Wildlife holidays in South America are one of the most rewarding ways to see the country. There’s so much of it, you’re unlikely to see everything on just one visit. One of the most popular wildlife viewing holidays in Latin America is a Galapágos Islands cruise, sailing on a comfortable expedition vessel to the handful of inhabited islands whose animal population far outweighs that of humans. But the mainland is home to the most biodiverse region on Earth: the Pantanal. Creatures range from the elusive jaguar to the striking hyacinth macaw, while the Iberá Wetlands in Argentina are known as a natural refuge for a huge variety of wildlife, until recently practically unexplored.
In Central America, Costa Rica is widely recognised as the pioneer of ecotourism, and as such it has strived to protect huge areas of the country. Here you can watch turtles come ashore on the beaches, or come face to face with the humble sloth, perhaps volunteering at one of the many wildlife reserves during your holiday.
Our favourite wildlife holidays in South America and beyond…
Natural Highlights of Brazil
Most visitors seeking a wildlife holiday to Brazil would consider the Amazon a prime animal-spotting destination, and while this is very much the case we’d highly recommend an alternative: the Pantanal. The world’s largest freshwater wetland is home to an enormous array of exotic plants, not to mention 700 species of bird and 260 species of fish. It’s also home to the elusive jaguar, the sleek giant otter and the curious anteater.
Natural Highlights of Costa Rica
Costa Rica was perhaps the pioneer for ecotourism, with a long and celebrated history of conservation allowing its animal population to flourish. On a wildlife holiday to Tortuguero you can slip through shaded jungle channels and knotty mangrove forests, swim in hot springs in the shadow of the Arenal volcano and cruise through the wetlands to the sound of birdsong. Choose a Costa Rica wildlife holiday to experience incredibly diverse landscapes.
Natural Highlights of Ecuador
There are few places on Earth where you’ll find biodiversity as impressive as the Galapágos Islands. Located a few hours from the coast of Ecuador, the volcanoes, lava cliffs and tangled scrub might appear, at first glance, the last place to expect nature’s bounty, but a surprising array of bird, reptile and marine animal species have evolved to inhabit the archipelago of some 21 islands straddling both sides of the Equator.
Wildlife of the White Continent
This epic 24-day adventure takes you on a once-in-a-lifetime voyage across the Southern Ocean to the wilds of Antarctica. Along the way you’ll travel through the Beagle Channel and the Drake Passage, call in at the curiously British Falkland Islands, explore the remote and wildlife-rich island of South Georgia with its former whaling station, and spend several days discovering the incredible landscapes and wildlife that call the Antarctic Peninsula home.
Spitsbergen Wildlife Adventure
This ten-day voyage sets sail from the port of Longyearbyen, famous for its past as a coal-mining town on Spitsbergen Island in the remote Svalbard Archipelago. On board an expedition ship designed to cope with the sea ice, you’ll travel around sounds, glaciers and tiny islands, with the chance to spot a huge array of wildlife from reindeer to polar bears.
Natural Highlights of Peru
For a chance sighting of a jaguar you’re not limited to the Pantanal. On a wildlife holiday to Peru you could find yourself catching a glimpse of the notoriously shy big cat. On the way to the Amazon proper, the mist-wreathed canopy of Manu Cloud Forest is a remote and unspoilt biosphere with some of the best-protected ecology in all of South America - bring your camera and a steady hand.