Today, more than ever, there is a growing awareness about the importance of the protection of our planet. And if you’re an animal lover, this issue is even more important to you, and chances are, you appreciate seeing these amazing creatures roaming free in the wilderness rather than being locked up in cages. Thankfully, there are so many amazing destinations all around the world where people are making an effort to preserve the natural habitat of the native fauna, operate sanctuaries to help animals and offer authentic, first-hand experiences with the local wildlife. If you want your next holiday to be infused with some memorable animal encounters, here are a few destinations to consider.
Thailand is a much-coveted and rising destination for many reasons, including its impeccable beaches, lush forests and welcoming atmosphere. However, there is also one more good reason to visit this amazing country if you’re an animal lover. Thailand boasts a number of elephant sanctuaries, including the Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, which is an unforgettable experience to visit. You can choose from various programs from half-day visits to even “2 Days 1 Night” options, but whichever you choose, be prepared to be charmed by these cute giants as you hand feed them, play with them in the mud spa and bathe them, all the while learning a lot about them, their behavior, history and other interesting things. You will have so many precious memories to take home!
Being so isolated from the rest of us, Australia is known to have one of the most unique arrays of fauna in the world. And if you travel all the way to its farthermost corner – the island state of Tasmania, you will experience not only some of the most breathtaking sights you will ever see, but you will encounter a bunch of interesting animals on your way. Opting for hiking in Tasmania is on many people’s bucket list for exactly these reasons: there are few other places where you will find such unspoiled nature. The first animal that comes to mind upon hearing the name of this state is probably the infamous Tasmanian Devil – a much less intimidating creature than its name suggests, which you can meet in one of the sanctuaries such as Devils @ Cradle or the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo, but you will most certainly run into a few marsupials such as quolls, wombats and wallabies too while hiking through the mountains.
Arguably the continent that has the most majestic animals of all – including their king, is Africa. This vast territory hides a lot of surprises and might seem intimidating to first-time visitors, however, it would be a shame to miss a chance to see these animals close-up and in their natural habitat at least once in your lifetime! Thankfully, there are lots of walking safaris available that are both safe and give you an authentic experience in the wilderness. One of the best places for such an adventure is certainly Zimbabwe – Mana Pools National Park, in particular. This is a World Heritage Site in the north corner of the country, a beautiful, unspoiled place that will take your breath away. You will see zebras, lions, antelopes and so on. Besides, the bird life is equally breath-taking with over 350 species that live there, including impressive vultures, Goliath herons as well as black and white fish eagles. All in all, this is perhaps the best place to explore the African fauna.
There are many reasons to visit the sunshine state of Australia, but for animal and nature lovers, the best one is certainly the Great Barrier Reef. A coral reef so enormous that it can be seen from outer space, this is a teeming paradise of all kinds of marine life you can imagine. From Cairns all the way to the Gold Coast, there are so many amazing diving sites that you will have a hard time just choosing one. Some that you should definitely look up are Lady Elliot Island and Heron Island. Here, you have a good chance of seeing sea turtles hatching and making their way to the water from November to May. However, if you’re visiting this magnificent place during the other half of the year, you can go on a whale watching tour in Cairns and spot Humpback Whales between July and September.
Finally, if you want to fall in love with one of the most endearing species in the world that is, unfortunately, critically endangered, then make your way to Borneo and visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. The number of Bornean orangutans has decreased to half in the past 60 years, which is why there is so much effort to help these animals – the aforementioned center, for instance, takes in orphaned and confiscated orangutans and rehabilitates them before they are released into the wild. You can watch orangutans being fed while learning about these animals as you make your way through the rehabilitation center. Since these orangutans are free to roam, there is no guarantee that many of them will show themselves to visitors at a particular time; however, it will still be a memorable experience to help these animals.
There are so many amazing species all around the world that we need to appreciate and help if needed. If you decide to combine these activities with your next holiday, make sure to consider one of the aforementioned destinations.