Best Animal Experiences: 10 of the Most Amazing Wildlife Encounters in the World

Best Animal Experiences: 10 of the Most Amazing Wildlife Encounters in the World

I’ve been obsessed with wildlife for as long as I can remember. A life-long fan of Sir David Attenborough and anything to do with natural history, it’s no surprise that a lot of my destination choices have been based on wildlife encounters.

I’ve been really fortunate in my travels to have had some of the best animal experiences at some of the most amazing wildlife destinations in the world.

I’ve gradually been ticking stuff off my wildlife bucket list, although I’m sure this is getting longer rather than shorter at times!

Of course, the best way to experience wildlife is in its natural environment, however, it can take some planning to know where and when to see certain animals. You can download this handy infographic here.

So are you ready? it’s time to check out some of the best animal experiences in the world.

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Green Turtles | Canva

Interested in more wildlife tourism?

Here are some other great articles that you might be interested in.

THE BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES IN THE WORLD

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BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES #1 - GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, ECUADOR

Located about 620 miles off the west coast of Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands are an absolute haven for wildlife and undoubtedly provide some of the best wildlife experiences in the world. 

Over 100 islands make up the Galapagos archipelago and of these 13 of them are classed as main islands. One of the best ways to get the most out of your Galapagos experience is on a liveaboard like this.

Made famous by Charles Darwin’s book ‘The Origin of Species, Darwin made observations about how each species across the different islands had adapted slightly to its environment to survive. These observations went on to become the ‘Theory of Evolution’.

What can I see on The Galapagos Islands?

This is a long and extensive list. However, the iconic creatures are the giant Galapagos tortoise and the Darwin finches. In addition to this, you’ll come across hundreds of fur seals, marine iguanas and the super cute blue-footed boobies. 

Look out for the large colony of albatross and flamingoes as well as a ton of sea life. Green turtles can frequently be seen feeding on the seagrass, if you go snorkelling you’ll probably be joined by the nosy seals too. If you’re lucky you might spot a Galapagos shark and blue-spotted eagle rays. Seriously, The Galapagos Islands are phenomenal for wildlife encounters. 

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
The Galapagos Tortoise love guava fruit
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Iguanas relaxing on the beach

When is the best time to visit The Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos Islands essentially have only two seasons; the dry, or garua, season (July – December) and wet season (January – June) with March and April generally being the wettest months. It’s warm all year round with excellent wildlife spotting opportunities whichever season you go.

Getting to The Galapagos Islands

The easiest way to get to The Galapagos Islands from mainland Ecuador is by plane. There are two airports; one on Baltra Island and one on San Cristobal Island. If you book onto an inclusive tour, they will arrange the transfers from mainland Ecuador, getting between the different islands, a guide, equipment and more.

If you are travelling there independently, then you could book daily tours to visit the different islands. However, true, you will save a little bit of money, but it’s also not the most efficient way to see the islands. To get the most out of your time in The Galapagos Islands, I highly recommend booking an all-inclusive liveaboard tour for several days sailing around the archipelago.

I can highly recommend G Adventures, who offer a wide range of top quality Galapagos tour options – they also do regular flash sales, so you can grab an absolute bargain! You can check out their current trips here. I did one of their 10-day tours which covered Central, South and East Islands of the Galapagos. 

For the ultimate experience, it’s worth checking out this 10 Days Sailing North Central and West Islands of the Galapagos

If you’re pushed for time, then this is a great alternative option; 8 Days Sailing Galapagos to the Central and East Islands with G Adventures.

If neither of these are suitable, then check out some of these other Galapagos Islands Tours

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Posing with the Galapagos seals
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Blue Footed Boobies

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BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES #2 - AMAZON RAINFOREST, SOUTH AMERICA

If you are in South America and want one of THE BEST animal experiences, then make sure you visit The Amazon Rainforest. The Amazon Rainforest is immense, it’s a staggering 5.5million kmsq² and spreads over a ton of countries in South America; Brazil (approx. 60%) Peru (about 13%) Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, Bolivia, Suriname and French Guiana.

