In the depths of winter, the thought that lions, leopards, jaguars or whales could soon be looming large in the lenses of your binoculars can seem like a distant fantasy. And yet, with just a few clicks of a friendly mouse, all of these and many more could be yours to experience in 2024; across habitats ranging from tropical forests to remote islands, and from the polar regions to the African savanna.
In order to turn that fantasy into reality, it’s important to book now while availability is still good. To help you choose your wildlife fix for the year, we’ve found some of the most inspiring trips on offer, including a mix of both affordable and luxury options. In addition, all have something new to offer, so if you’ve been there, done that, you may find something surprising; it might be a new destination, a new lodge, a new activity or a new time of the year when different species can be seen.
At a time when the world’s wildlife is under more pressure than ever before, it’s also reassuring to know that many of these trips – either directly or indirectly – help to fund conservation projects and the scientists who run them.
Visit the kingdom of penguins in Antarctica
Follow in the footsteps of Australian explorer, Sir Douglas Mawson, on a “six-star” luxury cruise along the east coast of Antarctica aboard the Scenic Eclipse. Despite restrictions on Antarctic visitor numbers, it offers exclusive access to the Mertz Glacier. Planned around the wildlife calendar, the tour ensures maximum wildlife sightings including vast colonies of King and Emperor penguins as well as whales, orcas and seals.
How to do it: Scenic (0161 516 9122; scenic.co.uk) offers the 25-day Mawson’s Antarctica: Along the East Coast from £22,700pp all-inclusive. Excludes international flights to Queenstown, New Zealand where the cruise starts; departs Dec 15.
Capture the moment in Canada
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Discover the World is introducing extra departures for female photographers on its Polar Bear Adventure trips to Manitoba during October and November. Some tours will also focus on climate change while travelling with a World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) expert to learn how global heating is affecting bears in the Canadian North.
How to do it: Discover the World (01737 428 473; discover-the-world.com) offers five-day Climate Change trips from £7,593pp and six-day Polar Bear Photography trips from £9,177pp including full-board accommodation and flights from Winnipeg to Churchill. Excludes international flights.