A big mug of tea, a comfy sofa and David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II on the television… it’s safe to say that Sunday evenings have never looked so good. His latest series has been one of the most celebrated in his seven-decade career, and oh boy can we see why. From the adventures of the sleepy, three-toed sloth, to that episode with the snakes and baby iguanas, we’ve been inspired, entertained, and sometimes just down right terrified.
If, like us, you’re looking to embrace your inner Attenborough on your next trip overseas, then these are the creatures and destinations we reckon you should look out for. Cue David Attenborough voice…
Snow leopards in Ladakh, India
There are only 6,000 snow leopards living in the wild across the world, and their elusive nature means they aren’t all that easy to come by. But head into the isolated Uley Valley and high mountain passes of Ladkah, India, and you’ll find yourself in the serene and isolated home of one of the most impressive animals on earth. There are around 200 snow leopards living in this particular region, in a setting that’s crammed with rugged cliffs, towering snow-topped mountains and historic golden gompas (ornate Buddhist monasteries). It’s a bring-your-binoculars and beady eyes kind of place, as snow leopards are as fast as they are distant. But don’t fret – other animals you’re likely to spot include Tibetan antelopes, Himalayan marmots (furry animals that are roughly the size of a house cat) and Tibetan hares.
Lemurs in Madagascar
With acres of land filled with some of the world’s most rare animals, the island of Madagascar – which sits in the Indian Ocean – is a dream destination for animal lovers. The island’s signature animal, the lemur, is just one of the cool animals you can expect to find here: in fact, 5% of the world’s animal and plant species call Madagascar home.
But it’s in the Bemaraha National Park – a mind-blowing geological phenomena of looming, spiky limestone needles – where you’ll find up to 11 species of lemur, along with over 100 bird species and 45 endemic reptiles and amphibians, including the Madagascar iguana and antsingy leaf chameleon. Elsewhere on the island (which is approximately the size of France), you’ll find the fossa (a cat-like animal) and colourful frogs hidden within the island’s orchids and towering forests. A wildlife dream, indeed.
Komodo dragons in Indonesia
Elsewhere in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean are the islands of Indonesia, a collection of 17,000 splodges of land, 800 of which are inhabited. The landscape here is diverse – from dense rainforest and soaring volcanoes, to colourful seaside towns and coral-fringed beaches. It’s here, on Komodo island, that you’ll discover the legendary three-metre-long komodo dragon, one of the world’s most famous, and largest, lizards. In the 29 islands of the UNESCO-protected Komodo National Park, approximately 4,000 of the lizards settle in amongst the forests, beaches, savannahs and orange-tinged volcanic hills, and a further 2,000 can be found on Flores island, which was named as flower island in the 16th century.
Bears in the Canadian Rockies
Nothing quite beats that moment you spot your first lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Here, glaciers, snow-capped mountains and dark pine forests line acres of turquoise water, making the region an Instagrammer’s dream. But that’s just the start. Beyond the magnificent scenery and fresh air, you’ll find some of the world’s most exciting wildlife in the Canadian Rockies. Here, bears – of both the grizzly and black variety – are so common that you may see them on your hiking trail, while canoeing the serene and slow-moving Bow River, or even when driving along the wide empty roads leading from one epic National Park to the next. And when you’re not spying bears, there are plenty of moose, elk, bighorn sheep and eagles dotting the majestic landscape. That’s one hell of a holiday photo album.
Lions vs buffalo in the Okavango Delta
The spectacular landscape of the Okavango Delta – a 16,000 square kilometre mass of winding waterways and lush plains in Botswana – was one of the remote settings featured in Planet Earth II’s Grasslands episode. It’s here that the BBC film crew spent five months camping in the wild, capturing incredible footage of hyenas and lions. The biggest draw in the flooded Okavango, though, has to be the cape buffalo – one of the world’s most dangerous animals. Only a few prides of lions have actually learnt how to hunt in these swamps, and it’s here, with a backdrop of meandering creeks and serene waterholes, that you can witness the crazy spectacle of lions vs buffalos. And how better to see it than from the water itself? Transport here is as slow-paced as the setting, and a mokoro (a traditional dugout canoe) will take you from one animal-packed stop off to the next.
Lemurs and dragons and bears, oh my! Have your own Attenborough-esque adventure with Intrepid. Explore our range of journeys here.
Feature image c/o Blue Planet, BBC