Our Brand New David Attenborough Explorer Itinerary 2020

An incredible wildlife adventure taking in five continents over four months.



We have launched a brand new wildlife adventure for 2020, inspired by the legendary natural historian Sir David Attenborough.

If you’re a fan of the iconic documentary makers’ work you’ll definitely want to find out more about our incredible new itinerary, focusing on the fascinating destinations and wildlife featured across the popular documentaries.

This brand new itinerary for 2020 combines a selection of our greatest wildlife adventures across five different continents to take in some of the most fascinating scenery and species which have been the star of the show in Attenborough’s recent works.

Starting in Antarctica in February and ending in the Arctic in June, passing through South America, Africa, and Asia along the way, this intrepid itinerary offers the chance to see everything from pumas to polar bears, painted wolves and penguins.

Read the full itinerary below.

Antarctica – February 2020 (14 Nights)

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Our intrepid wildlife itinerary begins in Antarctica with an epic 14-night polar adventure in the Falklands. Our Falklands Birds and Wildlife tour takes in the remote wilderness of the Falkland Islands, offering the opportunity to see the most spectacular wildlife this region has to offer, including albatross, 5 different species of penguin, seals, dolphins, orcas and a myriad of birdlife – many of which have played a star part in Attenborough’s documentaries.

South America

Costa Rica – March 2020 (11 nights)

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The tour continues to Costa Rica with our incredible 11-night scuba diving experience in the Coco Islands. This underwater adventure offers the chance to explore one of the most impressive diving destinations in the world, home to over 300 different species of fish. Other fascinating creatures to witness here include turtles, dolphins and sailfish – all which have featured in Attenborough’s documentaries.

Ecuador – March 2020 (9 Nights)

hinese Hat and Rabida Island

The next leg of the tour is our 9-night Galapagos adventure, which takes in the west, central and east islands. The wildlife journey includes the opportunity to see the largest colony of marine iguanas on Fernandina Islands, a visit to a nesting site for the flightless cormorant on Isabela Island and pelican spotting on Rabida Island.

Argentina – March/April 2020 (11 Nights)

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Next up is Argentina, for our brand new Patagonia, Pumas and Glaciers tour. This 11-day tour offers the chance to see pumas in the wild in the very location where Attenborough filmed his unforgettable Seven Worlds One Planet episode. This thrilling tour also includes a visit to  Los Glaciares National Park and a hike along the Southern Glacier.

Brazil – April 2020 (11 Nights)

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Africa

Zimbabwe – April 2020 (6 Nights)

Concluding our time in South America, we head to Brazil for our Amazon, Pantanal and Savannah tour. This trip offers a unique opportunity to see the maned wolf in the wild, as well as the jaguars and anteaters which have featured in Attenborough’s documentaries. This tour includes accommodation in eco-lodges set among the incredible nature, as you visit each of these three fascinating areas of varied terrain.

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Our first Africa leg of this itinerary is in Zimbabwe, where you can visit the Mana Pools National Park which was featured in Attenborough’s Dynasties documentary. This 7-day Super Sensory Safari is a first of its kind and provides a truly immersive safari experience, with activities specifically designed to engage all of the senses, including a walking safari led by expert professional guides.

Botswana – April/May 2020 (12 Nights)

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The second African safari stop is in Botswana where you can see the beauty of the African elephants in the wild at Chobe Riverfront, home to the largest density of African elephants. This Wild Botswana tour also visits Okavango Delta, known as one of the best destinations in all of Africa for wildlife lovers.

Asia

India – May/June 2020 (12 Nights)

andhavgarh National Park

In Asia, take in our Wildlife Special focusing on leopards, tigers and rhinos. This 12-night tour includes tiger viewing in two of India’s best tiger reserves and a safari in Kaziranga Park – home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceros.

Arctic – June 2020 (10 Nights)

xploring Spitsbergen

This magnificent wildlife itinerary ends in the Arctic with our Introduction to Spitsbergen tour. This 10-night polar expedition will encounter polar bears, arctic foxes, whales and walruses in the wild as you explore the very best of what Spitsbergen has to offer.

