Top 7 Places to See Wildlife
By Shelly Clemente
Kalahari Desert, Botswana
There are small red dunes that seamlessly fade into golden grass, acacia trees and dried out rivers. Every year floodwater flows into the Okavango and into the Kalahari Desert to create a unique wetland that supports and sustains a huge diversity of wildlife. Apart from year-round excellent game viewing, the beauty of this water is breathtaking. There are approximately 580 bird species, 75 larger mammal species and more than 80 fish species in the area. This is definitely one of the best places to see elephants, antelope, meerkats, lions, hyena and cheetah in their natural habitat.
Shark Bay, Western Australia
You won’t believe the range of wildlife here. You can see giant whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef and dolphins at Shark Bay. It is an amazing marine reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its sea grass beds are full of turtles, dugongs, rays and sea snakes. The nearby Francois Peron National Park is equally as stunning, and if you’re lucky you’ll see a group of incredible female dolphins who aquaplane onto the beach to catch their fish. On a calm day you can also see dugongs in the water from one of the cliff-top lookouts.
Yellowstone National Park, USA
Here is where you’ll get some of the best views in North America. It is famous for its wildlife and its geysers. You can spot moose, bison, wolves and the great grizzly bear. The best experience if watching the wildlife from the river or on a horse. You’ll get a completely different perspective and the animals tend to ignore you. The amazing thing about this park is that you just might see a grizzly bear while cruising through its open valleys or a black bear in other parts. You are most likely to see the bison I Hayden Valley, or often right in the middle of the road.
The Danum Valley, Borneo
The Danum Valley is home to the tallest tropical rainforest canopy in the world. It is a very hot, humid and one of the last stands of primary rainforest left in Borneo. It truly is an eye opening and different experience. You’ll be able to hear the wildlife – the howls of the gibbons, the singing of the cicadas and the calls of the orangutans. If you are patient enough you’ll see flying squirrels and gliding snakes, the bug-eyed tarsier and a binturong, a rare bear-like animal. There are also a few rare and endangered species, such as the Sumatran rhino and the clouded leopard.
Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
Uganda offers some of the best wildlife spots in East Africa, without the crowds of the other famous parks. Queen Elizabeth National Park is known for its beauty and variety of animals and trees. This world biosphere reserve offers a rare mix of altitude forest, stunning lakes, volcanic craters, savannah and vast swamps with lagoons and rivers running through them. Unsurprisingly, a quarter of Africa’s bird species are found here, and there are tree-climbing lions, elephants, hippos, mongoose, chimpanzees, mountain gorillas and flamingos, just to give a taste of what you’ll see there.
Canaima National Park, Venezuela
Canaima National Park is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s largely thanks to its tepui, or table-top mountains. There are spectacular cascades of water from the these vertical-sided, flat-topped mountains, including the Angel Falls, the highest water fall in the world. It is home to an incredible diversity of plant and animal life, but it is not for the faint-hearted. Along the Orinoco river you can see giant tarantulas – spiders the size of dinner plates, which are actually a delicacy for the local Piaroa Indians. Other wildlife includes howler monkeys, giant anteaters and armadillos, parrots, anacondas and jaguars.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
This isolated group of volcanic islands and its fragile ecosystem is an incredible showcase of biodiversity and one of the few places left where the human footprint is kept to a minimum. These islands have never been connected with the mainland. Therefore, for species to have arrived here, they had to have flown, swam, or floated. Most often, the larger mammals at the top of the food chain were unable to make the journey. With the lack of predators in the Galapagos, many of the animals appear tame, never learning to fear humans. You’ll find many species of birds, swimming vegetarian iguanas, and more. The star of the island is definitely its population of Galapagos Giant Tortoise, many of which live more than 150 years!