Hint: If you’re visiting Quito in Ecuador, check out this homestay excursion to the Amazon Rainforest from the nations capital.

The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s biggest tropical rainforest and according to figures from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), it’s also home to 427 different mammals, 1,294 birds, as well as 30 million people, including more than 220 indigenous groups.

What can I see in The Amazon Rainforest?

What won’t you see is a better question to ask! I had a 6 day stay in the Amazon Rainforest, so I was able to do a variety of hikes and treks both in the day and night to see different species.

My guide showed me various trees and plants, explaining what they were used for in terms of medicine. During the day time hikes, some of the highlights were seeing the parrots, monkeys, giant otters and piranhas. We also did nighttime hikes to see bugs like the cicada and firefly as well as the snakes and frogs which were more active then.

I kept a logbook everything that I saw, I noted down over 250 wildlife species!

If a jungle hut isn’t your thing, then you might prefer this Amazon River Cruise instead.

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Amazon Rainforest night time walks bring out the snakes and creepy stuff

When is the best time to visit The Amazon Rainforest?

Any time of year is good to visit The Amazon Rainforest, it’s always warm and humid. The clue in the name RAINforest means it’s no secret that it rains a lot.

The seasons are better divided into the “low water” and “high water” times of the year. Low water season (June to November) boasts fewer daily showers. Less rain means less water in the rivers which can impact getting to places on a boat, therefore some places won’t be accessible. On the other hand, having less rainfall does mean that more of the foot tracks and trails are available.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the high water season (December to May), there are more options to take a boat to get to certain areas of interest but the offset is that some of the trails are submerged.

Related Article: If you’re visiting Peru one of the most bucket list worthy things to do is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This is a 100% must!

If you’re thinking of doing this, be sure to read my review on trekking the Inca Trail here.

Getting to The Amazon Rainforest

This will depend on which country you start in. I visited the Amazon Rainforest from Peru where there are two main points of entry; Iquitos in the northeast and Puerto Maldonado in the south-east.

The specific part of the Amazon Rainforest I visited was Tambopata Reserve which is near to the Bolivian border. I took a flight from Cusco direct to Puerto Maldonado and then a combination of minibus and boats to get to my destination in the jungle.

If you’re looking for an authentic jungle hut experience, I can highly recommend staying at the G Lodge. The comfortable lodge is located close to the river, surrounded by thick rainforest which fills the air with the sounds of birds and monkeys.

You mightbe interested in;

From Peru: Amazon Rainforest 4 Days Jungle Stay

From Peru: Amazon Riverboat Adventure

From Ecuador: Amazon Rainforest Homestay

For two bucket list worthy adventures at once, check out this ultimate combination tour! The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu & The Amazon Rainforest Adventure

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Cute little wine glass fungus
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Green Tree Frog
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BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES #3 - GORILLA TREKKING IN EAST AFRICA

This once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience probably ranks high on most peoples bucket lists. After all, we share 98.3% of our DNA with these primates which make them one of our closest relatives!

There are a few pockets of forest in East both Uganda and Rwanda where you can have the opportunity to encounter this endangered species. You can also opt to visit Gorillas in the Congo, however, there have been several reports in recent years of kidnappings of tourists.

The only way to visit the gorillas is part of an official tour with a qualified guide, you will also need a permit. Before you book, make sure you check what is included in the price. For example, in Uganda, a gorilla permit will cost in excess of $600 per person.

What can I see in Uganda and Rwanda?

There are two species of gorilla that you can see in Africa. Either, the eastern gorilla or the western gorilla.

If you’re visiting Uganda and Rwanda, you will encounter the Eastern Gorilla.

Both the western and eastern gorilla is divided into a further two sub-species; the lowland gorilla and the mountain gorilla. Both species of gorilla are on the endangered species list.

Best Animal Experiences: 10 of the Most Amazing Wildlife Encounters in the World 3
Mountain Gorilla | Canva

You can tick off two amazing wildlife experiences at the same time by combining Gorilla Trekking with a Masai Mara Safari!

Check out this ultimate combination tour! Gorilla Trekking and Masai Mara Safari Adventure

When is the best time to visit Uganda and Rwanda?

Gorilla trekking is an all year round activity in Uganda, although the best time to visit is during the dry season. The perfect months to visit Uganda for gorilla trekking is either January to February or from June through to September.

Nearby Rwanda has a similar season. So if you choose to visit Rwanda for a gorilla trek aim for the dry season which starts in mid-December through to early February and then again between June and September.

Getting to Uganda or Rwanda

The easiest way to visit the gorillas is to fly direct to either Rwanda or Uganda. The distance between the two countries is about 510km, so it is possible to arrive in one country, spend some time there before driving to the other. The drive takes about 7 hours.

You can arrange gorilla trekking independently, or as part of an all-inclusive tour like this.

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BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES #4 - MAASAI MARA GAME RESERVE, KENYA FOR THE BIG 5

If you’re wanting to see some of the biggest creatures on Earth, then one of the best animal experiences for this is on an African safari. The infamous Maasai Mara is located in south-west Kenya in Narok County, it merges with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

It covers a staggering 1,510 km2 is home to over 90 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and over 400 species of bird, including some of the worlds most endangered and biggest land animals. The area is made up of mostly open grassland dotted with shrubs and small forested areas with rivers traversing through.

Although the Massai Mara always steals the limelight, while you’re in Kenya, it’s also worth visiting Lake Nakuru.

What can I see on The Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya?

‘The Big 5’ are the mane (haha bad joke) attraction here; lion, leopard, African elephant, cape buffalo, and black rhinoceros. Other iconic residents to look out for are hippopotamus, crocodiles, wildebeest, topi, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle, impalas, Maasai giraffe, antelope, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs, bat ear fox, baboons, ostrich, secretary bird, hornbills and vultures. Basically, you’re going to meet the cast of The Lion King!

If you’re really lucky you’ll get to see one of the best animal experiences here. A hunt! I’m a veggie, I’ve been a veggie for years, but this is nature in all its essence. It was outstanding. If you’re even luckier, you might even spot the elusive jaguar.

Related Article: How to spot the difference between a Cheetah and a Leopard?

When is the best time to visit The Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya?

There are going to be plenty of animals all year round to see in The Maasai Mara Game Reserve. However, the most popular time is during migration season. Thousands of wildebeest herd together in the search of better feeding grounds. This happens around July through to October, with July and August tipped as the best times to go. as well as November however this will vary slightly from year to year.

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Early morning safari

Getting to The Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya

You have two options to get The Maasai Mara; by land or air. To generalise air is quicker but more expensive and by land is cheaper but takes a lot longer. Your timescale and budget will govern which one you choose. I went by land via a 4×4 I and loved it!

Once outside of Nairobi, the nation’s capital, the landscape is sublime. You also get a slightly better insight into village life as you will pass through lots of them. The bone-shaking journey takes approximately 5 hours so if you suffer from motion sickness I’d recommend taking tablets to alleviate the symptoms.

Any of these tours by National Geographic are going to be mind-blowing. Check out the full itineraries below.

Prebook now: 16 Day Kenya Safari including Maasai Mara and Uganda to see Gorillas
Prebook now: 14 Day Safari Adventure in Kenya and Tanzania
Prebook now: 8 Day Kenya Safari including Maasai Mara and Lake Nakuru

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Baby elephants play fighting
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Leonard von Bbibra | Unsplash

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BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES #6 -HUMPBACK WHALE WATCHING IN GREENLAND

We’ve all see the stunning iconic shots of the humpback whale tail vertically out of the water just before it takes a deep dive. One of the best ways to see this is in the waters surrounding Greenland.

As whales go, humpback whales are a lot less jittery when it comes to boats in the vicinity, which makes spotting them much easier than other whale species.

If you’re really fortunate, then you might even glimpse flippers lifting out of the water and slamming into the surface to create a splash to scare fish during a feeding session. And if you’re even luckier, then look out for displays of whales jumping out of the water as they hunt as a pod.

What can I see in Greenland?

