Wildlife is one of the most fascinating and rewarding aspects of travel. Seeing animals in their natural habitats, observing their behaviors, and learning about their conservation challenges can enrich any trip and create unforgettable memories. Whether you are a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a photography enthusiast, there is a wildlife destination for you.
But where are the best places to see wildlife in the world? How can you find the most exotic, diverse, and endangered species on the planet? And what are the best practices for responsible and ethical wildlife tourism?
In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will introduce you to 10 of the best wildlife destinations in the world, from the African savannah to the Arctic tundra, from the tropical rainforest to the coral reef. We will also give you some tips on how to plan your wildlife trip, what to pack, and how to respect the animals and their environment.
So, if you are ready to embark on a wild adventure, read on and discover the best places to see wildlife in the world.
African Bush Elephant, South Africa
Elephants are the largest and most intelligent land mammals in the world. They have complex social structures, long memories, and emotional bonds. They are also endangered by poaching, habitat loss, and human-wildlife conflict. To see these majestic creatures in the wild is a privilege and a responsibility.
One of the best places to see elephants in Africa is the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. This reserve is home to the “red elephants”, a unique population that coats themselves in red clay to cool down and protect their skin from the sun. The reserve also hosts the Big Five (elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalos), as well as other wildlife such as cheetahs, wild dogs, giraffes, zebras, and antelopes.
The best way to experience Madikwe is by staying at one of the luxury lodges that offer game drives, bush walks, and conservation activities. One of the best options is Mateya Safari Lodge, which has only five suites, each with a private deck, plunge pool, and art collection. The lodge also has a library, a wine cellar, and a spa.
Galápagos Giant Tortoise, Ecuador
The Galápagos Islands are a living museum of evolutionary biology, where you can see animals that are found nowhere else in the world. The islands are famous for inspiring Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and for hosting a remarkable diversity of wildlife, from marine iguanas to blue-footed boobies.
One of the most iconic and emblematic animals of the Galápagos is the giant tortoise, the largest living species of tortoise in the world. These ancient reptiles can live for over 100 years and weigh up to 250 kg. They have adapted to different habitats and climates across the islands, resulting in different subspecies with distinct shapes and sizes.
The best place to see the giant tortoises in the wild is in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, where they roam freely in the grasslands and forests. You can visit the Reserva El Chato, a private ranch that protects the tortoises and allows visitors to observe them up close. You can also visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, where you can learn more about the conservation efforts and see the famous Lonesome George, the last of his subspecies.
The best way to explore the Galápagos Islands is by taking a cruise that visits different islands and offers guided excursions, snorkeling, and kayaking. One of the best options is La Pinta yacht, a luxury vessel that accommodates 48 guests in spacious cabins, and has a glass-bottom boat, a sun deck, and a jacuzzi.
Wildebeest Migration, Kenya and Tanzania
The wildebeest migration is one of the most spectacular and dramatic wildlife events in the world. Every year, millions of wildebeest, along with zebras, gazelles, and other herbivores, migrate between the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, following the rains and the grasslands.
The migration is a cycle of life and death, as the animals face predators, hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. The most thrilling and perilous moments are when the herds cross the Mara and Grumeti rivers, where crocodiles, lions, and hyenas await. The migration also attracts other wildlife, such as elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, leopards, and rhinos.
The best time and place to see the migration depends on the season and the movement of the animals, which can vary from year to year. Generally, the best months are July to October, when the herds are in the Masai Mara, and December to April, when they are in the southern Serengeti. The best way to experience the migration is by staying at a safari camp or lodge that offers game drives, bush walks, and balloon safaris. Some of the best options are Governor’s Camp in the Masai Mara, and andBeyond Serengeti Under Canvas in the Serengeti.
Atlantic Puffin, Maine, United States
Atlantic puffins are adorable and colorful seabirds that nest in colonies on rocky islands and cliffs. They are also known as “clowns of the sea” for their bright orange beaks and feet, and their comical expressions. They are also endangered by overfishing, climate change, and invasive predators.
One of the best places to see Atlantic puffins in the wild is in Maine, where they were once locally extinct, but have been successfully reintroduced thanks to the efforts of Dr. Stephen W. Kress and his Project Puffin. The project has restored several islands as puffin breeding grounds, and has fostered a bird-watching industry that supports conservation.
The best way to see the puffins is by taking a boat tour that visits one of the islands, such as Eastern Egg Rock, where you can observe the puffins from a distance with binoculars or a camera. You can also visit the Project Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland, where you can learn more about the project and see live video feeds of the puffins. If you want to get closer to the puffins, you can donate a significant amount to the project, and get a chance to visit the island by foot with Dr. Kress himself.
African Lion, Tanzania and Botswana
Lions are the kings of the jungle, and the most iconic and charismatic of the African predators. They are also social, cooperative, and expressive, living in prides that consist of a dominant male, several females, and their cubs. They are also vulnerable to poaching, trophy hunting, and habitat loss.
One of the best places to see lions in Africa is the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, where the largest population of lions in the world lives. The Serengeti is also home to the wildebeest migration, which provides a steady source of prey for the lions. You can see the lions hunting, resting, playing, and roaring in the vast plains of the park.
Another great place to see lions is the Okavango Delta in Botswana, where the lions have adapted to the wetland environment and learned to swim and hunt in the water. The Okavango Delta is also a haven for other wildlife, such as elephants, hippos, crocodiles, leopards, and wild dogs.
The best way to see the lions in these destinations is by staying at a safari camp or lodge that offers game drives, night drives, and walking safaris. Some of the best options are Singita Sabora Tented Camp in the Serengeti, and Duba Plains Camp in the Okavango Delta.
These are justsome of the best places to see wildlife in the world, but there are many more to discover and enjoy. Wildlife tourism can be a rewarding and educational experience, but it also comes with a responsibility to respect and protect the animals and their habitats.