Scientists believe that there are 8.7 million species on Earth, and 1-2 million are animals. Beautiful creatures make our time on Earth much better. So, it’s no wonder that some people intentionally plan trips just to see animals.
The world is full of places where incredible species live. If you want to interact with animals and see why they matter, add these 7 destinations to your travel checklist.
1. South Africa
Contrary to popular belief, there are no penguins on the North Pole. In fact, they largely occupy Southern Hemisphere. You can find some adorable penguins at Boulders Beach in South Africa. South Africa is also home to Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve on the continent. The park is heavily protected from poachers, and you can see Africa’s Big Five here: rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards, and buffalo.
Thailand is famous for elephant sanctuaries, safe havens dedicated to protecting this gentle giant. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary and Elephant Nature Park rescue these animals and give them a peaceful forever home far away from the torturous treatments like elephant riding. Furthermore, the island of Koh Phi Phi is home to all sorts of cats you can play with and pet on the beach, in restaurants, or along the city streets.
The Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage site with gorgeous volcanic landscapes and rich, unique animal life . Probably the most famous species here is the Galapagos tortoise, who shares space with sea lions, blue-footed boobies, penguins, frigate birds, and lightfoot crabs. The easiest way to see all the animals is via a cruise, but it also depends on the season. April is a hatching season for the Galapagos tortoise and iguanas, while September is whale and marine bird nesting time.
Mountain gorillas are victims to poaching and illegal logging, which has greatly lowered their numbers. Half the world’s gorillas live in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park among dense vegetation. In order to see them, you must pay $600-800 to trek through the sanctuary. During the trek, you will see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. This is a unique opportunity to observe these animals, feel their powerful presence, and hopefully catch a glimpse of some incredibly cute babies.
People associate China with many wonderful things like food, the Great Wall, and most importantly, pandas. Chengdu Research Base is one of the many panda sanctuaries in the country dedicated to increasing the population of this almost extinct animal. At Chengdu, you can join guided tours that teach you about this cute little bear and China’s efforts to preserve their existence.
Australia is famous for its diverse wildlife. In addition to kangaroos and koalas, you can see many more unique animals when you travel down under. Take guided tours in Tasmania, and visit its Tasman National Park so you can experience marine mammals like the brushtail possum, endangered swift parrot, and of the Tasmanian devil. Be sure to also visit quokkas (nicknamed the happiest animals on Earth) on Rottnest Island.
Madagascar is obviously famous for lemur colonies. You will find 33 species of this mammal there, each with different characteristics. There are several prominent places to see lemurs in Madagascar: Ranomafana National Park, Berenty Reserve, and Andasibe National Park. On Aye-Aye Island, you can see the small aye-aye lemur.
All life on Earth is precious. So, next time you consider traveling, place one of these destinations on your list and meet the wonderful wildlife on our planet.