Where to Go to See the World's Best Wildlife
Updated: Mar 2
A straw poll of tour operators revealed the following top 10 favourite wildlife destinations. Although dominated by Africa, other close contenders included Canada's Great Bear Rainforest, Churchill (for polar bears), Baja California, Costa Rica, Svalbard, Madagascar, Sabah, Kimberley, Papua New Guinea and Kamchatka.
What's your favourite? Leave a comment below.
Great frigate bird, Galapagos Islands; cheetah cub, Masai Mara; hippos, South Luangwa
1. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Wildlife bonanza above and below the waves. Seabirds, sea lions, giant tortoises and marine iguanas are unfazed by humans. Visit year round. Cruises from 3-10 days are available. Some boats offer diving.
2. Serengeti/Masai Mara, Tanzania/Kenya
Vast plains teeming with game. Witness the epic migration of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle as they struggle across rivers and run the gauntlet of crocs and big cats.
3. South Luangwa, Zambia
Mosaic of woodland, grassland and wetland oozing wildlife and perfect for exploring on foot. Visit June to October and enjoy some of Africa’s finest camps and most knowledgeable safari guides.
Elephant, Okavango, king penguin, South Georgia; Bengal tiger, India
4. Okavango Delta, Botswana
Watery wilderness on the edge of the Kalahari offering an exciting range of game-viewing options, including 4WD vehicle, dugout canoe, horse riding and elephant-back safaris. Visit year round.
Take a peek at life in the freezer during the Austral Summer from November to March. Spot whales from the deck of a cruise ship and goggle at crowded seal and penguin colonies.
6. India’s tiger reserves
Join a big game safari Asia-style with chances of spotting gazelles, monkeys, sloth bears and tigers. Prime time for big cat watching is February to April when vegetation withers at the end of the dry season.
Amazon riverboat, Peru; giant anteater, Pantanal; mountain gorilla, Rwanda
7. The Peruvian Amazon
Tambopata and Manu Reserves protect vast areas of virgin jungle. Visit June to August and venture from your lodge on foot or by canoe in search of giant otters, freshwater dolphins and scarlet macaws.
8. The Pantanal, Brazil
Huge seasonal wetland (about half the size of France) with superb birdlife, giant anteaters, anacondas, howler monkeys, capybaras, caimans and even jaguars. Visit July to September.
9. Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Track rare golden monkeys and mountain gorillas in their rainforest stronghold. Other good spots to meet your distant hairy cousins include Bwindi in Uganda.
Bald eagles, Alaska
From tundra to temperate rainforest, Alaska is varied and vast – with wildlife to match. Bears, whales, eagles and wolves can all be found. Visit June to September, taking in Denali and Kenai Fjords.
A Year on Safari
January: Watch the courtship dance of blue-footed boobies in the Galápagos Islands.
February: See grey whales and their calves in the Pacific lagoons of Baja California, Mexico.
March: Track tigers in Satpura National Park, India, on a walking safari.
April: Paddle a dugout past browsing elephants in the Okavango Delta.
May: Snorkel with whale sharks off Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.
June: Trek through a Rwandan jungle in search of mountain gorillas.
July: Explore the rainforest of Manu Biosphere Reserve, Peru.
August: Watch migrating wildebeest and zebra cross the Mara River.
September: Walk to a carmine bee-eater colony in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley.
October: Watch polar bears gathering on the shores of Hudson Bay.
November: Observe turtles coming ashore to nest on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.
December: Lose count of penguins on a cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula.