Hi there and “Hello” from Germany!
For close to 20 years now I have been visiting Eastern and Southern African countries, going on safaris, always searching for mammals and predators in particular. Every once in a while we’ve also travelled across the USA, Canada and Australia. Last January then I flew to America for the first time during their winter months. I spend about 10 days in Wyoming and Montana, in and around Yellowstone NP.
This January 2019 was less about finding mammals (although was somewhat sucessful, with wolves, coyotes, moose and even an otter) but more about having “a true winter experience”. Here in Western Europe we hardly ever have severe winters and certainly not for entire weeks at a time.
Anyway, I enjoyed myself quite a bit, so much so that I have started to think about another winter trip for this year. However, finding an adequate destination seems to be much more difficult than I initially expected, mostly because I am confined to a very narrow timeframe: departing around Dec. 21st and returning no later than Jan. 05th.
What I am hoping to put together is a trip that concentrates on predators, sort of like a “classic” safari in Africa. What I am not interested in is
- cultural visits (like “Visit a Lapland Village”)
- side trips like “See the Northern Lights” or “Spend a night in an igloo”
I should also mention that I don’t ski. Snow-shoeing is ok, though.
These are the options I have looked at so far:
Scandinavia / Balkans / Baltic Countries
I have looked at a quite a few websites offering trip to these countries. However, most of the tours I found are offered way outside timeframe. Some operators told me that they generally close their business between Christmas and New Years.
USA / Canada
I certainly would love to see polar bears. However, I find the rates tour operaters are demanding ridiculous; rates I am as a principle not willing to pay.
Based on my most recent experience I am also pretty sure than having decent (aka “close” and “prolonged”) sightings of wolf packs are much harder to come by than say, decent sightings of lion prides or wild dog packs. A return trip to North America is therefore still an option, but not one I’d happily agree to.
I’ve also looked into trying to find snow leopards in India. From what I understand, these trips are similar to “wolf safaris”: decent sightings are extremly rare. The trip reports I’ve read so far did not really impress me personally.
Russia / Siberia
I am actually quite tempted to take a trip with the Trans Siberian Railway all the way to Siberia. It seems like there is a “safari park” near Vladiwostok, although I’d much more prefer to see animals like tigers in a “true” (aka unfenced) wilderness. From what I understand there is a national park / forest / reserve (or whatever they call it in Russia), also (rather) close to Vladiwostok but so far I have only found full package deals with a price I am neither willing to pay.
And that’s why I am here: hoping to get ideas for trips / countries / options I have not yet looked into or additional information about options in Siberia. However, please bear in mind the restrictions I have mentioned above, especially the timeframe and my lack of skiing ability. Also, for 2 weeks as a solo traveller I would not want to pay much more than 4.000 € / 4.500 $.
thanks in advance