By Sara Novak, Planet Green
The most memorable travel I’ve done in my life has always involved animal viewing. Whether it was the sought-after cheetah in South Africa’s Kruger National Park or the scarlet macaws on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, it’s the exotic creatures that you see for the first time outside of a zoo that you remember the most. You often have to travel to the world’s most remote places but that’s where you’ll find the real adventure anyway. Great wildlife viewing is spread far and wide, across this stunning globe.
Love nature and the indigenous animals that go along with it? There’s just no museum quite as dramatic as the natural world with all its crazy creatures. Here’s some of the most awe inspiring animal viewing and where to globetrot to catch a glimpse.
1. Osa Peninsula: Costa Rica
My husband and I spent our honeymoon on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula relaxing amidst the howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, and iguanas. We walked through the rainforest each day and as we strolled we saw howler and spider monkeys skipping from tree to tree without even noticing us. You may also see the white face monkey, kinkajou (night monkey), 3 toed sloth, and the chestnut mandible toucan. This rainforest was a world separated from any reality that I had ever known and it was an experience that has impacted my life ever since.
Image: Hans Hillewaert / Wiki Commons
2. Denali National Park: United States
Likely some of the most untapped wilderness in North America, Denali National Park is ideal for a bit of animal viewing adventure. You’ll see iconic large mammals like grizzly and black bears, wolves, caribou, moose, and Dall’s sheep. You may encounter the wildlife hiking through the park or in one of the park’s large vehicles, which allow you to sit higher up for great viewing.
3. Sundarbans National Park: India
On the southern tip of West Bengal you’ll find Sundarbans National Park, a mangrove forest that’s home to rich biodiversity. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its 200 remaining Royal Bengal Tigers, the largest tiger reserve in all of India. The Sundarbans house the world’s largest delta made up by the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers. The park is also home to the endangered river Terrapin, the Barking Deer, and rhesus monkey to name just a few.
4. Yanchep National Park: Australia
If you just can’t wait to view a koala or a kangaroo in the wild, then don’t miss a visit to Yanchep National Park. You can also seek out the Carnaby Black Cockatoo or the Black-glove Wallaby and Quenda (bandicoots). The park is located just outside of Perth on Australia’s western coast. Learn about Aboriginal history in the park’s 400 caves as well.
5. Kruger National Park: South Africa
It’s about the size of New Jersey but Kruger National Park is one of the most incredible places on earth. At sunrise feast your eyes on an elephant and her babies meandering across the road or a herd of Wildebeests sipping on water and hanging out on the open landscape. Kruger has it all including lions, zebras, leopards, giraffe, hippopotamus, white and black rhinoceros, wild dogs, hyenas, and one of Africa’s most poisonous snakes, the Black Mumba. And you might even get to check out a cheetah, though these are some of the most difficult predators to view. But once one is seen, park enthusiasts pass the location along like in a game of telephone so that you too might get to see this postcard perfect creature.
6. Yellowstone National Park: United States
Many of us tend to take our own national park system for granted. Both Denali National Park and Yellowstone have some of the best wildlife viewing in the world. Visiting Yellowstone you’re likely to see gray wolves, elk, moose, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and bald eagles as well as grizzly and black bears.
7. Parc des Volcans: Rwanda
The rare mountain gorilla is likely one of the most extraordinary creatures on earth to view in person. “In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat,” wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, “are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest — the Virungas”. Here, hidden deep in the lush biodiveristy you’ll find the elusive mountain gorilla. You may also see populations of buffalo and elephants as well as the rare golden monkey.