How to Prepare for Budget
The Road To Success
Budget Wildlife Holidays
Passionate about nature and wildlife, but can’t afford a crazy organised trip, why not plan your own budget wildlife holiday. In this article, I like to go over the resources I use to plan my holidays. Being prepared is the key to a successful epic journey. Nonetheless, if you are not the ‘organiser type’, find yourself on organiser or check out this page about my recommendations of organised wildlife & nature tours.
- Select Your Destination (Focal species, Areas, Reserves & National Parks, …)
- Plan your trip (Country information, How to get there, Where to sleep, Back-up plans)
Select Your Destination
In general, my planning starts with an area or a species. Whatever triggers you to put some effort into preparing a trip and finding out more what’s available online. Usually, my search starts with Google, although quite often I start with mammalwatching.com as well. Mammalwatching.com offers a great overview of trip reports with tons of information on species (not only mammals) and best places to spot them. The first stage of your preparation is finding the most interesting spots and species which the aim of finding your core area to visit. Whether it’s the Iberian Lynx in Andujar or the Snow Leopards in India, information is available online. Nonetheless, it’s worth checking with your friends or even Facebook groups or forums to find out more information. My top suggestions for resources to use are mammalwatching.com (trip reports), observado.org (observations), and Google Earth. Often I use Google Earth as a tool to collect all the spatial data and explore the area, definitely, the 3D view is great to explore more mountainous terrains.
Once you have a basic idea of your main travel goal, whether it’s visiting a National Park or trying to see a specific species, now it’s time to build something around it. Here, Google is the place to be, start googling ‘highlights + national park/country’, same for hikes, mammals, birds, and whatever you are interested in… In combination with the trip reports and the observations from the sources above, you should get a good impression of what’s there to see in the area.
Plan Your Budget Wildlife Holidays
Now that you got your general idea, it’s time to get practical. In this section, we ‘ll get into travelling, accommodation, when to go, …
As you want to travel on a budget, it’s worth it checking out prices. If you are flexible in when to travel, this can be a huge plus. Also, first you want to check out what’s the best time to travel to your destination and make your budget wildlife holiday worth it. A good strategy here is to check out when organised tours are offering the trips. Take this information into consideration in combination with climate characteristics (temperature, rain, …), migration routes of species, the active period of species (for example mating season), etc…
Another topic to do your research on is more on the country level:
- Do you need a visa (issued at arrival or need for applying in advance, how long can you stay)?
- Do you need specific vaccinations?
— CHECK OUT THE BASIC TRAVEL TIPS (soon)
— Information per Country
Once you’ve figured out best timing, it’s time to book your trip. Although flight prices are usually hard to beat, consider alternative cheap transportation methods like bus or train.
Check out ways to travel by bus through Europe ( you might like: How to get to Slovakia?
I usually also book my first night through Booking.com. I like the options to view all accommodations on the map, so you can compare locations and prices.
Disclaimer: Wildlife Impulse will earn a small commission when you are booking through the link above without additional cost for you.
If everything went smooth, you have a basic plan. Although it often happens to me as well that you don’t find a great travel route or accommodation and you are starting to doubt the area you picked is the right area for your epic journey. Don’t hesitate to get back to the beginning and start over again in search of your perfect budget wildlife holidays.
When you are still satisfied with all the information, it’s time to get into a bit more detail. Usually, I have a rough plan worked out for my trip, with lots of backup plans. For example, I make a list of potential accommodations for every night (if you are not out camping).
Kyrgyzstan – In 2013 I went to Kyrgyzstan with a couple of friends, we had a rough plan. We were going to make our way to a Nature Reserve which should be very nice, besides that we had a couple of other areas in mind the visit after (just names and directions). Arriving in Bishkek, Capital of Kyrgyzstan, we heard roamers about a case of plague in the area we were planning to go to. After some doubt we decided to change our plans, it was not worth the risk. So we went to our backup plan destinations and had a great time.
Whenever you have your core species and area(s) figured out, start to look for other nice places nearby in case your first plan is not working. What I usually do is looking for other mammal species found in the area and try and figure out the best areas to spot them in the wild. Now it’s probably also the time to book all your tickets if you haven’t done it, look into which guides your going to buy. Also figure out what’s the best way for local transportation (bus, taxi, train, …).
Hopefully, by now you have a nice Google Earth file with quite some information. If you want to learn more about how to work with google earth desktop, check out these Google Earth tutorials. If you are getting serious about travelling, also check out my general travel tips on what to research and what to take.
Furthermore, if you have questions regarding budget travelling wildlife-related places to visit, and what not, Join our growing facebook community Wildlife Impulse Travel Community.