Stop what you’re doing: this article contains images of incredible, awe-inspiring, and insanely cute animals. So if you’re big into wildlife and wanderlust, this should go straight to the top of your to do list. At Kenwood Travel, we’re fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s most jaw-dropping destinations. With nature in abundance, it’s not a huge surprise that these locations are home to creatures big and small. We’ve picked out our favourite experiences for animal lovers across the globe.
Lions in South Africa
South Africa simply is a hotbed for nature. A mind-boggling menagerie of scene-stealing species, this is a total mecca for animal obsessives. Head to South Africa and book yourself a safari, or arrange a tailor-made tour with an inbuilt game drive – you won’t regret it. Everyone has a favourite of the ‘Big 5’, but we thought we’d take a minute to appreciate Africa’s largest predator. These fierce felines range between woodlands and open savannas seeking prey, protecting and defending their prides. If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these creatures in a national park or game reserve, their regal stature and larger-than-life roars will stay with you for life.
Turtles in Mexico
Calling all Finding Nemo fans! The Riviera Maya and Cancun’s Caribbean waters are teeming with an assortment of sea turtles. Whilst snorkelling or scuba diving, you may encounter green turtles, hawksbill turtles, or loggerhead turtles. You can follow their life cycle throughout the year as they mate and come to shore to lay their eggs. Many of the resorts in Cancun have their own turtle protection programs with staff in place that patrol the beaches, collecting eggs to protect from poachers and other threats. Ask your concierge if you can participate in one of their hatchling releases – it’s a truly special experience.
Orangutans in Borneo
Known for their supreme intelligence and distinctive red fur, orangutans are currently only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. They’re the largest arboreal mammal, meaning they just love hanging out in the lush trees of Asia. The Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Kubah National Park, and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre are just a few of the places you can see these super smart creatures. We always recommend visiting a centre with a focus on rescue and rehabilitation, so that you can be certain your visit helps towards the protection of the animals and their environment. Their human-like gestures and expressions are sure to make for a touching and memorable experience.
Whale Sharks in Maldives
We’re not messing around with this one. If we’re diving in the Maldives, there is just one thing at the top of our checklist and that’s whale sharks: the biggest fish in the entire world. Growing up to 40 feet long and sometimes living for over 100 years, this record-smashing species is undoubtedly impressive. But the best thing about seeing one of these in the wild is that they are incredibly gentle. More interesting in filter feeding on krill and plankton through their cavernous mouths, there has never been a recorded incident of a whale shark attacking a human. So what are you waiting for? Add this to your bucket list of experiences for animal lovers.
Leopards in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is home to a total of 26 national parks, and visitors venture from far and wide to witness native wildlife there in the flesh: elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, and, of course, the elusive leopard. Whilst leopard numbers have dwindled over the years, there is still the chance you’ll encounter one of these spotted cats on the prowl when you’re on safari. If you’re extremely lucky, you may even set your sights on an all-black melanistic leopard like Bagheera from the Jungle Book. Though this is rare, what you can guarantee with a tour of somewhere like Yala National Park, is a breathtakingly diverse landscape, packed with life.