Updated: February 2020
I have been an animal lover my entire life, and I love traveling to destinations that have unique wildlife experiences! Whether it’s going on safari in South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Kenya or exploring some of the world’s top dive sites in Mozambique and Indonesia, there are tons of interesting animals to discover.
When you go on safari or see animals in any sort of environment, it’s crucial to find ethical animal encounters wherever you go. These are ones that truly care for the wellbeing of the animals as well as local infrastructure.
Here are some of the best wildlife destinations in the world!
A lot of these animals require special protection, and the Seychelles government has responded by creating one of the largest protected areas in the world!
While you’re visiting, keep an eye out for the giant Aldabra tortoises and the rare black parrot! If you’re a diver like me, you can expect to see whale sharks and endangered sea turtles.
With 18 main islands, the Galapagos Islands are a haven for some of the world’s most endangered animals. There are more than 200 recorded species on the islands, and it’s the only place in the Northern Hemisphere where you can find penguins!
The islands are also famous for their giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, flamingos, iguanas, and seals.
It’s one of the best wildlife destinations I’ve traveled to!
Kenya is an incredible safari destination in Africa. The country is home to one of the most famous national parks in the world the Masai Mara!
It’s where you can witness the Great Migration of over one million wildebeest across the Serengeti Plains. The event is dubbed the “greatest wildlife show on Earth,” and it’s of the best places to witness predators like lions, cheetahs, and crocodiles hunt!
Other top wildlife experiences in Kenya include Lake Nakuru. It’s home to thousands of flamingos that flock to the lake to cool off from the summer heat in January and February.
You can also travel to Kenya’s beautiful coastline and spend an entire day snorkeling and diving at Watamu Marine Park. Keep an eye out for endangered sea turtles, whale sharks, and spinner dolphins!
What would any mention of Kenya’s wildlife be without adding in the Giraffe Manor? You can share your breakfast with the giraffes that roam the property!
If you want to turn back time to see Kenya the way it looked in the 1930s, you’ve got to check out The Safari Collection’s Giraffe Manor. Incredibly preserved and sitting on top of 140 acres of land, this place is like stepping into a dream.
Sri Lanka is a hot spot for some of the finest wildlife in South Asia. It has a wide variety of animals including big game and marine life.
It’s where you’ll find, Mihintale, the world’s first reserve that was created in the third century BC! Fast forward to the present, and the country boasts over 100 areas of protected land for its wildlife.
One of the highlights from my trip to Sri Lanka a few years ago was going on an elephant and leopard safari!
Underwater in Raja Ampat
Indonesia is an incredible wildlife destination for animal lovers on a budget. With cheap domestic flights and affordable accommodation, you’ll have more than enough money left in your budget to see the country’s unique wildlife.
One of my favorite places to scuba dive in Indonesia is Raja Ampat. It’s an archipelago that houses more than 1,300 species of coral reef fish, five species of endangered sea turtles, 600 species of hard coral, 13 marine mammal species, and 700 species of mollusk.
Since moving to South Africa, I’ve been lucky enough to experience some of the country’s top wildlife destinations. From the world-famous Kruger National Park to Gondwana Private Game Reserve along the Garden Route, you can expect exceptional safaris no matter where you go.
Addo National Park is one national park I’ve yet to visit. It’s the only place in the world where you can see the Big 7 (leopard, lion, wildebeest, elephant, rhino, the Southern right whale, and the great white shark)!
Mozambique is one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world. Whale sharks and manta rays prowl the plankton filled waters, and humpback whales pass by the shore on their way through the Mozambique Channel from the Antarctic.
You can also expect to see endangered sea turtles, dolphins, and dugongs!
While the Maldives is known for being a luxurious honeymoon destination, it’s also one of the best places to go scuba diving. The island nation’s waters are home to over 2,000 species of fish including eels, turtles, and rays, tuna, sharks, dolphins, and whale sharks.
There are dozens of dive sites to explore for all levels, and you can also learn to dive at one of the resort dive schools!
