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Top 10 Wildlife Experiences

We reflect on our favourite wildlife encounters from around the world

We share this planet with a myriad fascinating wildlife species. Over the last 18 months, international lockdowns have made travel difficult, and often impossible. Yet we have continued to fuel our wanderlust by reminiscing about our favourite travel experiences.
 
As the world reopens, we celebrate by sharing our top ten wildlife encounters with you. If you want to learn more, get in touch, our team are waiting to craft your next great adventure.
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Tracking re-wilded jaguar in the Pantanal, Brazil
"Spending time with the Onçafari team was inspiring, hearing about the success they’ve had in re-wilding two orphaned jaguars. Then to actually find one of these two sisters in the wild was truly awe-inspiring. In fact, we enjoyed four different jaguar sightings during our stay, each a slightly different experience, which made my time there even more memorable."

Ross Cambray
Master Journeysmith

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Tracking re-wilded jaguar in the Pantanal, Brazil
"Spending time with the Onçafari team was inspiring, hearing about the success they’ve had in re-wildingo orphaned jaguars. Then to actually find one of these two sisters in the wild was truly awe-inspiring. In fact, we enjoyed four different jaguar sightings during our stay, each a slightly different experience, which made my time there even more memorable."

Ross Cambray
Master Journeysmith

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Seven leopard in two game drives at Sujan Jawai, India
"In all my travels, I have never seen this abundance of leopard. Perched in an open jeep atop a boulder the size of a cathedral, scanning cliff faces and hillsides across river valleys and ravines, suddenly comprehending eyes and iconic black rosettes on gold. Returning to a camp fit for a maharaja, enjoying exquisite cuisine to nature’s evening chorus only enhanced my simultaneous feelings of awe and contentment.”

Paul Hawley
Head of Journeys

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Seven leopard in two game drives at Sujan Jawai, India
"In all my travels, I have never seen this abundance of leopard. Perched in an open jeep atop a boulder the size of a cathedral, scanning cliff faces and hillsides across river valleys and ravines, suddenly comprehending eyes and iconic black rosettes on gold. Returning to a camp fit for a maharaja I enjoyed exquisite cuisine to nature’s evening chorus only enhanced my simultaneous feelings of awe and contentment.”

Paul Hawley
Head of Journeys

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Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
"Our trek was long but incredibly rewarding. After five hours, my porter turned to me ‘Do you want to see a gorilla?’, he said and pointed into the trees. There they were, balls of dark fur inexplicably balanced in the branches. We got closer, the Silverback descended and one by one the family of 17 slid down the trees all around us. The next hour was magical, watching them play, groom, swing on vines and interact with one another."

Emily Lowther
Journeysmith

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Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
"Our trek was long but incredibly rewarding. After five hours, my porter turned to me ‘Do you want to see a gorilla?’ he said and pointed into the trees. There they were, balls of dark fur inexplicably balanced in the branches. We got closer, the Silverback descended and one by one the family of 17 slid down the trees all around us. The next hour was magical, watching them play, groom, swing on vines and interact with one another."

Emily Lowther
Journeysmith

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Endangered one-horned rhinoceros in Bardia National Park, Nepal
"Relatively untouched by tourism, the national parks of southern Nepal are truly wild, with limited road networks and probably dozens of undiscovered species within. Venturing into Bardia, we were on the look-out for tiger but instead came across the huge, yet surprisingly gentle presence of a rare one-horned rhinoceros and its baby. With only around 2,500 left in the wild, it was a very special hour or so spent watching them browse and drink from the river, unaware of our presence."

Ross Cambray
Master Journeysmith

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Endangered one-horned rhinoceros in Bardia National Park, Nepal
"Relatively untouched by tourism, the national parks of southern Nepal are truly wild, with limited road networks and probably dozens of undiscovered species within. Venturing into Bardia, we were on the look-out for tiger but instead came across the huge yet surprisingly gentle presence of a rare one-horned rhinoceros and its baby. With only around 2,500 left in the wild, it was a very special hour or so spent watching them browse and drink from the river, unaware of our presence."

Ross Cambray
Master Journeysmith

Enquire Now
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An elephant interrupts my shower in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
"Arriving at Xaranna in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a shower with a view seemed the perfect way to start the afternoon. So, towel wrapped around me, I walked out onto the deck, but the Delta’s wildlife had other ideas as an elephant’s trunk appeared over the canvas in search of the waters in my private pool. I didn’t manage that shower but for the next 30 minutes sat and watched as the gentle giant made its way slowly around the front of my suite and off into the forest beyond."

Laura Burdett-Munns
Managing Director

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An elephant interrupts my shower in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
"Arriving at Xaranna in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a shower with a view seemed the perfect way to start the afternoon. So, towel wrapped around me, I walked out onto the deck, but the Delta’s wildlife had other ideas as an elephant’s trunk appeared over the canvas in search of the waters in my private pool. I didn’t manage that shower, but for the next 30 minutes sat and watched as the gentle giant made its way slowly around the front of my suite and off into the forest beyond."

Laura Burdett-Munns
Managing Director

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Swimming with whale sharks in Cebu, Philippines
“I was in Singapore and a friend mentioned that he had swam with whale sharks in the Philippines. I had to go! The following week I flew to the island and took a small traditional Bangka (boat) out to where their migration path crosses. Before I knew it, I was given the nod to jump in. Just under the surface was a huge school of whale sharks, the smallest of which dwarfed both me and the boat! It was surreal being in the water with such large animals, totally unperturbed by my presence and meaning me no harm. To date, the greatest wildlife experience I have ever had.”

