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CHEETAH IN THE LONG GRASS AT OKONJIMA NATURE RESERVEÂ

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A Wild

WELCOME Who can forget the thrill of going on safari for the first time and getting close to a herd of elephants surrounding a tiny baby with ears like cabbage leaves? Or admire the elegance of a cheetah with her playful cubs or the grace of a line of giraffes galloping in slow motion across the savannah? No need to stay in Africa, either. Travel to a different continent, Asia, to catch sight of that most iconic of all wild animals, the tiger, or South America, to watch jaguar or even an otherworldly giant anteater. And the good news is that safaris are no longer only for the ruggedly adventurous; comfort, even luxury, and superb wildlife viewing now go hand in hand. Going on safari is a life-changing experience, one that gets under the skin and into the blood. One trip and you’ll be hooked for the rest of your life. Hilary Bradt MBE | Co-founder of Bradt Travel Guides CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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Travel inspiration from the Rainbow Tours portfolio

06 AFRICA 08 Responsible Travel

12 Our Destinations

14 Safari for all Seasons

16 Wildlife Photography

18 The Big Five

26 Alternative Wildlife

32 The Great Migration

36 A Day on Safari

40 The Big Cat Man

44 Your Journey

48 Birders’ Paradise

52 Safari Combinations

58 Special Occasions

60 Family Travel

64 ASIA 66 India’s Big Five

72 Wild for Wilpattu

76 Borneo’s Orangutans

80 THE AMERICAS 82 The Amazon

88 Flying Visit

92 Wildlife in Water

98 A Day in the Jungle

102 Galapagos

108 Fantastic Bears

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XHOSA COMMUNITY, SOUTH AFRICA

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THE RAINBOW STORY Born from one man’s deep love of Africa and his belief in a responsible way of travelling, Rainbow Tours began in 1997 with a handful of people and an inaugural adventure to South Africa.

W

hen Roger Diski established Rainbow Tours he wanted to show the world that Africa was a continent to be fallen in love with – not pitied. His idea that local people should benefit environmentally, socially and economically from visitors to their countries was pioneering. On every journey that he made, Roger forged long-lasting relationships with local communities, ensuring that every Rainbow holiday showcased Africa’s incredible biodiversity whilst actively benefiting local people. And while our global portfolio of wildlife holidays now takes us from the rainforests of Borneo to the Galapagos Islands, Roger’s trailblazing ethos remains at the heart of Rainbow Tours. Each of our itineraries is carefully tailored to support conservation efforts, protect natural habitats and help our host communities to thrive. Some of this happens behind the scenes, like our ongoing support of Money for Madagascar and Travel Operators For Tigers in India. But the majority happens on the ground, and it’s what sets a Rainbow wildlife holiday apart. Not just because it does good, but because it offers a safari experience unlike any other too. It could mean staying at the stunning Saruni Mara, a boutique lodge at the heart of Mara North Conservancy - a partnership between conservationists and 800 Masai landowners whose Low-Density Tourism policy means that wildlife encounters are wonderfully intimate. Or perhaps spending time at Relais & Chateaux’s fantastic Anjajavy Le Lodge where the private Nature Reserve protects a vital habitat for Madagascar’s endangered Coquerel’s sifaka. Our dedicated team of Wildlife Travel Specialists are a veritable knowledge bank of special places like these – boutique lodges, luxury wilderness camps, little-known conservancies and far-flung nature reserves that offer experiences above and beyond your average wildlife holiday. It’s our passion, and we’re ready to take you on a journey with us. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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AFRICA The Rainbow Tours guide to eco-lux safaris

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Responsible T AVELLER

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t Rainbow Tours we believe that when tourism is managed well it can be greatly beneficial to host countries, but when it isn’t, the consequences can be devastating. We, the travel company, and you, the traveller, have the opportunity to decide how and where we travel – choosing journeys that leave the natural beauty of the destinations we visit unchanged; journeys where you really get to experience and understand other people and their cultures. Rainbow Tours offer a wide range of lodges, tours and activities that directly benefit local communities and help to support threatened habitats and endangered species. We choose intimate wilderness lodges like Saruni Samburu that have been instrumental in the formation of Conservancies in Kenya – critical not only for the protection

of flora and fauna, but also in providing employment and support for the communities on whose land they have been created. We recommend boutique lodges like Hog Hollow, at the heart of South Africa’s Garden Route, whose aim is to redress past inequalities by realising the potential of local people from nearby townships. We get excited about safaris in Malawi’s Majete Wildlife Reserve – one of Africa’s best conservation success stories – where the once-decimated elephant population is now thriving thanks to animal restocking and poaching education. And we do all of this in the knowledge that there is no compromise on luxury or wildlife on a responsible safari – in fact the experience is all the richer for stepping off the beaten track and choosing a unique holiday that has a deeper connection to Africa’s precious eco-systems.

SIMON LEPASIELE, LOCAL GUIDE AT SARUNI SAMBURU 8

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Travel For Impact A donation from every Rainbow Botswana holiday goes directly to Travel For Impact, an in-country NGO that works hand-in-hand with local charitable schemes to give practical guidance for effective and sustainable operations - helping each community project to reach its full potential. Beneficiaries are small-scale groups such as Polokong, an organisation that provides vital support to the elderly in Maun in a country where there is no provision for the aging members of society. Travel For Impact enables Polokong to offer daily meals, personal care and the opportunity to socialise for those over 60 with no family or support network.

Uthando Rainbow Tours make a donation from every South Africa holiday to Uthando, a non-profit and Fair Trade in Tourism organisation that raises funds for life-changing community development projects in South Africa. Projects like Isiseko Educare Centre, started by the wonderful Mama Zoliswa Siko, which can now provide education for 100 of the most vulnerable and underprivileged children in Mfuleni township. Or safe centres such as eKhaya eKasi ‘Home in the Hood’ Art and Education Centre that offer after school activities for children facing extreme poverty, including literacy as well as performing and visual arts.

Money for Madagascar Rainbow Tours is a long-term supporter of Money for Madagascar, organising fund-raising events and making a donation for every Madagascar holiday booking. The charity funds a variety of projects aimed at tackling the key issues facing Madagascar today including extreme poverty, loss of bio-diversity, poor health, lack of food security and limited access to education. Every year more than 1,000 street kids receive food, education and medical care at Money for Madagascar-funded drop-in centres, and 95 classrooms built by the NGO are used to educate more than 4,000 children across the island.

African Parks New to our portfolio of NGO partners is African Parks, with a donation from every mainland Africa booking supporting their goal of rehabilitation and long-term management of protected areas. This non-profit conservation organisation is the largest counterpoaching force in Africa, managing 10 protected areas that cover six million hectares. Success stories include the reintroduction of lions to Rwanda - a species that was extirpated after the genocide - stopping the decimation of Zakouma’s elephant population in Chad, and restoring Majete Nature Reserve in Malawi, making it the country’s premiere wildlife sanctuary.

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Responsible Travel

IN ACTION

Rainbow Tours’ TOP FIVE safaris for responsible travellers

N 01 | Kenya Elephant Safari Each of the camps or reserves suggested on our tailor-made elephant safari play a significant role in the conservation of Kenya’s wild giants and their vital habitat – like the eco-lux Elephant Watch Camp in Samburu where you can meet the researchers and conservationists who monitor the reserve’s 66 elephant families. We recommend a two-night stay in the Maasai-owned Selenkay Conservancy, an ecotourism project on the northern borders of Amboseli National Reserve. As one of just 18 guests permitted daily in the 15,000-acre private game reserve, visitors will experience conservation-in-action as they come face-to-face with elephants and predators that had previously all but disappeared from the region.

TAKE ME THERE Our 11-day Kenya Elephant Safari includes two nights at Amboseli Porini Camp and three nights at Elephant Watch Camp.

N 02 | Botswana Wilderness Journey Thanks to an enlightened attitude towards sustainable tourism, Botswana leads the continent in terms of conservation. Our 12-day wilderness safari centres around the country’s wild and wonderful north, staying in remote eco-camps within extraordinary private concessions. We recommend three days to explore the wonders of Linyanti Concession, a conservation area bordering Chobe National Park that harbours one of the densest concentrations of elephant in Botswana: at times several thousand can be on the move through the 121,000-hectare reserve. The concession works closely with government bodies to ensure the conservation of wildlife, with a focus on IUCN Red List species including the African wild dog, elephant, lion and roan antelope.

TAKE ME THERE Our 12-day Great Wilderness Journey includes three nights at Linyanti Discoverer Camp.

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N 03 | South Africa Biodiversity Our two-week South African self-drive adds somewhere rather special to the well-loved Garden Route. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is a five-star paradise with just 11 deluxe eco-suites, showcasing the incredible floral diversity of the southern tip of Africa. The reserve protects over 2,500 hectares of pristine Cape flora and helps to train local people through its Green Futures programme. The holiday is topped-off with a safari at the wonderful &Beyond Ngala Tented Camp in Timbavati, a Big Five private reserve that shares unfenced borders with Kruger. Here the sustainability ethos revolves around care of the land, care of the wildlife and care of the people.

TAKE ME THERE Our 15-day Garden Route & Kruger Self-Drive includes two nights at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and three nights at &Beyond Ngala Tented Camp.

N 04 | National Parks of Malawi Such is the success story of Majete Wildlife Reserve that Rainbow now includes three safari days here on our National Parks and Wildlife of Malawi itinerary. When conservation charity African Parks first took management of Majete in 2003, elephants had been poached to extinction and there was little or no other wildlife in the reserve. Significant restocking and community engagement has allowed more than 400 elephants to return to the area, and the reserve is now Malawi’s first Big Five zone. Our comprehensive tour also includes the opportunity to go off-grid on Mumbo Island, a private solar-powered isle in the world’s first fresh-water marine reserve where snorkelling and scuba diving are the order of the day.

TAKE ME THERE Our 16-day National Parks & Wildlife of Malawi tour includes three nights at Mkulumadzi lodge in Majete Wildlife Reserve.

N 05 | Namibia Cheetah Rehabilitation Our top Namibia self-drive includes a night at Okonjima, base for the renowned AfriCat Foundation. With an emphasis on conservation through education, this not-for-profit organisation rehabilitates cheetah, leopard, lion, caracal, wild dog and hyena, returning them to the wilds of the 55,000-acre private nature reserve. A stay at one of Okonjima’s luxury camps directly contributes to AfriCat’s work, and guests have the chance to visit the fantastic cheetah project and track the released cats on foot. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a game drive in search of the reserve’s free-roaming rehabilitated leopards – the normally elusive carnivores are located by radio-tracker making multiple incredible sightings possible.

TAKE ME THERE Our 14-day Classic Namibia Self-Drive Holiday includes one night at Okonjima’s main camp.

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Rainbow’s

AFRICA F

ourteen countries make the Rainbow Tours long-list as outstanding safari destinations, chosen by our team of Africa experts for the incredible wildlife experiences they offer. These are countries that have world-renowned national parks supporting thriving big game populations or successful conservancies heralding a new era in conservation. Countries that offer hassle-free, malaria-free safaris for families, or far-flung wilderness experiences for intrepid safarigoers. Countries that boast the best in eco-lux accommodation - from boutique lodges to seasonal camps - without compromising on wild encounters. We’ve spent 20 years honing our Africa longlist, and our experts can help you choose just which country - or country combination - is right for you. In this guide you’ll find travel inspiration from across the continent, like where to see Ethiopia’s rare wolves (J), Mozambique’s humpback whales (K) or Malawi’s reintroduced elephants (I). But our full range of destinations and tours, from Rwanda (M) to Zimbabwe (N), is available at the click of a mouse on the Rainbow Tours website.

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UGANDA The mist-covered rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to an estimated 320 mountain gorillas as well as primates such as colobus and blue monkeys, and many rare rainforest birds. In the southwest, Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts more than 100 species of mammal and is the best place in Uganda to spot the elusive leopard.

KENYA Kenya’s 48 national parks offer some of the most dramatic game viewing in Africa, including the Great Migration, where millions of wildebeest and zebra move through the Masai Mara. A stunning Kilimanjaro backdrop frames Amboseli’s elephants, and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy offers the chance to see rare species such as reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra.


TANZANIA The vast Serengeti is also home to the Great Migration, where two million wildebeest and an assortment of predators follow the seasonal rains. UNESCO World Heritage Site Ngorongoro Crater is a microcosm of Africa with over 25,000 large animals, where pink flamingos flock around lakes, lions prowl and dozing leopards hang from the branches of trees.

MADAGASCAR ZAMBIA Shaped by three great rivers, Zambia’s 19 untamed national parks support over 750 bird species. Beyond Victoria Falls, the flood plains of the Lower Zambezi are a mecca for large elephant herds, while South Luangwa maintains one of the highest concentrations of game in Africa, where lion and leopard pray on the abundant herbivores.

Five per cent of the world’s animal and plant species are found only in Madagascar. Best known for its many and varied species of lemur – from the charismatic ring-tail to the bizarre-looking aye aye – the island’s forest canopy also hides a host of intriguing animal oddities including the cat-like fosa, the giant jumping rat, a kaleidoscope of geckos and chameleons and 110 bird species found no where else in the world.

NAMIBIA A great diversity of wildlife has adapted to the harsh conditions of Namibia’s vast deserts and wildernesses. In the dry season, thousands of animals gather at the waterholes of Etosha National Park, including elephant, lion and all the plains game. In Okonjima Nature Reserve, big cats thrive thanks to the rehabilitation efforts of the AfriCat Foundation.

SOUTH AFRICA BOTSWANA Chobe National Park is home to the largest population of elephant in Africa, with great herds gathering on the banks of Chobe River, stalked by prides of hungry lions. Protecting the lagoons and waterways of the Okavango Delta, wildlife flourishes in Moremi Game Reserve which boasts all of the Big Five, plus hippos, crocodiles and 500 species of bird.

In the subtropical northeast, worldrenowned Kruger National Park offers two million hectares of unrivalled biodiversity, with almost 150 species of mammal and over 500 species of bird. In the Northern Cape, Tswalu’s meerkats are the star attraction, while the oceans surrounding the Western Cape are home to great white sharks and migrating southern right whales. The malaria-free parks of the Eastern Cape are ideal for family safaris.


Safari

for all Seasons JAN

TANZANIA

MAY

MALAWI

Seasonal camps open as the wildebeest migration thunders through the southern Serengeti

FEB

UGANDA Conditions are ideal for mountain gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

NAMIBIA The start of the dry season sees wildlife congregating at the watering holes of Etosha National Park

MADAGASCAR The island’s baby lemurs arrive and can be spotted clinging to their mothers’ backs

Liwonde National Park’s elephants gather on the banks of the Shire River, often in their hundreds

SEP

OCT

ZIMBABWE Great flocks of southern carmine bee-eaters brighten the riverbanks with their red and turquoise plumage

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JUN


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yriad ecosystems and seasons govern the circle of life across Africa’s 54 countries. From desert to cape, rainforest to savannah, northern hemisphere to southern, each region brings its trump cards out to play at a different time of year. Our Africa Experts offer specialist advice on where to travel when, so that you get the most out of your wildlife holiday.

ETHIOPIA Temperatures start to rise in the Simien Mountains where it’s rutting season for the endangered walia ibex

MAR

APR

SIERRA LEONE Colonies of rare whitenecked picathartes can be sought in the forested hills of Freetown Peninsula

JUL

KENYA The wildebeest migration moves towards the Mara River, where humongous Nile crocodiles await

AUG

SOUTH AFRICA The population of southern right whales around the Western Cape peaks during the calving season

NOV

DEC

ZAMBIA

BOTSWANA

Over eight million straw-coloured fruit bats migrate to Kasanka National Park in search of food

The Green Season brings 25,000 migrating zebra – and their predators – to the Makgadikgadi Pans

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IMAGES: ARIADNE VAN ZANDBERGEN

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Wildlife

PHOTOGRAPHY With many travellers choosing to invest in a new camera or lens before their safari, Ariadne Van Zandbergen from the African Image Library shares her hints and tips on getting the perfect wildlife shot.

