To come face-to-face with the incredible wildlife that walk this planet is surely one of the greatest adventures. But theres more than one way to enjoy a safari these days than just sitting on a jeep. If youre looking for a real heat-thumping wild encounter that gets you closer and takes you off the beaten track, then try one of these alternative luxury safaris. From chimp tracking to sea kayaking, paddle-boarding safaris to diving with the Big Five of the ocean, each one of these safaris come with adventure guaranteed. Walk with elephants in Nepal Forget traditional elephant safaris, for a really wild thrill nothing beats exploring on foot with these gentle giants. Tiger Tops jungle-based Tharu Lodge is the first in Nepal to offer walking safaris with elephants and their guiding team is second-to-none. Nowhere else in the country can you get closer to these incredible animals and immerse yourself in their day-to-day, from breakfast in their tented elephant camp to helping out at snack time. But its the elephant walks that steal the showthe experience of a stand-off between the rhinos, leopards and tigers that roam Chitwans lush jungle with elephants as your personal guard is one of those rare, spine-tingling safari moments. Jaguar spotting in the Pantanal Look beyond Brazils Amazon and youll find another unique wildlife experience thats sure to be off-the-radar for most. The Pantanal is the worlds largest wetlands and its ethereal wide-open marshlands never fail to inspire our inner Attenborough. Take a water safari into the interior and keep your eyes peeled for the jaguars, peccaries, bobcats, wild boars and endless birdlife that together make this one of our favourite off-beat safaris. Chimp tracking in the Mahale Mountains Most safaris, youre intent on seeing the Big Fiverhino, lion, elephant, buffalo and leopardbut the best wild encounters are always the ones that are hard won. Set on a remote stretch of Western Tanzania, Greystoke Mahale luxury camp is one of Africas hidden gems. Here you spend your days tracking the islands families of chimpanzees. After an hour or twos search, the experience of sitting quietly on the forest floor with baited breath, watching these creatures feeding, foraging and bonding, is a privilege worth waiting for. Paddle-board and heli-safari in the Okavango Delta The flowing waters of Botswanas Okavango Delta is one of the most thrilling safari experiences in the world. For a twist, a stand up paddle board (SUP) safari through the maze-like rivers puts you in pole position to spy the myriad animals drawn to the waters edge including hippos, antelopes, wildebeest and more. Youll be able to float deep into the Delta, and reach parts otherwise inaccessible to get a completely unique view, stopping on isolated islands to cook your own bush meals on the way. End at the paradisical Belmond Eagle Island Lodge, stranded in the Deltas very heart, and for a final adrenaline rush take a heli-safari to see your route from above. Take an Arctic safari For a riff on the traditional safari, intrepid adventurers can swap bush for snow at the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. Strategically located close to one of the last beluga nurseries on earth, you can choose between a sea kayak, raft or SUP safari to watch these unique graceful animals, or while your time away fishing for Arctic char. If youre a photographer set on snapping some arctic wildlife, youre in one of the top locations to get that all-important Kodak moment with arctic foxes, polar bears and seals. Basically, adventure lies at every turn. Balloon over the Serengeti See the Serengeti from a completely different perspective, drifting above in a hot air balloon. At the gentle pace of an African breeze, youll get wide-angle views of the migrating wildebeest, zebras, and gazelle, as well as the lions, buffalo and cheetah that call these magnificent plains homeall a-blaze in the golden African sun. Then, land and indulge yourself with bush dinners with your Masai guides at one of the luxury camps; a magical way to really appreciate the incredible array of wildlife that only the Serengeti can provide. An ocean safari in South Africa Already have Africas Big Five crossed off your list? Then what about the Big Five of the deep? A tailor-made underwater safari into South Africas wildlife-rich waters is really the trip of a lifetime. So, if youve ever wanted to cage-dive with sharks, be entertained by whales, dolphins and seals as they frolic at sea, or paddle with penguins on Boulders Beach, then add South Africas ocean safari to your bucket list. The bonus? All that delicious South African wine to wind-down with afterwards. Tom Marchant is Co-founder of Black Tomato. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.
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