This incredible 4-month itinerary taking in five different continents costs from £40,411pp. This doesn’t include transfers between countries. All internal transport within each leg of the trip, accommodation, and excursions are included as stated in each individual tour itinerary.

Contact us now to book

A Close Look At Beluga Whales

  • The Name Beluga comes from a Russian phrase meaning ‘white one’ .
  • Found mostly in the Arctic Ocean, there are thought to be around 150,000 Beluga Whales in the world.
  • Beluga whales are very sociable and live in groups called pods.
  • A single pod can consist of hundreds of wales
  • They are often referred to as ‘the canary of the sea’ as they are noticeably vocal, making clicks, grunts, chirps and whistles as they communicate with each other.
  • An adult beluga whale is from 13 to 20 feet in length, the females are usually smaller.
  • An adult beluga whale can live for up to 50 years.
  • A beluga whale can weigh up to 3000 pounds
  • About 40% of their bodyweight is blubber, which helps them to stay warm and preserve energy in the icy water.
  • They can dive as deep as 1000 metres
  • They can remain underwater for up to fifteen minutes before surfacing to breathe.
  • Their white colour allows them to hide from predators (orcas and polar bears) by blending in with the floating ice in their natural environment.
  • They do not have a dorsal fin, which makes swimming, and hunting under the ice easier.
  • When they are born, they are a grey/brown colour and don’t become fully white until they reach around 13 years old.
  • The pronounced lump on their heads is called the ‘melon’. It is thought to account for their ability to pick up and interpret sound waves.
  • Technically referred to as ‘echolocation’, picking up and interpreting these sound waves allows them to locate holes in the ice, find prey and evade predators
  • Unlike most whales, the beluga’s vertebrae are not fused. This means the whales have unusually flexible necks and can turn their heads in all directions.
  • Their closest physiological relative is the Narwhal

Check out our expedition cruises to the arctic here

The Russian High Arctic

The High Russian Arctic is one of the least traveled and most remote regions in the Northern Hemisphere. The breathtaking ice-capped mountains, the fascinating history of the early explorers and one of the highest densities of wildlife in the world build the framework for an unforgettable expedition.

In 2020, two brand new itineraries to the Russian Arctic will offer adventurers andwildlife enthusiasts a unique and once in a life time opportunity to explore parts of the world on which very few have stepped foot.

The two expeditions will put you in the footsteps of past polar explorers on the quest to find the Northeast Passage, while visiting some of the most breathtaking locations the Arctic has to offer.

A zodiac in the high acrctic

Novaya Zemlya

One of the most memorable places to visit in Novaya Zemlya is Inostrantesva Bay. Its landscapes are partially covered by moss and lichen but also by glaciers and icebergs. Polar bears are not a rare visitor of this breathtaking bay.

Oransky Island, a smaller island situated in the northwest of Novaya Zemlya, is the home to many different species of wildlife such as whales, walruses, many different types of seabird and more polar bears.

The first explorers to come to Novaya Zemlya arrived in Cape Spory Navlok in the late 1500s on an expedition led by Dutch explorer Willem Barents. It was his 3rd and last attempt to find the Northeast Passage. Barents died after being forced to spend the winter in Cape Spry Navlok, trapped by the sea ice. The ruins of their hut are still there today.

Walrus in the high arctc

Frank Josef Land

Sites to explore in Franz Josef Land can include Bell Island and Cape Flo a on Northbrook Island where many expeditions passed through in the 19th and 20th century. Some of the huts and building that were constructed during these times now lay in ruins but can still be visited.

Cape Norway’s flora makes it worth a visit and specially interesting for botanists while the somewhat challenging to access Cape Tegetthof on Hall Island with its tall cliffs is home to a larger number and variety of sea birds. The island itself provides great hiking opportunities unless polar bears are encountered.

