Patagonia’s Atlantic shore
Along the coast of Argentine Patagonia, the distances seem “fathomless”, the landscape, “timeless” – and few places on Earth are as beautiful or biodiverse as the 12,000 square miles of the Unesco Patagonia Azul Biosphere Reserve, says Stanley Stewart in The Daily Telegraph. It is here that the NGO Rewilding Argentina (part of the legacy of the conservationist Douglas Tompkins, co-founder of the North Face brand) has launched its latest project, to restore ecosystems damaged by ranching, invasive species, and trawling at sea. Central to its vision is the promotion of wildlife tourism along the Blue Route, a gravel track that shadows this wild coastline for 125 miles, from the city of Comodoro Rivadavia to the little town of Camarones. Driving its length is quite an adventure, taking you through the “bleak, spectacular, skeletal” desert of Rocas Coloradas and onto Bahía Bustamante and its islands. These are known as Argentina’s Galapagos for their amazing fauna, including sea lions and Magellanic penguins. Finally, you reach the former sheep farm of El Sauce, where the organisation has established a campsite and is rewilding some 50,000 acres in collaboration with local communities. Cazenove+Loyd (cazloyd.com) has a ten-night trip from £6,800pp, including flights.
The restoration of Mozambique’s Eden
It was regarded as Africa’s finest national park in the 1960s and 1970s, then civil war hit Mozambique, and the Gorongosa was devastated by hunting, its population of large mammals reduced by 95%. But it has been in recovery for 30 years now, says Simon Parker in The Sunday Telegraph, and has come to be seen as the continent’s greatest “conservation success story”. Tourism here is still to recover fully, but that is part of its appeal for more adventurous travellers. There are flushing lavatories and bucket showers in its single “wild camp”, but the place is more “rustic” than most safari camps – and “jungle-like around the edges”. Lions and other large predators are still fairly scarce, but there’s plenty of other big game to see. And guests can also visit scientific projects, including the park’s pangolin centre, which has so far rescued and rehabilitated more than 65 of these endangered animals. Africa Exclusive (safari.co.uk) has a four-night trip from £2,720pp, excluding international flights.
New “ancient” woodlands in southeast Spain
Few British tourists visit Murcia, and most of those that do mainly go there for its 22 golf courses. But this little region of southeast Spain also has some wonderful wild places, says Xenia Taliotis in The Sunday Times. There are captivating, lonely bays along its coast, which stretches for 250km, and it is also home to Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon, the Mar Menor. The lagoon’s calm waters are popular for bathing, but with concerns growing over pollution levels, it recently became the continent’s first environmental entity to be granted the legal status of a person, to make it easier to protect. An hour’s drive inland, you can see the remarkable results of an earlier grand conservation measure. In the Sierra Espuña mountains lies an area of 80 square miles that was devastated by mining and logging in the 19th century, then replanted, starting in 1890, by the visionary forest engineer Ricardo Codorníu. His legacy is extraordinary. Today, the hillsides are covered with forest that feels “dense, ancient”, and is home to golden eagles and wild cats. It is a wonderful place to walk or cycle, amid peaks rising to 1,583m.