When it comes to wildlife experiences in Asia, it’s impossible not to think of Borneo.
There are more plants and animals in Borneo than in Europe and North America put together, making it one of the best places in the world to immerse yourself in the mind-boggling diversity of nature. But it’s not the only wildlife hotspot in Asia. In fact, the region is home to nearly 15 percent of the world's tropical forests, so there are plenty of amazing nature-based experiences to be discovered here. We've collected some of our favourites below.
These span bonding with elephants in Thailand, checking camera traps and salt licks in the rainforests of Laos, and joining in with conservation efforts in the threatened wilderness of Cambodia’s Botum Sakor National Park. What they all have in common is a strong focus on environmental conservation, community-based tourism and animal welfare, so you can be certain that your visit will make a positive impact on the places, people and animals you visit.
Do you let people ride elephants?
In short, no. Animal welfare is one of our core principles, and we adhere to the guidelines laid out by WAP (World Animal Protection). WAP recommends against elephant rides because training the elephants to do so usually involves cruel breaking-in techniques, and so we do not support any animal sanctuary that continues this practice.
Can you help me see orangutans in Borneo?
Yes! If you are interested in seeing rescued orangutans in rehabilitation, the orangutan sanctuaries at Sepilok and Semenggoh are the best places to do so. Sightings in the wild are never guaranteed, but we can certainly point you to the places where you’ll have the very best chances.
How likely is it that I’ll see wildlife on my holiday?
Wild animal sightings can never be guaranteed — that’s part of the excitement of it! — but there are places where you’re much more likely to spot wildlife than others. Borneo is the undisputed capital of animal-spotting in Asia, and within Borneo certain locations (such as the Kinabatangan River) have a much higher concentration of wildlife than others. Conservation centres such as Sepilok’s Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre also offer a great chance to see animals being rehabilitated for release into the wild.
Where are the best places to see wildlife in Asia?
The best place in Asia to see wildlife is Borneo — but it’s by no means the only place. There are some fantastic nature-based experiences to be found across Asia, whether wildlife is the focus of your trip or just an element.
Cambodia has the largest contiguous rainforest area on continental Southeast Asia, making it our second-favourite destination for wildlife and conservation experiences, while Laos has remote and rugged national parks where you can sleep in “nests” hanging from the trees and go for night safaris into the jungle. There are also some excellent, highly welfare-conscious elephant sanctuaries you can visit in Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.
What kinds of things can I do on a wildlife themed holiday?
Our wildlife trips have a strong focus on conservation, so expect to be sleeping in eco-lodges in national parks, helping rangers check camera traps for sightings of rare animals, and seeing first-hand how community-based tourism can help protect the environment and support sustainable local development.
You’ll also have lots of opportunities for wildlife-spotting, including river cruises to watch animal life on the riverbanks, and nature walks to learn about medicinal plants, creepy crawlies and birds. To have the best chance of spotting lots of interesting wildlife, you need to head out at different times of day — so you should also expect dawn excursions to observation towers, and night safaris to spotlight nocturnal critters!
How dangerous are the animals in Asia?
There are dangerous animals in Asia, as there are in most parts of the world, but they’re usually more anxious to avoid you than you are to avoid them! The chances of coming into close contact with any dangerous animals is close to zero, but even if you did, you’ll always be accompanied by an expert local guide who’ll point out the hazard and know exactly what to do.