Walrus haul-outs and hundreds of pinnipeds can be encountered on Stolichy and Appolovnov Island, which can be overseen from a safe distance on a zodiac cruise.

Tiskhaya Bukta’s Rubuinis Rocks sea cliffs are home to are kittiwakes and dovekies.

On Deck Aboard An Expedition Cruise In The High Arctic

Severnaya Zemlya

Russia’s largest ice cap, the Academy of Science Glacier on Severnay Zemlya, is located on the northern end of the straight. An ivory gull colony can be visited on Trovonay Island, and polar bears are frequently sighted.

Check out our trips to The Russian High Arctic

Jewels Of The Russian High Arctic 16-days

Russias High Arctic Archipelagos 22-days

Polar Cruise Vessel Hondius Hondius – The Next Generation Of Polar Cruise Vessel

The all-new Hondius launched earlier in 2019. She is designed to be able to respond quickly to polar weather and wildlife conditions with a truly incredible blend of stealth and speed.
Setting new standards in structural and technological design, The Hondius is one of the first civilian vessels in the world to receive a Polar Class 6 notation, recognising it as one of the most advanced polar cruise ships on the planet. The Hondius exceeds the latest green requirements imposed by the International Maritime Organization, using steam heat and flexible power management systems to keep fuel consumption and CO2 emission at an absolute minimum.

Find out more about The Hondius here

Packing For a Polar Cruise How To Pack For a Cold Weather Expedition Cruise

Setting off on an expedition cruise to the Polar regions is the adventure of a lifetime. Once you have booked, you will need to start thinking about what to take with you on your voyage.
Before you start throwing things in your suitcase, take a moment to listen to Wildfoot Travel’s Dave Cheetham as he explains what gear you really need to take with you and why.

 

If you’d like a copy of our Polar Cruise Packing List, just drop us an email at [email protected] and we’ll send a copy straight to you.

An imprssive ice structure in Greenland Focus On: Northeast Greenland National Park & Scoresby Sund

A huge welcome to professional wildlife and landscape photographer, Dave Wilson of Northwinds Photography (www.northwindsphotos.com). Dave specialises in US National Parks, Botswana, and the polar regions.  Here are some of Dave’s fascinating images and thoughts about NorthEast Greenland after a recent trip to the area.

Northeast Greenland National Park, covering almost one million square kilometres is the world’s largest National Park.  Due to the relative inaccessibility and vast size, however, this is not a National Park in the normally accepted sense. Travelling there involves either significant advance planning or, more normally, joining one of the ship-based expeditions that visit the more accessible areas at the southern end of the Park: Kejser Franz Joseph and Kong Oscar Fjords, along with the neighbouring Scoresby Sund.

What awaits the visitor, however, is an area of amazing beauty: enormous icebergs; other-worldly geological features; and an overall sense of the wonders of natural wilderness with little to no signs of human intervention.

When To Go

The northerly location (between 71ºN and 75ºN) restricts most trips to the summer months, with the majority of vessels reaching the park between July and early September.  This does mean extremely long days.  The sun doesn’t set until the end of July / early August (depending on how far north you are) and you can still expect 16 hours of daylight at the end of August in the southern end of the region.  Even then, don’t expect warm weather – highs in the single digit Celsius are about as good as it gets – so pack with plenty of layers, not forgetting head and hand coverings.  When the wind picks up (especially when on deck of a ship), the effective temperature can get to well below freezing.

Highlight Areas

Your itinerary will be determined by the guides on the ship and impacted by sea-ice and weather conditions, so planning on visiting specific areas is something you should expect to be flexible about.  The more time your ship has put aside for the area, the better, as there are amazing sights around every corner.  The sheer scale of the three fjords is difficult to appreciate until it is experienced.   Relocating from one landing site to another can often mean 30-40 km of cruising.  Here are eight highlight areas you may encounter.

