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Five fantastic holiday destinations

Lorna Cowan / 28 November 2016 ( 23 May 2022 )

Inspired by BBC's Planet Earth II? Take a look at these incredible destinations, as seen in the desert episode.

Machu Picchu, Peru
No trip to Peru would be complete without a visit to the majestic Machu Picchu, and learning more about the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Sir David Attenborough’s BBC series Planet Earth II delighted a nation of wildlife fans as he allowed us to get up close to amazing creatures living in fascinating habitats around the world.

Episode four focused on deserts, where animals have developed ingenious ways of dealing with the hostile conditions, giving rise to incredible survival stories. 

The episode takes us to destinations such as Madagascar, Namibia, Botswana, Peru and the USA – countries you can easily visit on holiday.

Witness weird and wonderful wildlife in Madagascar

Isolated off the east coast of Africa, Madagascar is the perfect example of what happens when Mother Nature is left to her own devices. 

More than 80% of this remote island’s plant and animal life is utterly unique, and its Indian Ocean coast is awash with pristine tropical beaches and spectacular diving and snorkelling locations.

As well as exciting and cosmopolitan cities, Madagascar also has plenty of national parks and nature reserves to explore.

In the latest episode of Planet Earth II, the film team are in the south west of the country where they stumble upon a swarm of several billon locusts – fortunately for holidaymakers, this is a sight usually only seen once in a decade. 

Locusts are normally solitary creatures, however this swarm stretched over 115 square miles.

More likely to be on your itinerary is a trip Ranomafana National Park, where you may come across a curious lemur. 

Not found anywhere else in the world, this fascinating primate has been described as looking like a cat, crossed with a squirrel and a dog. In the canyons of Isalo National Park, see if you can spot a colour-changing chameleon.

Browse our huge collection of holidays and cruises, including adventurous touring trips, relaxing beachfront getaways and luxury ocean cruises. Find out more here

Travel across canyons and game reserves in Namibia

The Namib Desert, a coastal desert covering large swathes of Namibia, is home to a tiny creature rarely seen – the golden mole. 

They spend most of their time under the sand, so their eyes are covered in fur, meaning the mole is totally blind. To compensate, their hearing is very acute, with its entire head acting as an amplifier to pick up vibrations in the sand.

The desert episode also features the sand grouse, who nest far away from water to keep their chicks safe from predators. 

However, this results in the father doing nearly a 125-mile round trip each day. Fortunately, the bird has unique feathers that soak up water, meaning it can carry up to a quarter of its body weight.

On a holiday to Namibia, a country where diamonds are its greatest export, you’ll get the chance to visit Fish River Canyon. Around half a mile deep and 17 miles wide, it’s the second largest canyon in the world. 

Also on your sightseeing wish-list should be a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of of Twyfelfontein, as well as Cape Cross seal reserve, set up to protect the biggest and best known of the 23 colonies of Cape fur seals.

Wildlife lovers should not miss the opportunity to catch glimpse of the endangered black rhino, found in Etosha National Park, the third largest game park in Africa.

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Go on safari in Botswana

A zebra migration, filmed in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, the largest salt pans in the world, is one of the highlights when Planet Earth II travels to Botswana. 

However, the distinctive black and white striped creatures are not the only charismatic wildlife to be found in the country. 

Botswana's vast wilderness is roamed by impalas, warthogs, hyenas, giraffes, cheetahs, hippopotami and buffalo, making it a prime safari destination.

Escorted rail tours allow holidaymakers to travel great distances, not only in Botswana, but in South Africa and Zimbabwe too. 

On a safari, game drives will allow you to get close, but a safe distance away, from wildlife stirring in the early morning and going about their nocturnal adventures. 

While in Chobe National Park, which stretches for nearly 4,600 square miles in northern Botswana and borders with Zambia and Zimbabwe, the largest population of elephants in Africa are sure to put in an appearance.

The Moremi Game Reserve is also worth a look-in on a trip. Moremi's terrain encompasses lagoons, flood pans, plains and forests, and is renowned as one of Africa's finest areas for wildlife. 

As well as nearly 550 bird species, there are lions, wild dogs, antelope and bats. Getting there, you fly over the Okavango Delta, a vast inland river delta formed where the Okavango River meets the Kalahari. 

The waters here evaporate in the African sun, and each year the rise and fall of the water creates an incredible spectacle of nature.

Botswana's vast wilderness is home to a breathtaking menagerie of Africa's most charismatic wildlife.  Discover more about holidays to Botswana with Saga

Enjoy culture and cuisine in Peru

Long and thin, Peru stretches a staggering 1,500 miles along South America’s Pacific coastline, and is a destination featured in the desert episode. 

Planet Earth II goes to Lomas de Lachay, a national reserve in the desert foothills of Huaura Province in the Lima region. 

The reserve features a unique mist-fed ecosystem of wild plant and animal species, many of them rodents, but also other species such as the Andes skunk, Sechuran fox and notorious Peruvian snake.

No trip to Peru would be complete without a visit to the majestic Machu Picchu, and learning more about the Sacred Valley of the Incas. For city lovers, choose between lively Cusco with its museums and archaeological sites, and Puno, sitting on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Then, of course, there is the capital, Lima, a sprawling city which is fast becoming a foodie mecca. Visitors can feast on the fresh flavours of ceviche, Asian fusion and Andean fare. 

You may, however, want to avoid the traditional dish of cuy, better known as guinea pig. Amazingly, an estimated 65 million are consumed annually in Peru.

The mysterious ruins of Macchu Picchu and lonely mountain peaks - there's a reason Peru is one of the most famous 'must-visit' destinations in the world! Find out more here

Be amazed by National Parks in Arizona

Antelope Canyon, in the south-western state of Arizona, is a slot canyon formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. It is significantly deeper than it is wide, and is a sight to behold. 

The latest Planet Earth II episode takes viewers on a dramatic journey through one of these canyons, allowing us to witness for ourselves the amazing spectacle when shafts of direct sunlight beam down from openings in the top. 

Then we’re flown over the USA’s National Parks, considered to be the most dramatic landscapes on the planet.

A scenic Saga tour of America takes visitors to some of the most iconic landmarks in the country, including the immense Grand Canyon, situated in another of Arizona’s National Parks. 

At 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, peering over the edge of the Grand Canyon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and something holidaymakers never forget.

Another memorable sight is the impressive Mount Rushmore, a sculpture carved into a mountain in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. At 60 feet high, it depicts the faces of four US presidents – Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln.

Marvel too in Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park, and its lakes, mountains, canyons and rivers. Hang around to witness the famous Old Faithful Geyser in action, a geothermal feature which reliably erupts every 44 to 125 minutes. 

Depending on the time of year you visit, you may also catch a glimpse of wild bison, coyotes, bears and wolves. If not lucky, then pop to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

Discover the USA, from the Pacific Coast Highway to the neck-craning skyscrapers of New York. Find out more here


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.