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Natural encounter

It’s hard to beat the thrill of witnessing a whale breaching at close quarters or coming face to face with an elk in a forest. Since our holidays tend to explore off-the-beaten-track regions, you will, with luck, enjoy some natural encounters on most of our holidays, be it foxes, deer, hares or wild boar. The holidays listed below visit areas which are home to more out-of-the-ordinary animals, sightings of which make for a very memorable holiday.
  • The Azores are not only remarkable for their haunting volcanic landscapes, complete with ancient cones, crater lakes and hot springs, but also for the fact that 20 different species of cetaceans – some quite common, others much rarer – can be spotted off the islands’ shores. Common and bottlenose dolphins are resident species and can be seen at any time of year. Come in early spring, though, and it is possible that you may sight a mighty blue whale, while in summer you may encounter sperm, sei and bearded whales, as well as spotted dolphins, on our included boat trip.
  • The jungle of the holiday’s name is not just any old jungle, but the forested hills of what is now the Pench National Park, which inspired Kipling’s The Jungle Book. We can’t promise you a sighting of Baloo, Bagheera or Shere Khan during your jeep safaris, but the park is home to wildlife such as macaques, jackals, hyenas, sloth bears and even a number of elusive tigers, as well as attracting many species of migrating birds between December and March.
  • The serenity of the landscape, the feeling of being far removed from the everyday world, the walk through a frozen canyon past huge icicles and frozen waterfalls, and the joy of learning to cross-country ski are just some of the reasons why a winter holiday in Hindsæter is so memorable. With any luck, another unforgettable experience is the snowshoe excursion in search of the wild elk which roam through the forest close to your comfortable hotel. Keep your eyes peeled at all times!
  • If you are planning a walking holiday in the Alps, you’ll need to learn how to distinguish ibex and chamois so that you know which you’re looking at if you come across one. The chamois’ distinctive feature is the dark stripe down its face, while the (male) ibex can be identified by its thick, backwards-curving horns which can eventually grow up to a metre in length. Both are excellent climbers which live above the treeline, so you’ll have to choose a holiday that takes you pretty high (such as the aptly named High Route in Switzerland) to have a chance of seeing one.
  • The Sardinian deer (cervo sardo) may be smaller than European deer, but the fact that it came close to extinction in the 1960s and that its numbers, while rising, are still in the hundreds, means that spotting one is pretty special. Now overgrown with Mediterranean vegetation, the long-abandoned mineral mines which you explore on our Golden Dunes of the Costa Verde walk make an ideal refuge for these shy creatures, though they can also occasionally be seen further along the route in the sand dunes near Piscinas (a spot also favoured by marine turtles).
  • For a very different sort of ‘natural encounter’, choose a Northern Lights break to the Norwegian city of Tromsø and, with luck, you will witness ribbons of green, pink, yellow and blue light swirling across the night sky. The aurora borealis is unpredictable, but this just makes seeing it in all its glory all the more thrilling. Occupying the same latitude as Alaska, this island city affords some of the best opportunities to see them anywhere in mainland Europe, but that's not the only reason to travel there – by day you can visit its small but fascinating museums, join a dog-sledding or ice-fishing excursion, or explore on snowshoes or cross-country skis.

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