Rory Wood
Journeysmith

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Swimming with whale sharks in Cebu, Philippines
“I was in Singapore and a friend mentioned that he had swam with whale sharks in the Philippines. I had to go! The following week I flew to the island and took a small traditional Bangka (boat) out to where their migration path crosses. Before I knew it, I was given the nod to jump in. Just under the surface was a huge school of whale sharks, the smallest of which dwarfed both me and the boat! It was surreal being in the water with such large animals, totally unperturbed by my presence and meaning me no harm. To date, the greatest wildlife experience I have ever had.”

Rory Wood
Journeysmith

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Rounding up cattle on horseback in Bariloche, Argentina
"Staying on a working cattle ranch in Bariloche was insightful and unique. It was a home from home and there was so much to see and do. As well as fly fishing, bird watching and hiking against the most amazing backdrop, I had the opportunity to help round up cattle on horseback. I felt like a cowboy! Not only was it an exhilarating experience, it was part of everyday life on the ranch and was completely authentic. No gimmicks, no souvenirs, just a couple of gauchos and a handful of guests. It was great to work as a team and (eventually) get the cows where they needed to be."

Emily Lowther
Journeysmith

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Rounding up cattle on horseback in Bariloche, Argentina
"Staying on a working cattle ranch in Bariloche was insightful and unique. It was a home from home and there was so much to see and do. As well as fly fishing, bird watching and hiking against the most amazing backdrop, I had the opportunity to help round up cattle on horseback. I felt like a cowboy! Not only was it an exhilarating experience, it was part of everyday life on the ranch and was completely authentic. No gimmicks, no souvenirs, just a couple of gauchos and a handful of guests. It was great to work as a team and (eventually) get the cows where they needed to be."

Emily Lowther
Journeysmith

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Walking amongst a 400,000 strong king penguin colony in South Georgia
"Nothing quite prepares you for the pristine beauty of South Georgia. The untouched beaches, mountains and glaciers are overwhelming in their size and serenity. The wildlife is incredible too. Each day we explored inlets and coves by zodiac, and arriving one day onto a beach with 400,000 king penguins was truly overwhelming! There was quite literally a sea of penguins, black and white with a flash of orange from their beaks. Creches of brown fluffy chicks were happily playing and were so inquisitive, pecking at our boots and clothing. It was so humbling to experience such a very special wildlife encounter."

Julia Morgan
Journeysmith

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Walking amongst a 400,000 strong King Penguin colony in South Georgia
"Nothing quite prepares you for the pristine beauty of South Georgia. The untouched beaches, mountains and glaciers are overwhelming in their size and serenity. The wildlife is incredible too. Each day we explored inlets and coves by zodiac, and arriving on day onto a beach with 400,000 king penguins was truly overwhelming! There was quite literally a sea of penguins, black and white with a flash of orange from their beaks. Creches of brown fluffy chicks were happily playing and were so inquisitive, pecking at our boots and clothing. It was so humbling to experience such a very special wildlife encounter."

Julia Morgan
Journeysmith

Enquire Now
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Lying flat on my stomach observing a pack of wild dog drinking at a waterhole in Laikipia, Kenya
"In the central highlands of Kenya, I was on safari at Laikipia Wilderness, one of the few camps in the area that was part of a wild-dog study group. As part of this group, the guides were able to use tracking devices to help with sightings and research. Shortly after finding the dogs, they started to hunt, and successfully caught a small impala - amazing! Our guide, knowing this pack well, then raced us ahead to one of their favourite watering holes. We jumped out and lay flat on the ground and within minutes, the whole pack, still with blood on their faces, ran past us to drink!"

Julia Morgan
Journeysmith

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Lying flat on my stomach observing a pack of wild dogs drinking at a waterhole in Laikipia, Kenya
"In the central highlands of Kenya, I was on safari at Laikipia Wilderness, one of the few camps in the area that was part of a wild-dog study group. As part of this group, the guides were able to use tracking devices to help with sightings and research. Shortly after finding the dogs, they started to hunt, and successfully caught a small impala - amazing! Our guide, knowing this pack well, then raced us ahead to one of their favourite watering holes. We jumped out and lay flat on the ground and within minutes, the whole pack, still with blood on their faces, ran past us to drink!"

Julia Morgan
Journeysmith

Enquire Now
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Swimming with dusky dolphins off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand
"The stunning Kaikoura coastline is one of the best places in the world to go whale-watching and swim with dolphins and I managed to do both in the same day! Bobbing about on not-the-calmest water would normally be enough to trouble even keen sailors, but it all becomes worthwhile once you’re actually in the water. Hundreds of dolphins came to play, swimming inquisitively up to the interlopers in their territory, playfully and speedily zipping left and right and even engaging in a bit of conversation - I hope they understood my far-from fluent clicks and whistles and I didn’t inadvertently say something rude!"

Ross Cambray
Master Journeysmith

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Swimming with dusky dolphins off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand
"The stunning Kaikoura coastline is one of the best places in the world to go whale-watching and swim with dolphins and I managed to do both in the same day! Bobbing about on not-the-calmest water would normally be enough to trouble even keen sailors, but it all becomes worthwhile once you’re actually in the water. Hundreds of dolphins came to play, swimming inquisitively up to the interlopers in their territory, playfully and speedily zipping left and right and even engaging in a bit of conversation - I hope they understood my far-from fluent clicks and whistles and I didn’t inadvertently say something rude!"

Ross Cambray
Master Journeysmith

Enquire Now
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