When we travel, we don’t usually think about animals — it’s more about cities, culture, and food.
Here are 10 extraordinary trips where you can experience something different and inspiring by spending some quality time with our furry friends.
Play ranger in Borneo
Get up close and personal with orangutans. (Photo: Jan Kostura)
Orangutans, whose name means “people of the forest” in Malay, are an endangered species, and there may come a day when they cease to exist. To witness these incredible animals before it’s too late, take Jacada Travel’s Wildlife Wonders & Islands of Borneo trip, where travelers can meet the lively rescued orangutans at a local rehabilitation center, and get up close and personal with sun bears, the rare pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhino, clouded leopard, over 275 bird species, and more.
If swimming with sea turtles strikes your fancy, on Borneo’s Gaya Island kids and travelers can explore the Sulu Sea with marine biologists and learn all about the wonders of the world beneath the surface.
Off-the-beaten-path safaris in southern Tanzania
A thrilling chance to see wildlife up close. (Photo: Azura Selous Game Reserve)
If you are looking for an intimate, authentic, and exclusive safari experience, look no further than Azura Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. Enjoy the splendor of being surrounded by a pack of wild dogs or a pride of lions and not having to worry about a hundred other cameras all going “click.” Take a walking safari with a highly professional guide who will share with you his bush stories and experiences while you learn about the “little five” and get close to a pod of hippos.
Horseback ride the Patagonian coastline
Explore the marine life in Bahia Bustamante. (Jacada Travel)
Wouldn’t you love to spend a day exploring the isolated natural biodiversity of the Patagonian coast south of the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina, totally off the tourist track? Even better, on horseback? With Jacada Travel’s specialized local guides, you can explore the coastline of Bahia Bustamante spotting sea lions, steamer ducks, orcas, southern right whales, penguin colonies, flamingos, and other marine wildlife.
Scuba-dive with hammerhead sharks in the Pacific Ocean
Malpelo Island is the place to go diving in Colombia. (Photo: Pura Columbia)
About 300 miles west off the Pacific coast of Colombia lies Malpelo Island, one of the world’s best diving spots. It’s here where you can experience the magnificent feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of these powerful, prehistoric animals. Hammerheads usually don’t pose a threat to humans, but due to their predatory nature, caution should always be taken. Besides hammerheads, whale sharks, humpback whales, and, if you are lucky, the blue whale can also be seen.
Swim with Amazon pink dolphins in Novo Airão, Brazil
Make friends with dolphins in the Amazon River. (Photo: Southern Cross Tours)
The chance to swim with the friendliest and most intelligent river dolphin, listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “endangered species-threatened,” is an experience not to be missed. Simply dive into the Amazon River and splash around with these sociable animals, the only freshwater dolphins in the world. Watch out for the piranha, though!
Book a tour with Southern Cross Tours and Expeditions.
Feel like Mowgli and get cozy with Bengal tigers in India
Tiger seen in Bandhavgarh National Park (Photo: Terra Incognita)
These solitary, nocturnal animals are not so easy to spot, but you can increase your chances by visiting one of these three national parks in India: Corbett, Bandhavgarh, or Kanha. Spend a day in the comfort of a 4x4 or on the back of an elephant and observe these majestic creatures, whose numbers are sadly diminishing, in their natural habitat. Book an ecotour with Terra Incognita and support the local communities with employment, encouraging locally owned and operated lodges and the use of local goods.
Track and save Cross River gorillas in Southwest Cameroon
Observe gorillas in their natural habitat. (Photo: African Conservation)
Volunteer for a two- or four-week expedition and actively protect Africa’s most endangered great ape in the Lebialem Highlands, rich in endemic biodiversity species. The project helps to conserve Cross River gorillas by focusing on great ape surveys, reforestation projects, and environmental education activities at local schools in order to promote a sustainable future. Spend your days in the wilderness tracking gorillas, observing and recording their habits, and getting to know their every move with the intention of saving them.
Hang out with furry Arctic animals in Canada
Chill with polar bears on the tundra. (Photo: Churchill Wild tours)
Wouldn’t you love to observe how polar bears act in their natural habitat and be able to take good photos, too? Accessible only by air, Seal River Heritage Lodge, built on the Hudson Bay near the Seal River estuary, offers visitors the unique opportunity to observe bears, birds, and beluga whales from a variety of locations: the viewing tower, one of the nature trails, or just inside the window while you eat. Suit up and join a Polar Bear Photo Safari trip or an Arctic Safari with Churchill Wild tours, and enjoy the peacefulness that only a tundra environment can offer.
Boat like the locals on the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Glide down the river in a rowing canoe. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Experience the stillness and ecological wonders of the Okavango Delta in true local style and cruise down side channels not passable by motorboat in a traditional dugout canoe, called a mokoro. Pass excitingly close to hippos and crocodiles lazing on the banks, or watch a herd of elephants take a delightful afternoon bath. Bird watchers will be in feather paradise.
Nighttime turtle watching in Costa Rica
It’s a rare and wonderful sight to see turtles lay their eggs. (Photo: Anywhere Costa Rica)
The leatherback turtles need your help, and by paying a night visit to the Marino Baulas National Park, you not only get the chance to observe the nesting and egg-laying process of these critically endangered creatures, but you also are supporting the community to continue protecting the fragile ecosystem that affects the survival of these animals.
WATCH: Howler Monkeys in Costa Rica