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AITO Inspiration: animal-themed tours and holidays worldwide

4th September 2013 Print

Take a look at the wild side of the Association of Independent Tour Operators with these exciting animal-themed tours and holidays worldwide.

AITO is a highly-respected travel organisation that provides an unrivalled collection of holidays from award-winning specialist tour operators.

Its 120-plus members are bound by a code of practice to ensure the best possible level of customer service.

See Nepal on elephant back – from £3,575 pp with Mountain Kingdoms

Discover the incredible wildlife of Nepal’s Bardia National Park on an elephant-back safari, part of a 13-day luxury tour of Nepal where you’ll see heritage, wildlife and natural beauty in first-class style. As well as the three-day elephant tour - where an expert will help you spot rhino, deer, leopards and maybe even tigers - you’ll get to fly along the Himalayan mountain chain to go walking and birdwatching in the Annapurna regionm and explore the artistic and cultural heritage of ancient Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. The 12-night holiday, staying at hotels and lodges in Kathmandu, the Annapurna region, Bandipur and Bardiar National Park, costs from £3,575 pp (two sharing) including flights (UK), some meals, activities and guides.

Kenya Highlands Horse Safari – from £3,450 pp with Wild Frontiers

Explore Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau, one of East Africa’s undiscovered natural treasures, on the Highlands Horse-riding Safari. Second only to the Maasai Mara in its concentration of game, the plateau’s remote landscapes are home to rare black rhino, ancient rock art and some of the largest herds of elephant outside Kenya’s national parks. Ride through valleys and across savannahs rich in wildlife, stay at cattle ranches, camp out beneath the stars and enjoy a safari experience like no other. Departing from 8 March 2014, the seven-night trip costs from £3,450 pp (two sharing) including all meals. Flights extra.

Discover the Polar Bears in Churchill – Canada from £4,268 pp with Frontier Canada

Watch the kings of the Arctic as they stride majestically across the tundra in northern Canada from the comfort of your purpose-built buggy. The wonderful holiday really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see polar bears and their wild environment. This five-night tripcosts from £4,268 pp(two sharing) including flights (Heathrow), accommodation in Winnipeg and Churchill, two full days on a tundra-buggy, dog-sledding and all meals. The tour operates during prime polar bear viewing season in October and November.

Cycle from Mount Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro Crater – Tanzania from £2,099 pp with Discover Adventure

Kilimanjaro is incredibly popular with trekkers, but what about cyclists? This life-changing, 229-mile challenge sees riders cycle the base of Kilimanjaro in Moshi, then journey westwards to Ngorongoro Crater National Park.Enjoy a day’s safari at Ngorongoro, home to an awesome diversity of species including lion, leopard, elephant and rhino. Departing 28 February and 17 October 2014, the trip costs from £2,099 pp (two sharing) and includes nine nights’ accommodation (four nights’ camping and five nights’ hotel), flights (London), transfers, most meals, bike hire and Discover Adventure support team.

Experience South America’s ‘Big Five’ – Brazil, £5,995 pp with Naturetrek

Brazil - South America’s ‘Big Five’ is a new 17-day tour focusing on the ‘Big Five’ - Brazilian Tapir, Giant Anteater, Maned Wolf, Giant River Otter and Jaguar - and other wildlife, visiting the stunning Parnaíba Headwaters National Park and the world-famous wetlands of the Pantanal. Departing 1 and 12 August 2014, the tour costs £5,995 pp(two sharing) including flights (London - two overnight flights), all transport and transfers whilst on tour, all food except for breakfast and lunch on day two, accommodation and all guiding.

See the wildlife of Sri Lanka – from £2,055 pp with TransIndus

‘Wildlife of Sri Lanka’is a new, private 12-day tour visiting wildlife hot spots, parks and Sinharaja Rainforest, providing an opportunity to see wild elephants, leopards, boars, alligators and whales. Highlights include the lesser-known Mirissa, which is perfect for spotting blue and sperm whales;exploring the historic fort city of Galle;taking part in safaris in Yala National Park, and seeing the secluded paradise of Sinharaja with its hills and tea plantations. The 11-night tour costs from £2,055 pp (two sharing) including B&B, flights (UK) and private chauffeur-driven car.

Walk amongst the animals in Malawi – from £3,200 pp with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays

Take part in a spectacular, new 14-day walking adventure to Malawi. At Liwonde National Park, there’ll be the opportunity to spot hippopotamus, crocodiles and herds of elephant, as well as key landmarks like Lake Malawi, the Zomba plateau, Mulanje and the Thyolo Highlands. Departing 5 May 2014, the tour costs from £3,200 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow), transfers, six nights’ half board and five nights’ full board, all excursions and entrance fees, plus the services of a dedicated tour leader.

