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Whenever I’m researching a destination, the first thing I always do is look up where I can find animals. I absolutely hate going for too long without seeing some kind of animal, whether it be a fish in a park pond or a llama at a farm.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have seen some amazing animals on my travels, from whales in Iceland to cats in Paphos and even cows in Scotland. However, there are still so many animal experiences that are out there, I decided to enlist the help of some lovely bloggers to give me some inspiration.

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Feeding kangaroos in Port Macquarie

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“When I was working on a vineyard in Victoria, Australia, to get my second year visa, I’d always see kangaroos in the surrounding fields, especially early in the morning and at dusk. It definitely made getting up before dawn worth it but I never really got up close with them until I visited Billabong Koala Wildlife Park in Port Macquarie, NSW. I was only a few days into a huge road trip from Sydney to Cape Tribulation in a camper van and feeding kangaroos was definitely one of the highlights of that trip.”

Beverley from Pack Your Passport

Penguins and sea lions in the Galapagos Islands

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“As a Canadian, never in my dreams would I have thought I would encounter a wild penguin or sealion who would come to me and beckon me to play with them. The Galapagos Islands, especially Isla Isabela, is what I believe to be the most beautiful place in the world.”

Travelling Chingrita

Volunteering with big cats in South Africa

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“Volunteering at a big cat sanctuary in South Africa is without a doubt the most incredible thing I have ever done. Our day to day duties involved bottle feeding, bathing and stimulating the cubs, as well as the messier tasks like helping them go to the toilet and feeding and cleaning up after the almost fully grown lions and cheetahs. But I didn’t care how messy a job it was – it was an experience like no other and somewhere I wish I could work every day of my life.”

Ayla from Mrs Ayla’s Adventures

Getting up close to koalas in Australia

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“One of the aspects of travelling to Australia that I was most looking forward to was seeing animals that I’d never laid eyes on before. While driving the Great Ocean Road we were able to see Koalas in the wild; clinging the trees and chewing on eucalyptus. They really are the most adorable animals.”

Angie from Silverspoon London

Roaming with elephants in Thailand

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“While I was in Thailand, I saw lots of elephants, mostly being ridden or chained in one spot. I heard people in my hostel dorms talking about how great their elephant trek was. So when I discovered an elephant sanctuary near Chiang Mai–a park where elephants could roam free, be treated with respect, and never ridden–I was in. I signed up for one week as an on-site volunteer. The first morning I woke up and watched the elephants eat breakfast as I sipped my coffee. The rest of the week flipped between observing and interacting with the elephants and lots of hard work. Poop-scooping, shelter-cleaning, and corn-cutting were just a few of the many chores. Yet when I would see how happy and free the elephants were, I knew my help was appreciated. My favourite times were the several walks the volunteers took through the park. We would meet the elephants, feed them if they wanted a snack, hear their stories, and just watch them be. It was a highlight of my time in Southeast Asia, and I doubt I will ever forget living with those magnificent creatures.

If you would like to know more about why riding elephants is bad, check out my blog. http://gapyeargirl.com/why-you-shouldnt-ride-an-elephant/”

Madison Meyer from Gap Year Girl

Horse riding in New Zealand

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“I’ve had some awesome experiences with animals on my travels, seeing a native species for the first time is always exciting. However, my best experience has been doing something I love: horse riding. I have been riding since I was 4 and love to take any opportunity to see a new place via horseback. The most memorable of these trips was in New Zealand on the north island. We spend around two hours hacking across the most beautiful landscape which felt like it was straight out of the Lord of the Rings set. I also experienced a different way of riding which for someone experienced as myself can be quite a challenge.”

Jodie from The Little Backpacker

A camel ride in Morocco

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“I put a camel ride on our itinerary in Morocco thinking the kids would enjoy it. We arrived and I climbed aboard, too. The kids loved it and so did I! It is funny that camels stand up with their back legs first which pitches you forward. We had a ball!”

Natalie Tanner from The Educational Tourist

Meeting a toad in Kenya

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“This chap kindly guarded my room when I stayed at Ngutuni Safari Lodge in Kenya, Africa. The stay at this place is all about the views; every single room looks out onto a watering hole, where you can watch animals like elephants and warthogs bathe, play and freshen up. However, this unassuming guy really stole a spot in my heart. So much cuteness.”

Char from Taylor Hearts Travel

Swimming with sea turtles

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“I went on a sunset cruise and snorkel off the coast of Waikiki, Oahu and was able to swim with some amazing sea turtles! The water was a bit cold and I was a bit seasick but seeing the sea turtles made it all worth it! They were so majestic and friendly. They would swim right up to you. But, I definitely avoided touching them because they’re a protected species and there’s a $10,000 fine for touching the creatures.”

Genie Patra from Gallivanting Bean

Whale watching in New Zealand

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“New Zealand is known for its love of the great outdoors and one of the top things to do whilst visiting the South Island is to go whale watching in Kaikoura. Catching the boat and watching these Giant Sperm Whales rise and fall out of the water was absolutely breathtaking.”

Laura from Little Travel Bee

Spotting orangutans in Borneo

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“A spine-tingling, pin-drop silence collectively gathered as we first spotted these highly intelligent orangutans, which are indigenous to Indonesia and Malaysia . Many have sadly been subject to cruelty but rehabilitation centres such as those in Sabah, Borneo, do an excellent job of promoting conservation and helping to re-equip the orangutans with the skills they need to survive independently in the wild.”

Shikha from Why Waste Annual Leave?

Cuddling cats in Amsterdam

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“Small noses, whiskers and furry tails everywhere: the cat boat in Amsterdam is every animal-lover’s dream. Not perturbed by turning up once to find it was closed, I returned a few days later to enjoy the snuggles of the rescue kitties looking for homes, each one well-cared for by the volunteers. It was a blissful afternoon spent in the midst of fluffies, and I just wish I could have taken them all home in my luggage!”

Emily from The Cosy Traveller

What’s been your favourite animal experience? Is there anything on this list that takes your fancy?