7 of The Best Wildlife Experiences in The World

By Abi King | Trip Advice

Mar 09

7 of the best wildlife experiences in the world via @insidetravellab

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!

7 of the Best Wildlife Experiences

Sukau Rainforest Lodge Night Safariin Borneo from @insidetravellab

1) Take a night safari in Borneo

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.

Leopard on safari at Makanyane Safari Lodge in Madikwe South Africa - Great for safari from @iinsidetravellab

2) Catch the Big Five in South Africa

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.

Reef sharks one of the best wildlife experiences in the Maldives from @insidetravellab

We’re worse…

3) Swim with sharks in The Maldives

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…

Seeing wild puffins on Skomer Island Pembrokeshire from @insidetravellab

4) Admire the Puffins on Skomer Island, Wales

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).

Incredible Okavango Delta in the sky

5) Arrange a Mokoro Safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta

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.

Spectacular sighting of a whale from @insidetravellab in Alaska

6) Go whale watching in Alaska

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.

Buffalo and yachts hang out together on the beaches of Hong Kong - from @insidetravellab Kong

7) Hang out with Buffalo in Hong Kong

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.

So, what do you think? Which wildlife experiences should make the best in the world list?



About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more.

  • SAM says:

    Great List!

    Missing IMO are The Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda.

    Happy travels,


    • Abi King says:

      Ah…yes! I haven’t seen them myself but have heard so much about them. Adding them to my wishlist :-)

  • Thomas Dembie says:

    I second the Mountain Gorillas. Visiting Rwanda and seeing the gorillas was one of the best experiences of my life!

  • De'Jav says:

    Great list of recommendations. Maybe diving with the whale sharks or mantarays in Exmouth, Australia.

    • Abi King says:

      Oh yes – diving with whale sharks! Have been trying to set this up for a while but can’t manage to get in the right place at the right time. Photos look amazing though – a true appreciation of how small we are in the world.

  • De'Jav says:

    Great list what about swimming with the whale sharks in Exmouth, Australia

  • I haven’t done any of these! I’d also add some kind of scuba dive (the manta rays in Hawaii maybe?) to this list.

    • Abi King says:

      How did that happen?! You’ve travelled the world! Noted down the manta rays in Hawaii to try and test out…(I haven’t been to Hawaii at all.)

  • All good! I have only been whale watching in Alaska and off the west coast of Canada. An amazing experience!!

    • Abi King says:

      Ah – it was one of my favourite moments ever to see the whale tail sloooowly emerge and crash down. Incredible.

  • Sophie says:

    All great choices. I’d add playing with huskies in the Arctic snow :)

    • Abi King says:

      Ooh yes! Because they’re so domesticated I didn’t think of them…but they’re stunning and so much fun. And they run so fast! Yes, huskies in the Arctic snow are definitely going on the follow up list! Thanks for the memory jog…

  • JoAnna says:

    I’d definitely add a trip to the Galapagos Islands to this list. In my experience, nothing has compared with the untamed, untouched natural wilderness of the Galapagos.

    • Abi King says:

      I’m here right now! And yes, I see what you mean :-) Definitely making it onto the next list.

  • Corinne says:

    You’ve got some good ones there, but there are plenty…How about watching grizzlies in Katmai National Park.

    • Abi King says:

      Sounds like a good one. I’m also keen to see polar bears too…Ah, so many! Lucky we’ll never get bored with life, eh?

  • I once visited a remote islet off NW Scotland specifically for puffin-spotting. Handa Island is so remote that you have to wave frantically, arms overhead, on the beach for the boat man to come and get you. Suffice it to say, I saw only 2 puffins on the island but saw loads on the water next to the boat on the way back to the mainland.


    • Abi King says:

      That’s kind of the experience I expected on Skomer…I was AMAZED when there were puffins in every direction and zooming straight past my head. Incredible stuff.

  • Hey Abi!
    Great compilation and good suggestions. I haven’t been out of my country. Just waiting for my kids to grow…so I can pull them too….when we plan on a tour abroad sometime sooner, I’ll make sure my husband includes at least one of these destinations so I can come back to you with profound memories and a new- found love for travel.

    • Abi King says:

      Good luck! I wonder where your home country is? Plenty of chances to travel there?

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