Discover Hebridean wildlife – Scotland from £925 pp with McKinlay Kidd

Anyone who has been watching Ewan McGregor wax lyrical about the prolific wildlife and stunning landscapes of the Hebrides in his BBC 2 series, ‘Islands on the Edge’, will be chomping at the bit to see this beautiful part of Scotland for themselves. The seven-night Hebridean Wildlife holiday includes a day’s guided wildlife safari and full-day whale-watching on Mull, plus a privately-guided day on the Uists. In addition to whales, the chances are high for spotting eagles, otters, seals and a wide range of sea birds. The price starts from £925 pp (two sharing) including B&B, activities as outlined and ferry crossings with car to Mull and Skye.

Stepping out with Giraffes on South Africa’s Garden Route – from £2,700 pp with Visions of Africa

Take part in a self-drive tour, starting in Cape Town, before departing for the Cape Winelands and journeying along the Garden Routes, stopping en route in Outdtshoorn and Knysna. The 14-night Cape Safari culminates in a three-night stay at Riverbend Lodge inside Addo Elephant National Park, where guests can enjoy fine food and game drives, as well as interacting with the resident Southern giraffes.The tour costs from £2,700 pp (two sharing) including flights (Heathrow), 12 nights’ B&B, car hire, transfers and game-viewing activities.

Find Scotland’s Big 5 – from £1,275 pp with Wilderness Scotland

Get up close to Scottish wildlife in the beauty and authenticity of its natural environment. On the Scotland’s Big 5 tour, visit some of the country’s most celebrated wildlife havens, including the Cairngorms, the Ardnamurchan Peninsula and the Isle of Mull; spotting Scottish icons such as including red deer, sea eagles, capercaillie, whales and red squirrels. Other wildlife highlights include taking a boat trip to spot dolphins, sea-kayaking with seals, observing otters from a hide and seeking out the elusive wildcat on an evening excursion. Departing 3 May or 14 June 2014, six nights’ B&B cost from £1,275 pp (two sharing) including all meals, transfers to and from Inverness, guiding and all scheduled activities.

White towns, rugged mountains and the griffon vulture – Andalucía from £738 pp with Inntravel

Enjoy a self-guided walking break in Andalucía, Spain’s deep south, where brilliant white towns and villages dot a landscape of rugged mountains. The highlight is the inviting paths of the Grazalema Natural Park, which shelters one of Europe's largest colonies of griffon vulture as well as significant numbers of Bonelli's eagles, golden eagles, booted eagles, short-toed eagles and several other raptors. Follow a trail through the Garganta Verde, a dramatic limestone gorge that is home to over 200 nesting pairs of griffon vultures. Seven nights’ half board cost from £738 pp (two sharing), including four picnic lunches, luggage transfers, walking notes and maps. Flights extra.

Walking, wildlife and wildflowers in southern Italy – from £2,190 pp with Kudu Travel

‘Walking on the tratturi, the Historic Shepherd’s Trails of southern Italy’ is a brand-new walking tour in search of the Marsican brown bear, chamoix, Appenine wolf and Golden eagles, and a host of wildflowers including the rare Lady’s Slipper orchid and the endemic Marsican iris. Departing 1 June 2014, the land-only cost is £2,190 pp (two sharing) includingnine nights’ accommodation, all meals and wine, private transport and entrance fees, plus Kudu tour leader and guiding by a leading Italian biologist.

Cycle Uganda for Transaid – from £3,599 pp with Classic Tours

Saddle up for a thrilling 400km cycle ride across the diverse and incredible landscape of Uganda. What better way to explore this beautiful country than by bicycle? Set off from the shores of Lake Victoria by the source of the River Nile. Stay overnight at a rhino sanctuary and visit Murchison Falls National Park, home to over 700 wild chimpanzees. Departing 2 November 2013, sign up for £299 then raise a minimum sponsorship target of £3,300 for Transaid. The price includes flights (London), all transfers, accommodation, full medical support, support staff, bicycles, experienced guides and most meals.

Jaguar Safari in the Northern Pantanal – from £1,925 pp with Wildlife Trails

Spend four days on a private boat safari on the Cuiaba River - the best river in the Americas to see Jaguars - staying in a range of lodges rather than basic Flotel accommodation. Start the boat safari looking for Giant River Otters, followed by a transfer to the Jaguar Ecological Reserve.The trip can be tailored to clients’ preferred dates from now until November 2013. The price of £1,925 pp (two sharing) includes six nights’ accommodation, all meals, a private guide and vehicle throughout. Flights extra.

Butterfly beautiful – Costa Rica from £2,756 pp with Sunvil Traveller

The dry season in the wildlife-rich Corcovado Park brings out the best of the butterflies. Feel all a flutter at the sight of the vivid Morpho, with its neon blue wings and black edging. It is one of the largest butterflies in the world, with wings spanning five to eight inches. Nearby, off the Osa Peninsula, spot humpback whales that usually swim by in January. Stay full board at the jungle hideaway, Bosque del Cabo (with pool) as part of a 14-night tailor-made itinerary, that costs from £2,756 pp (two sharing) including flights (London), accommodation, transfers, excursions and some meals.