Thursday, February 14, 2013

Shelf Life [adult]

Swimming with Dolphins, Tracking Gorillas: How to have the world’s best wildlife encounters
By Ian Wood

There is something about the snow-thaw-freeze cycle of winter that makes people yearn to get away, but this is not the kind of book you will find in the travel section. The focus of this book is to get to those spots not of endless sunbeams and sand, but the rather more elusive spots where condors ride thermals, komodo dragons lurk, and alligators lazily swim by kayaks. Of course you can see such creatures in zoos or wildlife parks, but it just is not the same thing as seeing a creature in its natural habitat – lemurs just don’t stink-fight with the same vigor in captivity, doncha know.

This guide from Bradt travel – one of the leading publishers of books for off-the-beaten-path travelling – has itineraries for going places in any month of the year. Yes, some of the locations for February and March are sunny (diving with bull sharks in the Bahamas, for instance), but as often locations are a little more Canadian-like, i.e. tracking wolves in Romania is best done in February as well. The contents are arranged by habitat (forest, marine, etc) and there is a cross-referencing index for the months in which sightings for specific animals are eventful.

For each excursion listed in this guide – a walking trek to find snow leopards in India for example, now on my bucket list – author and National Geographic contributor Ian Wood compiles information on what one can expect of the encounter, tips for best (and careful) sightings, other critters likely met along the way, vital statistics on the highlighted animal and websites for further fact-finding before you go and tours to get you there.  The accompanying photographs are glossy and gorgeous and might have you booking a walking safari in Kenya before you can say Loxodonta Africana (Latin, for African Elephant).  

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on February 14, 2013. Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian.

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