As much as the TripMapper team enjoys adrenalin fuelled activities, we find immersing ourselves in nature just as compelling. The stresses and trappings of the modern day world disappear and are replaced by feelings of tranquillity.
Sit back and relax as we take you on a short nature trail around the globe.
Mpumalanga, South Africa
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
The Sabi Sand Game Reserve is a group of private reserves that can be found nestled along the western boundary of the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Sabi Sand and Kruger Park share an unfenced border allowing the wildlife to roam freely between the two areas.
Safari game drives at Sabi Sand are exhilarating. We loved the anticipation of never knowing what we would see; no two drives are ever the same. As we traversed hectares of breath-taking wilderness our senses were overcome by the sights, sounds and smells of the majestic African bush. The rocky outcrops, thicket and occasional open savannah is home to a cornucopia of wildlife.
Spotting a pride of lions drinking from a waterhole as the daylight faded, hearing the hippos grunting and witnessing a baby elephant discovering its trunk are treasured memories.
We stayed at Ulusaba, Sir Richard Branson’s treasured safari lodge. As with many lodges in Sabi Sand, Ulusaba is the epitome of luxury, but you still feel at the heart of life in the bush. Even more importantly, it was clear from the moment we arrived that conserving and protecting the natural environment was high on Ulusaba’s agenda. The fact that we were largely ignored by the animals during our game drives is a testament to Sabi Sand’s rangers and trackers. Our stay was nothing short of magical. Just make sure you pack enough memory cards, you will need them!
Maui, Hawaii, United States of America
Haleakalā National Park Summit
Haleakalā National Park on the island of Maui in Hawaii protects a rare and sacred landscape. The park preserves a diverse habitat for more than 50 endangered species.
High elevation, dry air and lack of light and air pollution make the summit an ideal sky watching location. The road to the summit of Haleakalā rises from near sea level to over 10,000 feet. The ascent takes you through several climate and vegetation zones, from lush rainforest to volcanic desert.
Just before sunset the sky boasts vibrant orange hues blending into a palette of pastels and the summit’s rocky, volcanic landscape is like no other.
Watching the sun dip below the fluffy blanket of clouds is unforgettable, but Haleakalā has one final surprise. After sunset the summit takes on a new dimension when a beautiful night sky is revealed.
Brazil and Argentina
Though it may not be the highest or most powerful waterfall in the world, Iguaçu Falls, on the Brazil-Argentina border, is certainly one of the most spectacular. Up to 275 individual waterfalls combine along a 2.7 kilometre horse-shoe shaped cliff to form the largest waterfall system in the world. It is the scale of the Falls that makes it so awe-inspiring.
From the Brazilian side you can enjoy incredible panoramic views, whilst from the Argentinian side you can experience the Fall’s deafening sound and immense power from above. Certain things in life are simply impossible to adequately capture in a photograph; Iguaçu Falls is definitely one of them.
While the Falls themselves are stunning, away from the roaring water is the tranquillity of the subtropical rainforest. The lush forest is home to many species of flora and fauna. In addition to the famous coatis (who you will no doubt meet on arrival), wild cats, giant anteaters, monkeys and toucans all share this extremely diverse habitat.
Utah, United States of America
Bryce Canyon National Park
From alpine lakes to sprawling forests to dry, dusty deserts, America’s National Parks cater to all nature lovers.
We fell in love with Bryce Canyon National Park, the land of the hoodoos. Marvelling at the colourful geological wonders from Inspiration Point will take your breath away. While the patterns and clusters of hoodoos are visually striking, the story of their formation is equally as intriguing. Bryce Canyon is a fascinating geological time capsule.
The Park transcends 2,000 feet of elevation and has three distinct climatic zones. The diversity of habitats provides for high biodiversity with more than 100 species of birds, dozens of mammals (including the mountain lion) and more than a thousand plant species. This National Park will not fail to amaze.
Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Kinabatangan River Basin
The mighty Kinabatangan River is Sabah's longest and Malaysia's second longest river. The river basin is one of the richest ecosystems on earth.
As the rainforest awakens we were greeted by wild calls, chirps and chatter. With hornbills flying overhead, proboscis monkeys swinging from branch to branch and crocodiles stealthily gliding along the river, we felt completely immersed in the early morning magic of the jungle.
During our stay we visited Gomantong Cave. The cave is surrounded by primary rainforest rich in fruiting wild figs, making it an ideal place to spot wild orangutans. We did just that. As we made our way through the jungle we glimpsed the bright orange hair and the lithe, dextrous limbs of a Bornean orangutan in the canopy above. As the orangutan slowly reached for a higher branch we spotted another face, its beautiful baby. We gazed up in awe.
The feeling of elation didn’t stop there. Moments later our guide promptly stopped us in our tracks and gestured to a nearby tree. We could not believe our luck. A male orangutan was perched on a branch feasting on a jackfruit, the fruit’s sticky flesh all over his face.
Still on a high, we finally made it to the vast entrance of the cave. The smell of the guano dune immediately filling our nostrils. As our eyes slowly adjusted we could see millions of bats above, giant cave centipedes covering the walls and cockroaches scuttling past our feet. This a world where only the most adventurous will dare to go! As dusk approached, there was one final surprise, an exodus of over two million bats heading out to hunt. A truly spectacular display.
We spent 3 nights at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge when we visited the Bornean Rainforest. If you are seeking responsible wildlife encounters and an environmental education, the Sukau Lodge is for you.
Editor's note: During COVID-19 there are restrictions on travel. Check the latest guidance before booking and departing and always follow local health guidance.