Greenland is a great destination to see these giant marine mammals. They are actually protected throughout the whole of Greenland and at the peak season, about 3000 whales reside in the waters around Greenland.

It’s not just the humpback whales that you want to keep a lookout for. Other species of whale also inhabit the waters, with common sightings of both fin whales and minke whales.

If you’re incredibly lucky, then beluga and narwhales have also been spotted as well as blue whales and orcas!

When is the best time to see Humpback Whales in Greenland?

Unless you’re wanting to specifically do dog sledging, avoid Greenland in the winters, this is when waters can freeze over.

In terms of weather, the best months to visit Greenland are between June and August, at this time of year, you’ll get to experience the midnight sun!

Whales can be spotted at most points of the year, however, the optimum time to see humpback whales in Greenland is during the migratory summer months, so if humpback whales are your goal, then plan your visit at any point between May and October.

Getting to Greenland

The largest airport in Greenland is Kangerlussuaq Airport. If you can not find a direct flight from your country of origin, look into arriving in Reyjavik (Iceland), Copenhagen and Norway instead. 

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BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES #7 - KOMODO ISLANDS, INDONESIA FOR KOMODO DRAGONS AND MANTA RAYS

The Komodo Islands has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, and then was listed as one of the new 7 Natural Wonders of Nature in 2011.

Situated in Indonesia to the west of Flores Island, the Komodo National Park is an archipelago, with the 3 main islands; Komodo, Padar and Rinca. It’s home to the world largest lizard, the infamous Komodo Dragon. The waters surrounding these islands also offer some top dive spots, in particular, Manta Rays.

Manta Point, Nusa Penida

If you’re spending time travelling around Indonesia, and you’re adding Bali to your list of islands, then make sure you head to Manta Point Nusa Penisa just off the south east coast of Bali to see Manta Rays up close.

What can I see on The Komodo Islands?

Above land, Komodo Dragons are the obvious draw to the island. They can be sighted on both Komodo and Rinca Island. These giant poisonous lizards share the island with about 2000 residents, who go about their everyday life without too much bother from the dragons.

When you visit the islands, you have to go with an official guide bearing his weapon of choice, a wooden stick! For a creature weighing more than a person with a venomous bite, I think I’d rather hedge my bets on running than poking it away with said stick. Let’s just hope the dragons are well fed and sleeping it off. 

For the dinosaur geek in me, I rank this up with one of the best animal experiences I’ve ever had. 

Under the water of Komodo National Park, you’ll find loads of pristine scuba dive sites. Sightings of the gigantic manta ray are common here. If you’re lucky you will spot them at one of the cleaning stations and you can lay on the bottom of the seabed next to them. 

When is the best time to visit The Komodo Islands?

Like in lots of south-east Asia, the Komodo Islands have a wet (January – April) and a dry season (May – December). The islands are open all year round though.

From a diving perspective, June and July are the better months to visit due to clearer waters and therefore better visibility.

Getting to The Komodo Islands

The only way to get to The Komodo Islands is by boat. Saying that though, there are a lot of options to choose from. Rickety and noisy wooden day boats with hard wooden seats right up to executive standard yachts, as well as everything in-between.

Entry to the Komodo Islands is through the small town of Labuan Bajo. It’s located on the west of Flores south-east Indonesia. This is also the town where you’ll find a ton of dive shops offering various dive trips and excursions to the islands. It’s a good idea to book onto one of the multi-day trips. I did a 4-day/ 3-night trip which included 10 dives and lots of island hopping including the famous Komodo Island for the unnerving animal encounter of meeting the dragons.

The easiest way to make the most out of the Komodo Islands is to book onto a multi-day tour.

Prebook now: 9 days Komodo and Flores Island tour

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
This is about as close as I'd ever want to get to the Dragons
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Tom Bixler | Unsplash

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BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES #8 - GANSBAAI, SOUTH AFRICA FOR GREAT WHITE SHARKS

For some, jumping into a cage to get up close and personal with a potential killer would be the stuff of nightmares; granted it’s not for everyone.

