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If there’s one thing we’ve all missed out on in 2020 and the first half of 2021, it’s getting back in touch with nature and seeking out wildlife in the wilder corners of the planet.

And what with it being World Wildlife Day today, the team here at Not In The Guidebooks thought this would be a good time to get you inspired with some of our best tours, experiences and holidays that focus around experiencing local wildlife.

From swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores to exploring the mangrove forests of Costa Rica, these wildlife holidays from around the world are the perfect opportunity for you to get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful animals on the planet.

6 Days in Temple Town – Angkor, Elephants and the Tonle Sap

elephant on a wildlife holiday in cambodia

We may as well start big, and it doesn’t get much bigger than getting up close and personal with these gentle Cambodian giants, on this incredible multi-day tour of northern Cambodia that culminates in a stay at an elephant sanctuary.

You’ll be actively helping to protect these magnificent creatures and their environment, by volunteering to help tree planting, seed collecting, and other helpful tasks that make a genuine difference at grass roots level.

And, of course, you’ll get to spend time with the elephants and learn how quickly they form special bonds with people with their charming characters. You’ll also explore the incredible Tonle Sap and experience local lakeside culture, visit the wonder of the world that is Angkor Wat, and get to know the incredibly warm and hospitable local people on truly all-encompassing tour of this beautiful country.

Wild Swimming with Dolphins in the Azores

swimming with dolphins on a wildlife holiday

What better way to experience the local wildlife than by meeting it on its own turf, as you do on this once-in-a-lifetime experience swimming with dolphins in the wild Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of the Azores.

It’s a truly unforgettable experience to dive with these friendly, inquisitive, intelligent animals, interacting with them in their own realm as they freely wander the seas around the rugged islands.

Your guide for the experience is a professional marine biologist, who will give you yet more insight into these dolphins lives and help you meet them in a safe, responsible manner.

By the time you arrive back on shore, you’ll have treasured memories of a day you will never forget.

An Expedition to Preserve and Protect South Africa’s Wildlife

baby elephant with adults on a wildlife holiday

Back to elephants, and to one of the most inspirational tours that we promote. On this truly unique nine days in the stunning Drakensberg Mountains and the world-renowned Kruger National Park, you’ll be able to witness wildlife conservation first-hand and get involved in teams on the ground, who are striving to protect this delicate ecosystem.

Travelling in a small, women-only, group you’ll discover the best of Africa, and head out collaring elephants, tracking and collaring wild dogs and lions, or dehorning rhino with teams of veterinary surgeons and conservationist professionals.

This is one of a few holidays on earth where you can leave safe in the knowledge that you have got real, first-hand experience of conservation work, and helped to make a real difference in swinging the pendulum in favour of those who aim to protect the beautiful animals and habitats of South Africa.

Our Top Wildlife Holidays

6 Days in Temple Town – Angkor, Elephants and Tonle Sap

Cambodia, Siem Reap

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The Wee Safari

Scotland, Scottish Highlands

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An Expedition to Protect and Preserve Africa’s Wildlife

South Africa, Kruger National Park

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Costa Rica’s North Pacific Coast

Costa Rica, Alajuela

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The Scottish Big Five Tour

red deer in the snow in scotland

Not all wildlife holidays have to be in some far-flung, exotic corner of the world. Sometimes, you can discover fascinating wildlife right on your doorstep once you have the right local know-how and expert guidance.

On this full day, privately chartered safari in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, you’ll meet up with your expert guide Ian, and head out to spot animals as varied as golden eagles, red deer, red squirrels, otters and harbour seals, all within a 25km radius of Fort William.

Embark on beautiful cruises around the waterways of West Scotland and discover secret hides that totally immerse you in the landscape, giving you the best chance of spotting some of the majestic creatures that make the area their home.

A bespoke, private adventure that guarantees incredible scenery and fascinating wildlife, it’s an option closer to home for those looking for a wildlife holiday that they can find easily.

Costa Rica’s North Pacific Coast

spotting toucans on a wildlife holiday in costa rica

On this incredible itinerary that sets off from Alajuela and explores thick jungles, twisting mangrove forests, golden beaches, and tropical islands, you’ll get the chance to spot some of Costa Rica’s beautiful wildlife in one of the most protected countries in the world.

As the golden child of eco-tourism, Costa Rica boasts genuinely pristine wildlife habitats, which makes for some wonderful wildlife holidays and experiences. On this tour of the North Pacific coast, you’ll enter the Ensenada Wildlife Refuge, where you can explore the twisting mangrove forests and spot crocodiles and howler monkeys as you cruise through the branches.

Over the rest of this incredible 10 day adventure, you’ll also get to sample authentic, rural Costa Rican life at small family-run eco farms, unleash your inner surfer dude on the beaches of Santa Teresa, and stay in your own personal paradise on a tropical island in the Nicoya Gulf.


We believe at Not In The Guidebooks that experiencing the local wildlife is an essential part of truly getting to know a part of the world. After all, these are locals in every sense of the world, and their place in the wild landscapes that still exist across the world is far more justified than any tourists.

That’s why we work with local hosts, charities and enterprises to help to sustain and protect these habitats, so that future generations of travellers can still enjoy the same incredible wildlife holidays that we do today.

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