If you’re a nature and animal lover these wildlife destinations around the world should be on your travel bucket list. Even if you don’t consider yourself a wildlife enthusiast traveling in these places is a great way to expand your horizons and enjoy an unforgettable unique wildlife experience.
Imagine watching the sunset in a campground in Botswana or walking in the forests and lakes of the last ice age in Finland? Plus, of course, seeing wildlife thriving in their own natural habitat. If any of this intrigues you then you will want to read on for a list of fabulous adventure travel destinations.
About 75 percent of the entire territory of Botswana is occupied by the Kalahari – the hottest African desert. Despite that fact, there is an abundance of wildlife that call it home, especially in the northern part of the desert.
In addition, there is one of the greenest and most biologically diverse areas of the Earth – the Okavango Delta. This region has the unique characteristic of flooding during the dry season and it is home to a variety of large mammals, many of which are endangered. Stationary tent camps are not allowed there, and it is extremely difficult to obtain a building permit in such a protected area. Therefore, each new large camp opened is a significant event.
If you are a fan of wildlife experiences and are looking for an opportunity to meet large African cats, then you will love Botswana.
2. Sikkim, India
Sikkim is a protected Indian state located in the Himalayas. It borders Bhutan and Nepal and is one of the most inaccessible areas in Asia. To reach Sikkim, a traveler will need to fly into Bagdogra airport (International flights) or Pakyoung airport (flights within India). Sikkim can also be reached by train to Siliguri (146km) or New Jalpaiguri (NJP) (187km) then by helicopter or car to Gangtok. An Indian visa and a special permit, which can be obtained in Delhi, are also required.
Despite the inaccessibility of this territory, the state has never had a shortage of tourists. A large portion of Sikkim is forested, both temperate and sub-tropical, displaying a beautiful array of plant and tree life. Also, in 2016, Kanchenjunga National Park, which hosts one of the largest populations of snow leopards on Earth, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
3. Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, USA
This large ecosystem includes Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and several surrounding national forests and wilderness areas. The total area includes about 22 million acres of wild nature in the northern Rocky Mountains. Yellowstone ecosystem is home to one of the largest concentrations of animals in the country.
In addition, the region contains impressive hydrothermal and geologic wonders, lakes, mountain peaks, geysers, rivers, forests, meadows and valleys. Yellowstone National Park is also a nearly intact ecosystem meaning that it has changed very little since well before humans came to North America. Grizzlies and black bears, gray wolves, cougars, bison, black-tailed deer, wolverines, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats are just some of the species on display at the Grand Teton National Park.
4. Hossa National Park, Finland
On the 1,000th anniversary of Independence Day, the Finnish authorities decided to make a royal gift to the country. This is how the large Hossa National Park was opened in the east of the state. Various sand ridges, forests, lakes, and other natural features have been preserved since the last ice age.
Near Lake Värikkallion, you can find ancient rock paintings of fantastic creatures, animals and people. With an abundance of trails, lakes and forests, the park is a haven for outdoor adventurers. Wildlife seekers can also hope to see bears, moose, reindeer, wolves, wolverines and an assortment of smaller mammals.
5. Yala Park, Sri Lanka
The foundation of nature and wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka goes back centuries. Today, this island is home to 26 national parks and is considered the top wildlife viewing destination in Asia.
Yala was named a national park in 1938 and has been a wildlife sanctuary since the early 20th century. Today, Yala Park is a beautiful, vast territory covering more than a thousand square meters divided into the Western and Eastern administrative zones. It is home to 44 species of mammals and over 200 types of birds.
Visitors to the park can hope to see elephants, leopards, sloth bears, crocodiles and much more. If you are a fan of exotic holidays, you simply cannot find a better travel destination.
6. New Zealand
New Zealand is so beautiful it is worth traveling thousands of miles to appreciate the natural wealth of the country. Imagine geysers, waterfalls, mighty fjords, hills, and millennial glaciers for a start. Here, you can be the first on the planet to watch the sunrise on Waiotahi Beach or take contrast baths in hot springs right on Hot Water Beach.
This country in Oceana is home to a wide variety of wildlife including some that are found nowhere else in the world. Most of New Zealand’s native animals are birds, frogs and sea life including marine mammals. New Zealand is also home to the unique protected area of Stephens Island. This is where one of the rarest animals on the planet lives. The tuatara is considered a close relative of dinosaurs and is definitely something that you should see.
General Tips for Wildlife Experiences
Travel that includes wildlife experiences offers the opportunity to enjoy some very unique sights and create epic memories. But this type of adventure travel does require more preparation than a standard beach or city vacation. When preparing for your next wildlife adventure, consider the below tips to get the most out of your trip and ensure you’re not contributing to unethical or harmful activities.
- Once you decide on your destination, start collecting information about the must-visit spots and the best time of year and time of day to spot wildlife. Research activities at your destination before booking anything to make sure the animal welfare is their top priority. Stay clear of trained animal shows, riding elephants etc.
- Check what documents/permits are needed including any special permission required for filming if you plan to do so.
- Consider taking an organized tour to get the most out of your visit. Good tours often have benefits that you won’t get on your own. For example, they may be able to access areas that are off limits to the general public or they know exactly where to go for the best wildlife viewing. Just make sure the tour provider is following environmental and conservation practices.
- If you manage to get all the permits and take a camera on a trip, then you have an opportunity to create a video that will always bring you back to this special place. Arm yourself with a video editor to create a wildlife movie and capture all the rare species that you manage to see. These shooting tips will help you make perfect shots and improve your photos like a pro.
- Do some research on what you need to pack in regards to special clothing and shoes, insect repellent, sunscreen, medications etc. You may also need specific vaccinations in some countries.
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.