The word wetland doesn’t exactly conjure up images of tropical scenes, or abudant wildlife but for World Wetland Day on 2nd February we have rounded five marshlands which will have you reaching for your passports and questioning everything you’ve ever thought before.
The weather in Kerala currently sits in the a sunny high 30°Cs – a far cry from our own bleak winter! This series of canals and waterways is fringed by lush green vegetation, and white sandy beaches making it one of India’s most travelled destinations. The region is famous for the colourful houseboats that crawl up and down, and in recent years a few of these boats have been adapted to allow tourists to take tours on them. In fact, it is even possible to stay on one making for a unique holiday opportunity.
A bit closer to home, there is Camargue, an area of wetland just outside of Marseille. The area is unique in Europe for the wildlife that it has to offer. It is home to the wild Camargue horses and cattle (endemic to the region) which roam these lagoons seperated by sand spits. If birdlife is more of your thing, the flamingos which migrate here should be of interest.
The world’s biggest tropical wetland area is the Pantanal, which stretches across Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. And naturally it has an awful lot to offer. There are ever elusive jaguars residing here, alongside giant anteaters, giant river otters and caimans. The breadth of the waterways here creates a grasslands where animals can exist without fear of running out of food or water. However, these grasslands have an additional bonus – the low lying plants here make spotting inhabitants that much easier.
The Mekong Delta is where the Mekong River in Vietnam meets the sea in a series of channels. This waterway differs from the others in the list due to the fact that it is so heavily utilised by humans. It is a bustling motorway of sorts and this wetland plays host to markets, peddlars and a whole assortment of trades. On the flip side – in the countryside there are mangrove forests full of birds, and peaceful temples to explore. Mekong is a place of opposites, and the waterways here are very much a part of that.
The Everglades in Florida are famous for their crocodiles, for being the home place of the Florida panther and also to manatees, those bizarre creatures that look to be half seal and half cow. To explore these waterways in style, book on to an air boat tour and zip above the water at hair-raising speeds. If you’re feeling braver you can canoe up to the white sandy beaches of Cape Sable and Florida Bay, or spend a night under the stars by camping in the park at the Pearl Bay Chickee wilderness campground.
Happy World Wetlands Day!