Top 5: Animal adventures

Published on: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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Get back to nature on one of our top 5 wildlife escapes, from penguin spotting in icy Antarctica to roaming the Kalahari in search for lions - there is something to suit all climates.

Desert heat: Kalahari safari, Botswana

Survey the dry and dusty plains of the Kalahari Desert while tracking wildlife with local Ghanzi bushman. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve’s 12 million acres (5 million hectares) of unspoilt and remote wilderness is the perfect place to learn about the culture and wildlife of the desert. Honey badgers, meerkats, antelope, blue wildebeest and large black maned lions are just some of the exotic mammals roaming around the vast, open plains. Go between May and October to experience the desert in all its glory.

Keep it cool: Antarctica cruise

Set sail with G Adventures (www.gadventures.com/trips/antarctica) to the freezing animal kingdom of the Antarctic Peninsula where you can spot lounging leopard seals, penguin colonies, and a dizzying variety of sea birds as the ship navigates its way through the ice-choked waters. Keep your eyes peeled for Orca, Humpback and Minke whales on migration. Onboard lectures and information sessions will help you get the most from the awe-inspiring landscape.

Tropical surprise: Tambopata National Reserve, Peru

Gaze up at the treetops and spot flashes of colour belonging to one of 32 parrot species living in the Tambopata National Reserve. The birds congregate daily at the world’s largest known mineral clay deposits where they ingest its detoxifying properties. The reserve’s protected location within the Peruvian Amazon sees it teeming with wildlife – from large mammals to frogs, butterflies and plants. Take a guided rainforest hike and then relax in one of the reserve’s comfy lodges.

Underwater thrills: South African coast

Head to the South African coast to swim in shark-infested waters. Diving safaris enable those with nerves of steel to swim underwater with Ragged Tooth, Bull, Hammerhead and Tiger sharks. If you’re not keen on swimming with these powerful predators you can still get your adrenaline fix by viewing them from underwater cages. The channel between Geyser and Dyer Island is known as ‘Shark Alley’ and provides the best place to get up close to the infamous Great White Shark.

Mountain high: Cantabrian Mountains, Spain

Hike into Northern Spain’s Cantabrian Mountains for a chance to encounter the endangered Brown Bear. Organised trips to the Somiedo Natural Park run in May and June when the bears come out from the forest to graze. Chamois, Roe Deer and Red Deer are also in the region. Birds of prey including Golden Eagle and Honey Buzzards are just some of the avian life to be found high up in this rarely-visited mountain oasis.