Walterhausen Glacier, Kejser Franz Joseph Fjord

If you want to get a quick object lesson in the size of the landscape and its features in this part of the world, Walterhausen Glacier is a good place to start.  The calving glacier has a 10km wide front with the face often reaching up to 50m high. A cruise along the front of the glacier brings home its vast size that can still be appreciated  from a distance of some 6 nautical miles.

copyright north winds photography

Blomsterbugt / Ymer Island / Teufelschloss

Spectacular scenery abounds in this area, dominated by the sheer polychromatic cliffs of the Teufelschloss (the Devil’s Castle) which rises 1370m above sea level.

Blomsterbugt / Ymer Island / Teufelschloss copyright north winds photography


It is also a good place to see some of the local wildlife, being a frequent hang-out area for Musk Oxen.

Musk Oxen in Greenland - copyright north winds photography

Kjerulf Fjord & Nordenskjold Glacier


Iceberg in Greenland - copyright north winds photographyRarely visited, Kjerulf Fjord offers a refuge for icebergs that have calved from the Nordenskjold Glacier.  Being quite sheltered, this provides an excellent opportunity for a Zodiac cruise among the icebergs, giving a magnificent close-up perspective of these beautiful structures.

 

The contrast between the icebergs and the metamorphic rocks of the surrounding cliffs is particularly striking.Iceberg in Greenland - copyright north winds photography

 

Maria & Ella Islands

A boat in greenland = copyright north winds photographyThese islands form a small archipelago at the intersection of the Antarctic Sound, Kempe Fjord and Kong Oscar Fjord.  Visible on Maria Island are the remains of German fuel drums from WWII as well as building materials from the various geological camps that have been situated in the area.

Ella Island is home base to the Danish Army’s Sirius Patrol whose responsibility it is to patrol the east coast of Greenland throughout the year.  Despite the remoteness of the location, this is an extremely prestigious and sought-after assignment.  The area is ideal for hiking and is particularly noteworthy for its striking geological formations.

Rainbow - copyright north winds photography

Alpefjord

copyright north winds photographyThe fjord is so-named because it forms the western boundary of the Stauning Alps, a 40x40km cluster of some of the highest mountains in East Greenland.  It is home to the combined fronts of the Gully and Selfstrom glaciers.

Also in the fjord is the Dammen, a lake that had risen 60m above sea level caused by the glaciers running into the opposing cliffs. In the last few hundred years, this glacial dam was breached leaving a gap between the glacial tongue and the cliffs. Beyond this gap (which allows ships to pass along the entire front of the combined glaciers) lies further glaciers, icebergs, brash ice, and stunning cliffs.

 

Segelsallskapet Fjord

The spectacular mountains in the fjord provide good examples of folded and faulted sedimentary rock layers amongst the Eleonore Bay formations.  The landing site provides miniature versions of those layers that look like striped candy. This is a truly unbelievable landing site that will pique your interest in geology like nowhere else, and certainly provide the photographers a plethora of subject matter.

Vikingebugt / Bredegletscher Glacier

Even compared to the last location, Vikingebugt won’t disappoint your new-found interest in geology.  An intrusion of volcanic material 60 million years ago left an pile of basalt up to 10km thick.  As it cooled and contracted, the basalt formed into almost perfect hexagonal structures.copyright north winds photography

The neighbouring glacier is particularly proficient at producing massive icebergs that slowly drift out of the fjord into Scoresby Sund. By the time they reach the relatively open water they have been moulded into the most spectacular shapes.

Ø Fjord / Milne Land

copyright north winds photographyThis fjord provides the ship-bound visitor a splendid opportunity to appreciate the multitude of shapes and the range of colour that icebergs can exhibit as they make their way down the channel into the main body of Scorebsy Sund.

A series of Arctic images and reflections with thanks from Dave Wilson. Photographer. You can see more of David’s work at North Winds Photography

Every day, hundreds of albatross die in longline fisheries What’s the problem?