I got a bit of a thing for sharks, I honestly think they are one of the most misunderstood creatures in the sea. Sure, I don’t want to go and give them a cuddle, but equally, they aren’t the savage monsters that the media makes out. To put it into perspective, humans have killed a million times more sharks than sharks have killed humans.

The opportunity to see the Great Whites up close had been on my animal experiences bucket list for a long time. I was finally going to tick it off.

Note:

There’s been A LOT of controversy and debate about the ethics behind White Shark Cage diving with valid arguments from both sides. Some say that it’s just a money-making gimmick. True. However, from my personal experience, there was a ton of information given about the sharks before we even set foot on the boat. It was an educational experience more than anything and with how misunderstood these creatures are, I believe this is a good thing.

Once on the boat, our marine biologist guide explained the behaviour of the sharks and what to look out for. For example, the bite marks on the tails most likely meant it was a female shark and these were war-wounds from mating. Talk about rough sex!  

At no point were the sharks fed. Nor were they touched in any manner – by hands or objects.

What can I see in Gansbaai, South Africa?

Hopefully, Great White Sharks are going to be on top of your list as well as a horde of seabirds following the boats.

You might also see Cape Fur Seals. A 40,000 strong colony these Seals reside on nearby Geyser Island. It’s the seals which make up the main diet of the Great Whites, and partly why they congregate here.

If for whatever reason there are no Great Whites, it might be because Killer Whales have swum through the area. Keep your eyes peeled for these too.

When is the best time to visit Gansbaai, South Africa?

There is potential to view the sharks all year round and even though you’re likely to see a Great White Shark it’s not 100% guaranteed.

Sometimes, Killer Whales swim through the channel, however, the Killer Whales actually kill Great White Sharks, they are one of their few natural predators. When Killer Whales have been in the area, sightings of Great Whites diminish.

Getting to Gansbaai, South Africa

Gansbaai is a small town located on the southern coast of South Africa. To get to Gansbaai from Cape Town it’s about a 2 ½ – 3 hours car ride. If you’re based in Cape Town then a transfer can be arranged when you book your dive. Unless you have a car of your own, this is the easiest way to do it.

If you’re in Cape Town, book onto a full day tour which includes transportation to Gansbaai.

Prebook now: Great White Shark Full Day Dive from Cape Town

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
From the safety of the cage
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Great White Shark, and this was a small one!

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BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES #3 - GREAT BARRIER REEF, AUSTRALIA

The Great Barrier Reef is huge; covers 344,400 km2 to be exact making it the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem meaning it’s going to be one of the best wildlife experiences.
In fact, it’s so big that it can be seen from Outer Space and is home to a whopping 600 types of soft and hard corals, more than 100 species of jellyfish, 3000 varieties of molluscs, 500 species of worms, 1625 types of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins. Yeah, epic!

What can I see at The Great Barrier Reef?

So to break it down a little, you are guaranteed to have some pretty amazing wildlife encounters. Although you could snorkel here, to get the most out of visiting The Great Barrier Reef, naturally, you’d want to go scuba dive here.

Look out for the hundreds of Anemone Fish (think Nemo!), Damsel Fish, Trigger Fish, Parrot Fish and Angel Fish all flitting about the colourful coral and sponges.

You’re probably going to see green turtles too and if you’re super lucky, the giant Mauri wrasse. Also keep your eyes peeled for sightings of black-tipped and white-tipped reef sharks skulking about the rocks as well as eels, rays and barracuda.

If you get the chance I highly recommend doing a night dive here too, where you’ll get to see the slightly creepier fish and crustaceans are more active.

When is the best time to visit The Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef offers top animal experiences whichever time of the year you choose to visit. However, bear in mind that it’s better to visit outside of the wet season (Dec – Feb) due to storms and monsoons; no one wants to be on a boat in that, plus the underwater visibility isn’t as good.

For the best visibility, June and November are the better months. I visited in January and had about 25m visibility.

