If you really want to get away from it all this year, head out into the wilderness and spend time with some of Earth’s most fascinating animals
There’s a whole world out there, but if too much choice baffles you then you need our 2018 wildlife travel guide. In Issue 55 we give you inspiration for your next big adventure – here’s a peak into what’s on offer:
Canada: Track down ghosts in British Columbia
Canada has long been established as a destination for holidaymakers looking for a healthy dose of the wild, and its popularity is still growing. Many travellers head for the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. This expanse of temperate rainforest on the Pacific coast provides opportunities to observe grizzly bears, wolves, whales and sea otters.
In case that’s not enough to have you hunting for your passport, the rainforest is also the only place where rare Kermode bears can be found. This subspecies of the black bear is known in British Columbia as the spirit bear because, while most have black fur, a mutant gene has produced several hundred completely white Kermode bears. As well as being a captivating sight for visitors, these bears are important figures in the legends and culture of local indigenous people.
Malawi: Welcome elephants to their new homes
Countries like Kenya and South Africa are well established as safari destinations, but there’s an ambitious newcomer on the scene: Malawi. This may be a relatively small nation, but it has some very big ideas for wildlife conservation.
One ambitious project is the 500 Elephants Campaign. Two of Malawi’s national parks — Liwonde and Majete — were facing the problem of elephant overcrowding, while another — Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve — had seen numbers reduced by poaching from 1,500 to fewer than 100.
To solve this imbalance, 500 elephants were transported across the country to Nkhotakota from the other parks to create more sustainable populations, and efforts have been increased to keep the animals safe. The success of the campaign means that visitors to Malawi have plenty of chances to watch elephants roaming free, as well as leopards and buffalo.
Japan: Meet the legendary tanuki
Japan is set to be a popular holiday destination this year. While many people go for the culture, the scenery and the food, few have the tanuki in mind as they book their flights. This little-known canid is also called the Japanese raccoon dog, a subspecies of the Asian racoon dog. Confusingly, it’s much closer to foxes and wolves than racoons. Common all over the country, the racoon dog is the only canid to hibernate in winter, so it’s best to look for them in the summer. They’re social animals and form monogamous pairs when they’re ready to breed.
Tanuki feature heavily in Japanese folklore — shapeshifting, causing mischief and, bizarrely, achieving remarkable feats with their giant testicles. In reality, their reproductive organs are pretty standard in size, but you’ll still see them exaggerated on the hat-wearing, sake-bottle-holding statues placed outside bars and restaurants to bring prosperity.
Scotland: Watch eagles soar
Europe is often thought of as a destination for city breaks rather than wildlife holidays, but stepping away from the museums and restaurants can lead visitors to a whole different world. Scotland is an ideal choice for those who want to see spectacular scenery and a wide range of beautiful animals without having to apply sun cream every five minutes.
The forests provide a playground for red squirrels, pine martens and a bizarre-looking bird called a capercaillie. Leaving the woods behind, you can drive to the coast of the mainland or visit a Scottish island to look
for otters, puffins, basking sharks, seals, sea eagles and dolphins.
Alternatively, lace up your walking boots and head into the hills for a chance to see mountain hares and red deer. Keen eyes can even catch a glimpse of a golden eagle soaring over the peaks and valleys.
Pick up a copy of issue 55 for even more travel inspiration!