Where to visit for a chance to observe animals in their natural habitat

Photo credit: Abercrombie & Kent There is nothing more exciting than the sighting of a rare or unexpected animal whilst on holiday. So if you’ve ever yearned to catch a glimpse of something special in the wild, read on. 

Perhaps the most two most visited areas for wildlife are in stark contrast to each other, Africa and the Galapagos Islands, one an entire continent, the other an archipelago, with 18 main islands, 926 km off mainland Ecuador. These small islands, credited with providing Charles Darwin with evidence for his theory of evolution when he sailed here on The Beagle in the 1830s, are now a National Park. Visits are strictly controlled with cruises, guides, visitors and naturalists being monitored. Animals here really do come first and the ecological balance here is of paramount importance.  Sea lions, the only living tropical penguins, Darwin’s finches and marine iguanas are among the unique species that have survived here unthreatened for centuries. A visit to the Galapagos is an extraordinary opportunity to understand exactly how evolution works and is quite unlike anywhere else on the planet.

African elephant - photo credit: Abbercrombie & Kent Africa, on the other hand, covers a vast continent, made up of 54 fully recognised countries. The array of wildlife to be seen here on safari is staggering, with superb birds and river animals adding to the mix. Whilst the Big Five (lion, African elephant, leopard, Cape buffalo and rhinoceros) are on everyone’s list, zebra, giraffe, crocodile, impala, monkey, kudu and warthog are just some of the other creatures you may encounter in the beautiful, conserved but untamed parks and ranches of Africa. Your camera will be busy and your memory filling with wonderful images to remember. One of the most thrilling experiences of all however, is to see gorilla in Uganda or Rwanda. High in the misty mountains, deep in dense rainforest, these secretive, critically endangered mammals are to be found and every attempt to ensure they survive is being made by local governments and conservation charities. 

Whale tail near Juneau, Alaska North America is home to some great wild spaces and above the Arctic Circle, these are perfect places for the polar bear to be watched, powerful and predatory, on the sea ice. Alaska is home to cheeky puffin, sea lion, black and grizzly bear, moose and eagle. A voyage here along the Inside Passage (which begins in Puget Sound, Washington, goes along the coast of British Colombia and ends at the Alaskan Panhandle) ) is ideal for view them, as is a drive out from Anchorage. All along the west coast of Canada and the USA whale watching takes place, with a seaplane ride from Vancouver Island being a fabulous way of seeing orca, minke and humpback whales along with seals and sea lions. Point Reyes, in Northern California, where Sir Francis Drake is said to have landed in 1579, is a great place to look out for grey whales in the ocean, and all manner of birds in the air and on land. Imagine staring out at the Pacific Ocean, seeing one of largest animals in existence, whilst enjoying the glories of National Park and the wildlife there, including the once nearly extinct Tule Elk.

The Great Teton National Park in Wyoming, which incorporates Jackson’s Hole and fabulous mountains, and Yellowstone National Park have long been the territory of bears, bison, grey wolves and mountain lions as well as exceptional numbers of birds, bald and golden eagles among their number, and several unique fish in the lakes.  Indeed, campers are often warned that bears can be very inquisitive and at times, intrusive. Wolves tend to keep their distance, thankfully. Moose and pelican can be spotted too.

Reef in Belize - photo credit: Abercrombie & Kent The Central American countries of Costa Rica and Belize are relatively undeveloped with areas of virgin rainforest still existing, offering a sense of true remoteness and isolation, with animals in abundance. Part of the world’s second-largest barrier reef is off Belize, offering a stunning insight into marine life, with over 500 species of fish and nearly 100 types of coral. Sharks, manatees, turtle, cowfish and seahorses create colour and drama in the ocean.    

The Andean cock-of-the-rock South America, with its rainforests, desert, mountain plateau and Amazon River must surely be one of the most colourful places on earth in terms of the animal kingdom, and possibly one of the noisiest too. Trekking along jungle trails in Peru, where rainforest occupies 60% of the country and is one of the most bio-diverse regions on Earth, with parrots screeching all around and monkeys chattering is exciting, deafening and almost unbelievable in the uniqueness of the experience. Brazil too has its share of rainforest and several eco-projects focussed on conservation. Anaconda and occasionally jaguar are the possible thrills of a trip here. The extensive wetlands create a wonderful environment for birdlife and the river itself is populated by turtles and piranha too.   

Silver Travel Podcast

Kay Durden from Abercrombie and Kent is a wildlife expert. Her interview about safari holidays for The Silver Travel Show can be listened to here. 

If the soundplayer does not display properly, please click here to listen

152 people found this helpful

Share Article:

Silver Travel Advisor

Leave a comment


Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

A food tour of Sicily is more than a gastronomic journey: from the bustling markets of Palermo to the serene…
A summer destination without the crowds, open roads without the traffic jams, locals who seem genuinely pleased to see you….

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.