The world’s wonders come in many shapes and sizes, and, truth to tell, most of them aren’t man-made. Rather they’re the flock of migratory birds descending at twilight on a wetland or the whisper of a shadow, perhaps it really is a Clouded Leopard, in the forest. These wonders, often elusive, can be found around the planet.
Following is a sketch of where and when to look for them and a strategy for finding them.
Viewing wildlife up close and personal may sound easy. But it isn’t. While there may be some correlation between dollars spent and the wildlife you see, this isn’t always the case. But what most often works is putting yourself in the hands of a wildlife expert whose life is the study of animals’ natural habitats. Another suggestion is to ask this expert to concentrate your wildlife adventure in regions where preserves are established to protect and study the habits and habitats of rare and endangered species.
Take India, for example. In Assam Providence is the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, a 5,190-acre wildlife reserve with Hoolock Gibbons that are the only apes in India. Here, too, is the country’s smallest primate, the Slow Loris. Unique geography affords viewing of, among others, Eastern Assamese Macaque, Capped Langur, elephants, tigers, leopards, jungle cats, three types of civit cats and 219 bird species.
The world’s largest tropical wetlands are in Brazil’s Pantanal below the Amazon Rainforest. Here are an unusually large population of jaguars and the new Jaguar Research Center where 98 percent of travelers report sighting jaguars during their stay. According to a lodge owner, the renowned biologist Charles Munn, “the first guest at the newly opened Jaguar Research Center, saw 14 jaguars in 14 days.”
On a wildlife viewing adventure in Brazil, more wonders come by experiencing life on a massive conservation corridor of varied eco systems surrounding the southern Amazon. Here is Brazil’s largest private reserve of 46 square miles adjacent to Cristalino State Park’s 456,800 acres. Guests lodge at Cristalino Jungle Lodge.
Visitors may also choose to visit the Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Project in the State of Rio de Janeiro where guests can learn about the most successful conservation efforts in the world to repopulate an animal that had gone nearly extinct, one of the smallest primates in the world.
On a remote part of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is the 692-acre Aviarios Sloth Rescue Center and private wildlife sanctuary. The reserve is a giant island estuary system that circumnavigates the Rio Estralla and a clutch of canals. However, unlike Canales Tortuguero and its 40 some lodges north along the coast, this region is virtually off limits except to a privileged few who stay at the six-room Aviaros Sloth Rescue Center. Here, in addition to two species of wild sloths, are three species of monkeys and over 300 species of tropical birds.
Two biosphere reserves, Tambopata and Manu, jut out into the far southeast of Peru. Hundreds of vibrantly colored macaws and parrots congregate annually in the Tambopata Biosphere Reserve macaw clay lick where they partake in beakfuls of the bank’s red clay. Tambopata’s Oxbow lakes are home to prehistoric-looking Hoatzen and Giant Otters.
Manu Biosphere Reserve is the number one park in the world for bio-diversity and can bring travelers face-to-face with 200 species of mammals, 13 species of primates, and 1,000 species of birds.
Peru organizes its reserves in zones, the outer open to visitors (some 40,000 in 2010) and hunting by Indians; the middle zone visited by fewer than 2,300; and the inner zone completely off limits to humans. The 2,300 who visit the middle zone approach in a motorized canoe trip that takes five hours. Wildlife doesn’t know the difference between the inner and the middle zones, therefore viewing can be profound.
Sometimes the tour professionals guiding visitors into remote regions to see specific animals such as Thailand’s rare Clouded Leopard come up with innovative ways to access habitats without frightening the animals. Wild Planet Adventures (http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/) is the only travel company with such a strategy to see this highly elusive animal. They combine long-tail boats and silent kayaks across a lake to reach the remote Klong Seang Wildlife Sanctuary.
From November to June, Hoollongapar: Gibbon Sanctuary is included in Wild Planet Adventures’ 19-day India Ultimate Wildlife Safari: Leopards, Tigers and Palaces package; and Clouded Leopards are often seen at Klong Seang Wildlife Sanctuary on the 11- and 14-day Hidden Thailand: Remote Rainforests & Islands tour.
From May through October, guests visit the Jaguar Research Center in Brazil’s Pantanal on 10 and 14-day Brazil: Pantanal to the Amazon – On the Jaguar’s Trail adventure package.
From December through August, guests discover the Sloth Wildlife Sanctuary on the 9- and 14-day Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife tours, the company’s most popular offering.
From April through October is the Ultimate Wildlife Amazon and Machu Picchu tour.
Prices on all-inclusive itineraries ranging from 9 to 19 days (excluding international air) range from $300 to $550 per day, per person, depending on destination.
For information on these and other programs that bring you up close and personal with the world’s most rare and elusive wildlife, please contact Wild Planet Adventures at 800-990-4376 or visit www.wildplanetadventures.com