Wildlife tours consistently capture the imagination of travellers. From the popularity of nature documentaries to the unforgettable, timeless school trips to local farms and zoos, we seem to be fascinated and charmed by our friends in the animal kingdom. It’s perhaps only natural that seeing animals out and about on our travels is often a magical, memorable experience.
On 3rd March, we celebrate World Wildlife Day, which hopes to raise awareness of the need to protect the world’s wild animals and plants. This year’s theme is titled “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet” and hopes to shed light on the continued need for conservation efforts to help forest-based wildlife and the communities living nearby whose livelihoods depend upon a balanced ecosystem.
With this in mind, we thought we’d take the opportunity to share some details of the fantastic experiences in two of our destinations, Costa Rica and Borneo, that showcase incredible wildlife. What’s more, many of these wildlife tours partner with environmentally conscious suppliers to allow travellers to discover the wonders of wildlife in a sustainable way. At Discova, we can craft a perfectly-tailored itinerary for any would-be wildlife lover in either Costa Rica or Borneo with a broad range of unique experiences that promise wildlife encounters. Let’s explore!
Wildlife Tours in Costa Rica
Palo Verde National Park & Guaitil Tour
An adventure that takes travellers on a tranquil boat ride along a gorgeous river in the Palo Verde National Park, surrounded by the stunning rainforest inhabited by an innumerable variety of animal species and exotic vegetation.
The park is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The floodwaters of the Rio Tempisque provide marshland during the wet season that attracts migrating birds, including great egrets, roseate spoonbills, green-backed herons, and many other rare and beautiful species to look out for.
Away from the birds, younger explorers are always delighted at the prospect of seeing the famous white-throated capuchin monkeys, who tend to congregate around watering holes competing for space with howler monkeys, white-tailed deer, and a whole host of cheeky squirrels. After a day well spent observing the animals in their natural habitat on this wildlife tour, travellers can indulge in a little culture in Guaitil, where artisanal clay handicrafts are traditionally made.
When visiting the park, Discova customers directly contribute to the upkeep and conservation efforts helping to preserve this diverse paradise. Costa Rica is incredibly proud of its biodiversity, and there are numerous government schemes providing support to national parks such as Palo Verde.
Damas Island Kayaking Tour
Gently row along the soft currents under a verdant forest canopy to explore the wonders of the unique Costa Rican mangrove ecosystem around Damas Island, just south of Manuel Antonio.
The professional guide along for the serene journey will fix his trained eye to the banks of the canals, helping travellers glimpse local anteaters, white-faced monkeys, and even a reptile or two. Once again, the idyllic scene is populated with plenty of fascinating bird species, including frigates, kingfishers, and ospreys.
The mangrove ecosystem witnessed here is part of the biggest mangrove ecosystem in Central America. Lasting a few hours at a relaxed pace, the excellent perspective offered from the kayak gives travellers ample opportunity to get up close and personal with the mangrove’s inhabitants on this wildlife tour.
Discover Arenal Treasures
Visit Arenal Volcano National Park, an area that comprises some 16 protected reserves between the Tilarán and Guanacaste mountain ranges. The area features the impressive, majestic – and still active – Arenal volcano that contributes to the region’s geological and biological complexity.
On this trip, take a boat ride across the eponymous Lake Arenal, observing the volcano’s west side burned by eruptions from the recent active period. Travellers will then journey through a wildlife sanctuary from a unique perspective as they traverse hanging bridges. The bridges afford the travellers an excellent view of the different layers of the rainforest canopy, with a well-informed guide to discern the diverse flora and fauna to be discovered at each level.
After gawking at the monkeys and the parrots and admiring the orchids and ferns, there’s time for a treat with a rejuvenating dip in the Tizate thermal, naturally heated by the volcanic spring. Immersed within the breathtaking scenery, take a breath and relax – Discova customers gain exclusive access to a private area of the pools where they can reflect on the remarkable encounter with nature.
