A safari in Europe is as nothing short of spectacular; from tracking polar bears in Norway to swimming with sperm whales in the clear Atlantic waters, the myriad indigenous species there are truly impressive. Team T+L
The incredible archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, the Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal. You can snorkel with about seven species of dolphins with the help of expert guides who teach you ‘in-water procedures’, so that you find yourself in the midst of dolphins frolicking around you. Not only that, there are whale watching tours that guarantee 99 percent sightings of blue, sei, fin and humpback whales. Apart from these, you can also see orcas, manta rays and sea turtles, too. The best time to experience marine wildlife in the Azores is from May to October.
On the south coast of France, the Camargue, is home to more than 400 bird species and some exotic native breeds of animals. It is one of the only place in Europe where you can see the greater flamingo in mind-boggling numbers, especially during the summer. The area is also historically famed for its native grey and whites horses as well as the horned bulls.
Another great place in France for incredible wildlife spotting is the Mercantour National Park, about an hour’s drive from Nice. The park is home to a tiny population of wolves; and hiking through the mountains, tracking these elusive creatures with a specialist guide, is an adventure not to be missed.
With mountains on one side of the country and the Adriatic Sea on the other, it’s no surprise that Croatia is one of Europe’s biodiversity hotspots. Plitvice Lakes National Park in central Croatia, is home to 16 lakes that cascade into one another, creating waterfalls and bubbling streams of gorgeous turquoise waters. A walk through this blissful beauty is perhaps one of the best experiences to have in all of Croatia. Spot griffon vultures living on the island of Cres; pods of Mediterranean bottle-nose dolphins off Losinj and a healthy population of lynx, wolf and brown bear on your hike up the Dinaric Alps.
The Scandinavian country of Norway offers a variety of wildlife experiences. The arrival of summer is the best time to spot polar bears in Svalbard archipelago in Norway. There are cruises that take you to spot polar bears travelling across the pack of ice. Experienced guides also help focus your binoculars at seals, Arctic foxes, walruses and stunning bird-life, from puffins to purple sandpipers in Svalbard.
The Western Fjords in Norway is home to the unusual Jerv, or European wolverine, that inhabit the extensive pine forests along with brown bears, wolves, elk and lynx. You can also watch and snorkel with hundreds of orcas in the semi-frozen fjords.
Masurian Lakes, located in the north-eastern part of Poland, is home to more than 2,000 lakes, dense forests and organic farms. Which means it’s a great place for water sports as well as wildlife. A kayak trip along the picturesque Krutynia River is a must, as is strolling among the European bisons of the Białowieża Forest. There are safaris led by experienced guides that ensure sightings of the bisons along with other exotic wildlife such as moose, beavers, otters, lynx and wolves.