Few vacations inspire more excitement and anticipation than a safari. It’s a taste of pure adventure, a throwback to a time of explorers when there was still left to be discovered on this planet. And while an African adventure is the first activity that comes to mind, there’s more than one way to observe the spectacular beauty of our fellow species other than a traditional jeep safari through the Maasai Mara (though that’s certainly not a terrible option). Whether you’re interested in the pink dolphins of South America’s rainforests or the reindeer of the European subarctic, we’ve rounded up five unique safaris to book around the world. Safari’ means ‘journey’ in Swahili, and these trips embody the greatest journeys one could hope to take — in 2022 and beyond. Read on, but be warned — the following adventures will incite some serious wanderlust that may have to be remedied immediately. (So book those last-minute flights now!)
1. Walk with Tigers in the Jungles of Nepal
Tigers of Nepal (Image provided by Toger Tops)
Chitwan & Bardia National Park - Trek with tigers and embark on the first ethical elephant safari in Nepal at Tiger Tops.
Nepal may be famous for its trekking opportunities in the Himalayas, but there are equally enticing adventure opportunities to be discovered elsewhere in the nation. Tiger Tops is the first ethical elephant safari in Nepal, and the two lodges, Tharu Lodge in Chitwan National Park and Karnali Lodge in Bardia National Park, offer luxurious amenities as well as tremendous opportunities to immerse yourself in the Nepali jungle. Spend your day cruising around in a safari Jeep or trekking on foot through the tall grass in search of the elusive tiger, and spend your evenings walking alongside an elephant for a river picnic at sunset. If you’re searching for an unbelievably unique and unforgettable experience in the wilds of South Asia, then Tiger Tops should be at the very top of your bucket list.
2. Track Gorillas in the Mountains of Rwanda
Gorilla in Forest in Rwanda (Adobe Stock)
Volcanoes National Park, northwest Rwanda - Visit the world’s most endangered ape in the Virunga Mountains of Africa.
The mountain gorilla is an exceedingly rare species on earth — there are roughly 1,000 left on the planet and more than half of that population resides in the Virunga Mountains of east-central Africa. Book a safari at Volcanoes National Park in northwest Rwanda to track gorillas on-foot through the magnificent mountain range. While the gorilla safari expeditions may be the purpose of the trip for the adventurous traveler, the natural landscape surrounding visitors on their journey is equally exciting. Volcanoes National Park is a sprawling 62-square-mile wilderness wonderland with bamboo forests, grasslands, and five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains. (Don’t worry, only two of these volcanoes are currently active.) And gorillas aren’t the only highlight of the trip — Rwanda is a primate paradise. Head to Nyungwe National Park for a chimpanzee trek, as well — Africa is the only place on earth to find chimpanzees, in the wild. Plus, there's plenty of monkey business to be found across the countryside: Golden monkeys, blue monkeys, mountain monkeys, and more.
3. Sail the Amazon Rainforest in Search of Pink Dolphins
Pink Dolphin in Amazon, Brazil (Adobe Stock)
Amazon Rainforest, Brazil - The ultimate jungle safari is found in the Amazon Rainforest, of course.
River cruises and jungle nature tours epitomize the safari experience, and travelers would be remiss not to consider a trip to the Brazilian Amazon in pursuit of the ultimate safari vacation (and a potential jaguar sighting). Amazon Nature Tours takes travelers on a journey into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest via the Rio Negro in Brazil, offering visitors an opportunity to head out on guided nature walks in the jungle and embark on kayaking expeditions in the floating forests so particular to this famed wilderness region in South America. The smaller safari expeditions occur multiple times daily as guests set out for the jungle first thing in the morning, again in the early afternoon, and (after a brief rest shared by the rest of the slumbering animals in the rainforest), once more at night after dinner. The Amazon truly comes alive at night, and you will feel surrounded by a world inundated with stars — and the sounds of monkeys and birds (and the sights of caymans and pink dolphins) are not soon to be forgotten.
4. Head to the Arctic for a Reindeer Safari in Finland
Young reindeer in Lapland, Finland (Adobe Stock)
Lapland, Finland, Arctic Circle - Embark on a reindeer safari through the vast forests of northern Finland.
There are few places more magical in the world than Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region bordering Sweden and Norway (as well as the Baltic Sea). It’s always the most wonderful time of the year in Finnish Lapland, the home of Northern Lights, the midnight sun, and subarctic wonder. Santa Claus is Finnish — his workshop is, famously, located in Rovaniemi — so it should come as no surprise that this part of the world is home to his reindeer, as well. Book a reindeer safari to explore the frozen, Arctic landscape via a sleigh ride through the snowy forests. Just be careful to mind the reins on your reindeer, as they are known to misbehave (speaking from experience).
5. Visit Rhinos along the Foothills of Mount Kenya
Rhinos in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya, Africa (Adobe Stock)
Nanyuki, Kenya - Ol Pejeta Conservancy is the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa.
In magical Kenya, anything is possible (especially in the savannah). We are returning to the continent of Africa for our next selection, although we’re headed slightly further east and swapping gorillas for rhinoceroses. Our next choice is a safari in the foothills of Mount Kenya, at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to all of the Big Five — as well as the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. The Maasai Mara may get all the attention when it comes to the press, but a safari in the wooded grasslands and plains between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya is severely underrated. And if you’re lucky, you might catch a sighting of both a black rhino and a white one, too. We recommend a trip in spring or fall, but any time of year is the right time for this life-changing adventure — trust us.