Penguins in South Africa
The best place to see penguins is Boulders Beach, only a short drive from Cape Town, South Africa. It has a year round colony of around 3,000 African penguins that settled on the beach 30 years ago. The beach is open to the public and penguins walk freely around sunbathers and children paddling in the water. The best time to see the penguins is at low tide, when there is more room on the beach.
If you don’t fancy sharing a sunbathing spot with a penguin however, the place to watch them is from Foxy Beach which has new boardwalks taking visitors right up close to the penguins. Remember to check under the bushes on your way to the viewing deck as you can often find penguins huddled underneath them taking a nap.
Bears in Montana
While not as common as searching for lions in South Africa, spotting a bear in its natural habitat is no less exciting. Stay on a ranch, like the Ranch at Rock Creek in bear country, Montana, during the summer months to see the animals out of hibernation.
From the ranch, take a day trip to Glacier National Park which has one of the highest concentrations of bears in the country. Remember to keep your distance though and never approach a bear; they are not as cuddly as they seem.
Whales in Dominica
One of the best places in the world to spot whales, year round, is the Caribbean island of Dominica. Sperm whales breed and calve here and so there is always some excitement in the water. Because of Dominica’s underwater drop-offs, deep sheltered bays provide the perfect habitat for these creatures.
The whales are strictly protected but you can still get up close to the animals from boats. On the rare occasions that sperm whales are not present in the waters around Dominica, you will be able to spot hundreds of dolphins in the water instead.
Sea Turtles in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has the world’s best turtle-viewing sites. Turtle watching tours are available between April and October to see sea turtles lay eggs on the beach in the National Park of Tortuguero. Towards the end of the season you will also be able to watch hatchlings head for the water. Tours leave in the evening when the turtles make their way to the shore to dig their nests in the sand. It is a breathtaking sight to see these huge marine mammals. The days after a full moon are when the turtles are at their most active on the beach and at times, it may seem like the sand is lined with pebbles the sightings are so frequent.
Only 1 in 500 hatchlings survive to adulthood so it is imperative that female turtles and their eggs are not disturbed during this time to increase their chances of survival.
Lemurs in Madagascar
It is not difficult to guess that the best place to spot these unusual creatures is in the forests of Madagascar. With approximately 100 species of lemur living on the island you would have to spend several years there to spot every single one. Visit the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (Perinet) to see some iconic species including the Indri – the largest surviving lemur. It is likely that you will hear them before you see them because of their far-carrying, whale-like calls but, measuring a metre in height, and being capable of leaping for up to 30 meters, observing them in the wild is a fascinating experience.
Stay at the Vakona Forest Lodge on the outskirts of the park for some of the best access to the wildlife.
Lions in Namibia
One of Africa’s Big Five, the best place to see king of the jungle is in Namibia where the lions come to you as most of the safari lodges are built along watering holes. During dry season, sightings are almost guaranteed because of the limited water available in the surrounding area. Some tourists even report watching lions hunt from the comfort of their safari lodges overlooking the water.
Etosha National Park is the best place to view the animals, as one of the biggest game reserves in the world. Visit our sister company Rainbow Tours for more information.
Asian Elephants in Thailand
With the birth of a new baby elephant in the area, the best place to view the incredibly rare Asian elephant is undoubtedly Khao Sok National Park in Thailand. Keep your eyes peeled for baby Ha-Ha as you walk through the luscious rainforest. Asian elephants have been heavily hunted and are now an endangered species.
While it is not the same as spotting a wild elephant with its herd, Khao Sok now offers an elephant experience where you can get close to the elephants allowing you to feed them and wash them.
Orang-utans in Malaysia
The island of Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is divided between three countries, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, and it is in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak where orang-utans can be found most prevalently. Visit the rehabilitation centre of Sepilok to get up close with the apes or take one of our many tours into the jungle. Here you can see orang-utans in their natural habitat from boats making it easily accessible for every member of the family.
Malaysia also has a large selection of other wildlife – over 20% of the world’s animal species live here which makes it an excellent place to see Asian elephants, crocodiles, even the occasional leopards and tigers, plus over 620 species of birds.
Tigers in India
As the national animal of India, it is no surprise that the best place to view these beautiful and endangered creatures is in India itself. For a fantastic wildlife experience, tinged with culture, visit Kanha National Park. This park inspired Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book. Visit in June or mid-November when the it is not too warm to increase your chances of sighting the animals.
Once the tiger is sighted, guides can transfer you onto elephants to get you closer to the animals. Combine this trip with a visit to Bandhavgarh National Park which is close by.
A plethora of wildlife in the Galapagos Islands
No wildlife list is complete without a mention of the Galapagos Islands. Made famous by Darwin’s visit to the islands on board The Beagle, there is a host of wildlife to be seen. Giant tortoises are the most endangered of these with only 10,000 of these ancient creatures left. They may be found close to land iguanas who snack on the same food.
Look out for whales around the islands. At least nine different species of whale can be found throughout the year along with dolphins, seals and sea lions.