Seabirds, especially albatross, are globally caught in longline fisheries for tuna and swordfish. Birds dive to catch the bait as the lines and baited hooks are deployed, becoming hooked, dragged underwater and drowned. This source of mortality is contributing to an increased risk of extinction to 15 of the 22 albatross species and kills an estimated 100,000 albatross annually.

The Hookpod provides the solution to this problem in a one-stop mitigation device which negates the need for other measures, in particular tori lines and lead weights. Extensive trials over 7 years have proven the efficacy and durability of the pod.

We are currently working with the New Zealand industry and government to provide Hookpods for 1-2 vessels operating in the surface longline fleet fishing for Bluefin tuna. This fishery is a particularly high-risk one for albatrosses and traditional mitigation is not completely effective. Seeding this fishery with Hookpods will help the NZ government demonstrate the efficacy of the Hookpod and push for the opening of international regulations to allow their use.

What’s the answer?

The Hookpod is a truly remarkable invention which virtually eliminates the seabird bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries. It has been shown to reduce bycatch by over 95% in trials, without affecting catch rates of fish or affecting fishing operations.

By encapsulating the barb of the hook within a durable, reusable polycarbonate case, the Hookpod renders it harmless to seabirds, safely taking hook and bait to a depth of 10-12m, where a patented pressure release system springs the pod open, using the pressure of water, and releasing the hook to begin fishing. We are developing this opening mechanism to open at 20m and are hopeful that this may have impact on reducing turtle bycatch as well.

hookpod provides the solution to long line fishing catching birds

The Hookpod is fitted to the fishing lines and stays in place on the branchline above the hook, being used each set once the hook is baited and then retrieved as part of the fishing gear with the line, closed and stored in the setting bins, causing no additional work for the crew. The device has been shown to be very durable under standard fishing conditions, with trials showing that pods can remain in daily use for over 2 years.

provides the solution to longline fishing catching birds

Every day, hundreds of albatross die in longline fisheries. But there is a unique and exciting new solution to halt this. It’s called a Hookpod. Hookpods cover baited hooks as they enter the water and stop birds getting caught as they dive for baits. They are effective, easy to use, safe and economic for fishermen. If every pelagic longline fishing fleet used Hookpods, I believe we can stop the accidental death of these magnificent ocean wanderers.

DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

How can you help?

By sponsoring a hook you can provide a Hookpod direct to the longline fishing industry to protect against seabird bycatch. Just £5 will buy a Hookpod and we will work with our partners in New Zealand and around the world to equip a fishing vessel – saving the albatross, one hook at a time.

Hookpod Benefits

*Reduce seabird by catch by 95%

*Operationally easy to use

*Long lasting and durable for at least 3 years

*No impact on target catch rates

To sponsor a Hookpod visit www.hookpod.com

 

Natalie In Patagonia Top Ten Bucket List Trips For 2018

Natalie's Top Ten Bucket List Trips For 2018
Wildfoot travel expert Natalie Natalie Greenhalgh has always been passionate about travelling. Seeking out new places and new travel experiences is something she has done all her life. Always lining up the next life-goal or travel-target. So who better to ask to put together her top ten bucket-list adventures for 2018? Here’s Natalie’s top ten. How many of these adventures would you add to your bucket list?

We all do it, every year we make a list of new year’s resolutions that often tend to be about bettering one’s self. And we can’t think of a better way of doing this than to travel. So book your time off, pack your bags and set off for a new destination! It’s a great big world out there, so here are some highlights that we at Wildfoot Travel would highly recommend.

Beautiful Patagonia

Hike Hidden Pathways in Patagonia

Celebrating 200 years of independence this year, Chile is unlike any other place on earth. Isolated from the rest of the world with the vast Pacific Ocean to the west, the Atacama Desert to the North, the soaring Andes to the East and the wilds of Patagonia to the South, these extreme environments make for a remarkable country. In my opinion, Patagonia is the most beautiful spot on the planet…an otherworldly dreamland of majestic mountains, deep blue glaciers and fairy-tale woodlands, a trek in this remote wilderness will stay with you for life.

