Meet the world's animals

Travel is usually about meeting people. But what if you want to meet a country's animals instead? The good news is the world is full of exciting ways to meet the locals - those with fur and four feet - sometimes up close and personal, with guides who can tell you what you need to know, and accommodation where you can relax at the end of each exciting day. 

Bandhavgarh National Park, India

How would you like to sight this magestic animal on your holidays? Bandhavgarh National Park is spread at vindhya hills in central India at Madhya Pradesh. The land of steep ridges, undulating, forest and open meadows is known for the Royal Bengal Tigers that call it home. The density of the tiger population at Bandhavgarh is the highest known in India.

Not surprisingly, it was the former hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa, but now it draws tourists and animal-lovers as it is a famous natural hub for White Tigers, first discovered in Rewa, not far from here. Read more....

Manu Biosphere Reserve, Peru 

For biodiversity, this is said to be the Number 1 park in the world, with an astounding 200 species of mammals. Its 13 species of primates include the pygmy marmoset, the world's smallest primate, and the exotic mustachioed Emperor Tamarin.  Fewer than 3,000 visitors annually enter the coveted Reserved Zone, one of the most pristine rainforests on earth.  More details....

Pinnawala, Sri Lanka

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is more than just a place for baby elephants. It is also  a nursery and breeding ground for wild Asian elephants, as well as a retirement home for aged elephants.

The orphanage was originally founded in order to afford care and protection to many of the orphaned unweaned wild elephants found wandering in and near the forests of Sri Lanka. It was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation.

While it is primarily aimed at caring for needy elephants, the facility also attracts local and foreign visitors, the income from which helps maintain the orphanage. The Pinnawala Orphanage has since become a major tourist attraction. You can watch the baby elephants being fed or even become a volunteer. More information....

Costa Rica


Costa Rica has six percent of the world's biodiversity, but the vast majority of travelers never see more than a fraction of that. To go beyond the norm requires a specially designed itinerary that escapes the mainstream and visits a variety of diverse ecosystems. Highly trained naturalist guides with extensive knowledge of localized migrations, nocturnal animal activity and little-known wildlife hot-spots guide travelers through the widest variety of eco-systems to expose travelers to the most possible wildlife. The itinerary includes eight national parks, beaches on both coasts, cloud forest canopy tours, whitewater rafting, volcanoes, hot springs, sea-kayaking with dolphins, snorkeling at night in the bioluminescence, a scarlet macaw migration, a world-famous sloth sanctuary and a hands-on wildlife rescue center.

Costa Rica is best for adults and kids eight years and up. More details....

Taiama Ecological Preserve, Brazil

(Belize jaguar)

Located on an island in Brazil's Pantanal, one of the world's largest tropical wetlands, the preserve is a virtually unknown alternative to the controversial jaguar tourism in the Porto Joffre area that has the highest density of jaguars in the world. 

It is a federally protected area not open to the public and no tour operator is permitted to take tourists onto the reserve itself. However, it is possible to circumnavigate the reserve (an 8-10 hour boat ride) in search of jaguars. By utilizing biologist guides with strict sustainable protocols (including no radio contact with other boats), this tour averages about 1.5 jaguar sightings a day in this area, often at close distance, for long periods of time, with no other boats around. Read more...

Assam, northern India

(One-horned rhinoceros)

The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros, is listed as a vulnerable species. It is primarily found in north-eastern India's Assam and in protected areas in the Terai of Nepal, where populations are confined to the riverine grasslands in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Although it once ranged throughout the entire stretch of the these plains, excessive hunting reduced the natural habitat drastically. Today, about 3,000 rhinos live in the wild, 2,000 of which are found in India's Assam alone.

In February 2006, for the first time in India, the Assam Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India - International Fund for Animal Welfare (WTI-IFAW) translocated a hand-raised rhino calf to Manas, marking the beginning of an ambitious project to reintroduce rhinos to Manas, where the species was driven to local extinction by poaching. The Rhino Rehabilitation Project aims to gradually repopulate rhinos in Manas, by relocating and rehabilitating orphaned or displaced hand-raised rhinos from Kaziranga National Park. This effort to repopulate rhinos in Manas is supported by the Bodoland Territorial Council and the Assam Forest Department. 

