Nothing gets a traveler more stoked than once-in-a-lifetime moments such as watching a colony of penguins swim in Antarctica, taking a safari to watch the Great Migration in the Serengeti, or explore hundreds of marine creatures like the Midnight Parrotfish while scuba diving in the Great Blue Hole. It’s always best to explore wildlife in its natural habitat – areas that are remote and barely touched by tourists.
And now, more cruises and tours are offering travelers the opportunity with these unique wildlife excursions. We’ve scanned the globe to find some of the best wildlife destinations from Canada to Antarctica.
Churchill (Manitoba, Canada)
Located on the rugged shores of the Hudson Bay in Northern Manitoba, Churchill is one of the few human settlements in the world that is also home to polar bears. The best time to see these furry creatures is during the fall because most of their summer is spent hunting for food. The best way to experience the beauty of these bears is in the comfort of a cozy tundra buggy. And there’s no shortage of local tour companies, such as Tundra Buggy Tours and Tundra Buggy Adventures, who offer this experience of a lifetime.
Chobe National Park (Botswana, Africa)
Looking for a place to camp where the wildlife is free to roam? Head for the Chobe National Park to see large raptors nesting close to the river or water birds migrating to the area. Buffalo, elephants and lions are just a few animals you’ll see in the park. And if you’re on a game drive here, you won’t be met with other jeeps because there’s a max of no more than three vehicles allowed on each of the park’s three sites, making those awe-inspiring, close-up moments with warthogs, bushbucks, monkeys, leopards and hyenas even more special. Still looking for more wildlife? Take a cruise along the breathtaking Chobe River for a chance to see some marine mammals, such as hippos.
Although it may be void of any human life, Antarctica is home to one of the largest populations of penguins – more than 40 million of them are spread across the continent. Once unchartered, Antarctica is growing in popularity, and more cruise lines are adding the snow-capped glacial peaks and trek to see the Emperor penguin colonies to their itineraries. These lovable creatures are the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species. So you definitely won’t miss them even with the stark tundra backdrop.
Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
Stretching over 1,616 miles off the coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. It consists of 600 islands and 2900 coral reefs and an abundant marine ecosystem that includes 3,000 species of mollusks (think clams, oysters and cuttlefish) and 30 species of dolphins and whales like the humpback whale. For the adventurous, take a plunge underwater to see loggerhead turtles, manta rays, tiger sharks, butterfly fish, angelfish and sea snakes. And you definitely can’t leave here without spotting a dugong – a distant relative of the elephant. Yep, we said the elephant.
Yellowstone National Park, (Wyoming)
Aside from spewing geysers like Old Faithful, gradient canyons and rushing waterfalls, Wyoming’s crowned jewel is also home to some of the country’s most spectacular wildlife. Grey wolves, grizzlies, bald eagles, bison, coyotes, foxes, rattlesnakes and river otters are just a few examples of how diverse the wildlife is here. And if you’re looking for more animals than the ones that roam free on the national park’s 2.2-million acres, you can head south to the Red Desert where you may be able to spot a herd of wild horses. Yellowstone National Park is not only a destination to commune with nature, but also it is the perfect place to spot indigenous wildlife, which is one of the reasons why more than 3.8 million people visit the majestic park every year.
Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
Consisting of 18 main islands, 3 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets, this tiny archipelago off the coast of Ecuador has been an iconic destination for wildlife viewing for over 200 years. The islands are known for their vast number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. Today, more cruise lines sail along South America’s Pacific coast, making it much easier for anyone to view many of the native inhabitants, including the marine iguanas, Blue-footed Boobies, lava lizards, giant green sea turtles and sea lions.