Experiencing wild animals can be such a fabulous highlight of your travel experience. However, wild animals used in entertainment may be experiencing unseen cruelty or abuse. How would you know? How could you help?
Did I expect to be able to climb Mt Kinabalu to watch the sun rise? Never. Was I planning on joining orangutans for breakfast? Probably not. But then these experiences and more were typical of my unexpected highlights in Borneo.
I chose Borneo for my next Intrepid trip because I loved the thought of seeing amazing wildlife, staying in traditional villages and I was prepared to give the mountain climb a go, but what I didn’t anticipate was just how much of a buzz I would get from exploring this fascinating land.
The term ‘trip of a lifetime’ gets bandied about a lot these days, possibly too freely, but for Lee Bethune travelling to the Galapagos Islands lived up to the expectations that comes with such an assured claim…
“Over 1000km west of the mainland of Ecuador, I thought there would have to be something special and there was… it was the Galapagos Islands.
On average, three rhinos a day are being killed in South Africa – all because of a lie…
Rhinos are hunted down thanks to the mistaken belief that their horns possess properties that detoxify the body and can therefore cure anything from a hangover to serious illnesses such as cancer. And if there was evidence to support such beliefs – you may as well chew your fingernails!
Intrepid staff and travellers are a very passionate lot; unafraid to speak up about ethical and social justice issues they may be confronted with during their travels.
Human rights issues, poverty, environmental concerns…there are many, but one of the areas that Intrepid folk are most vocal about is animal welfare. From witnessing animals in distress, to captive animals in poor conditions or working animals, particularly if it’s connected to tourism, Intrepid staff and travellers don’t hold back on speaking up for the voiceless.
Just imagine the Galapagos…with no majestic giant tortoise, no quizzical looking blue footed boobies, no sea lions taking over the park benches on the water front, or no dinosaur-like marine iguanas sun-baking on the rocks.
It’s a scary thought – but if not for one action 50 years ago, that’s how the Galapagos Islands could be now.
“It’s difficult to describe just how vulnerable you feel when your eyes meet the unwavering stare of a predatory lion.”
The Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard is a fantastic location for seeking out wildlife, but there’s more than that to discover in this intriguing land.
You have a more than excellent chance of seeing the fearsome polar bear, as well as groups of bloated walrus, the somewhat dumpy Svalbard reindeer and even the Arctic fox. In the water you can encounter a variety of whales and all sorts of seals, often hauled up on pack ice.
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.