When? Chile’s summer months of December to March are warmest and best for trekking. Visit in October and November for Wildflowers.

Diving in the Galapagos

Go Goggle-eyed in the Galapagos

As a wildlife destination, the Galapagos offers a once in a lifetime experience, where adventurous travellers can get extremely close to exotic animals and aquatic life. These isolated islands are home to the marine and land-based animals that have enthralled biologists and nature lovers since Darwin’s day, and the fearless and friendly animals that roam this untouched natural world are in abundance.
Easily one of the best snorkelling spots in the World, there is over 15,000 square miles of protected, marine reserve waters. Unlike Scuba Diving, no special training is required for snorkelling, so if you can swim and breathe through a snorkel, you’re set! I will never forget watching green turtles paddle in front of me as two sea lions were demanding my attention as they circled me then swam up and looked me in the eye. Marine iguanas are warning in the sun, Galápagos penguins dive in, and hammerhead and white-tipped sharks lurk in the depths.

When? Unlike most wildlife destinations, there’s no wrong time to visit & go snorkelling in the Galapagos Islands. There are two distinct seasons in the Galapagos. The dry and cooler season runs from June to November while the wet and warmer season lasts from December through the end of May.

Penguins on South Georgia Island


Sit among King Penguins in South Georgia

When you land on South Georgia, a spectacularly beautiful and remote sub-Antarctic island, you will be amazed at the sight of 300,000 king penguins crowding the beach. These beautiful birds are recognisable by their orange throats and jet black heads. As they stand shoulder to shoulder on this tiny island, you certainly feel like a guest in their home! But they are very welcoming hosts and are often happy to come a little closer and say hello. And it’s not all about penguins, if you want to spend time with the greatest density of wildlife on the planet, you can expect to see seals, petrels, albatrosses, prions and much more.

When? The short expedition season runs from November-March when the sea ice breaks up to allow passage. November offers the chance of also seeing elephant seals on South Georgia, whilst December and January have warmer temperatures and welcome penguin chicks at this time of year.

 

walking safari in Zambia

Walk amongst the wild things in Zambia

The concept of walking safaris was born here, in South Luangwa National Park. One of the best wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and well-known for its World class guides, it is home to some of the highest concentrations of animals in Africa. Don’t be daunted by the prospect of walking, exploring the area on foot makes you really appreciate the bush as you become a part of the landscape. You may stumble upon a baby elephant learning to use its trunk, watch a wallowing hippo or two or stay as still as humanly possible as a Lion watches you through the grass. But you also take the time to learn about the plants, seeds and insects and how they all work so brilliantly together in this fascinating system. So if you’re after a safari that doesn’t just tick off the big 5, walk amongst the animals that call this place home and see how it all fits together, you will not be disappointed.

When? Some camps in Zambia are only open in the dry-season between June and October. As the heat increases towards the end of August, there is a greater concentration of game.

northern lights in scandanaviaBe in awe of the Aurora Borealis whilst Whale watching

Walking out of a bar in Reykjavik, I looked up and caught a glimpse of the northern lights. Despite the light pollution, I could faintly see the beautiful light show that was happening right above me. I stood in awe for a few seconds before the magical lights disappeared, and I made a promise to myself to make a trip one day specifically to see this sight “properly”. There are many places to see this natural phenomenon, but why not combine this with another wonderous experience…whale watching. Take a winter trip aboard a traditional two masted schooner and sail in arctic waters, looking for orcas and humpback whales, which follow the herring shoals at this time of year. Whales by day, northern lights by night…what could be better?

When? Darkness is the key, and nowhere is darker than Scandinavia in winter! Best seen in the Northern Hemisphere between October – March, the closer to the Arctic circle the better.

