If any of these destinations tickle your fancy, then it’s about time to consider how to make your 2019 go with a bang; going on a safari might be the best option. Depending on the destination…
Africa doesn’t boast the first or the largest national parks in the world, but it can lay claim to a selection of unparalleled national parks – several of which dwarf many European countries in size…
The chance to see some of the world’s most endangered, spectacular wildlife up close, set against a stunning backdrop, sleeping under the stars, and discovering nature with local tribes who have lived with…
Going on safari is exciting enough, but did you know that there are a few idyllic spots in Africa where you can actually take an “island safari”? We’ve researched the entire continent to come up with the…
Do you love traveling around the world, visiting different nature hot spots features in a particular place or country? If you plan to visit nature parks in Southeast Asia soon, this would be a good time to look for leads on places you should visit. Although most of the countries in Southeast Asia are archipelagoes that are famous for scenic beaches, fascinating culture, exotic cuisine and ancient temples, there are also wonderful nature parks to visit here. Each country offers a different and unique biodiversity, giving a twist to their national parks that you couldn’t find elsewhere. Some the countries that boast exceptional national parks in Southeast Asia include Borneo, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. See the top picks from these countries below.
Visit the Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam which is located around 150 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City. Some evidence of the Vietnam War can be seen here but there are some old trees that survived the devastation during the war. Today, smaller plants recovered from the destructive event and wildlife is starting to flourish again. This nature park boasts the rare Javan rhinoceros and has over a hundred mammals like elephants, monkeys, deer and wild cats. The park also boasts more than 400 species of butterflies and more than 300 species of birds.
Thailand is home to the Khao Yai National Park in Isaan. This is the country’s oldest national park established in 1961. This nature park is home to 200 or so elephants, guar, wild pigs, bats, gibbons, barking deer and macaques. This is also home to a large population of hornbills.
Another destination in Thailand is the Khao Sok National Park which is just a 2-hour drive from Phuket airport. The park is basically a 120,000 hectare virgin rainforest home to various animals which are quite elusive during the daytime. This nature park boasts the Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower. This flower blooms once a year around January and February which grows flower bloom of around 80 centimeters or more.
The Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan, Indonesia is home to the Camp Leakey Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre. Pioneered by Dr. Galdikas in the 1970s, this center houses rescued and orphaned orangutans in the wild. It is also said that the rehabilitation center is the most successful of all the four orangutan sanctuaries in the world.
Borneo – Malaysia
The Kinabalu National Park in Borneo Island is a combination of lush forests and high jagged granite peaks which is the Mount Kinabalu. This mountain is also one of the highest mountain peaks in Southeast Asia. The forests are the home of orangutans and ibans. The rare Rafflesia is also found in this national park. There are over a thousand species of flora and fauna which includes orchids and carnivorous pitcher plants.
Also in the Borneo region is the Mulu National Park. The park boasts lush fauna and flora, cicadas, frogs, hornbills, bats and gibbons. What’s unique about this national park is the amazing limestone cave system that’s being covered by the lush jungle. It is said to be the largest limestone cave system in the world which is something really worth exploring. There are river passages into the cave system where you can travel by a canoe or a boat and walk through the other side of the mountain.
These are just some of the wonderful national parks to visit in Southeast Asia. There are also other national parks worthy of visiting in neighboring countries which are sure to give you a different surprise.
Africa is in need the land of great and amazing diversity, attracting tourists from parts of the globe. Almost every country on the African continent has something so unique that travellers want to explore and experience it, even if it’s once in their lifetime.
From Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza to Zambia’s Victoria Falls, Kenya’s Masai Mara seventh wonder of the new world and Cape Town spectacular scenery and beaches to mountain gorillas tracking in Virunga Range in Rwanda and Uganda; Africa is absolutely a holiday haven and truly a place to experience unforgettable wild adventures.
Diversity is what makes safaris and African adventures captivating to international tourists. Whilst it’s not possible to take in everything Africa has to offer on one trip, many safari companies are now offering multi-destination/multi-country tours that allow you to take the best sights and experiences in from a whole region. Alternatively, you can pick a country for your safari that has lots on offer – such as Kenya, an East Africa holiday destination that offers the opportunity to sample almost all African thrills and experiences within her boundaries.
So, what makes Kenya one of Africans preferred safari destinations?
The wide variety of wildlife in the country is attributed to the fact that Kenya has many ecological zones. From the coastal region of Mombasa, semi-desert Northern Kenya, highlands and mountains in Central Kenya, breath-taking Rift Valley to savannah grassland in western Kenya.
The legendary Big Five animals of Africa – Lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino – are all found in this country, sometimes in abundance. The number of other wild animals found in various national parks and reserves has to be seen to be believed.
A National Park In The Capital City
Nairobi National park is indeed a unique one as it’s the only wildlife park located within a country’s capital city in the whole world.
The ideal location of this park enables guests on very tight schedule to quick safari and enjoy some of the wildlife including black rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, buffaloes, Giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, eland and diverse birdlife with over 400 species. Other tourist attractions in the park include Nairobi Safari Walk and the walking trails at hippo pools.