Costa Rica is a nature-lovers dream offering a treasure trove of wildlife tours. There are plenty of other biological highlights, such as the Monteverde Cloud Forest or the rich, sloth-inhabited rainforests surrounding the Penas Blancas river. Fortunately for travellers, preserving these habitats is embedded within Costa Rica’s ecotourism goals and, more broadly, within the national spirit of the locals. Explore more products that support Costa Rica’s sustainability drives and promise memorable animal encounters in our Costa Rica destination guide below.
Wildlife Tours in Borneo
2D1N Selingan Turtle Island
Take a speedboat ride from Sandakan over crystal-clear waters to Selingan Island that hosts one of the world’s oldest turtle hatcheries.
Arriving for a delicious lunch after checking into the accommodation for the night, travellers can soak up the sun for the afternoon on the pristine beach or opt for some snorkelling among the reefs. This little remote island gives off serious castaway vibes, little-affected by tourism. After a soothing afternoon spent by the sea, the evening provides the highlight of this wildlife tour.
After dinner, a park ranger will brief the travellers about the work of the island turtle hatchery. This is where female Green turtles and Hawksbill turtles come to lay their eggs throughout the year. The rangers will explain how the area is protected. The best possible circumstances are provided for these turtles, protected from predators and with little noise and light pollution that can confuse the hatchlings. Witness the magic of the sea turtles nesting on shore and see the hatchlings racing out to sea – a thrilling experience.
Santubong Wildlife River Cruise
This tour takes travellers around the rivers of the Santubong Peninsular, offering the chance of seeing some of Sarawak’s fascinating wildlife. Cruise along the river and take in the epic scenery of the mangroves along the banks – backlit by the sunset disappearing behind the mountain backdrop.
There is abundant wildlife to be found here, and lucky travellers will see irrawaddy dolphins at the river’s mouth, proboscis monkeys at sunset time, as well as crocodiles and fireflies. Watch the fireflies move around the mangroves’ branches after the sun has gone down, momentarily lighting up the night sky. The magical moment is certainly one for the photo aficionados to try and capture.
Wildlife Protection in Sepilok
Visit three incredible sanctuaries in one day on this trip to see some of Borneo’s emblematic wildlife. Learn the human stories of how people in Sabah are trying to support animals in need at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, and the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.
Orangutan translates to ‘man of the forest’, named so because they resemble humans and are famous for their intelligence, often apparent when gazing into their melancholy, insightful eyes. They only live in Borneo and Indonesia’s Sumatra. Borneo has its own native bear – the sun bear. They often resemble a small dog in their stature, and they are rare to see in the wild since they are nocturnal and usually shy. The proboscis monkey is truly a sight to see, distinctive for the abnormal-looking noses among males than can reach up to 7 inches long. Their grey limbs and a pot-belly complete their often comical image.
All of these animals are endangered species due to a variety of threats to their habitats. Thankfully, with the loving care of these award-winning centres, travellers can contribute to their upkeep, learn from the professionals about animal conservation, and still engage with these beautiful animals.
Borneo has long-held a primary position at the forefront of animal conservation due to its many native endangered species. A visit to Borneo often serves as a poignant reminder of the need to protect our forested areas. While we, as humans, find a peculiar beauty in observing these creatures at play, it’s imperative that there is an educational element to our entertainment.
With all of our tours in Borneo and our destinations more generally, we take care to ensure that our products involving animals include this educational element. Our travellers leave having supported conservation efforts and with further avenues to explore should they wish. Check out our Malaysia and Borneo destination guide below for more product examples.
Our eyes are on the future, and we are always looking for new ways to bring incredible experiences to travellers. However, with wildlife tours, the emphasis on the future is especially pertinent – the tours we know and love in forested areas are under threat. This is what World Wildlife Day is all about, raising awareness of the need to preserve our environment so that we can all go on sustainably appreciating the joys of nature – and all its inhabitants. Go ahead and read more at https://www.wildlifeday.org/