EQUIPMENT

LIGHT

It is not always possible to approach animals closely, and a high-magnitude telephoto lens may be required for close-up images. Those with deep pockets may wish to consider two zoom lenses, for instance a wide-angle 2470mm (18-55mm for APS-C sensors) and a 70-300mm telephoto. Even 300mm can sometimes be restrictive; ideally a longer fixed lens – 400, 500 or even 600mm – is best for capturing more distant subjects. A cheaper alternative is to consider a 1.4 or 2x convertor that will boost your longest lens’s capacity - albeit with some loss of clarity and shutter speed. To capture a sharp image of a moving animal, you will need a high shutter speed, which requires plenty of ambient light. Somewhat contradictorily, the most beautiful time for wildlife photography is usually when the light is lowest. To address this paradox, a ‘fast’ telephoto lens – with a lowest F-stop of 4, or better, 2.8 – is desirable. Fast lenses are costlier than slow lenses of comparable magnitude, and their greater bulk means that they require support in the form of a beanbag (from a vehicle), or tripod or monopod (on foot), so don’t invest in expensive equipment without coming to grips with the basics of photography. The best and cheapest way to improve your photographs is to learn about your camera’s aperture and shutter speed settings, allowing you to dictate the depth of field and give you the capacity to freeze action.

Photography literally means drawing with light. As such, the quality of ambient light is crucial to getting interesting shots. In clear weather, the midday sun can be harsh and flat, whereas the ‘golden light’ of early morning and late afternoon is ideal for wildlife subjects. By happy coincidence, early morning and late afternoon is also when many animals – particularly lions and other photogenic predators – are most conspicuous, active and playful. One exception is heavily overcast weather, when the light is generally better in the middle of the day. And while overcast weather is usually too flat for big scenes, it can be great for portraits and macro photography, with the clouds creating a soft-box effect to bring out intimate detail. As a rule of thumb, it is best to photograph wildlife with the sun behind you, although in the early morning or late afternoon you can play with more interesting options - backlighting the subject to create a rim-lit effect for example, or side-lighting it for additional texture and drama.

YOUR FOOTPRINT Capturing the beauty of the natural world is a privilege. A pushy photographer can have a detrimental effect on wildlife - at all times your footprint should remain minimal. Don’t forget to enjoy the moment; often, observing the animal’s behaviour is more rewarding than getting the right picture.

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THE

BIG

5 Ticking off the Big Five has become something of a rite of passage for safarigoers. It’s hard to believe that a term so ubiquitous in the modern responsible safari originated with the hunting fraternity - initially referring to the five species considered to be the most dangerous, and thus the best sport, by trigger-happy colonials. The animals that comprise this hallowed quintet – lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and black rhino – indisputably rank among the world’s most fearsome, iconic and photogenic creatures. And we know just where to find them. 18

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he world’s largest terrestrial animal, African elephants live in close-knit matriarchal clans, communicating over vast areas with subsonic rumblings. They remain common in most major reserves, but ivory hunting and habitat destruction have led to a population drop from more than five million in the early 20th century to some 500,000 today. Elephants drink up to 200 litres daily typically arriving at a water source three to four hours after sunrise, and often lingering until late afternoon to wallow or swim, making them relatively easy to locate - and entirely absorbing to watch.

Botswana is without doubt the top destination for elephant lovers, boasting more of the graceful giants than any other African country. Drawn to the seasonal waters of the Chobe River and Okavango Delta, huge herds can be seen lumbering in line across the arid landscape or wading through hippo-filled waterways. We love Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp and its sister Sanctuary Baines’ Camp; two exceptional luxury tented camps bordering the Moremi Game Reserve on the edge of the delta. From here, days are spent exploring the 260,000-acre private concession, searching for elephants and their wild cohorts by jeep, on foot and even by traditional dug-out canoe. The camps’ surprise highlight is the unique chance to stroll through the bush with Jabu, Thembi and Morula - a trio of semihabituated orphaned elephants.

TAKE ME THERE Our eight-day Botswana by Sanctuary Retreats tour includes six days of boat, jeep and walking safaris, with three nights at Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp.

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N 02

african lion Masai Mara

B

old and charismatic, Africa’s largest predator is the world’s most sociable cat, living in prides that typically comprise one male and an assortment of females and juveniles. Females hunt cooperatively, whereas males – distinguished by their long manes – reserve their energy for warding off rivals in tense battles that are frequently fought to the death. When not hunting, fighting or copulating, adult lions are remarkably languorous, spending up to 23 hours daily at rest, but cubs can often be seen playing like puppies – a joyous sight on safari.

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Lions are now all but restricted to sub-Saharan Africa’s larger national parks, and Kenya’s world famous Masai Mara is the place to see them. Governors’ Camp, on the banks on the Mara River, has played host to the BBC’s Big Cat Diaries for over a decade, with its team of expert guides accompanying the crew in search of the resident felines. Renowned as being one of the best lionzones on the planet, this superior area of the Mara is well populated by antelope, zebra and warthog, as well as being a thoroughfare for the wildebeest migration – the perfect feeding ground for a large predator. Governors’ Camp offers two game drives per day: early morning, and late afternoon – prime time for lion viewing.

TAKE ME THERE Our nine-day Big Cat Masai Mara & Samburu Safari includes three nights at Governors’ Camp as well as three days on safari in Samburu National Reserve.


N 03

Cape Buffalo Western Serengeti

A

frica’s bulkiest bovid, the Cape buffalo is known for its unpredictable temperament. A gregarious heavyweight clocking-in at up to 800kg, the buffalo has few natural enemies, but it is regularly preyed upon by lions in areas with large prides. Primarily a grazer, it is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, and might be encountered in any savannah, woodland and forested habitat, provided a reliable water source is nearby. Buffalos usually move in mixed-sex herds of up to 50 animals, but older males often form small bachelor groups, and aggregations of more than 1,000 animals can still be seen in some reserves.

While there are sadly no longer buffalo in the northern Serengeti, they are prevalent in the park’s western corridor close to the Grumeti River. In May and June their world-famous homeland becomes awash with migrating wildebeest as they thunder northwards, temporarily halted by the river’s patrolling crocodiles. Despite the annual upheaval, the buffalo never stray far from this precious water source, and Chaka Camp is a great base from which to explore their fertile territory. This seasonal wilderness camp - comprising just 10 luxury tents - is well-known for its guided bush walks that are rewarded with a hearty bush breakfast.

TAKE ME THERE Our 12-day Authentic Northern Tanzania & Zanzibar holiday includes a safari in the Serengeti wilderness, with two nights at Chaka Camp.

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N 04

LEOPARD

South Luangwa T

he most widespread and abundant of the Big Five, the leopard is also the most elusive, thanks to its furtive nature. With its beautiful camouflaged coat, pugilistic build and cussedly antisocial habits, it is the supreme cat, a stealthy solitary hunter that frequently gets to within five metres of its prey before pouncing. It has a habitat tolerance that embraces everything from the Kalahari sands to the Congolese rainforests, but there are many reserves where you might spend a month without so much as a fleeting glimpse of this spectral creature. 22

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Often referred to as ‘the valley of the leopard’, Zambia’s incredible South Luangwa National Park is celebrated for its resident population of big cats. The lifeblood of the park is the winding Luangwa River that twists and turns, cutting a swathe through the floodplains and providing a constant source of water for thirsty leopards – as well as the park’s 60 other animal species. Our favourite spot for a truly immersive safari experience is Kakuli Bush Camp, an un-fenced seasonal camp with just four chalet-tents on the banks of the river. In this game-rich area it is sometimes even possible to see leopards drinking at the river from the camp’s breakfast deck.

TAKE ME THERE Our nine-day Rivers & Rainbows in South Luangwa tour includes seven days of boat, walking and jeep safaris, with four nights at Kakuli Bush Camp.


KAKULI BUSH CAMPÂ

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N 05

BLACK RHINO KwaZulu-Natal

S

maller than the relatively peaceable white rhino, the black rhinoceros is actually more dangerous, and prone to charge without apparent provocation. The two species are best told apart by the shape of their mouth: the black rhino has a hooked upper lip adapted for browsing, whereas the white rhino is a grazer with a wide mouth – a mistranslation of the Dutch weit, meaning wide, leading to both species receiving their misleading names. The only one of the Big Five red-listed as Critically Endangered, the black rhino has experienced a population decline from an estimated 75,000 in the 1970s to some 4,000 today due to catastrophic commercial poaching for its sought-after horn.

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With black rhino sightings becoming increasingly rare, there are few places that can match Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa’s subtropical KwaZulu-Natal. This 23,000-hectare private reserve – home to all of the Big Five – is owned and managed by &Beyond; a luxury lodge collection with a commitment to sustainable travel, conservation and community empowerment. As well as regular jeep safaris, the exquisite &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge offers black rhino tracking on foot, giving guests the chance to follow tracks with expert rangers in the quest to sight one of the rare beasts.

TAKE ME THERE Our nine-day Zululand Safari & Mozambique tour includes three nights at Phinda Mountain Lodge, with game drives and rhino walking safaris.


&BEYOND PHINDA MOUNTAIN LODGE

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Alternative

Wildlife encounters For most travellers embarking on their first safari, it’s all about the Big Five. The classic savannah experience fully-loaded with iconic wildlife encounters. But as we at Rainbow Tours well know, an African safari is rarely something you do only once. For second, third, fourth and fifth-timers this vast continent offers countless alternative wildlife experiences, from wild dog-watching in South Africa to following the fruit bat migration in Zambia.

N 01

WHERE TO SEE LEMURS • Andasibe-Mantadia National Park for indri, diadem sifaka and the eastern lesser bamboo lemur • Ifotaka Community Forest for iconic southern species including ring-tails, Verreaux’s sifaka and the whitefooted sportive lemur • Ankarana National Park for northern lemurs including Sanfords’ and crowned lemurs

S

eparated from the African mainland some 165 million years ago, the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar is a haven for endemic wildlife. For most, the island’s biggest draw are its native prosimians – over one hundred species and subspecies of lemur found nowhere else in the world. Settling in biomes from semi-desert to rainforest, Madagascar’s lemurs have evolved with staggering diversity: social and solitary creatures; tree-dwellers and ground-dwellers; nocturnal and diurnal; herbivores as well as omnivores. From reef to rainforest, every protected piece of Madagascar offers a unique wildlife experience: watching the Verreaux’s sifaka entertaining with its two-legged dancing, listening to the haunting call of the indri drifting through the forest canopy or falling in love with the antics of gregarious ring-tails. And not forgetting the island’s kaleidoscope of frogs, chameleons, geckos, birds and butterflies to boot. The key to a superb wildlife holiday is an expert guide, and that’s exactly what you’ll find on a Rainbow tour in Madagascar. Whether you’re looking for the handsome red-ruffed lemur in the lowland rainforest or heading out on a night walk in search of the pintsized Goodman’s mouse lemur, our local naturalist guides are second to none.

• Ranomafana National Park for golden and greater bamboo lemurs, the black-and-white ruffed lemur, redbellied lemurs and the red-fronted brown lemur

WHEN TO GO Madagascar is a great year-round destination - except January and February when cyclones can occur. The climate varies according to altitude and latitude, but in general April and May offer good weather and wildlife viewing. Travel between September and November to see new baby lemurs clinging to their mothers’ backs.

WHERE TO STAY We love Anjajavy Le Lodge on the northwest coast. This boutique Relais & Chateaux property protects a large seasonally dry deciduous forest reserve packed with baobabs and rare wildlife. Lemur viewing here is effortless - Coquerel’s sifaka bounce into the lodge’s gardens on a daily basis, and common brown lemur and Danfoss’ mouse lemur are regular sightings.

TAKE ME THERE Our 12-day Madagascar Made Easy Deluxe tour includes three nights at Vakona Forest Lodge in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and five nights at Anjajavy Le Lodge. CALL CALL US US ON ON 020 020 7666 7666 1253 1253

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abyssinian wolf Ethiopia

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ne of Africa’s least-travelled destinations provides one of its scarcest wildlife encounters: Ethiopian wolves are the world’s rarest canid, with fewer than 500 remaining. These are Africa’s only wolves, and around two-thirds of them can be found on the wild moorlands of the Sanetti Plateau – a remote, fragile landscape, 4,000 metres above sea level. The endemic wolves are well adapted to living on the highaltitude plateau, preying on abundant giant mole rats – also a favourite meal of the local plateau raptors and golden eagles. Living in close-knit territorial packs, the wolves are surprisingly

sociable and approachable. It’s hard to appreciate the rarity of these beautiful creatures when they are so easy to spot; their red coats giving them away against a background of frosty green wilderness and silvery Helichrysum shrubs. To drive across the plateau is to drive on Africa’s highestlying road, an experience as memorable as your first wolf encounter. Here, simple roadside puddles offer sightings of rare endemic birds like the blue-winged goose, and views across the roof of Africa appear never-ending. But it’s the playful packs of Ethiopia’s critically endangered wolves that really steal the show.

WHERE TO SEE WOLVES Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia, 400 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa.

WHEN TO GO Weather at 4,000 metres above sea level can be unpredictable. On the plateau, daytime temperatures hover at around 5°C, dropping to below zero after dark. May to July is very pleasant with sunny spells punctuated by afternoon showers. October to March is a great time to visit when days are warm and sunny.

WHERE TO STAY Bale Mountain Lodge is quite simply the best lodge in Ethiopia. Set high in the mountains, within the beautiful cloud forest, this boutique wilderness lodge has just eight guest rooms. Animals found foraging near the lodge’s eight-hectare grounds include giant forest hogs, leopards, black-maned lions and the recently described, endemic Bale monkey.

TAKE ME THERE Our 16-day Discover Ethiopia tour includes three nights at Bale Mountain Lodge as well as two days of wildlife discovery in Simien Mountains National Park.

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WHERE TO SEE GORILLAS Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwest Uganda can be reached either by light aircraft transfer from Entebbe to Kihihi or Kisoro, or by road. As the road journey is lengthy, it can be combined with other national parks such as Queen Elizabeth.

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Gorilla

WHEN TO GO

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o wildlife experience can surpass coming face-to-face with a troop of mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Listed as Critically Endangered, it is thought that there are as few as 880 of these magnificent mammals remaining – meaning that a wild encounter is a very special experience indeed. Around half of the world’s mountain gorillas live in the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwest Uganda. Well-managed tourism in Uganda and in Rwanda has managed to help turn the tables in terms of conservation, with money from gorilla tourism providing a much-needed source of income and education to local communities.

Travel year-round except April and November when heavy rains persist. The park’s dry season between June and September is a peak time to travel and it is advisable to book well in advance.

At Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a sustainable, low impact approach means that gorillas and trekkers alike both have the best experience: small groups of at most eight people are permitted to visit any of the park’s habituated gorilla groups in a day. Starting first thing in the morning, visitors join guides and trackers on a trek through the wild forest – also home to elephants and golden monkeys – in search of the free-roaming gorillas. When a group is located, it is permitted to spend an utterly mesmerising hour observing the family dynamics, watching mischievous youngsters play together and powerful silverbacks exert their dominance.

WHERE TO STAY About five minutes’ walk from the park entrance, the very comfortable Buhoma Lodge has just 10 beautifully decorated guest cottages, each with a private balcony with stunning views over the forest canopy. The proprietors are widely praised for their outstanding employment practise, with development of the local resident communities being a foremost priority.

