In the spirit of David Attenborough’s television documentary, discover wildlife dynasties in their natural habitats and protected reserves.
David Attenborough’s latest wildlife documentary “Dynasties” has fascinated and moved viewers with images of magnificent animals wrapped up in a struggle against the forces of nature as the world changes. In the series, true stories unfold around endangered species – among them penguins, chimpanzees, lions, painted wolves and tigers – as they battle fearful rivals or risk their lives to protect their young from wickedly cruel winters.
Around the world, there are destinations where such stories play out and visitors are awarded glimpses of the natural world at its finest – from the snowy plateaus of Lapland to the volcanic landscapes of the Azores archipelago and the great plains of Madhya Pradesh, which inspired The Jungle Book. Here we round up our favorite holidays for finding your own such “dynasty.”
Around 800 miles west of Portugal lies one of Europe’s most unique volcanic landscapes in one of the world’s most important areas for marine mammals. Nature Holidays with Inntravel can take you to the Azores archipelago, a realm of lunar landscapes, crater lakes and bubbling springs, where riotous vegetation plays out in laurisilva forest, hydrangeas and cedars.
Beyond the enchanting scenery, you might spot sperm whales, pilot whales, dolphins and turtles, and you are sure to come across hundreds upon hundreds of herring gulls. Remarkably, the archipelago is home to 20 different species of cetaceans – some of them very rare.
Himalayan Foothills, India
In the foothills of the Himalayas close to India’s borders with Nepal and Tibet, huge forests tangle beneath majestic peaks and little farms and pretty villages nestle in misty valleys.
A highlight of holidaying in the region is visiting the remote Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, home to black bears and leopards, but you’re likely to spot eagles, vultures and woodpeckers simply while out walking.
Ylläs in Lapland looks like a scene from a fairytale. Torchlit walking trails lace deep snowy plateaus, where enchanted-looking forests bask in an ethereal pinkish glow.
Nature extends here as far as the eye can see, and you don’t have to venture far before being rewarded with sightings of the local wildlife. Living in the wilderness are ptarmigan, Siberian jays, reindeer and even wolves.
Madhya Pradesh, India
Madhya Pradesh inspired much of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, with its snaking rivers and huge forests amid great plains. It’s easy to picture talking animals like Shere Khan and Baloo the bear while walking in the region’s enthralling forested hills as part of one of Inntravel’s walking holidays – but it doesn’t all have to be in the imagination.
From the teak jungles of the Satpura reserve, continue to the Pench National Park, where breathtaking wildlife sightings might include jackal, wild boar, peacock and paradise flycatchers (the state bird of Madhya Pradesh). Leopards roam the reserve, and tigers have been spotted too.
High Route, Switzerland
Dainty and nimble yet majestic, chamois and ibex are perhaps the best mountain climbers of all. They live above the tree line, so to catch a glimpse of them at their finest you need to go high.
Hiking the High Route from Grindelwald to Kandersteg is just the opportunity. There’s the romance of the scenery to enjoy, too – summits you could gaze at for hours, like the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau trio, or the magnificently inspiring Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In spring, wildflowers dance in the meadows and set off the impressive local wildlife sightings to even greater effect. Marmots in particular look impossibly cute surrounded by such colour.
Costa Verde, Sardinia
The little Sardinian deer (cervo sardo) came close to extinction in the 1960s. Although it is steadily making a comeback, sightings are still rare. To make spotting one even more special, the species is also very shy.
Improve your chances by visiting a habitat the deer love – the riotously vegetated and long-abandoned mineral mines of the Costa Verde, where dense oak forests and quiet mountains provide seclusion aplenty. The deer can sometimes be spotted in the sand dunes near Piscinas, where marine turtles gather.
Basque Pyrenees, Spain
Where the Pyrenees plunge into the Gulf of Gascony lies one of Europe’s most traditional regions. There are whitewashed villages, the Basque language is spoken and the national game of ‘pelote’ is played.
Adding to the appeal of the Basque Pyrenees is the proliferation of raptors that soar between the Atlantic and the rugged mountaintops. The region is an important migration route as black kites, honey buzzards, black storks, ospreys, hobbys, marsh harriers and sparrow hawks fly north in the spring and south in the autumn.
Binsar, Saryu and Pindar, India
Between colourful Delhi, the serene Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary in the remote Kumaon Hills and the Tibetan-influenced Saryu and Pindar Valleys, the bird and animal life is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Bird holidays with Inntravel are an ideal way to take in the sights.
You might see eagles and vultures gliding on thermals in the wide skies or deer and leopards prowling the dense forests on the steeply terraced hillsides. As you walk among the misty forests and meadows, voluptuous waterfalls and snowy peaks, you’ll also be enchanted by the lives, traditions and culture of the local hosts.
On the rocky and wooded north coast of the island of Vestvågøy in the Lofoten archipelago, the wildlife spotting is second to none. Among the species that have made this paradise of silver-sand beaches and turquoise waters their home are white-tailed sea eagles, cormorants and seals.
Walking onto dramatic headlands and through UNESCO-listed fishing villages, the cries of sea birds fill the air – keep your eyes peeled for eider ducks, common scoters and red-breasted mergansers. As you summit inland passes, you might spot ptarmigan, bluethroats and redwings. The whole scene is even more special when lit by the Midnight Sun.