Uganda is one of the only countries in the world where you can see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. There are only 880 left in the world, and most of them live in the mountain range between Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While the permits to see the gorillas are expensive, I think it’s worth it! The government makes sure only 80 people are allowed to trek to a group each day, and the money is used to fund anti-poaching units and other conservation efforts.
Isla Tortuga, Costa Rica
The tropical rainforests in Costa Rica are home to 5% of the world’s wildlife. Some of the country’s best national parks are Parque Nacional Tortuguero (home to the elusive jaguar and nesting sea turtles) and Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio.
Keep an eye out for Central American squirrel monkeys, black-handed spider monkeys, mantled howlers, white-faced capuchins, ocelots, and cuddly little sloths!
Parque das Aves, Brazil
The Amazon rainforest is one of the top wildlife destinations in Brazil. It’s the world’s largest tropical rainforest and is famous for its biodiversity.
Some of the most exciting species you can see in the rainforest include the jaguar, cougar, anaconda, piranha, vampire bat, and the Black Caiman!
Another wildlife destination in Brazil that’s worth checking out is the Pantanal region. It’s the world’s largest tropical wetland area and is home to the largest concentration of wildlife on the continent.
Botswana is one of the top safari destinations in Africa. Only a short and affordable flight from South Africa, you can travel to a range of budget and luxury camps that will give you some of the best wildlife experiences in the world.
One of my favorite lodges in the country is Jack’s Camp. It’s located inside Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, and there’s no Wi-Fi or electricity.
But if you can handle the digital detox, you’ll get to visit the camp’s resident mob of meerkats. Another wildlife highlight for me in Botswana was a sunset river cruise!
There were so many elephants at the watering hole as well as hippos and other types of animals!
Tonga is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with southern humpback whales, making it one of the best places to see wildlife up close. After returning from the icy depths of Antarctica, the whales travel to the tropical waters of the Polynesian kingdom to give birth to their young.
The best time to visit the whales is from July to October. When booking your whale watching or swimming tour, make sure only to use licensed whale operators that are listed by Tonga’s tourism board.
This will ensure that you support tour companies that use responsible tourism practices, trained guides, and the correct equipment.
Kangaroo Island in Australia is one of the best places to see wildlife in the world. The pristine landscape is home to large populations of sea lions, kangaroos, koalas, and pelicans.
The massive island is also divided up into 24 protected areas, 19 national parks, and 5 Wilderness Protection Areas to ensure the wildlife here will be around for future generations.
While it is possible to visit Kangaroo Island as a day trip, I’d recommend staying over. There’s so much to see and do so you’ll want to take your time visiting all the highlights and seeing as much of the wildlife as possible.
Churchill, Canada is the polar bear capital of the world. Thousands of people travel to the Great White North each year to see these beautiful (and endangered) creatures in their natural habitat.
If you’re eager to catch a glimpse of the bears, plan your trip to Canada between October and November. It’s when the bears start to migrate to Hudson Bay and wait for the ice to freeze over – signaling the start of seal hunting season.
It’s one of the best animal experiences in the world!
Plus…who wouldn’t want to see belugas and narwhals?!
If there’s one wildlife destination that’s at the top of my bucket list – it’s an excursion to South Georgia’s Falkland Islands. The remote islands boast beautiful white sandy beaches that are home to hundreds of adorable penguins, elephant seals, sea lions, albatrosses, and petrels.
It’s an expedition that’s ideal for travelers that want to get off the beaten track for an unforgettable experience with wildlife set against a dramatic and vast backdrop.
Borneo is the world’s third-largest island. It belongs to three different countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, and is one of the best places to travel for animal lovers.
The island is also where you’ll find some of the world’s most endangered and unique wildlife. Travel into Borneo’s lush jungles, and you might be lucky enough to come across a herd of pygmy elephants, orangutans, and the strange-looking proboscis monkey.
Traveling to the world’s best wildlife destinations is a great way to see unique creatures in their natural habitat. It also gives you an appreciation of our world and why it’s so important to do our best to preserve our natural heritage.
What are your favorite wildlife destinations in the world? Let me know in the comments!