Imagine a world without tigers, whales, chimpanzees or bees. A world where the ocean contains more plastic than fish. Through overexploitation, environmental pollution, urbanisation and more, these very factors have been destroying the rich biodiversity of our planet, with many species becoming endangered, and in some cases, extinct. Thankfully, many organisations are waking up to the conservation efforts that can be made, from the elimination of single-use plastics and the proposed ban on microbeads, to sustainable fishing and responsible travel. If we act now, we might still stand a chance. In the irrefutable words of Jacques-Yves Cousteau:
“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realise that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”
March the 3rd marks this year’s World Wildlife Day — an opportunity to celebrate the beautiful and varied flora and fauna that we share this world with — plants and animals that offer us food, nourishment and materials for construction and crafts as well as enriching our lives in every possible way. This year’s theme centres on “Sustaining all life on Earth.” It’s estimated that over 1 billion animals perished in the devastating bushfires in Australia recently, with fears that Kangaroo Island (often likened to Noah’s Ark for its unique ecology) might never recover. Sometimes you don’t realise the true value of what you have until it’s gone. Let’s not wait. We’ve put together some exciting wildlife travel destinations including wildlife tours and bird watching tours, all of which offer unforgettable nature experiences you’ll never want to forget.
Set on one of the most beautiful stretches of sand on Zanzibar’s east coast, sits Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa. A secluded eco-resort nestled within tropical vegetation, beside the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean; this family-owned property offers modern rustic accommodation and the opportunity to become totally immersed in the island’s rich natural offerings.
The archipelago of Zanzibar is every beach lover’s paradise with local marine life to match. David Livingstone once called it the “finest place” in Africa, and there’s no guessing why. Boasting some of the best diving opportunities off the coast, divers will adore the Mnemba Atoll with its Angel fish, the beautiful yet near threatened blue spotted stingray and many more wildlife encounters. Even if you don’t dive, you can simply take a boat (and we’d strongly suggest a snorkel too) and go island hopping instead — you just might see a dolphin, or two, which are common around the islands. Zanzibar has a no plastic bag policy in all its stores, so make sure you leave the beaches as flawless as you found them.
Also known as “The Spice Islands”, Zanzibar is a large exporter of many spices, most notably cloves, often referred to as the King of Spices, thanks to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Take a trip to one of the Spice Farms and learn everything there is to know about them. For those seeking a real adventure destination, we’d seriously urge you to go across to Tanzania and explore its wild side at one of the best safari destinations in the world – the Serengeti, and see how many of the Big Five (Lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and black rhino) you can find. Just don’t get too close!
If the sound of rustic jungle accommodation alongside acres of virgin white beach is your cup of tea, then you’re going to adore the unique nature offered at Hotel Playa Koralia. An eco-friendly retreat at the gateway of Tayrona National Park, this hotel blends seamlessly into its natural surroundings, and is proud to be the only hotel in Colombia that is government-certified sustainable. Colombia is actually one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, and home to many endangered species that need to be protected.
Aside from being the world’s highest coastal mountain range, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is famous amongst bird watchers, offering one of the largest varieties of birds to be found anywhere on the planet. Grab your binoculars and see if you can spot any of the stunning local and migratory species which include the majestic White Eagle, the Royal Kingfisher and the fly-catching Onychorhynchus. Hotel Playa Koralia offers many guided wildlife tours to nearby nature parks and reserves, including its neighbouring Tayrona National Park. Protecting 37,000 acres of rugged coastline, this dense jungle is also home to the Cotton-top Tamarin, the park’s most iconic species and symbol of conservation. Look closely enough and you may even spot jaguars, iguanas or even the legendary Basilisk lizards (Harry Potter fans will know what we’re talking about.) With a biblical ability to walk on water, you can see why these nifty reptiles are also called the “Jesus Lizard”.
