100 things to do before you die: safaris
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Tanzania has three regions of spectacular landscapes islands and coastal plains to the east, a saucer-shaped inland plateau and highlands. It also has an enormous concentration of wild animals in its many national parks and game reserves.
Serengeti National Park stretches across Kenya (20 percent) and Tanzania and is the park where you are most likely to see the animals you have always wanted to see. It has around two million wildebeest and half a million zebra. Guides know where to find lions, leopards, ostriches, elephants, giraffes, hippos, impala and gazelle.
50. Giraffe Manor, Kenya
Just 12 kilometres from the centre of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is Giraffe Manor, a remarkable place built in 1932 by Sir David Duncan. It is surrounded by 60 hectares of its own park and forest and has superb views of the Ngong Hills. In 1974 Jock Leslie-Melville, grandson of a Scots earl, and his American wife Betty, who also founded the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, bought the beautiful vine-covered manor. They then moved two highly endangered baby Rothschild giraffes to the estate, where they thrived and have produced several further generations of giraffe.
When Jock died, Betty opened her house, now called Giraffe Manor, to visitors. It is the only place in the world where you can feed and photograph the giraffe over your breakfast table and at the front door, even from a bedroom window. Travellers from all over the world now make the Giraffe Manor part of their East African safari. Personally hosted, the Giraffe Manor is an elegant and exclusive small hotel with a rich blend of welcoming accommodation, highly trained staff and one of Nairobi's finest kitchens.
51. Snow monkeys, Japan
The Japanese macaque lives on three of Japan's four main islands. The stocky and heavily furred creature has earned the name Japanese Snow Monkey by surviving harsh winters. Up to 60,000 of them live in hilly forests and move so quickly through trees, it is difficult for scientists to study them.
Jigokudani Nature Park on Hokkaido was established in 1964 and is home to around 25 wild monkeys. You can see them between 9am and 4pm during winter, as close as one metre away. A series of volcanic pools was set up in the 1960s to keep the monkeys out of people's backyard hot tubs!
52. Khutzeymateen grizzlies, Canada
Forty-five kilometres north-east of Prince Rupert on the coast of British Columbia is Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary. Canada's largest carnivore survives here in large numbers, eating grass, roots, wild berries, insects and fish.
They are excellent fishers and salmon is the main part of their diet. The best time to visit is from very early May to early July, when they have left their winter dens to mate and eat tender sedge grasses. Mothers can be seen teaching their young how to survive in their natural habitat. During August and September hungry bears pounce on salmon as they spawn.
53. Orang-utans, Borneo
Once Sumatra and Borneo were full of carefree orang-utans, swinging through jungle canopies. Destruction of their habitat has caused numbers to decrease to as few as 10,000. There are sanctuaries dedicated to their protection and rehabilitation, the largest of which is the 43-square-kilometre Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, established in 1964.
Logging was banned in the area in 1957 and Sepilok was designated as an area for conservation and research. Orphaned and injured apes are tended until they are well and confident enough to return to the wild.
The best time to visit is between 10am and 3pm when they are fed bananas and milk. They can be watched from a series of walkways and viewing platforms and while you aren't allowed to touch them, they don't have such rules, so do hang on tightly to your belongings!
54. Territory Wildlife Park, NT
This 400-kilometre park, just 45 minutes south of Darwin, gives an exceptional introduction to the region's natural wonders. You can explore the Top End river system in the aquarium, walk through a massive aviary and be close to usually elusive animals as they go about their routines in the nocturnal house. You can wander through a wetland area, watch activities from a bird-hide overlooking a natural lagoon or observe from a shady spot.
On the woodland walk you can enjoy the company of kangaroos, wallabies, water buffalo, deer and feral pigs. The aquarium has rockpools, creeks, rivers and harbours. Aviaries house masses of birds in their natural environments grasslands, monsoon forest, wet woodlands, billabongs and mangroves.