The world is full of brilliant animals spanning the entire planet. Big ones, small ones, round ones, bold ones, dangerous ones, cute ones and everything in between.
They parade in their beautiful colours, impress with their hunting prowess and allow for hours and hours of fascinating observation by displaying their intriguing rituals with wonderful bravado. It’s no small wonder then that eco-friendly wildlife tourism is such a big hit these days.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to dive into the ocean, improve on your feathered friend stalking skills or await an opportunity to get out into the wild, stretch your legs and trek until your feet blister on your way to a wildlife utopia, if you know where to look and what to look for, there is an animal adventure out there for you absolutely everywhere (and on every budget!).
With that said, the following list is a compilation of thirteen fantastic places across all the seven continents which are home to all manners of different animals from sea to air to land. Use it as a starting point for your own journey or let it fuel your imagination, but either way I’d be surprised if you don’t feel tempted to pack your bags and head out to follow the wanderlust after seeing these fantastic global animal exploits!
Pick your continent or keep scrolling down… you choose!
Sun, sand and swimming pigs, that’s what you’ll find on Big Major Cay aka. Pig Island. The pigs are totally wild and nobody knows exactly how they got there, but let it be said that these pigs are guaranteed not to be a bore. Just make sure you don’t take anything edible with you and don’t get too friendly or you might be in for a bit of a nasty surprise if this tourist’s review is anything to go by…
Ever wondered what Rudolf is really like? Then check out the George River Caribou/Reindeer herd. It’s the biggest in the world, but sadly it’s been declining rapidly. There were 900,000 Caribou back in the early 1990s, but today there are said to be less than 28,000 with numbers dropping drastically and researchers at something of a loss for explanations. It would be a shame to miss such a great site though, so get there while you can!
Home to the biggest colony of sea lions in the western hemisphere the Isla de Lobos is a sight to be seen at least once. It’s a nature reserve with a lighthouse that rises to 59m above sea level and is therewith one of the highest lighthouses in the world offering an amazing panoramic view of the island and the coast of the city of Punta del Este. Just make sure to pack some earplugs if you’re there near mating season as I hear things can get looouuuudddd in the bay when there are ladies to impress (sound familiar? ;))
Pantanal is home to one of the world’s biggest tropical wetland areas in the world and hosts an impressive ecosystem containing 1,000 bird species, 400 fish species, 300 mammalian species, 480 reptilian species and over 9,000 different subspecies of invertebrates. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for animal gazing here, just be careful not to tread on any tails if you end up anywhere near the Caiman Beach. I don’t think I need to tell you why!
P.s. For a sneak peak of the Pantanal, check out the video at the bottom of this page.
These days it is a rarity to see horses anywhere outside captivity, but in the heart of the German “Münsterland” the sight of wild horses frolicking about and enjoying the vast expanses of their 350 hectare protected nature reserve is exactly what you’ll see. The last of Europe’s wild horses, the Dülmener ponies live largely without human intervention, in the wild, and present a robust, healthy and perfectly adapted example of what wild horse life should be like. Go, Go, Ponies!
The largest colony of Puffins (around 10 million specimens!) reside in the Southern Icelandic Volcanic Zone at Vestmannaeyjar aka. the Westmann Isles. Although many people confuse these birds for penguins due to their colouring, they are in fact a small seabird, but either way I know I’d want to say hello just for the fact that I might get to see this memester in action!
The fastest land animal on the planet and by far one of the most beautiful too, Cheetah’s are a site to be seen in the wild as they race across the plains at up to 120 km/h. Namibia hosts one of the largest Cheetah populations on the African continent and is also considered one of the best areas to explore the desert, wildlife, history and traditional African culture to boot. Hellooooo sunburn, here we come!
If you’re looking for a really exciting animal encounter then the Cape Town region is the place to be. Look into the eyes of one of the greatest predators on the planet and watch as it swims by you. It’s like being in your very own Jaws movie (but hopefully with less casualties) and it’ll certainly make for a story to write home to.
Looking for somewhere to go during the icy winter season? Then this might just be what you’re looking for. Buried in snow for almost a third of the year, the Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano prefecture clearly knows how to handle a cold winter and its macaque monkey inhabitants definitely have the right idea bathing in the natural ‘onsen’ hot springs up and down the mountain. If you get jealous watching them having all the fun then you can always go find an onsen of your own, designed for the human species of course. There’s bound to be one not too far away.
Sticking with the monkey theme for Asia, why not check out the Lopburi Monkey Festival in honour of the holy monkeys living in the Lopburi temple ruins someday? Celebrated since 1989 this festival honours the monkeys, who are believed by Hindus to be direct descendants of the Hindu god Hanuman, with lots and lots of delicious food. Oddly, monkeys living outside the temple grounds aren’t treated with quite so much appreciation. Just make sure you get your sunscreen, tetanus and rabies shots ready before embarking on this one though as there is apparently a high chance of sun with a dash of monkey bites if you’re not careful…
Kangaroos and Koalas are probably the two animals most associated with Australia and yet did you know that the Australian outback is home to the world’s largest herd of camels? Around 300,000 feral camels live in Australia as a result of motor and rail transport expansion leaving a large number of imported camels abandoned in the bush back in the early 1900s. Considered minor pests locally, they eat away as much as 80% of plant species and wreak havoc on infrastructure such as taps, pumps and toilets in their quest for water across the dry lands. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t make for a fabulous outback safari sight.
The Tasmanian devil is an animal everybody has heard of, but the real treasures of Tasmania are actually the 12 birds that call it home and that are found nowhere else on earth. These are the Forty-spotted pardalote, Dusky Robin, Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Black-headed Honeyeater, Strong-billed Honeyeater, Yellow Wattlebird, Tasmanian Native-Hen, Black Currawong, Green Rosella, Tasmanian Scrubwren, Tasmanian Thornbill and Scrubtit. Apparently they’re quite easy to find on the island if you just keep a lookout for them over a few days, so this could be a great opportunity to hone your bird watching skills and pretend to be an immovable tree, wouldn’t you agree?
There’s not much in Antarctica, but what little there is there is said to be worth the trek. Seals, whales and penguins call this harsh territory their home and the freshness, colours and scenes that you’ll get to experience while out there are meant to be unlike anything else you’ll ever know. My friend managed this one recently and the pictures he brought back were simply stunning. Photobombing penguins across an antarctic glacier? Definitely one to put on the bucket list.
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How did you like this article? If you could go anywhere to see any animal you wanted to, where and which one would it be? Feel free to leave your comments below!