SAFETY POINT:

Be aware of ‘Stinger Season’. There are two bad boys in you really want to be aware of, the Box jellyfish and Irukandji, as their stings can be fatal. Stinger season varies slightly each year so make sure you check with the local information centre/ dive shop/ lifeguard to find out when it is. As a general rule, it’s during the Australian summer/wet season. If you are planning on doing water activities during stinger season make sure you are wearing a stinger suit to protect you and follow any advice given.

Getting to The Great Barrier Reef

The main gateways to The Great Barrier Reef are Airlie Beach and Cairns and at various smaller points between them). If you just want to view the reefs from above, you can get a flight, but to really enjoy it you’re going to need a boat.

There is a whole myriad of options to experience The Great Barrier Reef; snorkelling, glass-bottom boats, along with options for day trips, island hopping and liveaboards. For the best wildlife encounters though, you’ll want to scuba dive here.

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Coral Reef | Canva
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Moray Eel | Canva

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BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES #9 - BUKIT LAWANG, INDONESIA FOR ORANGUTANS

Several places in south-east Asia boast opportunities to see wild Orangutans. I chose Sumatra island in Indonesia. The Gunung Leuser National Park has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004.

Located along the Bohorok river, Bukit Lawang was home to the Orangutan rehabilitation centre. In 1973 two Swiss zoologists set up the centre to care for Orangutans that had been caught up in Indonesia’s logging industry. 

Want to know more, then check out this article about Jungle Trekking in Sumatra to see the Orangutans 

What can I see in Bukit Lawang?

Hopefully, you will see Orangutans, lots of them. You’ll also see lots of Macaques, if you’re unfortunate, you might also get mugged by them. They are overconfident and opportunistic. 

You’ll probably alos see the cute Thomas Leaf Monkey along with plenty of birdlife, insects and plants. Near the rivers keep your eyes peeled for the large Monitor Lizards, which essentially are the Komodo Dragons little cousin. 

If you’re really after an up-close-and-personal-no-so best animal experience then look out for small leeches at the rivers. I’ve done lots of jungle treks before but this was the first time I’ve managed to get a few of them attached to me.

You can read all about my animal encounters along with my full account on the Orangutan Jungle Trekking experience here.

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Orangutans in Bukit Lawang

When is the best time to visit Bukit Lawang?

Rains fall all year round in Bukit Lawang (up to 4000mm of rain a year!) although October through to December is the wettest months. March through to August are generally a bit drier but with rains typically falling in the late afternoons and evenings.

Getting to Bukit Lawang

I caught a flight into Medan, the capital of Sumatra in the northeast of the island. From there you have two options; if time is on your side take the public bus. Going via bus will take you the best part of a day, with several transfers needed.

Alternatively, get a taxi, even this option is a 4-hour journey at best! Once in Bukit Lawang, there are plenty of places that will organise the Orang-utan Trek. Some of them just 1-day others up to a full 7 days.

If you don’t want the hassle of getting to Bukit Lawang, then book the Orangutan tour as part of a full trip across Sumatra island.

Prebook now: 14 day Highlights of Sumatra tour

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Monitor Lizard, the Komodo Dragons little cousin
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Thomas Leaf Moneky in the rain

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BEST ANIMAL EXPERIENCES #10 - TORTUGUERO, COSTA RICA FOR TURTLES LAYING EGGS

Costa Rica is the perfect destination if you’re looking at some of the best animal experiences. For starters, there are so many national parks, 27 to be exact, scattered across the country.

The National Park of Tortuguero is in the top east corner of Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast with a tiny population of just 500. The only way to get about on this little island is on foot or by bike.

Tortuguero essentially translates to ‘Land of the Turtles’. This little spit of land is separated from mainland Costa Rica by canals, rivers on one side. The other side is the sea. The area surrounding Tortuguero is surrounded by beaches, mangrove forests, rivers and lagoons which makes it a haven for wildlife.

Here’s a grest article if you’re wondering where to see sloths in Costa Rica.

What can I see on in Tortuguero?

So given the islands name, there’s no surprise that Turtles are high on the list of stuff to see here. If you’re lucky you can witness turtles laying their eggs or hatchling dashing to towards the sea. Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Loggerhead turtles have all been known to nest on the beaches here with Green Turtles being the most common.

