As much as staycations and short-haul trips are mostly dominating our minds at the moment, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a spot of wanderlust – and nothing makes me happier than seeing animals on my travels, from rescue dogs in LA to huskies in the Arctic Circle.
There are so many incredible animal experiences to be enjoyed safely and responsibly across the globe. To get you inspired, I’ve rounded up some awesome wildlife holidays around the globe where you have the opportunity to see animals in their natural environment.
1. Costa Rica // Sloths
Costa Rica is rich in wildlife. Whether you’re on the beautiful beaches or in the thick of the jungle, you’re more than likely to stumble on some of the country’s animals in their natural habitat. Costa Rica is arguably most well-known for its sloths, which can be found virtually all over the country. Although you’ll have to be observant: nestled amongst the trees and slowly moving through the branches, they can be easy to miss.
2. Africa // Big 5
Practically every country in Africa offers opportunities for you to spot animals in the wild: with mountain gorillas in Uganda and penguins on Boulders Beach in Cape Town, the only question is where will you start?!
Seeing the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo) in Africa remains a bucket list item for so many people, although it’s definitely not a cheap trip! Some of the best places to try and spot them all in the wild include the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area in Tanzania.
Still not sure where to start? This infographic from Exodus Travels highlights some of the incredible animals you can expect to see around Africa:
3. Finland // Brown bears
Did you know that brown bears are the largest predators in Europe? A trip to Finland’s Lakeland district can be one of the best places to spot them in the wild – although you definitely won’t want to get too up close and personal with these bears.
There are around 2,000 brown bears roaming around Finland, so spotting one isn’t guaranteed. However, by signing up to a bear watching safari between April and September you’ll be able to maximize your chances (and make the most of the lighter summer evenings to get photographing them from a safe distance).
4. Galapagos // Giant tortoises
Home to everything from lava lizards to blue-footed boobys, the Galapagos is many an animal enthusiast’s dream destination. Fun fact: Charles Darwin visited in 1835, with his observations of the islands’ species later inspiring his theory of evolution!
The Galapagos giant tortoise is one of the most famous residents of the Galapagos, attracting thousands of people each year. They can be seen all year round, with the Santa Cruz highlands and Alcedo Volcano on Isabela having the largest populations.
A trip here does require a lot of planning though: the Galapagos is so popular, authorities have had to introduce restrictions on the number of visitors in order to protect its unique flora and fauna.
5. Australia // Koalas, duck-billed platypus
Australia remains my top bucket list destination, purely for its sheer number of animal-spotting opportunities. Whatever sort of wildlife floats your boat, you’ll find it in Australia – for instance, the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland is home to saltwater crocodiles, while Fraser Island is best known for its dingoes.
Heartbreakingly, the recent wildfires and droughts in Australia have had a devastating impact on its wildlife. I hope it won’t be too long before we can return to Australia and see the wildlife flourishing once more, from koalas in the trees to duck-billed platypuses in the rivers.
6. Borneo // Orangutans
Yet another bucket list item for many! There are spots all over Borneo where you can attempt to catch a glimpse of orangutans in the wild, including Maliau Basin Conservation Area and Batang Ai National Park. If you have longer to spend abroad, you can even volunteer with various organisations to aid orangutan conservation.
7. Florida // Manatees
Florida may be home to theme parks, beaches and the Kennedy Space Center, but it has yet another thing going for it: manatees! These adorable sea cows are typically found in shallow coastal areas and rivers from April through to October. You can take a boat tour out to see some in the wild, or you can even go kayaking or swimming with them. Just remember the Manatee Manners, as coined by Visit Florida: look, but don’t touch.
8. Norway // Whales
There are a few places in the world where you can see whales in the wild (I was lucky enough to see them in Iceland!), but Norway is undoubtedly one of the best. Whales visit the Norwegian coast every year – expect to see anything from sperm whales to humpbacks, killer whales and minke whales! The Lofoten Islands and the archipelago of Vesterålen boast some of the best whale-spotting opportunities throughout the year.
This post was written in collaboration with Exodus Travels. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.