This Tropical Island Nation Is One of the Least-visited Destinations on Earth — but This 9-day Trip Will Take You There

Adventure outfitter Intrepid Travel is launching 16 new wildlife trips in 2023, including one itinerary to Comoros, an island nation that’s home to a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Aerial shot of Comoros

Intrepid Travel

How’s this for bragging rights: Intrepid Travel will take adventurers to a rarely visited Indian Ocean archipelago this August, on a wildlife-watching trip. Guests might see humpback whales and spinner dolphins, swim with sea turtles, and snorkel with manta rays and reef sharks.

The recently announced trip is one of 16 new wildlife-oriented itineraries that Intrepid will launch this year. “We’re encouraging travelers to choose wildlife experiences that give back,” says Matt Berna, Intrepid Travel’s president for the Americas, in an email to Travel + Leisure. “Like all of our wildlife-themed trips, our new and improved itineraries for the year ahead support conservation efforts in some of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems and engage with the communities who are taking action to protect local species.”

Dolphins swimming near Comoros

Intrepid Travel

The trip to Comoros is a standout for a number of reasons, including the fact that the island nation is home to a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve created in 2021. “Comoros is home to some of the world’s richest marine biodiversity,” Berna tells T+L, including green turtles, humpback whales, and dugongs. On land, Comoros also has fascinating wildlife, including endemic bats, lemurs, and numerous species of birds.

The nine-day expedition that Intrepid has planned will afford multiple opportunities to see wildlife on land and at sea, on Mwali and Ngazidja, two of the three constituent islands of Comoros. The island nation lies between Madagascar and Mozambique, in the Indian Ocean, and is reachable by plane from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Cairo; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Nairobi.

Fish swimming near coral reef

Intrepid Travel

Another major benefit of this trip? Visitors will most likely have these wildlife-watching experiences to themselves. Comoros is one of the least-visited places on the planet, at least when it comes to foreign tourism: Consider 2019, when a record-setting 45,100 arrivals landed in the islands, according to World Bank data. Contrast that with Antarctica, long thought to be the final frontier of travel, which saw more than 23,000 visitors in the pandemic-impacted 2021-2022 season. The Galápagos Islands, meanwhile, notched 271,238 visitors in 2019.

“We always strive to provide travelers with new and little-known destinations to combat over tourism and offer wildlife enthusiasts unique experiences,” Berna says. “Intrepid will set the standard for non-extractive tourism in support of this new destination that’s overflowing with wildlife.”

Women dressed in traditional clothing in Comoros

Intrepid Travel

Whale jumping out of the water

Intrepid Travel

The company’s Comoros Wildlife Expedition starts at $3,125 per person and is slated to run on four departure dates in August, September, and October. While the trip is designed around wildlife watching, casual hikes, and cultural exchanges with Comorians, it’s also not for the faint of heart. “Despite rigorous planning and research, new itineraries and destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises,” the company warns in a detailed description of the voyage. “More often than not, it’ll be a welcome surprise, but every now and again there might be a hiccup.”

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