Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The search for some of the world’s top soul-stirring wildlife encounters can take you to the ends of the earth, from the wilds of Africa to the southernmost tip of Argentina.
There are some wildlife encounters that go above and beyond: following in the footsteps of a Galapagos giant tortoise, watching more than a million wildebeest during the Great Migration, and observing far-flung penguin colonies in southern Patagonia. Getting to these destinations in a way that is both ethically minded and luxurious is no mean feat – but the itineraries with Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) accomplish it with aplomb. Conservation and animal welfare is at the forefront of A&K’s wildlife experiences, so travellers can undertake journeys that are equal parts considered and unforgettable.
Here, uncover some of A&K’s most rewarding animal encounters.
See the Big Five in the Masai Mara
Time your visit to Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve between July and October to coincide with the earth-rumbling natural phenomenon that is the annual Great Migration. See 1.5 million wildebeest, plus zebras and other herbivores, make the epic trek from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara region in search of greener pastures. Never fear if your schedule doesn’t line up with the migration though, because the Masai Mara is one of the best places on Earth to spot the Big Five: lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and Cape buffalos. The easiest way to spot any of the Big Five is on a game drive through the savannah with an experienced guide who knows all the best wildlife-viewing spots.
While days may be wild, evenings are refined at Sanctuary Olonana, the lodge of choice for A&K’s 14-day Ultra-Lux Safari Tour. This five-star luxury safari lodge sits along a secluded slice of the Mara River. There are just 14 glass-sided suites, all tastefully bedecked with nature-inspired furnishings, partition walls that open onto river views, and marble-accented bathrooms with huge bathtubs. Days on safari are capped off with sundowners overlooking the Mara plains. Canapes are served along with a selection of drinks, both to be enjoyed over shared tales of the day’s adventure while the sun sets.
The rise of the tiger in Panna National Park
Panna National Park in India is a conservation zone: it has played a huge role in saving the area’s tigers from the brink of extinction. The reintroduction effort is a great success story for India and Panna National Park, with the park’s tiger population increasing to more than 50 since 2009. The best way to learn more about the ongoing efforts to protect endangered species is to join a private safari tour through Panna National Park. Keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale orange-and-black stripes flashing through the dry forest landscape or listen out for the chuffing sound that alludes a tiger may be nearby.
To stay close to the action, Pashan Garh, A Taj Safari is set on 200 acres of private wilderness within the national park. There are just 12 stone cottages that make up this luxury jungle safari resort, each boasting spectacular views and top-notch facilities. Dining here is a must: a Chef’s Table experience reveals the splendours of India’s aromatic curries.
Go in search of Bengal tigers when you join this Ultra-Lux Small-Group India tour.
Walk among giants in the Galapagos
With an average lifespan of 100 years and weighing in at around 250kg, the Galapagos giant tortoise is synonymous with this wildlife destination. These gentle giants, only found on the Galapagos, are often seen around the Santa Cruz highlands and near the Alcedo Volcano on Isabela Island. The slow-moving creatures can be found wallowing in warm volcanic mud or wandering to munch on grass, cacti, leaves and flowers. Aboard the stylish 48-guest La Pinta expedition vessel, travellers can cruise islands and look out for blue-footed boobies on Santa Cruz, snorkel with white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos penguins off Santiago Island and admire marine iguanas basking on rocks along the coastline.
Go where few have gone before on this Ultra-Lux tour that includes a four-day Galapagos Island cruise.
Travel to the ‘End of the World’ and meet Magellanic penguins
Make the journey to the southernmost tip of Argentina to Ushuaia, the gateway to the Antarctic and the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. It’s from this busy port city that you can board a private cruise to the Isla Martillo. This island is only accessible by boat and few operators can stop and disembark here, so stepping foot onto the pebbled shores is a rare and rewarding experience. Greeting you as you make your way to the Magellanic rookery is a cacophony of bird call. The Magellanic penguins, known for being social and conversational, can be found honking and squawking as they look for their mate in the heaving crowd of black-and-white birds – their tiny stature at odds with their volume.
This cruise continues to Isla Gable in the heart of the Beagle Channel. The island has a rugged and stunning landscape, with nothing but a handful of abandoned buildings and the wind and water as company. A scenic lunch is the perfect way to savour the remote landscape. If you want less creatures and more creature comforts, a stay at the five-star Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa with its mountain-facing spa jet pools and fine-dining Argentinian restaurant will be the perfect escape.
Meet the friendly penguins on this Patagonia Ultra-Lux Wilderness Tour.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out Sleep Like Royalty at These Extraordinary Heritage Hotels.