If you live in a western country, you probably spend the majority of your life in a town or city without coming into contact with nature. Weirdly, though, the majority of the surface of the planet is still dominated by wilderness. And that means that you're missing out on what nature has to offer.
Because of this, people are keen on spending time abroad in the wilderness. It is incredible to think that even in 2020, there are still parts of the planet that remain entirely unexplored. And that's what makes wildlife trekking so exciting. You're often going places that nobody has been before.
If you're planning an adventure abroad, however, you'll need to do a lot of planning. It's not like a package holiday where you jump on a plane, and a travel agency does it all for you. You have to be proactive.
Check out these tried-and-tested tips:
Make Sure You Can Get To Your Destination
With the current crisis still unfolding, you need to check whether you can get to your destination and get back again.
Remember, some countries are blocking tourists from certain COVID-19 hotspots to protect their own populations. And many home countries are forcing citizens into lengthy quarantines to stop the disease from spreading to the rest of the community.
Also, be sure that there are airports, roads and tracks that will allow you to travel to your chosen destination. Most countries with genuine wildernesses are frighteningly underserved by quality infrastructure.
Consider Your Safety
The next step is to consider your safety.
In general, there are three main safety issues you'll encounter while on a wildlife adventure abroad:
- Injury from wild animals
- Infection by tropical diseases
- Being unprepared for the weather or the difficulty of the terrain
Before you travel, be sure to consider each of these points in turn. If travelling to Africa, you'll need to prepare yourself for encounters with a host of potentially dangerous species, including lions, crocodiles and elephants. The same is true of South America or the jungles of Borneo.
The disease environment also changes from one continent to another. And so too does the terrain. You're unlikely to get bogged down in the grasslands of subtropical Africa during the dry seasons. But if you're going in the wet, you'll need to ensure that your guide has the right equipment.
Collect Your Equipment
There's a big difference between going on a safari and embarking on a wildlife adventure. For the former, a travel agency or safari organiser will usually take care of all of the administration. All you have to do is show up. For the latter, though, it's different. You'll need to consider your equipment carefully.
Consider first the type of shoes you'll need. Even if you're travelling to a hot country, you'll need a thick boot that can keep out the moisture and protect you from the terrain.
You'll also want to think carefully about your camera setup. The average DSLR probably won't survive the trip, especially if you're going to an area with lots of heavy rain. Plus it probably isn't practical either. You want something that you can set up to capture images of animals automatically.
For some, Browning trail cameras fit the bill. Onboard motion detection means that you can snap pictures of anything that moves without actually having to have your finger on the button at all times.
Prioritize Animal Welfare
Unfortunately, some wildlife adventure holidays don't prioritise animal welfare. Instead, it's all about getting as many tourists into the area as possible to support local businesses. Before you travel, be mindful about this sort of thing. You don't want your dollars going to people who don't really care about the wellbeing of the animals on which they depend.
Check The Map
We have pretty good maps in western countries. The same, however, isn't always true of other places in the world. Even today, many mapping agencies still rely on vague satellite images and guesswork to plot tracks and landscape features. The situation is much improved from several years ago, but it is still not ideal. If you travel abroad to a less developed country, be sure to take other navigation aids with you, including a compass and GPS equipment. Maps can help you find your way around, but you shouldn't rely on them exclusively.
Sometimes it is worth going on a local tour, especially if you are new to wildlife adventures. See these as learning experiences: opportunities for you to find out how people conduct themselves in the wild.