“His screams stuck in my head,” recalls Sangduen ‘Lek’ Chailert, of an occasion she saw an injured elephant being forced to work. “I looked in his eyes and I couldn’t believe how much they expressed his anger. I had to make a promise to him. And that promise was that I would speak out for and provide a home for these elephants”.
“It’s difficult to describe just how vulnerable you feel when your eyes meet the unwavering stare of a predatory lion.”
From sloths hanging out, to whales breathtakingly breeching and lions stalking their prey – when we asked you about your best experiences with animals when travelling, we were inundated with more than 2700 special moments.
Selecting just a small handful to share for you was one tough task, but here are 15 of the most fabulous animal encounters from travellers…
Two weeks before their trip, Jason McLaughlin and his wife Charlotte knew they were going away, they just didn’t know where.
You see, the couple were the winners of an Intrepid mystery trip competition, so imagine their delight when Jason and Charlotte turned up at the airport and discovered they were going to explore Peru and its astounding Amazon Jungle…
“The driver kills the engine and for several moments the boat sits in darkness in what equates to silence in the jungle – the polyphonic hum of the cicadas, the occasional whoop of a nighttime bird and the excited wails of unseen monkeys, somewhere, maybe far away, maybe watching us from the shadowy trees which overhang the river banks. We gaze at stars I can’t remember seeing before. The constellations I recognise, The Plough, Orion, Pegasus are there of course, but between them are sparkling clusters of light which, I swear, just don’t exist in the city.
What goes swing, swing, shimmy, scramble, thump? That’d be one of our closest genetic relatives leaving one piece of remnant rainforest in search of another. The Bornean orang-utans have lost much of their natural habitat and need our support, and The Intrepid Foundation is delighted to come on board to help.
We have partnered with HUTAN – Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Program to support their work to develop and implement innovative solutions to conserve the orang-utan in Sabah. Intrepid travellers on tours to Borneo, currently have a great opportunity to see wild orang-utans in the Kinabatangan River region. But the ease with which they may see orang-utans is sadly not all good.
Almost everyone who has done a tour of East Africa will tell you it’s fantastic. It’s renowned for being wild, authentic, spectacular and rugged, but Intrepid’s Skye Gainey wondered if it would live up to her high expectations when she finally had the chance to travel to Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania…
“Let me start with the game viewing. Never would I imagine seeing so many animals in such a short period of time. In Rwanda we hiked deep into the forest to spend time with a Gorilla family – a silverback, mature males and females, juveniles and babies! Watching these primates interact with each other and recognise us as friendly visitors truly makes you believe in evolution.
If you thought you had missed out on this year’s famous wildebeest migration, think again!
The incredible spectacle of hundreds of thousands of frantic wildebeest rushing through Kenya’s Masai Mara to reach Tanzania’s Serengeti plains normally occurs between July and September, but this year an uncommon event is taking place.
The Arctic is a treacherous and unforgiving place. With ever-shifting ice flows, impassable glaciers and freezing winds, surviving here is not exactly a walk in the park. But like anywhere on earth, Mother Nature always manages to find a way to make it work, ensuring that the Arctic is filled to the brim with fascinating wildlife…
The world’s largest land carnivore, the polar bear is the undisputed king of the Arctic. With their elegant white fur armour providing the ideal camouflage, these lumbering giants maintain an almost ghostlike presence against the icy terrain, occasionally plunging into the freezing water to hunt unsuspecting seals. There’s no denying it – the chance of seeing one of these mighty animals in the flesh is reason enough to travel to the Arctic.
At Intrepid, we believe that all animals are created equal. But let’s be honest, not every animal is worth planning your entire holiday around. That’s probably why we don’t get many people booking our Asia trips just to see a donkey. And we don’t see many travellers flocking to Kenya to see the giant African millipede…
But polar bears are different. With the swagger of a prize-fighter, these epic beasts can weigh more than 540 kilograms and can reach heights of almost 3 metres tall. But it’s not just their imposing physique. There is a definite soulfulness about these lonely, highly intelligent creatures living a solitary existence on never-ending deserts of ice.
You can’t get a much more heart-thumping moment than coming face to face with a magnificent mountain gorilla. Alessandra McLachlan’s adrenalin was racing during her memorable encounter in Rwanda…
“While our group was watching the antics of young gorillas, I noticed one of our guides beckon me to follow him. The guide and I came to a clearing where an alpha male gorilla was laying on his stomach and holding up his head with his left hand. He was peaceful and almost seemed bored. I am not sure why I did this, but I dropped to my knees and both the gorilla and I looked deeply into each others eyes.