You really don’t have to leave Nairobi, Kenya’s capital to sample popular wildlife. Travellers on short stays in Nairobi city centre can just rush to the park in few minutes and experience the African wild adventure.
White Sand Beaches & Finest Resorts in Africa
The coastal city of Mombasa is one of Kenya’s most popular holiday destinations. The white sandy beaches and some of the finest beach resorts provide a paradise for tourists. This beautiful coastline is lined with palms making these Indian Ocean beaches a truly breath-taking scene.
There’s wide variety of holiday accommodation for all types of travellers. Hotels in the coastal town of Mombasa are famous for their world class and luxury hospitality. By simply taking a trip to this coastal town, you will experience a real African beach adventure, without necessarily having to travel to multiple African countries. The Fort Jesus, Mombasa marine reserve and old Dhow harbour are some of the iconic attractions of this Swahili town.
A New Wonder Of The World – The Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration
The unusual and spectacular migration of thousands of wildebeest and zebra from vast Masai Mara reserve to Serengeti is indeed a wonder. This once a year phenomenon has many tourists from all corners of the world going to Kenya every year. This experience cannot found anywhere else in Africa – it’s only in Kenya!
Always wanted to take a real African safari but never had the time or money to do it? Safari parks are the next best thing and give people of all ages the chance to see African wildlife up close with no bars or cages to ruin the views.
Safari park are larger than zoos, though usually cover a very small area compared to game reserves and national parks in Africa which can be up to 85,000km sq. The biggest draws of a safari park is that animals roam free in large enclosures which you can take a safari drive through – either on your own or with a guide. There are also options for walking safaris in some safari parks.
In this piece we’ve picked out the top safari parks in the world for a traditional African safari experience. Whilst they’ll never be as immersive as a real African safari, a day or overnight trip to a great safari park might at least get you in the mood to save up for the real thing!
Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, Wiltshire, UK
Whilst Africa will always be the home of the safari drive, the first drive-through safari park outside of Africa opened in 1966 at Longleat as a 100 acre reserve for 50 lions. Set within the grounds of the Longleat House stately home, the safari park has grown and is now home to dozens of African animal species. There’s still a large pride of lions, now complemented by cheetah, rhino, elephant, giraffe, zebra and a plethora of African monkeys.
Whilst you can choose to drive yourself around a number of large enclosures, Longleat also offer a range of VIP guided tours – from a couple of hours to a full day. These take the form of being driven around the safari park by an expert guide in one of the specialised safari vehicles.
Go to the Longleat Safari & Adventure Park website >>
West Midlands Safari Park, West Midlands, UK
The American-run “West Midland Safari and Leisure Park” has been in operation since 1973. Here you can drive yourself around the “Africa Reserve”, a large open area which is home to a group of Southern white rhinos, along with plenty of other savannah grazers including giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, eland and the swamp-dwelling red lechwe. Other enclosures containing fabulous wildlife you can drive through include cheetahs, a large pack of the very endangered African wild dog, African elephants, and of course the mighty white lion.
If you think that there’s more to safari parks than simulated African safaris, the West Midlands Safari Park also offers a tiger reserve and an “Asian Reserve”, housing the rare one horned rhino alongside a wide range of sub-continental antelopes and buffalo.
Go to the West Midlands Safari Park website >>
Safari West, California, USA
Set in the middle of California’s wine country, Safari West styles itself as a “Sonoma Serengeti” with savannah-style landscape. The 400 acre safari park has 800 free roaming animals from herds of kuddu, zebra, antelope, buffalo and gazelle, to huge African rhinos and giraffe.
Safari West offer “the ultimate private safari” excursions where a private group of up to 10 people is taken on an exclusive safari ride with a guide, and like some true luxury African safaris you can add wine, cheese and chocolate to your safari should you need an appetitive whilst game viewing. The private safari is essentially a 3 hour guide-led drive through the safari park in an authentic safari vehicle.
For a complete safari experience you can spend a night onsite with views over a lake or nestled in the woods with a true bushveld feel. The accommodation is in authentic African safari tents with a luxury twist, built on wooden platforms with large decking areas for lounging and taking in the views. If tents aren’t your idea of luxury then cottages are available too.
Go to the Safari West website >>
Wild Side, Ohio, USA
Wild Side safari park in Ohio offers a fairly authentic safari experience. You can buy a “Safari Transport Pass” to get shuttled around a selection of enclosures (Lake Trail, Mid-Sized Carnivores, Wetland, Pasture and Outpost), each with a selection of impressive African wildlife. The game highlights are the giraffe, rhino, zebra, cheetah and African wild dog.
In the “Pasture” area dozens of grazing species of African animals roam free, whilst the predators are kept separately for obvious reasons! A guided open vehicle safari gets you immersed in the rolling countryside and gives you the best opportunity to view all of the game on offer.
Unlike most other safari parks Wild Side offers a selection of safari-style lodges. This gives Wild Side the benefit of having sundowners on your balcony whilst game viewing, then spending the night onsite, listening to the sounds of Africa…in the US mid-west!
