1. Belize, Turneffe Islands – Diving the Blue Hole
From the air, the Blue Hole, an awe inspiring vertical chute that falls several hundred feet through the reef, looks like an inky blue eye in the middle of a shallow lagoon. The Blue Hole was first dived by Jacques Cousteau in 1970 and has since become a ‘must do’ on wildlife trips for diving enthusiasts. You begin the dive in the reef alongside the hole. It is very much like doing a wall dive, except it is a wall dive for the adventurous! As you descend into its inky depths, the Blue Hole’s stark beauty is undeniable. With a vertical drop of 412 feet – the Blue Hole is like swimming down a mine shaft, but a mine shaft with hammerhead sharks. As we dropped down deeper and deeper we saw one, then another and another until we were surrounded by four circling hammerheads. Our hearts were pounding like a drum.
2. Costa Rica, Osa Peninsula – Jumping Spinner Dolphins
The Osa Peninsula still holds many surprises for those seeking out nature. In fact the area has been described as “the most biologically intense place on Earth” (National Geographic). As a result it is a fantastic destination for wildlife trips. On our visit to the Cano Island Biological Reserve, we were amazed with what we saw. On the crossing from our hotel to Cano Island our guide told us to look out for dolphins and whales. Suddenly we had to grip on tight as the boat veered off in a completely different direction and the guide shouted excitedly, “spinner dolphins!”
Within minutes we were surrounded by a huge shoal of spinner dolphins dancing in the waves and showing off by leaping in out of the water. They stayed with us for around twenty minutes! This has to be one of our fondest memories of our time in Costa Rica.
3. Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands – Up Close and Personal with Nature
The Galapagos Islands is like no other place in the world and a mecca for nature lovers. Nothing can prepare you for wildlife trips like this. On our first day we went snorkelling and as we swam around the cliff edge we saw two seals swimming underneath. When they saw us they came closer and began doing summersaults around us. When they suddenly stopped we thought we had scared them away, but then saw a reef tip shark approaching at which point the seals suddenly began surrounding the shark until it went away. Were they protecting us or themselves, we will never know.
On our third day whilst walking on one of the islands the guide said, “Don’t touch the wildlife, but they can touch you”. We all thought he was joking. Then one of Darwin’s finches landed on my shoulder, had a quick look at me and disappeared. A truly unique encounter.
4. Belize, Lamanai – A River Cruise with Caiman’s
Lamanai meaning ‘submerged crocodile’ is an impressive Mayan ruin lying within a vast impenetrable jungle. It’s accessible only by boat and situated in the northwest corner of Belize. This is an untouched wilderness and the most remote part of Belize. Wildlife trips here are full of contrasts with a heady mix of Mayan ruins, tropical rainforest’s and active adventure.
We set off on our night-time boat safari with no moon. Our boat was surrounded by rippling, pitch black river water. You couldn’t help but wonder ‘What is under the water and is it looking at us?’ Then we suddenly saw two glinting eyes on the river bank, just a couple of metres away. The loud scuffling of caimans on the banks was followed by big splashes. We nervously held our breath, noticing that the eyes were coming closer and closer to our small canoe like boat. They eventually glided alongside and away.
5. Brazil, The Pantanal – Searching for Jaguar
Wildlife trips to Brazil’s Pantanal will be the closest you’ll get to being on safari in Africa, in South America! There’s a similar structure to the day. Early morning walks, returning for breakfast, avoiding the midday heat and returning in the evening to go game viewing. We were here to see the cornucopia of wildlife including anteaters, tapirs, caiman, capybara, red macaws and the elusive, majestic jaguar of course.
On our last afternoon, having seen some spectacular birdlife, capivara and caiman, we knew this would be our last chance to see the jaguar. Our guide took us out by canoe along a small creek, in the hope they would come to drink. As the sun was about to set we heard a distinct rustling in the bushes. We held our breath, hoping. Suddenly, we saw it. It was amazing, not a jaguar, but a giant anteater. A fully grown male standing over two metres in length and with a tail measuring over a metre! What a result! The giant anteater wasn’t what we were expecting but what an incredible sight.
If you have a passion for wildlife, we will have an adventure to suit you. We have been organising holidays for wildlife lovers for over twenty years and offer a wide selection of wildlife holidays (including wildlife tours, treks and cruises). All our trips are led by expert naturalist guides whose knowledge enriches your wildlife encounters and enables longer periods of relaxed observation. This means that you have excellent opportunities for photography and video.