Today I’m taking a look at 7 of the best wildlife experiences that the world has to offer, from far away to close to home. Not since I wrote 7 of the best travel photo blogs have I struggled so much with the pick. But that’s the beauty of writing 7 of the best, right? I can always come back with seven more…especially after this Galapagos trip and my recent adventures with the king of the swingers…
So, this shortlist highlights the unusual and the beautiful of the big wide world out there. Enjoy!
It’s not every day you find a baby crocodile swishing through the water by your side. But it is something that happens every night, or thereabouts, on a night safari from Borneo’s Sukau Rainforest Lodge. Up above, amid the branches and the shadows and the tricks of the mind…are monkeys. Many, many monkeys.
The plane trembles like a bumblebee with vertigo as it lilts and lifts through the sky cavity around Joburg. The ground, a blurred marble of ochre and olive, continues on. And on. And on.
It’s only a short hop by air from Johannesburg to the Madikwe Game Reserve in African terms, but of course, for those of us from smaller isles, it’s hard to believe just how much space there is out there on the ground.
Sometimes, you have to work hard to see wildlife. And when I say sometimes, I mean most of the time. You have to creep past snakes in the darkness and risk frostbite to glimpse a tiger. You have to play basketball with the base of your spine along a rickety dirt track to see a zebra, lion or rhino. You have to hike for days to see a condor, paddle for miles to see a seal and at the absolute minimum jump into the sea to eyeball a turtle.
Not so in the Maldives, a chain of one thousand or so islands with a reputation for showing guests the luxurious side of life. The diving grabs all the headlines, requiring paperwork to prove that you know how to breathe, but you don’t even need to go that far.
You can swim with sharks at the shore. Or sit back on a deckchair and watch…
Roam around the raw and rugged cliffs of Britain’s only Coastal National Park in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. The Puffins on Skomer Island are so beautiful you’ll want to get up close and give them a cwtch (actually, probably best to just admire them from afar).
The Okavango Delta in Botswana (the largest delta in the world) is home to elephants, impala, giraffe, hippos and warthogs aplenty. Its watery nature means that there are virtually no roads – so the only ways of getting around are by boat or by plane. Both versions will give you a truly amazing experience: either up close with the reeds and the animals in a traditional mokoro, or gazing down at the swirls of the delta from the sky.
The tail, that majestic symbol of all the monsters of the deep, rises, pauses, holds, waits, lingers above the water before plunging down again, throwing up a signature of spray. Very few animals have the ability to stir emotions in us with their everyday movements. The humpback whale is undoubtedly part of this very special group.
On Lantau Island at the mouth of the Pearl River, the buffalo come to sleep. Twilight drifts over the neon lights, the gleaming spires and the synthetic shopping malls elsewhere in Hong Kong. But in this part, at least, twilight signals a change of pace. A string of fairy lights sums up the illumination on the beach, where wild buffalo scuff the sand and settle down as the light fades for a snooze with an oceanfront view.
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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