01 Dec
Days adrift.  Click here to see our best and worst experiences so far.
Number of flights.  Click here to go to the itinerary page.
Bus, train and taxi rides.  Click here to see all posts relating to transport. (56 posts)
Miles walked.  Click here to see all posts relating to walking and trekking. (43 posts)
Countries visited.  Click here to see what we think of them. (14 posts)
Number of species spotted.  Click here to go to our wildlife page.
Photos taken.  Click here to go to the photo gallery. (105 posts)
Rainy days.  Click here to find posts relating to the weather. (50 posts)
Number of times scammed.  Click here to read all about it!  (2 posts)
Otters spotted.  Click here to go to our website about otters: amblonyx.com
...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

Planning the route

This is how we planned the route for our trip around the world. To see the final result, go to the itinerary page.

Our itinerary took a long time to decide, and is obviously the most fun part of preparing. We started with a long, long list of countries and had to make some hard decisions on what to leave out. Anyway, our decision process went something like this…

Let’s not go there

First, we started with a list of places we don’t want to visit this time around. These included:

  • North America – way too expensive, and we have at least been to California, Florida and British Columbia before
  • Europe – too close to home, too expensive and we’ve been to most countries in Europe already
  • Africa – we aren’t experienced travellers, so this seemed to be straight in at the deep end! Except for South Africa, where we are going
  • India – we visited Rajastan a few years ago. It was impressive, but the constant hassle was such hard work that we have no plans to return soon

The must visits

Having defined our boundaries, we identified the places that we both really really want to visit. Luckily, we had a sort of theme, which is to see lots of wildlife around the world, but most particularly otters. So we knew there were some places we wanted to go straight away – South Africa for cape clawless and spotted-necked otters, Chile for marine otters, South East Asia for small-clawed and smooth-coated otters. This is our must-visit list:

  • South Africa – not only does it have loads of wildlife (and two species of otters!) and spectacular scenery, there is good infrastructure, it is relatively cheap, and English-speaking. Feels like the ideal place for us to settle into the rhythm of travelling.
  • Nepal – we were charmed by the idea of trekking in Nepal, and going over the roof of the world to Tibet. We were also attracted by the terai region for its wildlife, including otters.
  • Australia – indigenous wildlife and vast and varied landscape. We’ve never made it this far because it seems such a long flight for a two-week holiday. Of course we’re not going to miss it now!
  • New Zealand – universally admired for its natural beauty and easy-going people, but almost as far as you can get from England
  • Chile – we want to visit Patagonia and look for little marine otters
  • Indonesia – to visit family and perhaps see komodo dragons in the wild

We did a lot of research into these countries, and eventually came up with rough estimates of how long we wanted to spend in each. This brought into perspective just how short a year actually is!

Join the dots

So we joined the dots and played around with possible routes. Going East around the world seemed like the better option since in this way we can avoid the worst weather in each place we visit. Whilst we don’t expect to have great weather everywhere, why go to Nepal during monsoon season when the torrential downpours make trekking treacherous, besides which the views are often hidden behind clouds and the leeches are numerous?

Originally, there were a lot more dots on the route than we ended up with. Some of the places that fell by the wayside:

  • China apart from Tibet and Hong Kong – we toyed with the idea of taking the train from Lhasa to Chengdu (to see giant pandas!), and thence to South East Asia. But in the end, we decided against China altogether because it sounds too challenging for inexperienced travelers like us. We know our limits! Next trip, perhaps
  • Japan – although we have always wanted to visit Japan, it doesn’t seem such a great backpacker destination. It is expensive and stylish, so we wouldn’t feel comfortable in travelling clothes and might miss out on the very best experience by worrying about budget
  • Central America, particularly Mexico, Guatemala and Belize – in the end we just couldn’t fit another continent into our already packed schedule!

The fuzzy bits

These are South East Asia and South America. We wanted to visit both regions, but did not want to restrict our freedom by booking internal flights in advance. In the end, we decided on an entry and exit point for each region, giving ourselves maximum flexibility on where to go and what to do in between.

  • South East Asia – we decided to fly into Bangkok, since this fits well with Nepal, and out of Singapore. Along the way, we may take a side trip to Cambodia, particularly the great temple complex of Angkor. Indonesia we plan to do as a side trip from Singapore as and when we get there. We are also not ruling out the possibility of visiting East Malaysia (orang utans!)
  • South America – to be honest, it’s difficult to think that far ahead. Having packed so much into the earlier part of the trip, we also won’t have much time here. We fly in and out of Santiago, in Chile, but may stray into Argentina or Peru. Time will tell

Book ends

We wanted to book end our trip with some dedicated wildlife watching. Originally, we were keen to start in Tanzania or Kenya with the great wildebeest migration but unfortunately this turned out to be too expensive. A visit to Lake Malawi to look for otters was another possibility, but a bit of a logistical nightmare. In the end, we settled on a two-week guided tour of Madagascar. It is one of the best wildlife destinations in the world, so we are very excited!

There is really only one way to end our wildlife-themed year-long trip, and that is a visit to the Galapagos islands. This is the reason we decided to end up in Ecuador.

Summing up

Are we packing too much into our trip? Probably. Compared with people we’ve talked to who have also travelled a lot, it’s quite a lot for one year. But we always have the option of skipping some places and lengthening our stay in others, so nothing is set in stone. We’ll keep you updated on how everything turns out.

If you are planning to embark on a similar trip and are in the process of deciding where to go, we hope that this article has been helpful. If you are not, then thank you for reading, and we hope you have been a little bit entertained.

Leave a Reply