TAKE ME THERE Our 10-day Simply Uganda Gorillas & Game tour includes three nights at Buhoma Lodge with the opportunity for two days’ gorilla tracking.

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CHIMPANZEE Tanzania

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rom Southern Senegal to Western Tanzania, Africa’s last remaining chimpanzees live in the tropical rainforests of what used to be the equatorial forest belt. The Mahale Mountains in Western Tanzania may not be the easiest of locations to reach, but it’s precisely this isolation that has kept their montane rainforest habitat intact. Researchers from Kyoto University have been studying the chimps of Mahale since 1965, observing their highly social behaviour and documenting their clever use of tools. This continued exposure to humans means that Mahale’s habituated chimpanzees are well accustomed to people

and are rarely fazed by curious onlookers, which makes for a fabulously intimate encounter. In a small group of just six, visitors join local chimp tracking guides whose in-depth knowledge of individual animals and their life stories is incredible. In the dry months, the chimpanzees could be found just a short distance away in the lower reaches of the forest, but in the wetter months finding them can take the best part of half a day. But any extra time spent in the jaw-droppingly beautiful Mahale Mountains is a boon: over 350 species of bird live in the national park, along with leopards, bushbucks, bushpigs and eight other species of primate.

WHERE TO SEE CHIMPS Mahale Mountains National Park, Western Tanzania. Responsible practices ensure that no more than six visitors are permitted close to the chimps at any time and maximum viewing time is one hour.

WHEN TO GO Mahale Mountains National Park is accessible year-round. In the dry season between July and October the chimpanzees descend to the lower reaches of the forests, making trekking less strenuous and sightings easier.

WHERE TO STAY There can be no more magical location than that of Greystoke Mahale Camp. Set on a white sand beach on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, it’s a dhow boat journey to the secluded camp at the foot of the spectacular Mahale Mountains. Seventy chimps live nearby, and chimp trekking is guaranteed on every full day as a guest. Free time is spent relaxing on the crescent beach or snorkelling among the lake’s 250 species of tropical fish.

TAKE ME THERE Our 10-day Western Tanzania Safari & Chimp Trekking tour includes three nights at Greystoke Mahale Camp as well as three days on safari in Katavi National Park.

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WHERE TO SEE HUMPBACKS In the waters surrounding Île Sainte Marie off the east coast of Madagascar, and north to Antongil Bay.

WHEN TO GO CétaMada offer daily whale watching excursions throughout July and August. A three hour boat trip costs €45.

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very year humpback whales migrate from their low latitude wintering grounds in search of warmer waters. The longest migration of any mammal by far, these giants of the sea are known to travel thousands of miles in order to reach tropical or subtropical waters for calving. It’s hard to believe that as recently as 1988 humpback whales were listed as Endangered, however populations have now recovered thanks to the introduction of commercial whaling bans. Conservation organisation CétaMada has been tracking the movement of humpbacks in the Sainte Marie channel for nine years, where the warm Indian

Ocean waters provide the ideal conditions for giving birth. Their mission is to protect marine mammals around Madagascar, in part by engaging local people in ecotourism projects, bringing a much-needed income into rural Malagasy communities. During the migratory season, CétaMada organise daily whale watching excursions from beautiful Île Sainte Marie where tourists are encouraged to assist in the collection of data, thus contributing to conservation efforts. But it’s not a case of all work and no play; humpbacks are renowned for their distinctive surface behaviours, and watching these 30-tonne cetaceans breach is one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles.

Princesse Bora Lodge & Spa is a gorgeous island hideaway that works in partnership with CétaMada. With just 20 private villas, this eco-chic lodge blends Malagasy charm with beachside bliss. Time here runs at an altogether slower pace and days are spent relaxing on white sands or taking to the turquoise waters to snorkel, dive, kayak or head out in search of humpbacks.

TAKE ME THERE Our 14-day Madagascar Reef & Rainforest tour includes seven nights at Princesse Bora Lodge & Spa as well as three days’ lemur-spotting in AndasibeMantadia National Park.

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The

GREAT Migration T

he Serengeti-Mara is the world’s largest intact migratory ecosystem. Comprising a mind-boggling 30,000km² of unfenced East African savannah, it is centred on Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and the Masai Mara in neighbouring Kenya. Be it lions or giraffes, warthogs or baboons, ostriches or crocodiles, the Serengeti-Mara supports some the world’s most varied and prolific wildlife. But its defining feature, dictated by local rainfall patterns, is the annual ungulate migration: a baaing, dustkicking phenomenon comprising up to two million wildebeest, hundreds of thousands of zebras, and a cast of myriad extras. The most dramatic part of the migration is river-crossing season. This starts to unfurl in June or July, when the northward-moving column of wildebeest is temporarily halted by the deep waters of the Grumeti River. Then, obstacle surmounted, the season continues from August through to October, when the wildebeest disperse into the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara in sub-herds of several thousand, crossing the Mara River back and forth. A river crossing is a tense and unpredictable event. A group of wildebeest might amass at a favoured crossing point over several days, teasing themselves as much as the spectator, seemingly ready to take the plunge then thinking better of it and withdrawing from the verge. With every false start, the level of mass agitation rises, manifested by a hysterical outbreak of braying that can last for 15 minutes. Suddenly, all hell will break loose as one wildebeest hurtles blindly into the water. The rest of the herd will follow unhesitatingly, crossing the river in a lemming-like adrenalin-charged surge, before erupting thunderously onto the opposite bank. For the human spectator, it is an utterly breathtaking experience. For the participants, it’s rather more perilous. Thousands of individual wildebeest die every year during misjudged high-water crossings, while others fall victim to the orgiastic frenzy of crocodiles that weave gape-mouthed through the water, or bloodthirsty lions that wait in ambush on the opposite bank. In the grand ecological scheme of things, any deficit created during the crossings will be replenished during the migration’s other great landmark event. This is the calving season, which takes place in the short-grass plains of the southeastern Serengeti over a few weeks between late January and early March. During this short window, the wildebeest collectively give birth to 300-500,000 wobblykneed young. It is a wonderfully life-affirming phenomenon, but not without its dark side, as a menagerie of predators – lion, cheetah, spotted hyena, jackal – shadow the herds to snaffle up any weak or abandoned foals. 32

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Planning THE Safari The migration does follow a reasonably (but not entirely) predictable annual cycle, which means that if you focus on the right area at the right time – the southeast Serengeti from December to May, the western Serengeti from May to July, the northern Serengeti or Masai Mara area from August to October – there is a fair chance of seeing sub-herds of several thousand wildebeest. However with the best will in the world, it is practically impossible to ensure that any given few days, in any given part of the ecosystem, will coincide with a river crossing. But even allowing for vagaries in local rainfall patterns, a mid-February safari to the southeastern Serengeti comes with a more than decent chance of witnessing the large numbers of wildebeest calving in near-unison. Fortunately, even without the wildebeest migration, the Serengeti-Mara would rank close to being Africa’s top safari destination. There’s no better place to see lions – pacing males with their imperious manes or slinky females on the hunt. The Serengeti and Masai Mara are also unusually reliable for sightings of leopard and cheetah, while the likes of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, warthog and zebra are all common. Furthermore, despite its popularity, this vast ecosystem still retains the soulstirring sense of space alluded to in the Serengeti’s Masai name, which literally means endless plain. 34

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MIGRATION:

Where to stay AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

Northern Serengeti, Tanzania

Masai Mara, Kenya

Sayari Camp

Rekero Mara Camp

With its stunning wilderness location close to the famous Lamai Wedge, this ultra-stylish permanent camp is within easy reach of multiple crossing points on the Mara River. Each of the 15 luxurious tented rooms has a sumptuous king size bed and free-standing bath-for-two with views over the wildlife-rich Serengeti plains. The rim-flow pool is the ideal place to relax after a day on safari.

Perched strategically above the mighty Talek River, this seasonal wilderness camp offers one of the best locations from which to watch the Great Migration, with wildebeest thundering across the river just outside. The camp’s nine wellappointed tents each have en-suite bathrooms complete with hot bucket showers, and private terraces from which the river crossing is visible.

Olakira Camp

Governors’ Camp

This intimate mobile camp follows the wildebeest to two spectacular locations in the national park. Home from December to March is the southern Serengeti, but as the dry days of winter arrive, Olakira relocates north to the confluence of the Mara and Bolongonja rivers for spectacular game viewing at the Mara River itself. Just nine en-suite deluxe tents make up this very special camp.

The setting for Governors’ Camp is so magical that a century ago it was reserved exclusively for Kenya’s colonial Governors. Today it’s better known for being the location of the BBC’s Big Cat Diaries and its unparalleled proximity to the Mara River. Thirty-seven secluded luxury tents line the banks of the river, each with its own en-suite bathroom and private veranda for wildlife viewing. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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A Day on It’s true to say that one day on safari is never the same as any other: the unpredictability of a wild encounter is exactly what makes a safari so very special. However, we can tell you a little about what to expect on a typical day. Here we walk through 24 hours at Garonga Safari Camp, a luxury tented camp in the Greater Makalali Private Nature Reserve, 90 minutes from South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

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1 Giraffe in the bushveld 1

2 Impala in the morning light 3 Garonga wildlife guide

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The Morning Safari days start early – at Garonga Safari Camp that means a wake-up call at 6:00 a.m. in the South African winter (May to August) and 5:00 a.m. in summer (September to April). Hot coffee and rusks enliven the senses before the early morning game drive starts at sunrise – the coolest time of day when animals are at their most active. As the sun slowly rises over the bushveld and warms the landscape, the beautiful golden light is ideal for photography. Garonga is an intimate camp with just six en-suite tented rooms, which means an intimate safari experience. Game drives in comfortable open-sided Land Rovers take six to eight guests through the

22,000-hectare Makalali Conservancy – a wildlife-rich private reserve traversed by only two camps. Experienced guides and trackers allow ample time to stop and watch the wildlife, without the crowds of the better-known parks. Sightings here could include elephant, lion, leopard, white rhino, black rhino, cheetah, hippo, crocodile, spotted hyena and a wealth of plains game. Morning game drives last for around three hours, returning to camp for breakfast or brunch. At Garonga, those who wish can walk the last leg back to camp, experiencing the sights and sounds of the bushveld from a totally new perspective. A hearty cooked breakfast with warm pastries and tropical fruit is served around the pool.

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Down Time In the heat of the midday sun, when animals and guests both seek shelter, there’s space for a little me-time. Garonga’s philosophy is to offer a safari for the soul; an unhurried holiday with time to reflect and find inspiration in nature. Down time is spent dozing in private hammocks, lounging by the pool, soaking in the outdoor bush bath or indulging in a tranquil massage. Just relaxing on the deck can offer effortless sightings of the reserve’s wildlife; elephants in particular are regularly seen at the riverbed overlooked by the camp. Those looking for adventure can take to the skies in a microlight for an awe-inspiring aerial safari over Makalali Conservancy.

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The Evening The afternoon safari at Garonga starts at around 3:30 p.m. in the winter and 4:00 p.m. in the summer to allow around three hours for wildlife viewing before the sun sets. A ranger and tracker are on hand to share fascinating facts about the bushveld and its inhabitants, and as golden hour arrives, the soft, warm light makes for spectacular wildlife photography. As the evening draws in, the Land Rover rests at a glorious spot from which to enjoy a cool sundowner as the beautiful African sun sets over the horizon. Returning to camp in the dark, the 4x4’s spotlights are used to locate nocturnal game such as leopard, hyena and porcupine. At Garonga, pre-dinner drinks are served around the campfire or the outdoor boma bar before a sumptuous three-course dinner with

fellow guests - accompanied by an excellent selection of South African wines. Dinner is served either around the cosy communal table in the main lounge, under the stars at the outdoor boma or in a private, romantic setting just for two.

1 One of six tented rooms, each with private deck

When it’s time to retire, a touch of luxury awaits. Each of Garonga’s spacious tented rooms has sculpted walls and an overarching canvas roof, and comes complete with large draped bed, en-suite bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers, and private wooden deck with its own hammock commanding spectacular views across the bushveld. Some safari camps offer the chance to spend a night under the stars: Garonga’s tree house star bed offers guests the opportunity to sleep out in a beautiful fourposter bed, drifting off to the distant sounds of the wild.

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2 Elephant and calf in Makalali Conservancy 3 Outdoor bush bath 4 Garonga’s Massage Sala

6 Outdoor boma bar 7 Spotted hyena cubs at play

TAKE ME THERE Our 13-night South Africa Safari & Mauritius holiday includes three nights at Garonga Safari Camp and seven nights in a luxury beachside villa at Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius.

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THE MARSH PRIDE AT MUSIARA MARSH © JONATHAN SCOTT

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Renowned wildlife photographer and writer Jonathan Scott is perhaps best known for his role as the presenter of the BBC’s Big Cat Diary; the programme that introduced the world to the lives of the Marsh pride of lions in Kenya’s Masai Mara. He shares his passion for Africa’s big cats in this extract adapted from Sacred Nature: Life’s Eternal Dance, a book inspired by, and illustrated with, his wife Angela’s wildlife photography. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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leopard peers golden-eyed from the dense canopy of a fig tree, while a pride of lions stakes out a favoured ambush site. Meanwhile a mother cheetah sits motionless atop a termite mound, elevated two metres above the grass, her sharp amber eyes picking out the distant shapes of wildebeest calves and gazelles. We watch spellbound at the wonder of life’s eternal dance even as we mourn the loss of our last wild places. The great predators, the milling herds of deer and antelope, the soaring birds of prey, they are vanishing across the planet and we will be poorer without them. The tension generated by the presence of the predators brings an energy that crackles across the grasslands and through the thickets. While the wildebeest and gazelles are perpetual wanderers over the plains, the lions and leopards are territorial, as are the hyenas and jackals, anchored in space and time to a fixed abode that expands and contracts according to pressure from their neighbours and the seasonal movements of their prey. In the Masai Mara in Kenya where Angie and I are based at a stone cottage at Governors’ Camp, the wandering herds of wildebeest and zebras known as the great migration represent a movable feast for the hunters for as long as they are in residence. From June and October, the Mara’s lions, leopards and cheetahs are at their sleekest and most well nourished, the muscles of shoulders and thighs rippling beneath the silky sheen of their coats. Lion cubs born around this time of year have a better chance of survival, with plenty of food for lactating mothers and for cubs already weaned.

