TOP WILDLIFE DESTINATIONS
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