Peek at Jaguar’s in the Pantanal

Think of a wildlife destination in Brazil and most people would suggest the Amazon. But the Pantanal is Brazil’s less-famous great wilderness…and the best place in the world to spot the elusive Jaguar. Because the Amazon is so dense, often people can be disappointed with what little wildlife they see, but the Pantanal is like the jungle without the trees – wildlife can be easily spotted.  This vast wetland is also home to giant otters, huge caiman, capybara, anteaters, almost 700 hundred bird species and much more. Exploring this wilderness by boat or on foot, you will have the opportunity of seeing very rare and iconic wildlife up-close.

When?  Seasonally flooded in the wet season between December – May, the Pantanal is best visited in winter with September and October usually seen as the best months to visit for Jaguar spotting.

Feel free in the faraway Falklands

With some of the World’s wildest and remote landscapes, the Falkland Islands are a wonderous place and incredibly bio-diverse. A little bit of Britain at the end of the world, the real citizens here are the animals. With 5 penguin species (Kings, Rockhopper, Magellanic, Macaroni and Gentoo), dolphins, whales, sea lions, leopard seals, elephant seals and not to mention over 200 species of birds…if you are after a wildlife trip with a difference, the Falkland’s will not disappoint. Stanley, the capital of East Falkland Island is often at the start of your adventure, with Volunteer point not to be missed…home to the largest colony of King Penguins on all of the islands. Then take a short plane hop to Sea Lion Island, Darwin, Pebble Island, Carcass and West Point Island, each island offering a unique and unforgettable experience.

When? OctoberMarch is generally considered the best time to visit, with the start of the warmer weather bringing new life and later on in the season, the better time for whale watching.

The Icebergs in Greenland's Disko Bay

Dance amongst the Icebergs in Disko Bay, Greenland

Ok, so you might not dance but this is Disko Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site thanks to its outstanding natural beauty. Greenland is the worlds largest island, with the worlds largest national park, and on the West Coast you will find Illullisat, a harbour town on Disko Bay whose name translates literally to “icebergs”, and you will see why. Disko bay is packed full of beautiful icebergs of all shapes and sizes rising majestically from the sea. And this is just one tiny highlight of this huge island that has so much to offer.

When? Most people visit in summer (May – September) when temperatures can reach a balmy 10 degrees Celsius! Enjoy the midnight sun at this time too, with most areas lit up around the clock from June – July.

See the sunrise over Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia

The climb up this 85m sand dune (in sand no less) will leave you short as breath as you reach the top. Short of breath for the climb you have just experienced but also short of breath when you see the beauty of the sunrise over Sossusvlei. As I watched the sun come up and change the colours of the landscape, the orange of the sunrise combined with the rust-red of the Dunes was so intense and I remember feeling lost in that moment, whilst nature showed just how beautiful she can be. Just one highlight of my trip to Namibia, this is one of my favourite countries as it has everything to offer, fantastic wildlife and national parks, preserved ancient cultures, dramatic landscapes and lovely little seaside towns.

When? A year-round destination, Namibia has over 300 days of sunshine per year! Wildlife can be easier to view in the drier months between May to November.
sloth hanging from a tree in the rain forest of costa rica

Go coco for Costa Rica

As a country, Costa Rica has so much to offer, especially for wildlife enthusiasts! Costa Rica covers 0.03 percent of the earth’s surface, but it contains nearly 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity.  Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world. Sloths, Whales, Turtles, Monkeys, Tapirs and hundreds of bird species…it is packed full of wildlife! If you’re after a bit of adrenalin, try white-water rafting, ziplining and canyoning…just a few of the activities on offer. And with coastlines on both the Pacific and Caribbean, there are many beach spots to relax after a busy trip around this wonderful country.

When? The driest and sunniest time of year to go is between January to April with January and February being the busiest time to go. Temperatures and rainfall can very though with Rainforests, Cloud Forests, mountains and 2 coastlines all battling it out!

Find out more about any of our trips here

Natalie Top Ten Bucket List Trips For 2018

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arctic ice pack Arctic Complete – (27th July – 18th August 2017)

Celia Hills enjoyed a Wildfoot Travel  trip to the Arctic recently. Responding to our call for ‘Traveller’s Tales’, Celia sent in this summary of her trip along with some excellent photos.
Now that we’ve set the scene, we’ll hand you over to Celia……..

