Following on from the £1 million “Best of Britain” weekend break and gourmet getaway that affords couples the opportunity to dine at every three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, a newly launched $1 million (£600,000) safari is offering wildlife enthusiasts the opportunity to encounter some of the world’s most endangered species in their natural habitat.
Provided by Brighton-based company Natural World Safaris, the package allows one couple to travel a route that covers 12 countries and extends from Arctic Canada to the Antarctic Peninsula. If completed all at once, rather than staggered over months or years, the itinerary would take 111 days to complete.
Will Bolsover, managing director of Natural World Safaris, will be available to accompany whoever books the trip and says the trip was created to draw attention to the plight of threatened species around the world: “The basis of [creating this package] is to get some focus on endangered species around the world. A trip like this brings us some exposure but the main thing it does is to bring exposure to those endangered species.”
The itinerary includes first-class flights and luxury accommodation, where available, and includes stays at entirely solar-powered Zafara Camp in Botswana, where luxury tents feature private plunge pools and copper bathtubs, and aboard the M/Y Grace yacht in the Galapagos. Accommodation at more isolated locations will be more functional. The safari includes a visit to Whichaway Camp, a remote camp in Antarctica, and the family-run Seal River Heritage Lodge in Canada’s Hudson Bay.
During their travels, couples will have the opportunity to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda, lemurs in Madagascar, sun bears in Borneo and snow leopards in India; they can participate in conservation work as they travel and will liaise with local environmental charities on their journey. Natural World Safaris has said it will donate $100,000 (£60,000) per booking between the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ( CITES ) and the smaller conservation charities operating in the destinations visited.
For Mr Bolsover, the high cost serves to promote the threat faced by these species, and the company, without introducing an influx of tourists to these delicate environments: “I prefer to put in a limited number of people at a higher cost rather than mass tourism, which will have more of an impact.”
While a limit on the numbers of travellers accessing these fragile habitats should be welcomed, prospective customers with an interest in conservation and money to spend on the cause are advised to consider their travel choices and the companies they book with carefully. A recent study by Leeds Metropolitan University found that more expensive volunteer tourism, or “voluntourism”, projects can be “less responsible” than more moderately priced variants.