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While the lions target young and old among the herds, the cheetahs and leopards focus their attention on the wildebeest calves born earlier in the year. There is a beautiful symmetry reflected in the eternal struggle between predator and prey that stirs the heart and nourishes the imagination: the delicate balance between life and death. If predator populations are thriving, we can rest assured that the prey animals are thriving too. When a lion roars, the world stops to listen. It is a sound that carries for up to eight kilometres, loaded with information for other lions – friend and foe. Not only can lions count (and by default know when they are likely to be outnumbered), a roar tells them who is calling, their sex and

1 Leopard drinking at Olare Oak River © JonathanScott 2 Majestic male lion 3 Governors’ Camp, Masai Mara


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Rainbow Tours Exclusive EXPLORE KENYA WITH THE

Big Cat Man Eight-day Kenya Masai Mara Safari with Jonathan Scott Visit the Rainbow Tours website for scheduled departure dates

their location. This helps pride members keep track of each other’s whereabouts and avoid unnecessary confrontation with neighbouring prides. It is as if the gods have spoken: antelopes and buffaloes cease feeding, their ears pointing skywards to pinpoint the location of the all-too-familiar sounds; preparing to flee or approaching for a closer look, large dark eyes bulging to pick out the place where the lion might be hiding or standing proud and defiant. Lions are Angie’s favourite big cat, reminding both of us of happy days spent with the Marsh Pride as they rested during the heat of the day amid the shade of the oxbows at the heart of Musiara Marsh or along the Bila Shaka lugga. We have watched this group of lions since 1977, revelling in the sight of the pride males lying fullbellied and panting with each laboured breath,

as the lionesses sprawl, legs akimbo, huge tawny forepaws flung casually across a relative’s flank, a dozen small cubs snuggled close by with a bellyful of milk. At times like this you could be forgiven for thinking that all was well in the world of the lion. But it isn’t. King of Beasts, Lord of the Savanna, The Lion King – all familiar tributes to a creature revered as a symbol of courage and strength from the days when we first acquired language and began to create vivid representations of these iconic beasts as rock art. Yet how shabbily we have treated them. Lions have lost 75 per cent of their natural range in the past 50 years, their numbers whittled from 75,000 to half that number during the same period. Competition with the growing human population over ‘real estate’, conflict with livestock owners, loss of their natural prey and poaching now threaten the existence of an animal that was once the most widespread large mammal on earth after man. The fragile-looking cheetah is in an even more alarming predicament, with estimates suggesting there are perhaps as few as 7,000 left in the wild. Meanwhile, the leopard, despite a 45 per cent reduction in its natural habitat, still numbers in the hundreds of thousands worldwide, thanks to its highly adaptable, unspecialised ways and ability to live close to humans. Now more than ever we must redouble our efforts to ensure a future for the iconic big cats that have been our obsession these past 40 years.

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Jonathon Scott’s autobiography, The Big Cat Man, is out now.

This article was adapted from Sacred Nature: Life’s Eternal Dance by Jonathan and Angela Scott

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The word ‘safari’ comes from the Swahili word to journey, and while traditional safaris are usually by open-sided 4x4, there are plenty of thrilling alternatives to choose from that can make your journey that extra bit special.

SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK

WALKING SAFARIS

Walking in the bush heightens your every sense to the sights and sounds of the wild. On a walking safari you become part of the wild landscape rather than a simple observer: the alarm calls of a troupe of baboons may indicate a predator; circling vultures point to a kill; a musky scent suggests that lions are nearby. Many lodges offer short bush walks after the morning game drive, however specific walking safaris can cover around six to 12 kilometres a day, with plenty of time to stop and observe wildlife from a safe distance, accompanied by a highly trained walking guide and armed scout.

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Camp-to-Camp Walking Safaris South Luangwa National Park, Zambia Zambia offers some of Africa’s best walking safaris, with the Luangwa River and its tributaries providing a rich water source for big game and predators. Luggage is transferred between the remote bush camps, leaving guests free for camp-tocamp walks that can take in intimate sightings of hippo, wild dog, elephant, lion, hyena and the park’s extraordinary birdlife.

Rhino Walking Safaris Kruger National Park, South Africa Walking safaris in this 12,000-hectare private concession are as much about learning the skills of bush tracking as they are about searching for white rhino. This is Big Five country, where sightings of middens or prints can lead to wildlife encounters with a host of big game, and careful exploration can uncover some of the bush’s smaller, lesser known residents.


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BOAT SAFARIS

Africa’s rivers and waterways are the lifeblood of the continent; a magnet for thirsty mammals and migrating birds, not to mention murky home to resident hippos and crocs. In the dry season particularly, when water sources are scarce, riverbanks become prime territory and water-based safaris can provide spectacular viewing opportunities – especially of elephants who can drink up to 50 gallons a day. Birders will relish the opportunity to spot herons perched on overhanging branches and rare waders rustling in the reeds on a traditional mokoro safari through the Okavango Delta. 1 Selinda Adventure Trail

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Selinda Adventure Trail Okavango River, Botswana In 2009 high waters flowing through northern Botswana caused the Okavango River to push along the previously dry Selinda Spillway. Now adventure seekers can take advantage of the rare opportunity to travel this wildlife-rich wetland, taking five days to paddle and walk the 45-kilometre channel renowned for its large herds of elephant and over 300 species of bird.

Zambezi Queen Houseboat Chobe River, Botswana Chobe National Park boasts the largest population of elephant in Africa and a boat safari is a superb way to view the great herds that congregate on the riverbank. The five-star Zambezi Queen does it in style, navigating 25 kilometres of the hippo-filled river over three days, with each of her 14 luxury suites featuring a private balcony for wildlife viewing. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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BALLOON SAFARIS

Getting a bird’s-eye view gives a unique perspective on any landscape, but a hot air balloon safari adds something extra – the opportunity to watch animals who are unaware of their onlookers. Travelling by balloon is a tranquil, silent experience, where panoramic views of large elephant herds moving en masse, or predators deftly stalking their prey, unfold like an Attenborough documentary below. The day starts at sunrise, allowing for the most beautiful light conditions as the balloon takes to the skies, and ends with a champagne breakfast to toast the adventure wherever the balloon should land. SUNRISE BALLOON OVER THE PLAINS

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Kenya Hot Air Balloon Masai Mara National Park Prevailing winds normally carry Masai Mara balloons over the twisting Mara River’s pods of hippo and predatory crocodiles and out across the Eluai Plains, where herds of elephant and plains game roam below. Ballooning during Migration Season offers the chance to soar over millions of wildebeest and zebra sweeping through the reserve on their annual pilgrimage.

Namibia Hot Air Balloon Namib Desert Namibia’s cool coastal desert stretches for 1,200 miles along the Atlantic coast; a vast expanse of empty spaces, rocky mountains and colossal orange sand dunes. Guided by wind channels, the balloon floats serenely over the stunning, arid wilderness; surprising habitat of desert-adapted antelope including oryx and kudu, as well as ostrich and Burchell’s zebra.


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HORSEBACK SAFARIS

For those with a passion for riding, there is no better way to explore Africa’s wildlife havens than on horseback - trekking alongside zebra and giraffe, coming face-to-face with elephants at eye height and getting right to the heart of wild habitats: remote places inaccessible to safari vehicles. Normally suited to more experienced riders, horseback safaris can be tailored to individual requirements, with half-day excursions, camp-to-camp treks or even wilderness camping adventures. Non-riders are well catered for too, with jeep, boat or balloon journeys so that no one misses out on the safari experience. 1 Okavango Horse Safari

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Okavango Horse Safari Botswana Based in a 250,000-hectare private reserve at the heart of the delta, this horseback adventure for intermediate or experienced riders is a chance to be at one with the wildlife, trekking along paths only used by animals, cantering alongside giraffe or wading through the wide-open flood plains interspersed with mokolowane palms - favourite food of elephants.

Desert Homestead Lodge Namibia Set between the immense sand sea of the Namib Desert and the rugged Naukluft Mountains, the highlight of a horseback adventure from Desert Homestead Lodge is the opportunity to canter through the wide-open wilderness for miles on end, spotting local wildlife like oryx, springbok and zebra, and perhaps even small carnivores like jackal and bat-eared foxes. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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WHITE-CHEEKED TURACO

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With a species total close to 2,500 and some 111 endemic families, Africa is paradise found for keen birders. Our Madagascar and Alternative Africa Product Manager, Derek Schuurman, knows just where to look for the continent’s most iconic species.

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1 Shoebill 2 Ostrich 3 Helmeted guineafowl

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here are certain countries in the Rainbow Tours portfolio that have staggering bird species lists. Tanzania, for instance, has 1,137 species. Kenya has 1,080 and Ethiopia 816. These destinations are literally bursting with birdlife – an aspect that never fails to delight even those who only had eyes for Africa’s Big Five. Some of Africa’s most distinctive feathered inhabitants enjoy a fairly wide distribution across the continent, and can be seen with relative ease on many of our safaris. These include the world’s largest extant bird, the ostrich; the utterly prehistoric, swampdwelling shoebill; the comical and gregarious guineafowl and the gaudy, frugivorous turaco.

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For those with a tick-list of the continent’s most sought-after and iconoclastic African ‘specials’, we offer holidays to some of Africa’s most off-the-beaten-track destinations. Visitors to Sierra Leone, for example, stand an excellent chance of seeing the elusive whitenecked picathartes at caves where they nest in the forested hills near Freetown. One of the highlights of our tours to the Okavango Delta in Botswana is the chance to see the enormous Pel’s fishing owl, whose hoot can be heard up to three kilometres away. In the same family, but very much rarer, the diminutive Seychelles scops owl - now numbering at most 150 pairs and classified as Endangered - can be sought in its mountain CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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You will most likely see myriad iridescent sunbirds as well as colourful weavers, bishops, widowbirds and whydahs. 99 forest home on the island of Mahé. Hearing the bizarre, hacksaw-like call made by an inquisitive pair of these owls is still one of my all-time birding highlights. Africa’s islands are a haven for rare species, particularly Madagascar where Rainbow have been running birding tours for many years. Enthusiasts visit this wildlife-rich island primarily to seek its five endemic families including the primitive mesites and extraordinarily diverse vangas, the latter of which are often compared to the finches of the Galapagos, but demonstrate far more impressive adaptive radiation.

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Once again the rarity factor features prominently in Madagascar, where many visitors to the island’s western half will see the Critically Endangered Madagascar fish eagle, now numbering at most 120 pairs. Not too far away, in Réunion, ardent twitchers can explore montane forest sites for one of the two most rare birds to be seen in the countries that we cover: the Réunion cuckoo-shrike. Today, BirdLife International estimates that no more than 25 adult pairs remain. The other, the São Tomé grosbeak, is estimated at numbering between 50 and 250 but given its cryptic behaviour, data remains deficient. Back on the African mainland, safari-goers in southern or eastern Africa still have the chance to observe some Critically Endangered birds with relative ease. One such bird is the vulture. Challenges facing African vultures are many and varied, from poisoning of carcasses by farmers aiming to kill livestock predators, to persecution for body parts used in traditional medicine. However on a recent visit to Ethiopia

1 Secretarybird 2 Crimson-breasted shrike 3 Greater double-collared sunbird 4 Masked weaver 5 Lilac-breasted roller


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I was impressed to see that the country still holds healthy populations of – among others – whitebacked, Ruppell’s griffon and hooded vultures, all now classified as Critically Endangered.

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Noteworthy

African Species

Like Latin America, Africa has its share of feathered jewels. These include some of the continent’s most iconic species, almost all of which are happily still easily spotted. While in most of our African destinations, you will most likely see lilac-breasted and racquet-tailed rollers, shrikes such as the crimson-breasted shrike (Southern Africa) and black-headed gonolek (Uganda) and myriad iridescent sunbirds as well as colourful weavers, bishops, widowbirds and whydahs, especially in the summer months when they sport their breeding regalia.

TAKE ME THERE Classic Madagascar Overland

Ostrich

Pink pigeon

Largest extant bird

Endemic to Mauritius, saved from extinction by Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Kori bustard Heaviest flying bird

Secretarybird

Lilac-breasted roller

Best for: Endemic species including the pitta-like ground-roller and forest rock thrush Uganda Gorilla & Game Safari Best for: Rainforest dwellers including the purple-breasted sunbird and bar-tailed trogon Selous, Ruaha & Swahili Coast in Style

Long-legged, terrestrial raptor

Iconic bird of African savannahs and game parks

Shoebill

Long-tailed widowbird

Monotypic, ‘dinosaur-like’ swamp-dweller

Symbol of Africa’s grasslands

Tailor-made Holidays

Red-billed quelea

Blue crane

World’s most numerous bird at some 7+ billion

Our Africa Specialists can tailor-make a holiday around your birding interests.

National bird of South Africa

Best for: Water lovers including the white-backed night heron and Pel’s fishing owl

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It’s your last day on safari. You’ve sipped your final sundowner and your bags are packed. But who says the holiday should end there? Read our guide to Africa’s best safari combinations.

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Madagascar & Mauritius

Just a two-hour flight connects our favourite pair of Indian Ocean isles. A fortnight’s break combining Madagascar and Mauritius allows ample time to explore the wilds of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, home of the black-andwhite ruffed lemur, before switching to relax mode on the palm-fringed beaches around Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel. An idyllic, five-star resort, this secluded haven on the north coast of Mauritius is set within seven acres of tropical gardens that give way to the warm turquoise waters of the natural cove. Kite surfing, windsurfing and scuba diving are all on the menu, but for pure relaxation you can’t beat the hotel’s infinity pool looking out over the Indian Ocean.

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South Africa & Mauritius

It may be a four-hour flight from Johannesburg to Mauritius but it’s one of our most popular safari and beach pairings – and with good reason. This tiny island is a little piece of Indian Ocean paradise, encircled by 200 miles of perfect whitesand beaches, topped with jungle-clad mountains and surrounded by one of the largest unbroken barrier reefs in the world. Set along a stunning two-kilometre beach on the east coast, the luxurious Constance Belle Mare Plage resort has it all, with six restaurants, an 18-hole championship golf course, four swimming pools, a blissful spa and complimentary windsurfing, snorkelling and kayaking in the reefprotected lagoon.

Botswana & Victoria Falls

With the magnificent Victoria Falls under 60 miles from Botswana’s Chobe National Park, it would be imprudent not to cross the Zambian border to get up close and personal with one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Known by local tribes as ‘The Smoke That Thunders’, more than five hundred million cubic metres of water per minute can plummet over the two-kilometre edge of this giant feat of nature, making it one of the world’s largest waterfalls – and one of Africa’s most impressive sights. We recommend two days in Livingstone to allow ample time to explore the National Park, enjoy a sunset Zambezi river cruise or even a scenic flight over the thundering falls.

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Kruger & Mozambique

It’s hard to top a safari in Kruger National Park but South Africa’s northerly neighbour, Mozambique, has the answer. After crossing the border and travelling to Maputo, it’s just a 45-minute boat journey to one of our much-loved Indian Ocean retreats - Machangulo Beach Lodge on Mozambique’s Lagoon Coast. The idyllic white-sand beaches may be all that you require, but for those who want to trade land safari for water safari, the Marine Reserves surrounding Machangulo Peninsula make for superb snorkelling and scuba diving. Boat tours also head out in search of migratory southern right whales and humpbacks along the southern Mozambique coast from June to November.

Kenya & Seychelles

Blessed with a year-round tropical climate, the 115 islands of the Seychelles are some of the most beautiful on Earth. But it’s not just the white-sand beaches, coral atolls and azure seas that make this archipelago such a desirable destination: the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’ is a haven for wildlife-lovers too, with a host of rare endemic birds, hawksbill and green turtle nesting sites and amazing marine life amid the colourful reefs. For the dream duo, combine three or four days in Kenya’s world renowned Masai Mara National Reserve with a week at Hotel L’Archipel on picture-perfect Praslin Island; a heavenly place to kick back and relax before exploring Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve.

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Cape Town & Garden Route

Self-drive is the ideal way to explore the jewels of South Africa’s southern coast. The classic Garden Route begins in vibrant Cape Town, gateway to the Cape peninsula and its colony of 2,000 African penguins. The famed winelands around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are only an hour’s drive from the city, providing the perfect excuse to leave the car for a day or two and enjoy tasting tours around the boutique wineries and estates. From here it’s on to the Garden Route proper, driving through the stunning coastal towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay before ending the adventure with a three-day safari in one of the Eastern Cape reserves like Amakhala, a superb Big Five, malaria-free conservancy.

Uganda & Gorillas

Gorilla trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is one of the all-time greatest wildlife experiences, and it can easily be combined with a big game safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It’s just a 35-mile drive to the southern border of Uganda’s most famous park, whose diverse ecosystems range from sprawling savannah to semi-deciduous tropical forest and fertile wetland. Those with more time can enjoy a few days exploring the southern circuit, on the lookout for the park’s famous tree-climbing lions, before continuing north to the Mweya region for a wildlife cruise on the Kazinga Channel, renowned for its huge population of hippo and prolific birdlife.

