There’s something about seeing animals in their natural habitat that will never compare to seeing them in captivity. Why? Because captivity is not where they belong.
On every corner of this earth lays an abundance of glorious wildlife and I have teamed up with travel bloggers from around the world to bring you the insider information on where those places are. Travel responsibly and don’t support unnecessary captivity. Choose conservation and choose to visit these remarkable creatures in their natural habitats.
From Patagonia to Uganda, we’ve got nearly every continent covered, so it’s time to get out that bucket list and start planning.
Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka
The Udawalawe National Park was established in June 1972 as a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River. It covers an area of 308 square kilometres (119 square miles) and is Sri Lanka’s 3rd largest national park (after Yala and Wilpattu). It is mainly popular for its photogenic elephants. You will see elephants everywhere in Udawalawe in their natural habitat and you can get real close to them. Being able to see a whole family with their baby elephants roaming the wild is certainly one of the highlights of this national park. And if you get really lucky, you’ll be able to spot the elusive family of leopards in the park.
Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys
Punta Tombo, Argentina
One of the best places in the world for wildlife spotting is the penguin rockery of Punta Tombo, in the Argentinian province of Chubut. The rockery of Punta Tombo was created in 1979 with the aim of protecting one of the areas of Argentina with the most diverse fauna. Punta Tombo has the most important colony of Magellan penguins in continental Patagonia: here, over a million penguins arrive each year in order to breed. When visiting the rockery, the local rangers give detailed instructions to visitors, making it clear that the penguins own the place and that humans are only spectators and they should respect the environment and the animals. Penguins should never be touched: they are harmless, but if they feel threatened in any way, they may defend themselves with their very sharp beak. And if a penguin walks by, visitors should stop and let them walk past them. Sure enough, seeing (and hearing!) the thousands of penguins is an incredible experience.
Claudia from My Adventures Across The World
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Huluhluwe-Imfolozi is home to Africa’s big five and the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa, spreading over 960 km². On our last trip we saw several animals – Buffalo, Zebra, Elephant, Rhino, Giraffe and even Wildebeest, just to mention a few. We were lucky enough to come across a gang of over 50 buffalo crossing the road and even came face to face with a lone Bull elephant.
Lisa and Heather from Klipdrifters Travel
Pangkor Island, Perak, Malaysia
Hornbills are gorgeous birds, which often get mistaken for Toucans. See them in the wild and you will never mistake them for Toucans again.
Pangkor Island in Perak, Malaysia has become home to many wild Hornbills and other tropical birds, due in part to the abundance of rainforest on the island, but also that they are relatively safe from humans there. Locals are very respectful of the wildlife in Pangkor and go so far as to leave fruit for the birds as well as the cheeky island monkeys. Some naturalists consider this a questionable practice, but the Hornbills are indeed free to come and go as they please and are still quite capable of finding their own food among the abundance of nature available on the island. Pangkor Island is definitely a must-visit for bird watchers.
Vanessa from The Island Drum
South Durras Beach, New South Wales, Australia
When people talk about Australia, kangaroos are frequently mentioned. Everyone wants to see a kangaroo in the wild. Yet, despite folklore being tossed around, the ‘roos don’t actually frequent the streets. They’re shy buggers. If you’re looking to see a wallaby in its native habitat, you’re almost guaranteed to see one on South Durras beach. Yes, that’s right. The beach. South Durras is surrounded by Murramarang National Parkland and while it’s a five-hour drive south of Sydney, wallabies frequent the beach as much as the local residents. And, if you’re heating up the gas grill at the beachside park, they may even poke their head up to see what’s cooking. Here, they aren’t shy, but still…you don’t want to get too close.
