic pen­guins. The penin­sula is also home to the south­ern ele­phant seal’s north­ern­most colony; most spec­tac­u­larly, or­cas storm up the shal­lows and pluck seal pups from the beach. Puerto Madryn is the jump­ing-off point; wel­comear­gentina.com; turismo.gov.ar.

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK, NAMIBIA: Set off on a self­drive sa­fari through the dry and dusty lands of Etosha. You will spot gi­raffes and ele­phants, black rhi­nos, ze­bra, im­pala, gems­bok and prides of lions wan­der­ing the salt pans and grass­lands. It is also one of the best places in Africa to glimpse the world’s fastest land an­i­mal, the chee­tah; etosha­na­tion­al­park.org.

PALAU: Head to the Mi­crone­sian is­land na­tion of Palau for some of the planet’s most in­cred­i­ble un­der­wa­ter ad­ven­tures. Scuba dive with sharks, manta rays, tur­tles and more than 1400 species of trop­i­cal fish be­fore clam­ber­ing into Jel­ly­fish Lake to snorkel among mil­lions of stin­g­less jel­ly­fish — a true evo­lu­tion­ary phe­nom­e­non; visit-palau.com.

Sa­man­tha Wil­son is a travel and ad­ven­ture writer. Her lat­est book is Ul­ti­mate Wildlife Des­ti­na­tions (New Hol­land Pub­lish­ers, $29.99).

Gra­ham Er­bacher Gra­ham.Er­bacher@news.com.au

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