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Tanzania & Zanzibar

Tanzania is famed for some of the best wildlife viewing in the world, from the renowned northern parks of Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, to the vast untamed wilderness of Selous in the south. Just across the Indian Ocean, Tanzania’s exotic neighbour, Zanzibar, is the ideal match. Fringed by a mile-long, white-sand beach, The Residence Zanzibar is a divine, all-villa resort inspired by the spice island’s eclectic heritage. Set within 80 acres of lush tropical gardens, each of the beautiful villas is a private paradise with its own sundeck and pool. Adventure seekers can go in search of the endemic red colobus monkey in Jozani Forest or explore the bustling bazaars of Stone Town.

Kenya & Rwanda

Separated by the great Lake Victoria - Africa’s largest lake - the East African nations of Kenya and Rwanda can be combined for the ultimate wildlife indulgence. Two nights in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans means two opportunities to trek into the jungle-clad volcanic slopes, where mesmerising encounters with some of the planet’s last remaining mountain gorillas are nothing short of incredible. And that’s all before arriving by light aircraft into the world-renowned Masai Mara, whose vast wilderness is home to the greatest concentration of plains game in the world. Travelling between August and October during the Great Wildebeest Migration would make this wildlife duo hard to top.

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THE CHALKLEY TREEHOUSE, LION SANDS GAME RESERVEÂ

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Some moments in life call for something extra special. A time to push the boat out, go the extra mile and celebrate with a landmark holiday, never to be forgotten. It’s our first-hand experience of Africa’s boutique lodges, luxury retreats and hidden gems that can help turn your special holiday into a truly magical one. The Love Shack, Saruni Mara

Special Suites

Special Spas

There are some rooms and suites that simply take your breath away, like the luxurious Love Shack at Saruni Mara, with its sweeping private veranda over the Masai plains, or the sumptuous Chitwa Chitwa Suites in Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, with their private plunge pools offering the ultimate in lakeside wildlife viewing. Some lodges even give guests the chance to experience a night under the stars, like the hopelessly romantic Treehouses in Lion Sands Game Reserve, complete with plush four-poster beds and breathtaking 360-degree views.

It’s not all go on safari – the heat of the afternoon sun calls for some well-deserved downtime, and many of our lodges have their own exclusive spa and treatment areas designed to restore mind, body and soul. For a romantic special occasion we love the Amani Spa at Earth Lodge in Sabi Sands. The spa’s Amani Romance for Two pamper package leaves honeymooners in seventh heaven with a rejuvenating body polish and relaxation in the lodge’s bush bath, followed by the signature Kurhula Body Ritual with a luxurious full body massage and revitalising mini facial.

Special Dining

Special Experiences

When you’re on a Rainbow Tours safari, there will undoubtedly be plenty of memorable dining experiences – bush breakfasts surrounded by nature; relaxing lunches around the infinity pool; inspiring sundowners and candle-lit fine dining. But there are some lodges that take special to another level, like &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge whose Honeymoon Rose Petal Dinner is unveiled with a carpet of rose petals leading to a private table overlooking the crater, where a delicious meal is accompanied by a bottle of the finest French champagne.

When you’re going all-out to plan the holiday of a lifetime, a special experience can be the icing on the cake. Ask a Rainbow Africa Specialist about incredible extras, like a sunrise balloon flight over the wildlife-strewn plains of the Masai Mara or a scenic helicopter flight from Belmond Eagle Island Lodge, where a bird’s-eye view of the Okavango Delta reveals a new perspective on the winding waterways and lagoons. Perhaps even choose to book a special experience in secret, and surprise your loved-one or travel partner on the day.

Special Beaches When it’s time to celebrate, don’t stop at safari. The white sands and warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean are just a short hop away, making Zanzibar, Mauritius, Mozambique or the Seychelles a glorious accompaniment. Eco-boutique retreats such as Azura Benguerra Island and Fundu Lagoon offer a little piece of heaven, where you can relax in pure luxury at the end of your holiday. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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&BEYOND KICHWA TEMBO TENTED CAMP

Get it right, says wildlife author and journalist Mike Unwin, and few family holidays can beat the wonders of an African safari.

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es, family safaris can be tricky. After long hours in a hot vehicle, a lion under a distant bush can’t always compete with the swimming pool back at camp. Get it right, though, and few family holidays can beat a safari. A couple of simple tips can help. Keep game drives short, for the sake of young attention spans, and stop whenever your children spot something that interests them – if only a millipede. Be hands-on: the ‘wilderness concept’ means little to a hyperactive sevenyear-old, but luring an ant-lion from its pit with a grass blade is endless fun. For the more adventurous family, self-drive offers perfect freedom. South Africa and Namibia are excellent in this respect. But don’t worry if DIY is not for you: Africa is waking up to the family 60

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market and many destinations now offer family-friendly packages, with dedicated vehicles and guides, and activities tailored for kids, such as bush-craft courses and interaction with local children. You can always combine bush with beach – nipping from Serengeti to Zanzibar, for example – while few places offer more adventure activities for gung-ho teenagers than Victoria Falls. Ultimately, a family safari is as much fun for you as it is for them. Travelling with your children offers a refreshing chance to rediscover the natural world through younger eyes. If they find it interesting, be it rhino poo or baboon battles, then it probably is; you just need to look closer. There is more to safaris than big game, after all, and getting down and dirty with nature is where the wonder begins.


1 Tuningi Kids’ Programme 2 Fun in the great outdoors 3 On Safari in Madikwe 4 Ranger-led ‘bumbles’

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Travelling with your children offers a refreshing chance to rediscover the natural world through younger eyes. 99

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TOTS | 0-5 YEARS South Africa leads the way when it comes to toddler-friendly wildlife adventures, where a number of the reserves are malariafree and the lodges are well versed in entertaining little ones. Plus there’s only an hour’s time difference between the UK and South Africa, with an overnight flight into Jo’burg or Cape Town helping to keep sleep patterns intact.

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Madikwe Game Reserve in the north, and the reserves of the Eastern Cape in the south, are non-malarial and child-friendly, with cots readily available and guides experienced in interacting with young children. For families with real youngsters, we love Tuningi Safari Lodge in Madikwe: a private wildlife haven that’s home to 66 species of mammal including all of the Big Five. Daily game drives are included for grownups and kids over the age of five, while tots are catered for with ranger-led ‘bumbles’ – short wildlife encounters at local watering holes. This five-star lodge goes above and beyond to make sure its young guests are kept entertained, with animal-print tracking, treasure hunts and opportunities to make teatime treats with the chef. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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KIDS | 6-12 YEARS

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Game drives for children under 12 are always at the lodge’s discretion, but generally speaking the safari vehicles in Kenya and Tanzania are deemed more suitable for kids who are mature enough to take part. There’s also the added bonus of combining safari with beach on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast or Tanzania’s exotic island neighbour, Zanzibar. &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp in the heart of the Masai Mara has three beautiful suites designed especially for families, and the lodge’s WILDchild programme makes sure youngsters are never bored. Daily expeditions are carefully selected according to the interests and ages of the children, from outdoor activities like insect spotting and print tracking to cultural creativity with beading and crafting.

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1 &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp 2 Turtle Bay Beach Club 3 On safari in the Masai Mara 4 WILDchild fun at Kichwa Tembo 5 Sandboarding in Swakopmund 6 Etosha rhinos 7 The AfriCat Foundation

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The perfect safari accompaniment, Turtle Bay Beach Club on the country’s tropical east coast is totally dedicated to fun family beach holidays. The Kids Club for four to 12-year-olds offers supervised activities including swimming, arts and crafts, cooking lessons and beach games, and paddle skis and boogie boards are available free of charge for those who want to explore the incredible underwater world of Watamu Marine Park.


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TEENAGERS | 13-18 YEARS Young explorers keen to forge their own paths will delight in Africa’s more untamed and adventurous destinations like Namibia, Botswana and Zambia, where a more mature approach and longer attention span are required: think sitting still in a dug-out canoe long enough to approach timid wildlife, or travelling greater distances before being rewarded with wild encounters.

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A self-drive holiday in Namibia offers older families the ultimate in independence, with longer drives taken at a pace suitable for all the family. At Okonjima there’s a chance for budding conservationists to experience the work of The AfriCat Foundation in action, learning about cheetahs that have been rehabilitated and returned to the wild, while in Etosha National Park families can choose whether to head out on their own wildlife-spotting escapades or join a guided game drive from camp. Teenage adventure junkies will love climbing Namibia’s iconic sand dunes or kayaking with dolphins on the Skeleton Coast.

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ASIA

The Rainbow Tours guide to Asia’s most iconic wildlife experiences

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INDIA’S

BIG

5 & BEYOND

Africa, we all know, has its celebrated ‘Big Five’. Less well known, perhaps, is that India boasts an equivalent quintet: namely Asian elephant, one-horned rhino, gaur (the largest buffalo of all), tiger (even bigger than lion) and leopard (the very same). But an Indian wildlife adventure isn’t about competing with Africa. Wildlife author and journalist, Mike Unwin, discovers that every park offers a unique wildlife experience. Khem Villas Luxury Jungle Camp

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Rainbow Tours makes a donation for every India booking to Tour Operators for Tigers, a collective action initiative that works to save tigers and their forests across the Indian subcontinent.

TIGER IN RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK

Earning Your Stripes Imagine the scene. You’ve been following fresh pugmarks for the last 300 metres and now the shrill alarm whistles of spotted deer reveal that the tigress is close. The tension is palpable. Your jeep creeps around the bend and suddenly there she is, coat ablaze in the low late afternoon light. She fixes you with an amber-eyed glare. Then, oblivious to the now near-hysterical deer, she pads across the track into the long grass on the other side, seesaw shoulders slipping gradually out of sight. Your view lasted just 30 seconds but it’s 30 minutes before your heart stops pounding. India harbours around two-thirds of the world’s 3,800 wild tigers. Undeniably the country’s top wildlife drawcard – indeed, arguably

the world’s favourite animal – this imperious cat now occupies only a fraction of its former range. But with a network of some 50 designated tiger reserves nationwide, your chances of finding one are excellent. Top reserves for sightings include Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, Tadoba and Khana. Our 10-day The Taj & Tigers tour includes three nights at Khem Villas Luxury Jungle Camp in Ranthambore National Park – the best place to spot wild tigers in Rajasthan. This former royal hunting ground is also home to striped hyenas, jungle cats and myriad birds and reptiles.

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Seeing Spots

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A blur of retreating spots or the switch of a white tail tip is sometimes all you get of this enigmatic cat: leopards in India can be just as elusive as in Africa. Nonetheless the subcontinent’s number two big cat can be seen in most Indian parks, with sightings often easiest in locations where tigers are less common. Even outside parks you should remain vigilant: your guide may well point out leopard tracks in buffer zones, and in the Rajasthan village of Bera a remarkable population lives in close proximity with the local community, often seen in broad daylight. India’s other large cats include the thick-furred snow leopard, which lucky visitors may glimpse on a high-altitude trek into the mountains of Ladakh, and the beautiful clouded leopard, which lives among the tropical treetops of the north and east. Their smaller relatives include the leggy nocturnal jungle cat and the diminutive black-footed cat. Our 17-day Boutique Rajasthan with Relais & Chateaux tour includes three nights at Jawai Leopard Camp, a luxury tented-lodge in the heart of leopard country where game drives can deliver sightings of the big cat as well as wolves and striped hyenas in the remote hills. 4

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The Heavy Brigade Elephants may thunder and trumpet through Disney’s Jungle Book but in reality India’s largest land mammal no longer occurs naturally in the tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh, where Kipling’s original story was set. Although any visitor to India is likely to encounter domesticated elephants, whether working the land or parading the streets, their wild forest cousins are largely confined to protected areas in the north, such as Corbett National Park, or the south, such as Periyar Tiger Reserve. Boat trips at the latter often encounter large herds venturing from the tree-line to slake their thirst along the lakeshore. Wild elephants also thrive in Kaziranga National Park in India’s northeast. But this park’s main drawcard is the great one-horned rhinoceros: two-thirds of the world’s population of this endangered two-tonne pachyderm munch through its swampy grasslands. Alongside it are herds of wild water buffalo, a big, long-horned ox that, like the elephant, has been harnessed to agricultural labour across southern Asia. Even larger, however, is the gaur. This imposing animal, with its huge shoulder hump and cream-coloured ‘ankle socks’, roams in small herds through forested reserves across India. Bandipur and Nagarhole National Parks in the southwest protect the largest populations.

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Our 12-day Rhinos & Riverboats tour includes two nights at Diphlu River Lodge in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, one of the finest wildlife refuges in the world where wild Asian elephants share the Brahmaputra floodplains with the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

1 Rabari guide at Jawai 2 Lounging leopard 3 One-horned rhinoceros 4 Jawai Leopard Camp 5 Kaziranga elephants 6 Diphlu River Lodge

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Bear Necessities A low growl rumbles from the thicket ahead. Your walking guide raises his hand to halt the group. Sure enough, a shambling mop of black fur emerges from the undergrowth and ambles away down the rocky hillside. It’s a sloth bear. And what’s more, there are two pocket-sized youngsters clinging to its back. The sloth bear – India’s commonest ursine – is a shaggy, nocturnal, termite-eating animal, quite unlike the avuncular Baloo of Jungle Book fame. Though smaller than a brown bear, it

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is nonetheless feared for its aggression. You may meet one in almost any of India’s national parks, although it tends to avoid areas of high tiger activity. Sightings are excellent in Satpura, where walking safaris allow thrilling close encounters. Our 12-day In Search of Tigers & Leopards tour includes four nights at Reni Pani Jungle Lodge on the edge of Satpura National Park where jeep, boat and walking safaris head out in search of the famed sloth bear as well as leopards, tigers and the hordes of gaur and sambar deer.

1 Sloth bear 2 Reni Pani Jungle Lodge 3 Jamtara Wilderness Camp 4 Safari in Pench National Park 5 Golden jackal


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Dog Days

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You often hear them first – a chorus of shrill whistles – before they come bounding into view, yapping and chattering excitedly. Collie-sized, with rich reddish coats, Asiatic wild dogs don’t seem especially fearsome. And yet the panic among the nearby deer suggests otherwise: they know that these sociable canines, also known as dholes, are among the most formidable of the forest’s hunters. Even tigers give them a wide berth. Lucky visitors may find them in most national parks, though they are nowhere common. More elusive is the wolf, which is better known from the deserts and mountains of northern India than from the tiger reserves further south – though you may come across the odd individual hunting around park buffer zones. The Asiatic jackal is the smallest but most abundant of this canine trio, and gets much of its food from scavenging. Our eight-day The Jungle Book Adventure tour includes three nights at Jamtara Wilderness Camp, a luxury jungle eco-lodge close to Pench National Park, whose teak forests and grassy plains are home to a host of predators including wild dogs, wolves, tigers and leopards.

Supporting Cast India’s parks also boast a rich supporting cast of other wildlife. No safari would be complete without its deer, such as the splendid-antlered sambar, or its monkeys, like the comical, squabbling grey langurs. And then there are the wild boar, mongooses, civets, flying foxes, crocodiles, pythons and a host of other fascinating creatures. As for birdwatchers, India’s feathered profusion alone justifies the trip, with everything from rollers and hornbills to fishing owls and junglefowl among a national tally of more than 1,260 species.

