From Baja to Rwanda, here are four trips that take you to where the wild things still are.
Every day, dozens of species are threatened by poaching, habitat destruction, and political strife. These conscientious outfitters are mobilizing travelers to protect endangered creatures, ensuring that future generations can witness them in their natural surroundings.
BAJA, MEXICO World Wildlife Fund's Among the Great Whales Seeing endangered blue, humpback, fin, and sperm whales is the highlight of this eight-day cruise, but you'll spot a wide variety of marine life as you maneuver through Baja California's Sea of Cortés in your private cabin aboard the 62-passenger Sea Bird. 888/773-9007; www.worldwildlife.org; from $3,990 per person, double.
COSTA RICA Earthwatch Institute's Costa Rican Sea Turtles For the past 15 years, Earthwatch has been recruiting travelers to help hatchlings make their way to the sea. From their base at the Goldring Marine Biology Field Station, volunteers sleep in communal cabins and may even encounter the giant reptiles while snorkeling. 800/776-0188; www.earthwatch.org; 10-day trips from $2,495 per person.
INDIA Discovery Initiatives' Snow Leopard Trek Guided by a researcher from the Snow Leopard Conservancy, this trip takes tent-equipped adventurers through the frozen Himalayas in search of the elusive cats. Guests see the results of their donations when they stay with villagers who receive aid from the program. 44-128/564-3333; www.discoveryinitiatives.co.uk; 14-day trips from $4,205.
RWANDA World Primate Safaris' Mountain Gorillas With the recent stabilization of the country's political situation, World Primate Safaris—the only tour company that specializes in primates—has begun bringing groups into the jungle interior to track Rwandan gorillas. Travelers stay in eco-lodges that minimize the impact of tourism on the fragile environment. 44-208/740-3350; www.worldprimatesafaris.com; four-day safaris from $1,911 per person.