With the incredible diversity of wildlife destinations on offer, the world is a nature lover’s oyster these days!
How about having breakfast with giraffes in Kenya, or experiencing the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti? Or seeing the Famous Big Five in their natural habitat, or tracking gorillas in the misty depths of the central African rainforest?
If your preferences lie in a completely different direction and you yearn to experience a snow safari, that is also an option! Meet up with reindeer herders in Iceland, watch arctic foxes hunt lemmings and ptarmigan in Alaska, or scan the snowy heights of the rugged Himalayas for the magnificent and elusive furry-pawed snow leopard.
Here are just some of these splendid destinations:
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1. Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands have unique wildlife seen nowhere else in the world. And the animals are unafraid because of the absence of natural predators, so you confidently expect close and personal encounters with giant tortoises, sea lions, seals, iguanas, and penguins, as well as some of the more than 60 bird species that have been recorded there! Some of the best places to see wildlife in the Galapagos Islands include the Charles Darwin Research Station, Isabela Island, and North Seymour Island.
Africa is one of the premier destinations for wildlife enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunities to see a variety of animals in their natural habitats. Some of the best places to visit include the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and the Kruger National Park in South Africa. And if you’re looking for luxury, look no further – the Kruger National Park Safari Lodges are amongst the best in the world!
With a wide range of unique animals, Australia is an exceptional wildlife destination. Animals include the cuddly eucalyptus-chomping koalas, fleet and powerful kangaroos, wombats, dingos, wallabies, and platypuses, as well as the iconic Tasmanian devil! Australia’s bird species include kookaburras, rock parrots, fairywrens, Nankeen kestrels, the scary cassowary, startling barking owls and the amazing tawny frogmouth. Head for Australia’s Kakadu National Park, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and Sydney Wildlife World.
With more than 100 national parks and over 550 wildlife sanctuaries, and habitats ranging from deserts to wetlands to forests to extensive coastal areas, India is a superlative wildlife destination. It not only has the iconic Bengal tigers and Asian elephants, but a host of other creatures. These include the great Indian bustard, barasingha swamp deer, the Nilgiri tahr, freshwater dolphins, the Asiatic lion, the red panda, the lion-tailed macaque, the Kashmiri red stag and the greater one-horned rhinoceros – to mention but a few! And yes, also that furry-pawed grey ghost of the snow, the snow leopard, best seen in the Hemis National Park.
5. Costa Rica
As it is home to an impressive variety of both land and sea creatures, Costa Rica is a popular destination for nature lovers.. These include the tapir, peccary, coatimundis, enchanting white-faced capuchin monkeys, ponderous sloths, ocelots, the rhinoceros beetle and the astonishing Jesus Christ or basilisk lizard that, yes, does run on water! The best nature reserves include the Tortuguero National Park, the Arenal Volcano National Park, and the Manuel Antonio National Park.
Alaska is excellent for seeing land and marine animals in their natural habitats. These include the iconic moose, one of Alaska’s state symbols, and the magnificent
bald eagle (which is not bald at all, of course!) the national emblem of the US. Other animals include caribou, Dall sheep and black, brown and grizzly bears. Orca, humpback whales and Steller sea lions inhabit Alaska’s icy waters. Its many national parks include Denali, Glacier Bay and Katmai, famous for its salmon runs and salmon-fishing bears.
Canada is another excellent destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Its wide variety of unique animals include the eastern, timber or Algonquin wolf, the large Vancouver Island marmots, caribou, wood/mountain bison, the beautiful blue long-crested Steller’s jay and fish such as Atlantic whitefish, Vancouver lamprey and the tiny and critically endangered (possibly extinct?) Banff longnose dace. Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, and Vancouver Aquarium are all excellent places to see these creatures.
8. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park’s large concentration of wildlife has more than 60 mammal species including both black and large numbers of grizzly bears. Grey wolves were reintroduced in 1995 and are now approaching 100 in number. Lynx and wolverine also live here as do seven endemic species of ungulates like moose, elk, bison, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep. Appealing but non-native mountain goats have also started colonising areas of the Park.
9. Amazon rainforest
The Amazon rainforest is synonymous with exuberant wildlife and nature! Its incredible diversity includes jaguars, harpy eagles, sloths, spider monkeys, pink river dolphins, and the beautiful but lethally toxic poison dart frogs. Its flora and fauna include a staggering 427 mammal and 1,300 bird species, 378 reptile species, over 400 amphibian species, 3,000 freshwater fish species and a mind-boggling 40,000 plant species! Must-see places for wildlife aficionados include Manaus Zoo, the Rio Negro Reserve, and the Tambopata National Reserve.
Scotland mayn’t be the first to spring to mind as a wildlife destination, yet it has spectacular landscapes and a fascinating collection of wildlife. These include the majestic golden eagle, red deer, pine martens, iconic shaggy-coated highland cattle and endangered red squirrels. It is also the last stronghold in Britain of the endangered European wildcat. Humpback whales, several species of seals and reintroduced sea eagles/white-tailed eagles are regularly seen along the Scottish coast, as are puffins, razorbills, gulls, gannets, oystercatchers, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes. Imposing Cairngorms National Park, the Isle of Mull, Loch Lomond, and the Trossachs National Park are all excellent places to appreciate Scotland’s wildlife.
Wildlife holidays aren’t just good for you by rejuvenating your body and mind – they can also be good for our planet. Many of them are linked to and contribute to conservation efforts and cooperation with the local people. So, you have a fantastic holiday and you’re helping to preserve the animals and their habitat. Which makes for a win-win situation all round, doesn’t it?