Kaziranga National Park largely falls within the Brahmaputra River flood plains and gets inundated annually in the rainy season. The floods take a heavy toll on wildlife including rhinos. In addition to death by drowning and displacement on being washed away, increased rhino poaching has also been associated with these floods as the escaping animals are highly vulnerable when they move out of the park in search of higher ground. More details...

Galapagos Islands

(Booby, pic: Ralph Lee Hopkins) 

The Galapagos Islands are best for adults and children six and up, and provide excellent experiences for travelers who are less adventurous or less active, as the activities aren't strenuous. A wildlife cruise is the best way to see the shore and cliff-dwelling birds and animals, such as this cute bird. Details....  


Bokeo Nature Preserve, Laos

(Clouded leopard)

Accessible only by an exhilarating network of zip-lines, this is among the few places in the world where lodging is in a tree-house 200 feet high in the rainforest canopy.  Here gibbons sing love duets each morning as the mist burns off the rainforest.  Bokeo can be combined with Thailand's little-known parks, Kaeng Krachan and Klong Seang Wildlife Sanctuary for tracking wild elephants, clouded leopards, flying fox and more.  Find out more....

Patagonia, South America

Patagonia is known for its unspoilt wilderness and unique opportunities to see animals. Punta Tombo, is a peninsula located on the Atlantic Ocean of Argentina and is the best place to see Magellanic Penguins within continental Patagonia.

With more than a million and a half penguins arriving to Punta Tombo every year to breed, you can get up-close to these popular sea birds. Though the first penguins arrive in September and stay at Punta Tombo until mid-March, the best time to visit is after November once the babies are born. The area is striking for the sheer volume of penguins and despite being a conservation area, visitors are allowed to get surprisingly near to the penguins, as long as you don't disturb or touch them.

These medium-sized penguins grow to be 76 cm (30 in) tall and weigh between 2.7 kg and 6.5 kg. Penguin couples stand in front of their nests, protecting the eggs from birds and other predators, and occasionally one adult goes to the sea for food. Other wildlife encountered in the area are sea birds (mainly seagulls, chimango caracaras and cormorants), rheas and guanacos.

Punta Tombo is part of the new marine National Park Golfo San Jorge. Select Latin America offers several holiday ideas which can include Punta Tombo.

Borneo, Indonesia

(Proboscis monkey)

Yes, this fellow is real, and a trip to this tropical island could let you see him. In fact, Borneo is an ideal Holiday destination because its most popular season is March through October. The difference in seasons is minimal, though, since it's hot humid and rainy year-round. In December there are fewer travelers and some of the best flight availability of the year.

The ancient primeval rainforest here harbors an Orang-Utan sanctuary, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys with huge noses, and Bornean gibbons who sing to each other, among countless other rare and endemic species. Highlights include a special expedition to see Borneo's unique flying and gliding mammals. Night excursions reveal tarsiers and slow loris, two of the world's smallest and cutest primates.

Sadly Borneo's rainforest is disappearing at alarming rates due to palm oil cultivation, making it an important 'see it while you can' destination.

Find out more...


(Slow loris)

These cute little fellows pop up in a Remote Rainforests & Islands itinerary in Thailand. Other highlights of a viist to this south-east Asian country include excursions seeking elephants, guars, tigers, gibbons, langurs, macaques, barking deer, flying foxes and a plethora of unique birds. There are wildlife safaris by boat and kayak based from a floating aqua-lodge and jeep and walking safaris in Kaeng Krachan, the largest and least visited national park in Thailand. Or you could go tracking wild elephants in Pa La-U, and snorkeling the turquoise waters of Ko Tarutau archipelago, meeting the underwater creatures. More details ..


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