Tara from Travel Far Enough
The Fairy Meadows, Gilgit, Pakistan
Ahead, my police bodyguard leading the way through the truly stunning Fairy Meadows… Clouds race overhead, casting patterns in the brilliant white snow, gliding across the aqua-marine Sky. The cold nips at my ankles as I wade through knee-deep snow, slowly inching closer to the stunning mountains in the distance. Nangar Parbat, one of the world’s highest peaks, watches on… Besides a couple of police officers, who insisted on coming with me, and one solitary guesthouse owner, I am the only person here; this is Pakistan in low-season; which means zero tourists. The snow is deep but the fire waiting back at my hut is warm and their is chicken for dinner… This is a truly special place and The Pakistani Himalayas are one of the best spots in the world to watch dozens of eagles drifting on the wind. Ibex, the national animal of Pakistan, patrol the sheer faces of the mountainside, horns curled tightly to the wind, some stand stationary, guardians of the mountains, as if cast in stone. This is a bewitching landscape…
Will from The Broke Backpacker
The archipelago of Vava’u, Tonga
Humpback whales go up to the South Pacific every summer to give birth to their little ones in warmer waters. One of the easiest places to spot them is in Tonga, particularly in the archipelago of Vava’u, although you can see them breaching everywhere, even in the capital of Tongatapu, right from the coast.
In Vava’u, you jump in the water and spot them through your snorkel. If you are lucky, mum and calf will stay and play around you, swimming at unison and doing a little dance. Humpback whales are vegetarian, and completely harmless, but they are large animals measuring 2-3 meters, so if you are not careful, they can sweep you off under water just by swimming close to you. When I was there, they were gentle, perfectly aware of the humans around, and swam peacefully and elegantly past us. It was a majestic sight and, since Vava’u is so small (1,000 inhabitants), remote and hard to get to, tourism numbers are very small and there are at most 5 people in the water of the entire archipelago on a given day.
Mar from Once In A Lifetime Journey
Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda is a beautiful park encompassing several different ecosystems. Part of what makes it particularly special is the Kazinga Channel, which separates two large lakes. If you are keen on close encounters with elephants and especially hippos, this is the place for you, with 5,000 hippos and 2,500 elephants populating the park. Though wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, you would be awfully unlucky not to see hippos. Inland from the waterways you will find many of the largest birds in East Africa (the rare shoebill, the grey crowned crane, saddle-billed stork and flamingos, to begin with), in fact nearly 600 bird species are found in the park — a birder’s paradise. Special to me was watching a leopard stalking small prey in the tall grass. Because of its different ecosystems, you can see chimpanzees in one part and lions in another! There’s a very nice hotel inside the park too, which offers full board with meals.
Shara from SKJ Travel
Komodo Island, Indonesia
The Komodo Dragon is the world’s largest and most lethal lizard. It lives only on Komodo Island and a few adjacent islands in Indonesia. Last year I ticked it off my bucket list. Because of the animal’s limited habitat, a visit here assures that you are going to see at least one of these creatures. I saw four. On a good day, you might see 14. So the animal is still protected, and though it would be exciting to see one run, it is probably a good idea if you don’t and instead see a few in a placid, safe state. And though you won’t be likely to get a selfie with one, the accommodating rangers make sure everyone leaves with a picture taken with one.
Carole from Travels With Carole
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Yellowstone National Park is an ideal location for spotting North American Wildlife. The park is home to American bison, black bears, grizzlies, wolves, and so much more. The park is often full of animal created traffic jams. There are two types. The bison jam where the bison herd has decided to cross the road or stand in the middle of it and refuse to move, or my personal favourite, walk down the road in the opposite direction of traffic and expect the car to move out of the way. The second is the bear jam. The bear jam is caused by a fellow tourist stopping a bear and pointing it out to other guests. The park is also one of the few places in the USA to see wolves. They were reintroduced in the early part of 1990’s and the park now has several packs. Much of the wildlife is visible from the road and can been seen without approaching the animals.
Jennifer from Made All The Difference
Still looking for more amazing wildlife experiences? Check out part 2 of the series for 10 more wildlife spotting destinations around the world.
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