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SLOTH BEAR

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Green bee-eater

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hen sloth bears are peckish, they don’t mess about. The early morning sun was casting its first orange rays over the forests of Wilpattu National Park, and we were watching one of Sri Lanka’s rarest animals hoover up its opening meal of the day. Feet away from our lone jeep, the bear had been using its sharp claws to rip out webs of thick roots from the earth. Now it was faced with its reward: easy access to the soon-to-beswallowed residents of a large termite nest. It protruded its lips and began noisily sucking up the insects, stamping its shaggy black paws in exuberance. Breakfast in the tropics might not be decorous, but it’s clearly enjoyable. The name “sloth bear” is something of a misnomer. The animal is so called thanks to early naturalists, who saw its claws and gapped teeth and wrongly assumed it to be related to the South American sloth. But this is no lazy leaf-browser. Small by bear standards, it is immensely strong and can unleash bursts of speed faster than most humans. Like Sri Lanka itself, it is not to be judged by size alone.

This was just my fourth day on the teardropshaped island, and the little country was already proving every bit as layered and entrancing as I’d been told. The wildlife? Brightly feathered and scaly-skinned; an ark’s worth of bee-eaters, crocs and elephants. The roadside culture? A colour-splash of temples and churches, mosques and monks. The food? Fiery, complex and even better than I’d hoped. And the history? Humbling. Wilpattu is an extraordinary place, not just for its menagerie of creatures and its raw beauty – much of which centres on the national park’s vast willus, or natural lakes – but also for its past. It sits four hours north of Colombo’s international airport, a location that placed it on the frontline of the civil war when conflict broke out in the 1980s. It was once the country’s most visited park, but was forced to close in 1988 when, shockingly, its wildlife rangers were murdered en masse. The animal population was decimated by poaching, and its gates only reopened for good in 2010.

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Crocodiles basked in the sun at the water’s edge while elephants loudly tore off low-lying branches.

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99 I was fortunate enough to be staying at Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris, a high-end tented retreat on the park limits that struck a neat balance between luxury and the outdoors. Nightjars called from the canopy. The coffee was always good. Glass bottles strung between trees acted as an early-warning sign for wandering elephants who had lost their way. But best of all, the camp was staffed by guides who not only knew their stuff but were skilled at imparting their passion for the surroundings. On my first evening, I sat under the stars with Saj, a local South Africa-trained guide. Fireflies blinked past in the warm night air. Dishes appeared on our table – fish curry, string hoppers, coconut and chilli sambol, banana flowers, Sri Lankan aubergine – and he led me through the basics of using only the fingertips to eat with. “It’s up to you if you want to try it, but it’s hygienic – and it actually tastes better too,” he smiled. “You’re actually in touch with the food.” Carefully digging in, I was converted within minutes. The flavours blasted out in waves. “That’s right,” he continued. “With Sri Lankan food every mouthful should be different. That way, your tastebuds never get bored. It’s spicy too, eh? When you get a bit of a hiccup, that’s a proper good curry.” 74

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By the time I retired to my waterside tent – where the splash of otters and the buzz of cicadas provided a bedtime soundtrack – Saj had talked in depth about everything from astronomy to frog calls. Wilpattu these days draws only a fraction of the visitors of some of the southern national parks, but this quietness is very much a bonus, as I was to discover over the next three days. On each game drive, once the jeep had made its way down the long, rutted, birdlife-rich path into the park proper, there was often the feel of being on your own private reserve. Wild boar tottered, mongooses skittered, peacocks preened and kingfishers flashed. Crocodiles basked in the sun at the water’s edge while elephants loudly tore off low-lying branches.


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2 Wilpattu peacock 3 Crocodile at the water’s edge 4 Wandering elephant

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Wilpattu’s famous leopards remained elusive – we saw fresh pug-marks one morning, but not their maker – although it’s testament to the calm and scale of the park that the pang of disappointment I felt was only fleeting. After all, who in their right mind feels the need to grumble when they’re being served papaya juice and fresh roti flatbreads while watching sea eagles trace loops above the jungle? Behind the wheel, Saj’s colleague Praneeth was another young guide for whom the park was clearly a deep-rooted passion. He was no less thrilled than I was when, on my final morning game drive, our breakfasting bear appeared. I left knowing I could happily have stayed for longer. Maybe even a lot longer. Praneeth had now spent years here, driving daily along Wilpattu’s forest paths and wide lakeside trails. Did he ever get bored, I asked him? He stopped the jeep and fixed me with bright eyes, laughing. “Bored? Every drive is different. It’s a paradise for me.” And given the turmoil the park has gone through in recent decades, these were heartening wowrds indeed.

TAKE ME THERE Ben travelled on our 10-day Sri Lanka Ultimate Culture & Wildlife tour that includes three nights at Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris camp, with five game drives in Wilpattu National Park. Add a luxury Maldives eco-break for the perfect pairing.

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Borneo’s

Top Orangutan Hotspots With its pristine white sand beaches and turquoise seas filled with swirling shoals of technicoloured reef fish, the Malaysian island of Borneo is holiday heaven. But it’s the inhabitants of the island’s ancient rainforests that steal the show: placid pygmy elephants, comical proboscis monkeys, rare clouded leopards and Asia’s only great ape – the compellingly charismatic orangutan. Borneo’s northern state of Sabah is one of the best places on Earth to search for the primates in their ever-decreasing wild habitat, plus it offers some of the top accommodation options too: eco-lodges that are actively committed to conserving primary habitats and jungle retreats where forested walkways are frequented by guests and apes alike. 76

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SPONSOR A SEPILOK ORANGUTAN Rainbow Tours works with Orangutan Appeal UK to support the ongoing work of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. For every Borneo holiday booking we sponsor an orangutan for a year, with clients receiving an adoption pack from the centre as a thank you.

Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre For an almost guaranteed sighting, the renowned Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is a must. Covering more than 16 square miles of virgin lowland equatorial rainforest, this reserve provides sanctuary for young orangutans orphaned as a result of illegal logging and deforestation, teaching them the vital skills required to be returned to forest life. Twice-daily feeding sessions bring youngsters out of the dense jungle and into view, where human cousins eagerly await their amusing antics. Our nine-day Borneo Nature Trails tour includes two nights at Sepilok Nature Resort, a lakeside ecolodge just a few minutes’ walk from the Rehabilitation Centre. Each of the resort’s 23 wooden chalets has a veranda overlooking the lake or jungle, and it’s not uncommon to see orangutans from the sanctuary hanging about in the surrounding trees. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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1 Danum Valley lowland rainforest 2 Danum Valley canopy walkway

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3 Borneo Rainforest Lodge outdoor bathtub 4 Wild organgutan family 5 Kinabatangan River boat safari Š David Kirkland / Sabah Tourism

Danum Valley Conservation Area Danum Valley was set-aside as a Conservation Area in 1981, protecting an incredibly biodiverse piece of lowland rainforest and the rare flora and fauna within it. An important habitat for wild orangutans, the forest also provides one of the last refuges in Sabah for the Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinoceros as well as rare species like the Malayan sun bear. A highlight of exploring this rainforest is the 26-metre-high canopy walkway between the trees that offers a unique glimpse into the jungle canopy where orangutans reside. Our five-day Really Wild Sukau & Danum Valley tour includes two nights at the remote Borneo Rainforest Lodge, an award-winning luxury eco-lodge with 24 stilted chalets strung out along the Danum River. Deluxe Chalets even boast their own private balconies with outdoor bathtubs overlooking the jungle, where orangutans are often sighted.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve Officially declared a Wildlife Reserve in 1984, Tabin safeguards a vast lowland dipterocarp forest, protecting the endangered species that call it home: pygmy elephants; nine species of primate and three species of cat to name just a few. Many of the reserve’s orangutans were released from Sepilok, sharing the forest canopy with almost 300 species of bird including the Bornean bristlehead and rhinoceros hornbill. An array of excellent walking trails lead to jungle waterfalls and a mud volcano that serves as a mineral lick for the resident wildlife. Our five-day Sukau & Tabin Wildlife Safari includes two nights at Tabin Wildlife Resort, a simple but comfortable jungle resort with 20 wooden riverside and hillside lodges, where gibbons and hornbills feel just as at home as the guests. Night drives here are a highlight, with western tarsiers, civets and clouded leopards all on the watch-list. 78

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Kinabatangan River The narrow wildlife corridor that follows Malaysia’s second longest river is one of only two known places on Earth where 10 species of primate can be found. This is nature at its most wild, and a riverside orangutan sighting is a true privilege rather than a guarantee. Wildlife tours in small boats zip up the crocodile-filled river and its tributaries, with expert guides inspecting the overhanging branches for hornbills, proboscis monkeys and the soughtafter auburn apes, and scouring the riverbanks for thirsty families of pygmy elephant.

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Our 11-day Ultimate Borneo Sarawak & Sabah tour includes one night at Abai Jungle Lodge, a remote riverside resort accessible only by boat. Stilted jungle walkways provide opportunities to spot wildlife without even leaving the premises, but Kinabatangan river trips are the real highlight, with expert guides who never miss a thing.

...And Relax After a jungle adventure, Sabah’s beautiful beachside retreats provide an idyllic end to the holiday. Just off the coast, Gaya Island is a luxury resort and National Park, where beach break and wildlife holiday go hand-in-hand: the largest of five coral-fringed islands within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. With some of the world’s most incredible coral gardens just 20 metres from shore, snorkelling and diving here are out of this world, and inshore jungle trails can lead to sightings of red giant flying squirrels and proboscis monkeys. When it’s time to relax, the resort’s elegant sea-view villas, private beach, tranquil spa village and poolside bar provide the bliss. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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THE AMERICAS The Rainbow Tours guide to the best wildlife holidays in Central America, South America & Canada

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JAGUAR IN THE PANTANAL

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The ‘lungs of the planet’, the Amazon is the largest and most diverse tropical forest in the world, covering 1.4 billion acres that support one in ten known species on Earth. Couple that with the neighbouring Pantanal – the planet’s largest wetland, home to around 1,000 species of bird, 300 species of mammal and 9,000 species of invertebrate – and you have one of the richest ecological regions in the world. Wildlife encounters are innumerable, but we do have some favourites. Caiman Ecological Refuge © S.Melim

Jaguar With an estimated 15,000 remaining in the wild, jaguars are the largest of South America’s big cats. Loss of habitat due to deforestation continues to threaten the species, and the stealth carnivore is now found only in remote regions of the continent. Larger than the leopard, the cat’s stocky physique allows it to be an agile climber and strong swimmer, and its exceptionally powerful jaw can crush even armoured reptiles, making the tropical wetlands of Brazil’s Pantanal the ideal feeding ground. Travelling during the dry season between May and October offers an excellent chance of sighting the superb cat, with the Pantanal’s large open spaces making viewing easier.

Our 12-day Jaguar Spotting in the Pantanal tour includes three nights at Caiman Ecological Refuge, a remote eco-ranch that offers a dedicated jaguar tracking programme, giving guests the opportunity to join members of the Onçafari jaguar conservation project in checking camera traps, locating kills and analysing satellite data from collared jaguars. Set on a 200-square-mile ranch, two lodges offer beautiful accommodation for just 22 guests, and nature lovers are kept busy with photographic safaris, walking tours, canoe adventures and jeep safaris, all accompanied by expert naturalist guides.

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Amazon River Dolphin Also known as the pink river dolphin or boto, the Amazon river dolphin is the largest freshwater dolphin species in the world. Endemic to South America and listed as one of the world’s most endangered cetaceans, these playful creatures have adapted to their habitat, able to paddle forwards with one flipper and backwards with the other to manoeuvre through floods. Although smaller than sea dolphins, botos have much longer snouts that enable them to hunt at the bottom of riverbeds, feeding on crabs, small fish and turtles. Their most noticeable feature however is their pink hue – a bright beacon in the murky waters of the Amazon.

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Our 11-day Gourmet Peruvian Highlands & Luxury Amazon Cruise includes three nights aboard the Aria Amazon, a deluxe, 16-suite river cruiser that transports guests into the Amazon rainforest and along the river’s largest tributaries. Each of the stylish Design Suites has a wall of river-facing glass, and the Jacuzzi located on the observation deck is perfectly positioned for dolphin watching while enjoying a glass of pisco punch. Off-ship excursions in motorised skiffs transport small groups of passengers along the wildlife-rich waterways where pink dolphins can be seen diving, threetoed sloths lounge in overhanging trees and colourful macaws fly overhead. 84

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1 Amazon river dolphin © Mark Carwardine 2 Aria Amazon Design Suite 3 Aria Amazon skiff excursion 4 Aria Amazon luxury river cruiser 5 Iberá capybara 6 Puerto Valle estancia 7 Canoeing on the Paraná River

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Capybara Weighing as much as an adult human, the capybara is the world’s largest rodent; a highly sociable creature found throughout almost every country in South America. Standing at around two feet tall, these ‘water hogs’ are actually closely related to the continent’s native guinea pigs, and congregate in herds of up to 20 individuals. Living close to rivers and wetlands, capybaras are semi-aquatic, with webbed feet that make them gifted swimmers and an ability to fully submerge themselves for up to five minutes in order to hide from deadly predators like jaguars and pumas. Iberá Natural Reserve – the Argentine Pantanal - is a wildlife lover’s paradise and one of the best places to spot the oversized rodent in its natural habitat. Our 11-day Argentina, Buenos Aires, Wildlife, Gauchos & Iguazu tour includes four nights at Puerto Valle, a charming estanciastyle property on the banks of the Paraná River at the edge of the Iberá wetlands. With just 13 beautiful guest rooms, this nature ranch offers visitors exclusive access to the wetland reserve, with riverboat tours and kayaking adventures in search of capybaras, pampa deer, marshland deer and howler monkeys. The reserve is a mecca for bird enthusiasts too, with around 350 different species including herons, egrets, swifts and storks.

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1 Brazilian tapir 2 Cristalino naturalist guide © S.Melim

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3 Cristalino Lodge © S.Melim 4 Yacare caiman 5 Cristalino aerial view © E.Endrigo 6 Pousada Rio Mutum boat tour 7 Pousada Rio Mutum horse riding

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Brazilian Tapir The Brazilian (or lowland) tapir is the largest mammal in South America; one of five species of tapir, all of which are at risk due to hunting and habitat loss. Closely related to horses and rhinoceroses, these unusual-looking herbivores are capable swimmers, often spotted running into the water to escape predators, and most easily viewed along riverbanks during the dry season from July to October. Primarily tropical rainforest grazers, tapirs use their long, flexible proboscis to help them gather meals of leaves, shoots, buds and fruit, generally feeding only at night and hiding in the cool forest during the day.

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Our 13-day Best of Brazilian Amazon & Pantanal tour includes three nights at Cristalino Lodge, an exceptional eco-lodge set deep in the southern Amazon rainforest, with just 18 luxurious rooms and bungalows. The lodge’s 44-square-mile Private Natural Heritage Reserve is home to a large number of Brazilian tapirs as well as capybaras and a host of primates including capuchins, spider monkeys, sakis and howlers - in addition to some of the Amazon’s most interesting amphibians like the Brazil nut frog. Cristalino also boasts two viewing towers that allow guests to peer into the rainforest habitat of numerous seldomseen bird species, including many rangerestricted Brazilian endemics.

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Caiman

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Six different species of caiman reside in and around the tropical rivers and swamps of Central and South America. The biggest of the species, the black caiman, is the largest predator in the Amazon River basin; a semiaquatic goliath with adult males reaching around five metres in length. These formidable beasts hunt nocturnally, feasting on fish, birds, turtles and capybara, with the larger species also targeting animals like deer, jaguars, cougars and even anacondas, swallowing them whole without so much as a crunch. Spotting the freshwater predators is relatively easy on a dry season safari between July and October. Our 13-day Best of Brazilian Amazon & Pantanal tour includes three nights at Pousada Rio Mutum, a wonderful northern Pantanal eco-lodge that offers night time safaris in search of caimans and their prey, transporting guests deep into the tropical wetlands with powerful searchlights that illuminate menacing eyes. Located in one of the most beautiful regions of the Pantanal, close to the incredible SiĂĄ Mariana and ChacororĂŠ bays, this 22-chalet retreat is an ecological paradise, offering hiking trails and horse riding through the thick jungle and boating adventures along pristine rivers and lakes. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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FlyingVisit Central and South America are renowned for their profusion of richly-hued exotic birds, decorating forest canopies with their flamboyant feathers and wowing onlookers with their elaborate mating rituals. It’s our knowledge of how and where to see the showstoppers that sets us apart.

