Most people love animals (unless they’ve had some traumatic experience that ruined animals for them, or they are very allergic). Here are a few destinations for animal lovers who want a true animal encounter.
African Safari – One of the best ways to see all your favourite animals is on safari in Africa. For surprisingly reasonable rates you can stay at a national park right in the animals’ habitat. Accommodations vary, depending on your price point and preferences, but usually camps are situated in locations most likely to garner animal sightings. Tours can be arranged to take you to different areas of the park during different times of the day, and guides can help you see the most variety of species even in just a single day.
Tanzania and South Africa are both extremely popular destinations for safari-ing, however there are big and small reserves all over Africa that offer intimate animal encounters.
Volunteer Vacations– If you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, there are countless opportunities to volunteer with animal sanctuaries and organizations around the world for short stints. For a fairly reasonable price (some more reasonable than others) you will receive room and board for your stay (usually 1-2 weeks, but sometimes longer) and you will be put to work helping care for animals. Love elephants? Head to Thailand’s elephant sanctuary and help give them a bath. Always dreamed of helping to save the sea turtle? Sign up with Malaysia’s Help our Penyu program to spread awareness and participate in turtle research. In China, you can even volunteer to help care for and collect data on pandas!
Animal Add-ons – Maybe you’re not willing to commit a full week to animals, but you’d still like to check out some animal activities while you’re on vacation. How about the Big Cat Rescue facility in Tampa Florida? There are more than a hundred species of wild cats and lots of opportunities for tours or exploring the sanctuary on your own. Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in New York State is another great place to get a hands-on experience with animals. Stay a night at the B&B, or plan a day trip to see the endearing sheep, pigs and goats and enjoy a vegan breakfast. Melbourne’s Phillip Island Nature Park is a can’t-miss stop for the daily penguin parade – every evening hundreds of penguins march out of the ocean and up the beach to their night roosts. There are special viewing platforms or private guided tours (with a trained naturalist) available.