Go to the Wild Side website >>
Disney’s Wildlife Kingdom, Florida, USA
Disney don’t bill their Wildlife Kingdom as a safari park, but rather the largest animal-themed park in the world. And with 250 species made up of more than 1,700 animals roaming 2km sq they may well be right.
The entire park is split into seven areas, one of which is “Africa” themed. One adrenalin pumping safari offering in this area is the “Wild Trek Africa” experience – a privately guided expedition which features close encounters with Nile crocodiles and huge hippos whilst hanging from a harness 10 feet in the air! If that’s a bit too hair-raising you can always take a more traditional open-sided safari vehicle for a game ride through acres of replica savanna, rivers and rocky hills. Expect to see elephant, giraffe, pelican, cheetah, lion, oryx, black and white rhino, and just about any other wildlife you’d hope to spot in Africa.
Go to Disney’s Wildlife Kingdom website >>
Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Singapore
The Singapore night safari is rightly a world-renowned safari experience. The safari park has eight geographical regions – linked by three walking trails and a tram route – to observe the primarily nocturnal animals from around the world. The reserve has an “Equatorial Africa” section of the park, which fits nicely with Singapore’s warm and moist climate throughout the year. Ample sunlight and rain support luxuriant tropical forests. In this part of the park you can expect to see Cape giraffe, serval and bongo – the largest of Africa’s forest antelopes.
To get away from the crowds and have a more personalised safari experience you can take a guide and small safari buggy through the park rather than the tram, and combine this with a choice of safari and dinner options.
Go to the Singapore Night Safari website >>
Taman Safaris, Various destinations, Indonesia
Taman Safari Indonesia are safari parks in East Java, West Java and Bali, known as Taman Safari I, II and III respectively.
Taman Safari I is the most popular and largest of the three safari parks and has over 2,500 animals, the majority of which are Indonesian and include tigers, orangutans, elephants, sun bears and komodo dragons.
It’s a drive-through safari park where you can get very close to the wildlife. Those on the hunt for an authentic African safari experience won’t be disappointed, and can keep an eye out for the resident hippo, zebra, cheetah and giraffe. There are both camping and bungalows available to those who’d like to stay in the safari park overnight to soak up the atmosphere.
Taman Safari III is also known as Bali Safari and Marine Park – more of a theme park than a safari park, but highly popular with tourists none-the-less.
Go to the Taman Safari website >>
What’s your take on safari parks – decent African safari alternative, or little more than glorified zoos? Get involved in the comments below and let us know your thoughts on safari parks.
The first in our series of guest blog posts comes from Ajay Parmar – a Wildlife Photographer from India. In the below posts he writes passionately about the little-known Asiatic lion.
The globally famed Asiatic Lion aka the Indian Lion, Asian Lion or Persian Lion is a subspecies of Panthera Leo Persica. Gir National Park in Gujurat state is the only place in the India where you can see Asiatic Lions in wild surroundings and capture images of them in their natural habitat. Asiatic Lions are smaller and lighter than their African counterparts, though are equally aggressive in nature. In the past, Asiatic Lions were classified into three different types – Bengal, Arabian and Persian Lions.
Whilst Gir is renown for the Asiatic lion, there are actually a variety of big cats found in the forests of Gujarat, whilst Indian national parks are home to five species of big cats: The Asiatic Lion, the Bengal Tiger, the Indian Leopard, the Snow Leopard and Clouded Leopard. In earlier times Asiatic Lions had a range that spanned from the North-Eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent all the way to the Mediterranean. Over the years their wild habitat has been reduced by excessive hunting, water pollution, population expansion and a decline in natural prey.
The Forest Department of the Gujarat Govt facilitates visitors to watch and capture photos of lions through the Lion Safari Service in the Sasan village. You can visit a safari park for photography in an open vehicle along with forest guide after gaining permission from the Forest Department. There are three safari schedules are available for visitors to take an opportunity to visit them. Apart from Asiatic Lions there are numerous different sized mammals, as well as migrant birds to watch out for in the local dry deciduous forest. Leopard, Striped Hyena, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, some Antelopes, monkeys and small mammals like Mongoose, Porcupine etc. are frequently seen, whilst on birds include Eagles, Owls, Flycatchers and Pitta. (Brush up on your wildlife spotting skills by reading our guide.)
If you’re planning on trying to photograph Asiatic Lions in their natural habitat you’ll need to be very careful about your position and the movement of the lion. Your alertness can produce some awesome Asiatic Lion pictures and lion photos for your portfolio. If you have professional camera having long zoom range, you can snap some amazing Indian birds as well.
Must Do Things Whilst In Gir National Park:
– Prior permission from forest office to enter the national park
– Wearing the right safari clothes increase your chances of photography
– Keep binoculars and a camera with you
Where To Stay When Asiatic Lion Spotting:
There are many good hotels and resorts are located in surrounding of Sasan village at affordable charges. Typical Gujarati food and entertainment in the form of Dhamal dance from Siddi’s group are added benefits of traveling to the land of Indain lions.
Photos of Asiatic Lions:
Taken on location by our very own guest blogger, Ajay Parmar.
Catch Ajay on his wildlife photography website