Birds, reptiles and insects are all in abundance here, including the adorable sloths. Your guide will talk you through the individual species. There are also monkeys. LOTS of monkeys. In particular, the Capuchins cause absolute havoc around some of the nearby resorts and frequently come uninvited into the guest areas to steal food or whatever else they can get their little hands on.

When is the best time to visit Tortuguero?

Tortuguero is in the tropics, so it’s warm and humid, also expect frequent downpours. You can see tons of wildlife all year round, however, if it’s the turtles you are after then be there from July to October to watch them nest along the beaches of Tortuguero.

Getting to in Tortuguero

There are only two ways to get to Tortuguero; boat or plane. The majority of the tours start from the capital, San Jose via minibus stopping off at various points of interest before arriving at one of the ports.

If you’re planning on travelling to Tortuguero independently there are a few options where you can catch the boat from; Moín (close to Limón), La Pavona (north of Cariari) and Caño Blanco (accessible through Siquirres).

Book onto one of the trips that depart from the capital, San Jose. Then spend a few days exploring the National Park.

Prebook now: 4 days in Tortuguero National Park

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Sleeping Tree Fron, Costa Rica
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Sleeping Sloth, Costa Rica

Which wildlife encounter are you going to do first?

Do you agree with what I said at the start? I’ve truly had some of the best animal experiences in the world. It’s so difficult to choose the top one so far, I’ve absolutely loved them all.

Over the next year or so, I’ll be adding to this; top of my wildlife bucket list are Hammerhead Sharks and Whale Shark (yep there goes that shark obsession again) as well as a Gorillas, Tigers and for sheer cuteness factor, I’m desperate to see a Quokka!

Pin it for later

How many of these best animal experiences are on your bucket list?
In this article, I’ve only talked about 10 of the best animal experiences in the world. There are loads more which I’ll come back and add soon.

If you enjoyed this article, or know someone who would, then please like and share. Alternatively, why not Pin it for future reference?

What amazing wildlife experiences have you had? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers
Love wildlife? Check out some of the World's best animal experiences. You won't be able to resist adding these destinations to your wildlife bucket list. 10 of the best wildlife experiences in the world, all the what's and how's. Amazing animal experiences from all over the world. How many of these wildlife destinations do you want to go to? #wildlife #nature #naturelovers

Best Animal Experiences: 10 of the Most Amazing Wildlife Encounters in the World 4

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Becki from Meet Me In Departures

Adventure travel blogger with a big addiction to the World. An ex-rat-racer who was fed up with sleep-work-eat-repeat materialistic mentality that plagues modern living. I love anything to do with off-beat travel, abandoned places, temples & ruins, street art, wildlife in its natural habitat, adventure sport.....basically anything but the 9-5!

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Great article Becki! I’d love to visit the Komodo dragons! I also appreciated the lion pun 😉

    1. Thanks for reading 🙂 The Komodo Dragons were awesome, a little scary as they make this funny hissing, low growling noise but was awesome to see them in the wild.

  2. Love the photos and the details about how to get there and what to see. Pinning this for later, I am hoping to visit the Galapagos.

    1. Thanks for readinng. The Galapagos islands are amazing, you’ll absolutely love it! It’s expensive but IMHO worth every penny. I’d do it again in an instant 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing these, I love the photo of you and the seal, how you managed to get the sync is just awesome. Love the comprehensiveness of your posts they help in deciding where your next destination will be.

  4. Thank you for putting this out there.
    If you are a person who loves animals, you should take on a travel trip to see them. If you are still deciding on what place to visit for your next adventure, you should consider wildlife destinations.

  5. I’m glad that you were able to visit a lot of wildlife destinations around the world. There’s a point in my life when I also wanted to do the same, but my family schedule won’t allow me to.

    1. There are so many amazing ways to experience wildlife. To encourage children to respect and appreciate wildlife and the natural world at a young age is so important. I hope you manage to ignite their enthusiasm with some more local experiences.

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