The trip began with everyone meeting at Longyearbyen airport in Svalbard and going on a coach tour of the town before boarding the Polar Pioneer for the start of the adventure into the Arctic.

Arctic Exploration Cruise Vessel The Polar Pioneer
The Polar Pioneer, a Finnish-built expedition cruise ship operated by the Australian cruise company Aurora Expeditions

The first exciting thing was to be briefed on safety & to do a lifeboat drill as we were leaving harbour. Trying to get into one of two small lifeboats with all 53 passengers & some crew was a challenge with huge lifejackets & little space. As there is permanent daylight at these latitudes at this time of year there was much to see already.

Huge numbers of sea birds to be seen included Fulmars, Glaucous Gulls, Little Auks, Puffins, Black Guillemots, Brunnichs Guillemots, Kittiwakes Eider Ducks & Arctic terns. As the trip progressed the numbers of some of these verged on the staggering with huge seabird cliffs bulging with adults & chicks. Less often seen were the Arctic Skuas & Great Skuas. Geese were also abundant with Pink Footed geese & Barnacle Geese the most common.

Only two days into the trip & the first of 12 polar bears was sighted. This trip was outstanding for bears with the best left to last with a sighting of a mother & cub. One encounter with a male bear on a hunting mission was deemed to be worthy of a “Frozen Planet” sequence by the guides as it had the bear stalk & attack three bearded seals over a 3 hour period.

a polar bear hunting on the arctic shoreline
Only two days into our trip & the first of twelve polar bears was sighted.

Another highlight of this trip were the glaciers & icebergs for sheer beauty of colours, size & shapes & glaciers calving when viewed from a zodiac is amazing with the sound & then mini tsunami.

History is also a strong feature of this trip with various ancient camps, huts and burial grounds of the ancient explorers & trappers.

Walrus were also a highlight with some amazing sounds  & smells in the pushing & shoving of a group of young males, while an encounter from the zodiac of a group of females & young was enchanting.

Walrus were also a highlight with amazing sounds & smells.
Walrus were also a highlight with amazing sounds & smells.

Tiny Arctic Foxes were a delight & some almost tame in their tolerance of close humans. One catching an unfortunate Kittiwake chick that was pushed from its nest showed nature in the raw.

A pod of over 20 Beluga whales was another  of many highlights with them cruising around the zodiacs.

Crossing the Greenland Sea from Svalbard to Greenland was mostly uneventful with birds & fog being the order of the days.

Greenland has certainly got the wow factor with glorious scenery & magnificent rock formations & colours. Scoresbysund being the most amazing place. The addition of Musk Ox in Greenland added to the wildlife total.

Apart from Longyearbyen in Svalbard the only other occupied area visited on this trip was Ittoqqortoormiit, one of the only inhabited area of east Greenland & home to 350 people.

For me one of the best experiences was on the last landing in Greenland where there were a pair of Gyr Falcons, a bird I had never seen.

To summarise this trip is difficult because there were so many highs – Polar Bear, Walrus, Arctic Fox, Musk Ox & the thousands of birds – but what made I was the staff & crew of the Polar Pioneer being so friendly & knowledgeable.

Celia Hills.

See more of Celia’s photos in this photo gallery

Check out all our Arctic cruises here

Join us on a Spitsbergen polar bear safari. Find out more here

Find out more about all our polar cruise partners here

 

 

 

 

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Polar Bear Photo taken by Brian Clasper The Realm of The Polar Bear – Brian’s Photo Gallery

Brian  Clasper joined us on one of our ‘Realm of The Polar Bear’ trips. Here he shares his photographic account of the experience. And what an experience it was.

Thanks for sharing the photos Brian.

If you’d like to find out more about the ‘Realm Of The Polar Bear’ click here

 

 

 

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