Walk on the Wild Side: Celebrating World Wildlife Day

Happy World Wildlife Day!

Today we’re celebrating the creatures with whom we share our world, from the minute hummingbirds that flit throughout the Americas, to the colossal blue whales that traverse the greatest oceans. Recognising the importance of wildlife conservation in an increasingly fragile world, we’re proud to work alongside brands who protect and empower local wildlife, making sustainable wildlife encounters an integral part of their day-to-day functioning. Here are some of our favourite sustainable wildlife experiences from across the globe.

Metropolitan Touring, Galapagos Islands

Beloved by the wildlife whisperer himself, Sir David Attenborough, the Galapagos Islands are rightly famed for their mind-boggling range of magical wildlife and volcanic scenery. This year, pioneer of Galapagos travel, Metropolitan Touring has introduced a new island-hopping tour, bringing you within easy reach of these enchanting creatures.

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A scenic flight to Isabela Island will see you head out in kayaks in search of (friendly) white tipped reef sharks and waddling Galapagos penguins, before returning to rest your heads in luxury safari-style tents at Scalesia Lodge. You’ll then journey on to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on Santa Cruz island, home to scaled iguanas, frigate birds and one of the Galapagos’ most infamous inhabitants – Diego the giant tortoise. Thanks to a conservation breeding programme at the Charles Darwin Research Station, Diego has almost single-handedly preserved his entire species, fathering an estimated 800 offspring… Quite the ladies’ man, it would seem.

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Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Back in mainland Ecuador, the wildlife adventures continue apace at eco-chic Mashpi Lodge: a nature lovers dream, sitting high up in the mystical cloud forest. One of the world’s most biodiverse regions, Mashpi Reserve is home to monkeys, peccaries, over 500 species of birds and can even lay claim to its very own species of frog — the Mashpi Torrenteer, a species of tree frog discovered by Mashpi Lodge’s resident biologist Carlos Morochz.

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Guests are encouraged to visit Mashpi’s ‘Life Centre’, where they can lend a helping hand with the camera trap project that tracks animal movement, head to the Hummingbird Viewpoint with feeders for birds strung from its roof, or work alongside Morochz learning more about his exciting discoveries in species evolution.

Hummingbird at Mashpi Lodge, Choco Cloud Forest, Ecuador, South America

Gili Lankanfushi, The Maldives

As a nation rising directly – barely! – above the waves, it’s no surprise that the islands surrounding Gili Lankanfushi are an aquatic wonderland. Where the powdery white sand gives way to gently lapping waters, you’ll find a kaleidoscope of colour. Countless species of fish flit through the coral – from the tiniest clownfish hiding in the anemones to the metre-long, bug-eyed titan triggerfish glaring at you from their self-built nest on the sea floor. Keen divers have the chance to traverse endless coral reefs and play hide and seek with the local reef sharks and eagle rays, whilst snorkelers can watch colossal manta rays flying through the water beneath them. Prefer to stay dry? Head to the Overwater Bar, beneath which the resort’s local reef sharks and guitar rays often congregate, or head to Meera Spa to watch fish drifting by through the glass floors beneath the massage tables, as your stresses are pummelled away.

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For all its biodiversity, the Maldivian biosphere is a fragile one. The team at Gili Lankanfushi are dedicated to protecting their island home, with a talented team of marine biologists monitoring the coral reefs, propagating tiny corals in their nursery, tracking endangered turtles and manta rays and educating guests about the marine wonderland sitting just beneath the waves.

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Aracari, Peru

Home to the largest number of bird species in the world, the Peruvian Amazon is the stuff of wildlife dreams, and is best explored by setting sail down the web of tributary rivers that call the jungle home. Specialist Peruvian tour operator, Aracari, offers several river cruises journeying into the depths of the jungle, by day marvelling at butterflies, monkeys, innumerous bird species and illusive grey and pink river dolphins, and by night heading out in search of caiman alligators.

Think Jungle

Image: Think Jungle

You’ll also have the chance to visit the Manatee Rescue Centre — a rehabilitation centre for the species under threat from poaching and habitat degradation. Here, you’ll  try your hand at bottle feeding the baby manatees and learn more about this docile, misunderstood (and very, very cute!) species.

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Image: BBC

Resplendent Ceylon, Sri Lanka

With endemic Sri Lankan leopards and elephants calling this verdant island nation home, Sri Lanka continues to make its mark as an established wildlife destination. Whilst most will head to Yala National Park, khakis and binoculars in tow, in search of Sri Lanka’s most illusive inhabitant, the leopard , this year Tea Trails is showcasing other parts of the country’s spectacular wildlife, having recently introduced the region’s first ever night time wildlife trail. You’ll head out in search of jungle cats, spotted cats, snoozing lizards and wild boar – and if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the the famed leopards themselves. The new experience comes alongside a partnership with the Wilderness and Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT) and the creation of a dedicated leopard conservation station, where animal movements are observed and monitored.

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Consider yourself more of a water baby? No problem – Tea Trails’ sister resort Cape Weligama has just launched a new whale watching experience, where guests will sail out to sea aboard the hotel’s new catamaran in search of the blue whales, sperm whales and spinner dolphins that frolic in the shallow waters. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hop in and try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding.

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