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1 Resplendent Quetzal Hidden away in the cloud forests of Central America, the beautiful resplendent quetzal is one of the most sought after birds in the region. During the mating season the male develops an incredible train of oversized tail feathers that are flaunted in a spectacular swooping display. With their natural habitat disappearing, the resplendent quetzal is under threat, but Costa Rica’s protected reserves have proved a safe place to call home. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a great place to spot this iridescent bird, and the wonderful Hidden Canopy Treehouse boasts treetop balconies and walkways that provide easy sightings of the trogon. Our 12-day Costa Rica Nature Experience tour includes two nights at the boutique Hidden Canopy Treehouse, in one of seven luxury treetop chalets, each with its own private treetop balcony. Guided nature tours depart at 8:30 each morning. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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All 17 species of macaw can be found in the lush Central and South American rainforests. These brilliantly-coloured members of the parrot family are among the most vocal of the forest dwellers with their loud squawks ringing through the treetops. Tambopata National Reserve - a truly remote wilderness deep in the Peruvian Amazon - protects two of the world’s largest clay licks where raucous macaws gather to feed on the nutrient-rich soil. Tambopata Research Centre offers bird-loving guests the chance to witness the chaotic arrival of hundreds of parrots, parakeets and up to six species of macaw in one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles.

Native to the cloud forests of South America, the remarkable Andean cock-of-the-rock has been adopted as the national bird of Peru. Males are renowned for their striking orangered plumage and prominent fan-shaped crests that vie for supremacy in bobbing competitions forming part of their elaborate courtship behaviour. Located at an altitude of almost 1,600 metres, in the lush eastern slopes of the Andes, Cock of the Rock Lodge has a prime location just a couple of minutes’ walk from a lek where the world’s largest known group of the birds can be found, where every morning and evening the males stage a colourful, noisy mating display.

A five-day Tambopata Research Centre extension can be added to any Rainbow Peru itinerary. The most remote eco-lodge in South America, seven hours by boat from Puerto Maldonado, this rustic lodge is at the forefront of macaw conservation, with guests often having the chance to see fieldwork in action.

Our six-day Biotrip to Manu tour includes one night at Cock of the Rock Lodge, and can be added on to any Peru itinerary. The lodge’s 12 en-suite bungalows may be basic, but it’s the scenery that steals the show here, with the lodge protecting 125,000 acres of cloud forest packed with native birds.

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During the mating season the male develops an incredible train of tail feathers that are flaunted in a spectacular swooping display. 99

4 Booby The blue-footed variety of booby uses his colourful webbed feet to attract a mate – the bluer the better when it comes to impressing the ladies. These rather comical-looking sea birds are exceptional divers, plunging into the water at 60 miles per hour from as high as 100 feet to feed on small fish. Around half of all breeding pairs can be found in the Galapagos Islands, a mecca for birders and wildlife enthusiasts. The M/C Seaman Journey sails to North Seymour Island, a key nesting site for blue-footed boobies, as well as stopping at Genovesa Island in the north of the archipelago, where the much rarer red-footed booby can be found. Our 11-day Simply Galapagos tour includes seven nights aboard the M/C Seaman Journey, a boutique yacht catamaran with just six en-suite cabins and two suites. A typical day involves two excursions including swimming, snorkelling, kayaking or walking among the wildlife, before dinner on the sun deck.

5 Curl-Crested Aracari Found in the southwestern section of the Amazon basin, the rare curl-crested aracari has a spectacularly colourful plumage. Part of the toucan family, it is the bird’s curled crown feathers and psychedelic bill that really set this beauty apart, and Brazil’s Cristalino State Park is the place to see it. The eco-chic Cristalino Lodge boasts its own 28,000-acre Private National Heritage Reserve covered by primary and lush rainforests where a third of all Brazilian birds – a total of 1,800 species including the curl-crested aracari – can be seen. Two 50-metre observation towers offer guests a unique vantage point from which to view the birdlife in the upper layer of the forest. Our 13-day Best of the Brazilian Amazon & Pantanal tour includes three nights at the gorgeous Cristalino Lodge, named one of National Geographic Traveller’s 25 best eco-lodges. As well as specialist birdwatching tours, the lodge also offers dedicated wildlife photography tours and workshops. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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Amazing wildlife experiences are by no means limited to dry land. There’s a whole new world beneath the waves and it’s brimming with an incredible array of marine creatures.

For every Costa Rica booking, Rainbow Tours makes a donation to the Asociación Salvemos las Tortugas de Parismina, a grassroots conservation organisation dedicated to protecting local sea turtles and their eggs from poaching. 92

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WHERE TO SEE SEA TURTLES Tortuguero National Park on the northeast Caribbean coast for green turtles, leatherbacks and hawksbills. Ostional National Wildlife Reserve on the northwest Pacific peninsula for mass Olive Ridley nesting events.

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Green turtles nest on the north Caribbean coast from June to October. Olive Ridleys nest on the Pacific coast throughout the year, but July to November is the key time for a mass arribada. Leatherbacks nest on the Caribbean coast from March to July, and on the Pacific from September to March.

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here are seven different species of sea turtle, patrolling our tropical oceans as they have done for the last 100 million years, almost all of which are now classified as Endangered. With its dual coastlines – one Pacific, one Caribbean – tiny, eco-conscious Costa Rica offers a host of protected nesting sites for these vulnerable reptiles. On the Caribbean coast, the sandy shores of Tortuguero National Park are one of the world’s most important nesting areas for the Endangered green sea turtle, arriving in their droves to lay over 100 eggs per female beneath the warm black sand. Local residents have been awarded

permits to guide visitors in nightly turtlewatching excursions as part of a wider conservation effort that preaches tourism over poaching. On the other side of the country, on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Nicoya Peninsula’s Ostional National Wildlife Reserve is the most important nesting site for Olive Ridley turtles in the Americas. The sea dwellers nest on Ostional beach year-round, but during the rainy season mass nesting events known as arribadas occur once or twice a month, with hundreds of thousands of females coming ashore, depositing an incredible ten million eggs over a five-day period.

Beautiful Lagarta Lodge is the ideal place to enjoy the Nicoya Peninsula experience, from river kayaking surrounded by primeval forest to catching some of the best surf in the Pacific. With its 26 gorgeous suites and two ocean-view infinity pools, this stylish eco-lodge has been awarded the highest certification for sustainability, in part due to its 90-acre Reserva Biológica where a stroll through the subtropical dry forest offers sightings of howler monkeys and anteaters.

TAKE ME THERE Our 13-day Highlights of Costa Rica & Panama tour includes three nights at Lagarta Lodge as well as time in Arenal Volcano National Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

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KILLER WHALE Canada

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ith its striking black and white profile, the killer whale – or orca – is actually the world’s largest dolphin, originally dubbed ‘whale killer’ by the ancient mariners for its reputation as one of the sea’s most deadly predators. Although found in every ocean, populations of orcas are incredibly localised, resulting in at least 10 different ecotypes with differing diets, markings and social behaviours. In the northeastern Pacific, close to Canada’s Vancouver Island, two resident populations of killer whale coexist in their separate matriarchal societies, with pods from the two communities never seen together. Also hunting in the same

waters are four distinct transient populations that migrate great distances from the Arctic Circle to California; fierce mammal-eaters that never socialise or mate with the resident salmon-eating orca. In season, whale-watching boat tours from Victoria Harbour on Vancouver Island boast an exceptionally high chance of seeing a pod of the Southern Resident orca, where over 80 of the cetaceans are known to live in the Pacific waters. There’s also a good chance of seeing humpbacks, minke whales and gray whales too, not to mention seals, otters, sea lions and a multitude of marine birds including bald eagles, black oystercatchers and the great blue heron.

WHERE TO SEE KILLER WHALES The Salish Sea, British Columbia - one of the world’s most biologically-rich inland seas, home to 247 species of fish.

WHEN TO GO The best time to spot resident orcas is between April and October as the Chinook salmon run passes Vancouver Island. Small pods of transient killer whales are also frequently spotted during the summer months, and periodically during the winter.

WHERE TO STAY The Magnolia Hotel & Spa is a sumptuous boutique hotel just two blocks from Victoria’s harbour where the whale watching tours depart. Locals and guests alike rave about its Catalano Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar; a great spot for a glass of wine and some Venetianinspired tapas. The Magnolia is testament to the fact that exceptional service and luxury lodging can go hand-in-hand with a sustainable commitment, with the hotel achieving four Green Keys under the Green Key Eco-Rating Program.

TAKE ME THERE Our nine-day Grizzlies, Orcas & Black Bears tour includes whale watching from Victoria and Tofino, plus bear watching around Glendale Cove.

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WHERE TO SEE WHALE SHARKS The beach resort of Placencia on southern Belize’s Caribbean coast, for boat tours to Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve.

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WHEN TO GO The mass-spawning coincides with Belize’s lunar cycles throughout April, May and June, with a three day window before and after the full moon.

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eaching lengths of around 15 metres, whale sharks are the biggest fish in the sea, cruising the tropics with their enormous gaping mouths scooping up every inch of plankton in their path. There are only a small number of destinations around the world where sightings of these beautiful carpet sharks can be almost guaranteed, and Gladden Spit in Belize is one of those exceptional places. Year-round, the diving and snorkelling around Belize’s Barrier Reef is incredible, but a mass fish-spawning event each spring draws in the VIPs, with migrating whale sharks making a beeline to this

special Caribbean feeding site. In the days before and after the full moon, huge numbers of snapper release great clouds of eggs into the sea, attracting hungry whale sharks as well as rare loggerhead turtles, dolphins and even bull sharks and hammerheads. Snorkelling boat tours from the Creole fishing village of Placencia take around one and a half hours to reach the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, for an out-of-this-world underwater encounter with the whale sharks and huge schools of tropical fish. Despite their fearsome appearance, the sharks are gentle giants and are often playful with divers.

With its collection of luxury sea-front villas and poolside cottages, Turtle Inn is an idyllic Caribbean hideaway set on a quiet stretch of golden sand just a short walk from Placencia. Owned by Francis Ford Coppela, this intimate resort has three beachside restaurants and two openair bars with heavenly views over the Caribbean Sea and the picture-perfect cayes that dot its azure waters. After a full day snorkelling or diving, the Inn’s Sunset Spa specialises in essential oil massages and sea salt exfoliations.

TAKE ME THERE Our 14-day Belize Mayan Discovery & Beach tour includes two nights at Turtle Inn with a snorkelling coral reef tour from Placencia, plus wildlife tours around the jungle-clad temples of Lamanai.

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WHERE TO SEE PENGUINS

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cons of the great white wilderness, the flightless birds of our most southerly continent have adapted to withstand Antarctica’s extreme winds and frigid waters, relying on their densely-packed oily feathers and thick layer of blubber to keep warm where most other life would fail. Coming ashore in the southern summer, penguins breed in colonies often in the hundreds of thousands: an awesome spectacle against the glittering ice. Standing at around 70 centimetres tall, the Pygoscelis group of penguins – the chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo – are the classic black and white birds of childhood

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cartoons, distinguished by their breeding territories and facial markings: gentoos with their white crown and orange lower mandible; Adélies with their beautiful white eye rings and chinstraps with their striking line of black plumage encircling their faces as if tying on a swimming hat. An expedition cruise is the best way to see these beautiful birds in their stark habitat. Departing Ushuaia and crossing the Drake Passage, ships like the M/S Hebridean Sky stop wherever conditions allow – at penguin rookeries, seal wallows and whale feeding areas – and small zodiac boats get wildlife enthusiasts as close to the action as possible.

Pygoscelis penguins breed mostly in the higher latitudes of the sub-Antarctic and the Antarctic, with gentoos found furthest north and Adélies furthest south.

WHEN TO GO Expedition ships begin visiting Antarctica in late October (the Antarctic spring) and continue to late February or early March. October and November is penguin mating season with some fantastic courtship displays to be seen. New arrivals hatch in December and January, with moulting chicks developing their adult plumage in February and March.

WHERE TO STAY The M/S Hebridean Sky is one of the finest small expedition ships in Antarctica, with just 57 luxury suites, each boasting a minimum 220 square feet of space and all the mod-cons: queen-sized bed; flat screen TV and marble-appointed bathroom. During down time, guest speakers and expedition leaders inspire with briefings and lectures.

TAKE ME THERE Our 16-day Ultimate Antarctica Adventure includes 10 nights aboard the M/S Hebridean Sky plus time to explore Argentina’s vibrant capital, Buenos Aires.


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GRaY WHALE Mexico

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eparated from the main body of Mexico by the Sea of Cortez, the Baja California peninsula cuts through the Pacific Ocean for more than 800 miles; an arid branch of desert and mountain renowned for its exceptional underwater world. On the western coast of the peninsula, a string of barrier islands protect a series of shallow bays that play host to one of the most exciting marine events on Earth – the annual gray whale migration. Having travelled over 6,000 miles from their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic – one of the longest-known migrations of any mammal – almost all of the world’s gray whales gather in the bay’s warm waters to mate and give birth, with females

feeding young calves in the protected lagoons until they are strong enough to begin their first long journey northward. Bahía Magdalena is the southernmost of the three gray calving lagoons, and a superb place for an unusually intimate whale-watching encounter. Although hunted almost to extinction, these ocean giants are surprisingly fearless. Excursions in small fishing boats known as pangas allow whale-watchers to get exceptionally close to the playful giants – widely regarded as the friendliest of the whales – with inquisitive mothers and calves coming right up to the boats to check out delighted onlookers.

WHERE TO SEE GRAY WHALES The Pacific coast lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. On the peninsula’s opposite coast, Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto is another exceptional whale-watching hotspot, where blue whales, fin whales and humpbacks can be seen.

WHEN TO GO Pregnant gray whales are the first to arrive in Baja’s breeding lagoons at the end of December, staying with their calves until the end of April, with numbers peaking in February and March.

WHERE TO STAY Embracing its colonial heritage, boutique Posada de las Flores is a charming base from which to explore the natural wonders of Baja California. This 15-room, hacienda-style hotel on Loreto’s main square is a historic fusion of shady courtyards, 18th century furniture and colourful Mexican artworks. Just 200 metres from the beach, the posada’s focal point is a rooftop, glass-bottomed swimming pool with incredible views out over the Sea of Cortez.

TAKE ME THERE Our 13-day Baja California in Depth tour includes whale-watching excursions in Bahía Magdalena and Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto.


THREE-TOED SLOTH

A Day in the Home to an incredible five per cent of the world’s biodiversity, no other country on the planet has such a rich array of flora and fauna as tiny Costa Rica. Sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the rainforests, cloud forests and dry forests of this Central American ecowarrior shelter some of the most varied and exciting species on Earth. We experience a day in the life of Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge, a remote rainforest retreat accessible only by riverboat, on the edge of Corcovado National Park. 98

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1 Scarlet macaw 1

2 White-nosed coati 3 Spider monkey

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The Morning The Costa Ricans have a saying, ‘Pura Vida’ – the ‘pure life’. Much more than a motto, it is a call to live each day to the fullest. So, if the birds get up at dawn, you do too. The 350 or so bird species of the Osa Peninsula are most active just after first light, and Casa Corcovado’s guided birding excursions begin at 5:30 a.m. with tea or coffee at the outdoor Bar El Bosque. Sightings on the jungle walk can include scarlet macaws, chestnut mandibled toucans, brown pelicans, magnificent frigatebirds, scarlet tanagers, red-legged honeycreepers and white-vented euphonias to name just a few. One hundred species of butterfly inhabit the national park, and it’s common to see the blue morphos dancing in the morning light as the jungle mist rises through the trees.

