With over two decades in the travel industry, award-winning wildlife photographer, presenter and guide, Paul Goldstein has truly earned his reputation for being an avid conservation campaigner and travel expert on wildlife tours in Africa and the Polar regions.
Paul Goldstein’s incredible journey includes his unrelenting fight for the protection and conservation of Bengal tigers. Completing fifteen marathons while wearing a ten-foot tiger suit strapped to his back, including running four marathons back-to-back in one week in 2011 and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2012, Paul helped raise awareness and much-needed funding for these magnificent creatures.
His biggest challenge yet, completing the London Marathon and Everest Basecamp Marathon in his signature tiger suit for the Worth More Alive X campaign, was sadly put on hold due to COVID-19. But something tells us he won’t hesitate to put his running shoes back on once more when the world fully reopens. So, in the interim, we had the chance to ask Paul what he thinks about the current COVID-19 impact on the travel industry and where are the first places he wants to return to in 2021.
Paul was quick to comment, “With travel continuing to sit on the naughty step around the world, exciting adventures abroad may seem a long way off. The combination of different directives and quarantine is a double whammy that my industry of 36 years is reeling from. It is also hurting many local communities to say nothing of what this is doing to the wildlife which desperately needs the tourist’s dollars and their policing eyes”.
He continued, “Would I fly to any of the destinations listed below now, of course, I would and will in the next few weeks, my next African images will not be past ones. However, where would I most like to be guiding now? Where do I miss most? Take your pick from the ‘six appeal’ below”.
1. ‘Fit for Kings’ – South Georgia
The first place on Paul’s list to travel to in 2021 is the snow-covered peaks of South Georgia. He comments, “Six million king penguins, thousands of seals, hanging glaciers, towering mountains and everywhere the spirit of the greatest explorer of them all: Ernest Henry Shackleton. There is the bloody whaling legacy and it was South Georgia that heard the first shots of the Falklands conflict. This rugged island is not without drama.”
Paul continued, “The most valuable commodity here is time, as no-one arrives by coincidence and the weather is a capricious mistress at best, but an early morning among the raucous vast King colonies makes you feel just that … a king for the day”. Why not explore one of the first gateways to Antarctica for yourself on our October 2021 Special departure.
2. ‘Keep it on Ice’ – Baffin Island
For a truly unforgettable Polar experience, Paul recommends heading to the northerly shores of Canada’s Baffin Island, another destination he’s looking to travel to in 2021. He explains, “There are places in the world you can just chalk off polar bears as they truffle through landfill sites. The wildlife currency is stiffened by an expedition in Spitsbergen or the most exciting and extreme outpost for them is on Baffin Island, a very long way North in Nunavut province, accessed by Skidoos and a heated camp”.
Paul continued, “Imagine a mother with new-born cubs fresh from the den, perched atop a sculpted cobalt-blue grounded iceberg in 20 below and you have the essence of the finest polar bear experience anywhere. However, then imagine that same iceberg as a Gaudi-esque slab of foreground beneath a night sky being disembowelled by a weapons-grade Aurora. That is Baffin – unique in every aspect”.
3. ‘Spot Check’ – Olare Conservancy, Masai Mara
There is nothing out there that can substitute the raw thrill of an encounter with a signature species in its own backyard. So, for Paul, heading back to the dusty plains of the Masai Mara on safari is a must in 2021. He explains, “I have spent much of my life in these priceless Conservancies and although many would say I am biased, I can assure you there is nowhere better to enjoy cats and huge herds than on these fabled Rift Valley plains”.
“A day in one of these Conservancies is worth a week almost anywhere else and there is not a minute of the day that I do not yearn for the drumming of ruminant’s hooves, the lament of the fish eagle or the rumble of the bull elephant. Then there are the remarkable leopard sightings which have fuelled an unshakable obsession of over 25 years. There is frankly nowhere like it”.
With a number of available departures on our Photographic Safari trip in 2021, why not make up for lost time and explore the wild plains of the Masai Mara for an unforgettable Kenyan adventure.
4. ‘Support Bubble’ – SE Alaska
There’s nothing quite like Alaska. Raw, rugged, and gritty, some of the state’s National Parks are bigger than nations, giving travellers who are looking to explore off the beaten track, ample opportunity to do so in 2021. Paul listed Alaska as another place he’d like to travel to next year, to hike across unguarded backcountry in search of unbridled wildlife encounters.
He comments, “Yes, there are bears: black and brown feasting on salmon as well as other species but it is the marine wildlife that haunts me so much that I long for my fourth visit. Many visit Alaska finding themselves marooned on vast, multi-decked, ethically questionable cruise ships”.
Paul continued, “In 2019 I spent two and a half days with a dozen Humpbacks bubble netting. It was, quite frankly, astonishing. I can still hear the asthmatic wheeze of their blows as I type in right now. Magical, spiritual… it bordered on witchcraft”. Discover the Alaskan wilderness for yourself, with departures from mid-June 2021, on our Alaskan Wildlife & Wilderness trip.
5. ‘Water Sports’ – Bandhavgarh National Park
Known as the old hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Rewa, Bandhavgarh National Park is now one of the most popular parks in India, and for good reason. In the borders of its relatively small 453 sq km territory, the park has a healthy population of approximately 60-70 tigers, which gives you a great chance of catching a glimpse of the beautiful Bengal tiger.
To Paul, this isn’t just a place, it’s the place where he first locked eyes with a Bengal tiger in the wild. So, it comes as no surprise that Paul put Bandhavgarh National Park on his list to travel to in 20201. He reminisces, “My guide and friend of many years, Pappu, whispered to me: ‘how long have we waited for this moment, Paul?’ ’21 years’ was my answer. Persecution, bureaucracy, and many other facets make this sort of faunal alignment very rare indeed. Tigers need tourists like all endangered species, and they need them now.”
He continued, “Just ponder a world without them as the ravages of ‘traditional’ medicine leave an insidiously indelible imprint on their number. I still remember my first in 1998: a huge male that looked straight through me. Please, if you haven’t already, go see one, and if you have, go again, they need you now more than ever.” With departures throughout 2021 on our India Tiger Safari, make next year truly memorable and look forward to catching glimpses of these creatures in the wild.
6. ‘Brazilian, Jaguar’ – Pantanal
And last but not least on Paul’s list of places to return to next year is the world’s largest tropical wetland area, Pantanal in Brazil. When asked what attracted him to visiting the area, Paul explained, “Nothing had prepared me for the sight of a Pantanal alpha species megafauna. Their African cousins the leopard may be the silent dappled assassins, but jaguars are the muscled wing forwards, the size of lions”.
He continued, “They use the waterways of this wetland as roads and fear nothing except perhaps each other. To see one from the water as it crouches ready to pounce on an unsuspecting caiman is as close to unbridled wildlife encounters as you’re going to get. The Pantanal is colourful and noisy, a land of extremes with a huge array of wildlife and… a river runs through it”. Why not journey deep into the Pantanal in search of truly unforgettable wildlife encounters on our Land of the Jaguar trip?
If our award-winning wildlife photographer and expert guide, Paul Goldstein, has inspired you to start planning ahead for 2021, why not create your own wish list by clicking here.