Romance and history are seductively intertwined at the unique museum retreat Hotel Tugu Bali. Located in the tranquil area of Canggu, this impressive eco-friendly property features luxuriously thatched suites set amongst lush gardens and lotus ponds. It also showcases the largest collection of Indonesian art and antiquities in the whole of Indonesia. Whilst it would be easy to spend your whole trip on site, you can’t afford to miss the fabulous ‘Eco-Tour’. Visit Taman Ayun, the Royal Temple of the Mengwi Empire, and one of Bali’s most impressive water temples before heading onto the Sangeh Monkey Forest. A sanctuary for grey long-tailed macaques, discover an impressive variety of other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods. Be dwarfed by giant nutmeg trees (which can grow up to 40 metres in height) and gaze in awe at trees over 300 years old. The day concludes at the very special Bali eco-village which is working towards complete self-sustainability. Guests have the opportunity to enjoy a myriad of activities without leaving a single negative impact on their beautiful surroundings. The rich dense forest hosts some of the most incredible trees from banana to cinnamon and vanilla to cocoa and if you’re a coffee lover, listen closely — Kopi luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world, also grows here. Made from beans that have been digested by a civet cat, this rare brew is also aptly known as, “cat poop coffee”.
Somewhere between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, you’ll find Mexico’s ultimate beach hideaway located amid 1,500 acres of unspoilt nature reserve. Las Alamandas Resort is a totally secluded eco-destination of untouched white-sand beaches, dazzling turquoise waters and lush tropical gardens. With 270 different species of bird identified here, many of which are rare and colourful, this part of the country is every bird lover’s Mecca. Las Alamandas offers personalised excursions conducted by local biologist, Marisela Lazareno, who is working hard to preserve the biodiversity through ecological organisations and eco-tourism programmes. And if you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the Blue-Footed Boobie and Brown Boobie birds doing their famous mating dance! Other wildlife to watch out for include wild boar, deer and the giant sea turtles, which are protected through the Las Alamandas’ Turtle Protection Program.
Imagine sleeping in the heart of a national park, surrounded by Mother Nature at her finest. At Gal Oya Lodge you don’t have to. Sri Lanka boasts one of the richest diversities of amphibians in the world, along with untouched natural habitats that have been protected and nurtured for generations, and Gal Oya Lodge is no different. This unique eco-lodge features boutique bungalows constructed using sustainable and local materials situated amongst 20 acres of private jungle. From jeep safaris to mountain treks including bird watching tours to meeting the Vedda tribe, the last indigenous tribe still in existence in Sri Lanka; the expert team at Gal Oya Lodge are on hand to create personalised experiences just for you. This magnificent resort also happens to be the only place on the island where you can take a boat safari, allowing you to discover wildlife from a whole new perspective; and if it’s your lucky day, you may perhaps spot elephants bathing at the lake’s edge. Birdlife is exceptional on the lake too, boasting a whopping 433 species that include storm petrels, flamingos and pelicans — just make sure you take those binoculars!
Beach bungalows and luxury water villas await you at Diamonds Thudufushi Maldives. Just a 35 minute seaplane ride from Malé, this elegant resort is literally set in the middle of paradise, surrounded by cobalt blue waters teeming with colourful coral and breathtaking sea life. Sit back and relax or enjoy one of the many adventure trips and activities on offer. Learn about the formation of the Maldivian atolls from the resident marine biologist or take a nature walk and discover the fascinating plants and animals that live on this paradise island. The marine life is out of this world with a host of colourful fish to be discovered within its pristine barrier reef including angelfish, clownfish (or, Nemo, as we better know them!), table acropora, brain and mushroom corals as well as manta ray, whale sharks and hawksbill turtles. Sign up for the ‘Ari Safari’ and take a big speed boat to discover and snorkel untouched reefs on the eastern part of the atoll.
Diamonds Thudufushi is proud to be part of the “Coral Conservation Project”, working alongside eco-islanders, marine biologists and the local environmental consulting agency to preserve the reef whilst encouraging responsible tourism.
Pack your bags, it’s going to be one hell of an adventure. These hotels offer the perfect chance to get up close and personal with some miraculous varieties of wildlife with the happy knowledge that these hotels and destinations are helping to sustain these beautiful species.
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