Corcovado National Park is the last remaining Pacific lowland rainforest of sustainable size in Central America, and “the most biologically intense place on Earth” according to the National Geographic Society. Naturalist-guided hikes start from the lodge after breakfast, heading into the jungle where Central America’s densest population of jaguar can be found. Among the towering trees, expert guides will search for the country’s most famous forest-dweller - the laid-back three-toed sloth - as well as the highly endangered red-backed squirrel monkey, the whitelipped peccary and myriad other bird, monkey and insect varieties. After a picnic lunch on Casa Corcovado’s halfkilometre, private Pacific beach, it’s just a short walk along the coastal path to return to the lodge. CALL US ON 020 7666 1253

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The Afternoon Casa Corcovado is a remote 170-acre private reserve comprising beach and rainforest, so downtime here means harmonising with nature. Guests can explore the lodge’s tropical gardens, take a dip in one of two pools, kick back on the 500-metre deserted beach, or cool off from the tropical heat with an outside ‘garden shower’; a much-loved feature of the lodge’s Deluxe Bungalows. 100

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1 Pacific Ocean beach 2 Red-eyed tree frog 3 Northern tamandua anteater 4 Casa Corcovado pool 5 Osa Peninsula 6 Elusive puma 7 Baird’s tapir

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The Evening Evenings at Casa Corcovado begin with a cocktail at Margarita Sunset Point, a glorious vantage point that overlooks the Pacific, with ocean vistas that can include sightings of passing humpback whales. A casual dinner menu is offered at the lodge’s hacienda-style Los Vitrales restaurant, featuring dishes inspired by traditional recipes made with fresh local produce. Over 60% of Corcovado’s species are nocturnal, and an extraordinary range of strange and exotic creatures can be seen after dark. Starting at 8:00 p.m., lodge guests can join a night hike that lasts for around an hour and a half in search of some of the jungle’s coolest critters, as well as the shy tapir and elusive puma, both best spotted after dark.

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When it’s time for bed, Casa Corcovado’s Deluxe Bungalows are tucked away in their own private gardens where a symphony of rainforest sounds provide the nighttime lullaby.

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TAKE ME THERE Remote Corcovado National Park is best explored during the dry season between December and April. Our 12-night Costa Rica Sustainable Wildlife Tour includes three nights at Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge as well as wildlife adventures in Arenal Volcano National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Manuel Antonio National Park.

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HAMMERHEAD SHARKSÂ

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GALAPAGOS Over 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the isolated Galapagos Islands are home to a unique collection of birds and beasts that evolved without fear of humans, making this remote archipelago the dream destination for intimate wildlife encounters. Wanderlust Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Lyn Hughes, picks just a few of her favourite Galapagos residents.

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t was a sizzling afternoon on North Seymour Island – in more ways than one. A female blue-footed booby sat on a rock as two males feverishly courted her. She glanced disdainfully from one to the other as they vied for her attention, stretching their necks and arching their backs in a yogic salute to the sun, and then dancing, slowly raising one blue foot, then the other. Eventually she must have given a comehither sign to one of them because it joined her on the rock. The other male continued to prance, but looked increasingly dejected as the courting pair gazed into each other’s eyes and enacted the booby equivalent of a passionate tango. No matter how well-travelled you are, you’ll be constantly surprised and bemused by the wildlife of the Galapagos. On this unique,

remote archipelago in the Pacific, the animals have never learned fear of man. They ignore the cameras clicking just feet away as they get on with their daily business. Every island has a completely different atmosphere, different landscape and different species. One day you’re searching for giant tortoises in swirling highland mists, the next you’re snorkelling with turtles in an aquamarine sea. You can be sitting in a small panga (boat), a hat shading you from the equator sun, as you watch penguins plunge into crashing surf. Back on shore you can find yourself having to step over marine iguanas, basking in the early morning sun, or having to detour around a snoozing sea lion. Here are just some of my favourite Galapagos animals.

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ANCIENT REPTILES

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1 Giant Tortoises

2 Land Iguanas

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The islands are named after an old Spanish word for what is probably its most famous resident, the giant tortoise. There are several sub-species and two types of shell. Those with a saddle-back shell usually browse on cactus, while the ones with domed shells are bigger and graze on grass. Watch out for boulders that slowly move!

Charles Darwin was unimpressed with land iguanas, describing them as “ugly” and “of a singularly stupid appearance”. I disagree, thinking these huge chilledout lizards, with a crest along their backs, look like a mythical friendly dragon. Even better, some of them are pink in colour! But even the more common yellow iguanas are loveable.

Darwin was even ruder about these extraordinary creatures, describing them as “disgusting” and “imps of darkness”. Fortunately most visitors see past their appearance and marvel at an extraordinary lizard that lives on land but forages for algae underwater. Hundreds congregate on black lava rocks during the day, only visible when you get close.

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BIRDS OF A FEATHER

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1 Boobies

2 Magnificent Frigatebirds

3 Flightless Cormorants

There are actually three species of booby. The Nazca booby is a handsome black and white bird, with a distinctive masked face. The red-footed booby has, you guessed it, huge red feet, which it uses in its courtship ‘dance’. Meanwhile, the rather comical blue-footed booby is a big favourite with visitors, not least for its courtship moves.

The pirates of the sky, these acrobatic birds harass and steal fish from other birds, such as the boobies, rather than do an honest day’s work themselves. In the breeding season the males are easily spotted as they impress the ladies by inflating a scarlet neck pouch like a balloon - the bigger the better when it comes to the birds’ courtship ritual.

While the Galapagos cormorant may look like other cormorants, it is unique in that it has lost the ability to fly. One of the world’s rarest birds, it evolved without predators, only needing to swim. Despite many having been lost to introduced predators, its population has stabilised, and they can be seen drying off the feathers in their small wings.

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BELOW THE WAVES

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1 Seals & Sea Lions

2 Penguins

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The Galapagos fur seal and Galapagos sea lion are very closely related. Fortunately they are easy to tell apart once you are there. The sea lions are the confident and curious beasts that you see sprawled out on beaches, benches and gangways, and are great fun to snorkel with. The fur seals are smaller, shyer and less common.

Penguins on the equator! Yes, there really are, indeed some are in the northern hemisphere, thanks to the cool and nutrient-rich waters of the Humboldt Current that flows here from the subAntarctic. They are the second smallest species of penguin, so easy to miss unless you are looking for them, and can swim at over 20 miles per hour.

More than 30 species of shark are found here, including the Galapagos shark itself, the whale shark and the white-tip reef shark. But the one that visitors are most avid to see is the scalloped hammerhead shark. Huge schools of 100 or more hammerheads congregate between December and May; the only place in the world this behaviour has been seen.

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TAKE ME THERE

Boat-based discoveries At Rainbow Tours we love to explore by the smaller, more intimate Galapagos boats, like sister ships M/Y Eric and Letty, each with a maximum capacity of just 20 guests in 10 outside cabins. Shore excursions are led by an experienced naturalist guide in a maximum group size of just 10 visitors - one of the best guideto-guest ratios in the Galapagos.

Land-based discoveries For those who like to be based on terra firma, the beachfront Finch Bay Eco Hotel on Santa Cruz Island is a tranquil hideaway, where you can combine poolside relaxation with day tours including yacht trips to nearby islands, visiting the island’s Giant Tortoise Reserve, or scuba diving, snorkelling and kayaking with the marine life.

Multi-destination tours Our Galapagos island discoveries can be paired with any Peru or Ecuador tour, like our 14-day Discover Ecuador Rainforest & Galapagos itinerary - the ultimate holiday for nature lovers - with three nights in the Andean cloud forest and a four-night Galapagos cruise aboard the Santa Cruz II, a high-end expedition craft that tailors activities to each guest.

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Fantastic BEARS

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TO FIND THEM

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he only bear species to be considered a marine mammal, polar bears live life at the extreme, surviving temperatures down to −40°C on the ever-decreasing sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. With males weighing an incredible 150 stone, these colossal carnivores can roam, swim or float across hundreds of miles of wilderness in search of food, travelling for days to seek out the blubber-rich ringed and bearded seals that provide the best fuel for cold climes. 108

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Of the world’s eight remaining bear species, a staggering six are listed as either Endangered or Vulnerable by the IUCN, but the forests, rivers and tundra of North and South America provide a rare opportunity to witness nature’s great beasts.

TAKE ME THERE Our five-night Polar Bear Safari is based in remote Churchill in the northern reaches of Canada’s Manitoba province; a two-hour flight from Winnipeg. This Hudson Bay town is one of the few human settlements on the planet where it’s possible to get up-close to polar bears in their natural habitat. The holiday includes two full-day adventures on the Tundra Buggy®, a unique all-terrain vehicle that journeys across the snow and ice of the subarctic landscape to deliver close encounters with polar bears - as well as the Arctic hares and foxes that call the tundra home. Tours depart between August and November, but October and November are prime viewing months as the bears start to gather on the pack ice awaiting the big freeze, and the northern lights begin their winter dance overhead.


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GRIZZLY BEAR British Columbia

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ith a name like ursus arctos horribilis, the grizzly’s ferocious reputation precedes it. This North American subspecies of brown bear can grow up to eight feet tall, with males weighing in at a whopping 40 stone or more. Renowned for their deft salmon fishing skills, grizzly bears are omnivores who eat anything their habitat has to offer, from fruits of the forest to deer and elk, piling on the pounds in the summer months before their half-year hibernation.

TAKE ME THERE Our Vancouver & Great Bear Rainforest holiday includes three nights at Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, an intimate floating lodge at the heart of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest. During the summer months, guests can join the lodge’s bear biologists on day trips to a remote spot on the Kakweiken River where hungry grizzlies stalk migrating salmon, waiting in the water to snatch the fish mid-air in their powerful jaws. Both brown and grizzly bears are often seen on the water’s edge close to the lodge, and some of the best bear-watching opportunities come on guided wilderness hikes or kayaking expeditions close to home. May to October is also the best time to take a whale-watching cruise, with orcas, humpbacks and gray whales seen along the British Columbia coastline. CALL CALLUS USON ON020 0207666 76661253 1253 | | RAINBOWTOURS.CO.UK RAINBOWTOURS.CO.UK | | 109 109


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Andean bear Peruvian Andes

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inding fame around the world as Michael Bond’s duffle-coated Paddington, the Andean – or spectacled – bear is South America’s only species of bear, and the last remaining short-faced bear in the world. Found only in the towering Andes mountain range, from Venezuela to ‘deepest, darkest Peru’ and Bolivia, this intensely shy arboreal mammal is one of the world’s most endangered bear species due to the catastrophic loss of its tropical forest habitat and poaching. 110

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TAKE ME THERE Our 13-day Peru with Inkaterra holiday includes two nights at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, an Andean eco-lodge in the valley below the ancient Incan city. As a hotel group at the forefront of sustainable travel, the vulnerable conservation status of the Andean bear was a concern for the Inkaterra Asociación, and in 2001 they launched the Andean Bear Conservation Centre in the grounds of the hotel. The centre rescues spectacled bears from captivity and aims to rehabilitate them for release back into the wild, as well as to educate local people and international visitors in the need for greater conservation efforts. Guests at the hotel can learn about the important project and Andean bear research, with a rare opportunity to see the incredibly elusive bears.


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Spirit bear British Columbia

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hought to be caused by a single recessive gene, the cream fur coat of the spirit - or Kermode - bear is what sets this rare beauty apart from its black bear cousin. Fewer than 400 of these distinctive creatures are estimated to live along Canada’s British Columbia coast, concentrated on the province’s isolated inlets and islands that cut through the Pacific. The bear is an important cultural symbol for the native Kitasoo Xai’xais people who named it ‘spirit’.

TAKE ME THERE Our Vancouver & Spirit Bear holiday includes three nights at Spirit Bear Lodge, a remote waterside retreat in the stunningly beautiful fjords of BC. Here, the government, environmental groups and local First Nations community have come together to create the Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy, protecting 400 square miles of untamed fjords, mountains, rainforest and coast that provide a vital habitat for spirit bears, black bears and grey wolves - not to mention the orcas, humpback whales, sea lions and porpoises that thrive in the surrounding waters. Unique cultural and wildlife tours are led by local Kitasoo guides from late May through to October when the bears have surfaced from their winter slumber, with August being the best time for a spirit bear sighting. CALL CALL US US ON ON 020 020 7666 7666 1253 1253 | | RAINBOWTOURS.CO.UK RAINBOWTOURS.CO.UK | | 111 111


Trust us to tailor-make your perfect wildlife holiday _ At Rainbow Tours, personal experience means personal service. Our Travel Specialists are picked for their intimate first-hand knowledge of our destinations, their passion for the natural world and a commitment to exceptional customer service. Our experts have been fortunate enough to travel extensively throughout their specialist countries, staying at the properties that we recommend, searching for the wildlife that we love to talk about and witnessing in action the NGO projects that we support. It’s this knowledge and experience that allows us to craft personalised itineraries that perfectly suit you and your interests.

Don’t just take our word for it. Visit trustpilot.com to read some of our five-star independent reviews.

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UNFORGETTABLE TOUR

THE BEST FAMILY HOLIDAY WE’VE EVER HAD

Our tour of Costa Rica was unforgettable for all the right reasons! We loved every minute. The hotels were all exceptional. First class for quality, service and food. Every pick up was punctual, drivers polite, friendly and knowledgeable. Costa Rica blew us away. The quantity and variety of wildlife was spectacular! Our favourite destination was, without doubt, Tortuga Lodge. Thank you Rainbow Tours for an unforgettable experience.

We did a safari in Tanzania followed by a few nights relaxing on a beach in Zanzibar. Rainbow Tours did a fantastic job of helping us plan our trip and the whole holiday was amazing - for all of us. Our guide for the safari, Abu, was so patient with the boys and taught us all so much about the animals, habitat, way of life, politics. He really looked after us and it was also great to see how much respect he had for the wildlife and environment.

Simon Haggie

Mrs Simcox

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FANTASTIC TRIP TO MADAGASCAR

NOTHING TOO MUCH HASSLE

I organised a trip to Madagascar for my family of six with Rainbow Tours and they organised the perfect trip. All the guides and drivers we had were first class. The places we stayed were exceptional and by the end of our trip we felt that we had really seen and understood the culture and wildlife of this beautiful island. Thank you Rainbow!

I used Rainbow Tours to book my honeymoon back in December. Their specialist made the experience so painless from start to finish. He came up with lots of different suggestions and options to make the holiday one to remember for a lifetime, always contactable via email and phone and with a broad knowledge of all available destinations.

Katherine Minch

Loron Black

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AMAZING NAMIBIA

UNFORGETTABLE

One of the best travelling experiences of my life - all my travelling requirements were met by the Rainbow team, quality of hotels and lodges were amazing. The team clearly listened to me and were then able to match us to the right venues and supported us to develop an experience that was special to say the least. I would not hesitate to book again with Rainbow.

I’ve used Rainbow Tours to organise two wonderful adventures. The first was round South America, including Macchu Pichu and Galapagos. Absolutely first class organisation and service. The second adventure included Baja California, a cruise on the Sea of Cortez and Mexico City. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Absolutely flawless. Thank you Rainbow Tours.

Lynda

Mr Edward Turnbull

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2 Waterhouse Square London, EC1N 2ST Tel: 020 7666 1253 Web: www.rainbowtours.co.uk Email: info@rainbowtours.co.uk

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