I’m pleased to bring you part three of my ‘World’s Best Places For Wildlife Spotting’ series that has showcased experiences from around the world, sharing with you insider tips on the earth’s best destinations for wildlife spotting.
This month’s additions are taking us from Africa to the Pacific, bringing inspiration to visit some of this world’s most marvellous creatures in their natural habitat. Orangutans in Borneo, Bears in Finland and Rhinos in Zimbabwe – read ahead for more.
Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, Australia
Cradle Mountain area in Tasmania is an excellent place for spotting Australia's wildlife. It is located in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and it is part of Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area. Besides offering spectacular views the area is also home for various wildlife. Animals living in the region include echidnas, pademelons, wallabies, Tasmanian devils and wombats.
Wombats are funny short-legged burrowing animals that can run as fast as 40km/hour. There are a lot of wombats living in the Ronny Creek area in Cradle Mountain so it is a great place for spotting these fluffy creatures. Wombats are nocturnal so the best chances of seeing them are during dusk and dawn when they crawl out from their burrows. On cooler days they can also be active during daytime. When we were visiting Ronny Creek we saw about 20 wombats strolling around the area.
Helena from Helena Travels
Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe
Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its beautiful rock formations. It's also home to a wide variety of wildlife including rhinos. These beautiful animals are being poached at an incredible rate, because of the value of their horns. Though efforts are being made to avoid extinction, rhinos remain endangered.
Black Rhino Safaris offers a rare opportunity to track rhinos within Matobo National Park. A guide will teach you the basics of tracking and together you'll spend the morning tracking on foot. We successfully found a crash of rhinos within 30 minutes of hiking. Our guide let us spend some time observing them while educating us on the preservation efforts being done within the park. We highly recommend taking part in a rhino tracking safari if you find yourself in Zimbabwe. It's a wonderful opportunity to view rhinos up close in their natural habitat.
Alana from Great Big Globe
Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park & Okavango Delta, Botswana
Botswana offers excellent wildlife spotting opportunities, with its low population density, strict anti-poaching laws, ban on hunting, seasonal water sources and vast saltpans. There are 14 national parks and game reserves to explore.
For birdlife head to Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world and a world heritage site, with 15,000km2 of seasonal wetland and swamps in NorthWest Botswana. Okavango is a haven for wildlife – particularly birdlife – and one of the best ways to get up close is by boat; or better still stay on a houseboat!
Among the best spots to view large animals are Moremi Game Reserve or Chobe National Park, where you have a good chance of seeing four of the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo). Chobe has an impressive 35,000 strong elephant population, more than any other African national park. And let’s not forget the rather unfairly labeled Ugly Five (Wart Hog, Hyena, Baboon, Vulture and Marabou Stalk).
Amanda from Amanda’s Wanderlust
Montague Island NSW, Australia
Montague Island is a nature reserve run by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Montague Island is nature’s playground and the breeding ground for the largest colony of fur seals and of thousands of little penguins. Montague Island is a fantastic location to watch the whales swim north for the breeding season in June and return with their baby cows in October. It is also where the little penguins run freely around. Montague Island is 4 hours south of Sydney, and you can stay on the island.
Paula and Gordon of Contented Traveller
Kinabatangan River, Malaysian Borneo
The Kinabatangan River area, one of Borneo's most important waterways, is one of the best places in the world for wildlife spotting. Choose an eco-lodge located a couple of hours by boat from Sandakan in Sabah for increasing the possibilities of seeing the animals in the wild. Go on a river safari for a chance to spot the “Big 5 of Borneo”: Hornbills, crocodiles, proboscis monkeys (the funniest-looking monkeys ever!), pygmy elephants, and them, the kings of the forest: the orangutans! It takes some luck to see them all, especially the orangutans and the elephants, but it’s a big emotion when you do see them. And in any case, Borneo will gift you with some mesmerizing sunsets on the river!
Stephania from Every Steph
Kangaroo Island, Australia
Australia is blessed with an abundance of unique and wonderful wildlife, a lot of which you can find on Kangaroo Island. As the name suggests, you will see lots of Kangaroos when touring the island. Actually they are everywhere and even love to jump out in front of speeding cars. But the wildlife spotting doesn't end there. Head to Seal Bay to walk on the sand with Sea Lions, the Raptor Domain to get up close with birds of prey, and wander down to Admirals Arch in Flinders Chase National Park to spot the New Zealand Fur Seals lazing on the rocks below. Kangaroo Island really is wonderful place, especially if you love nature and wildlife.
Jen from The Trusted Traveller
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Etosha National Park is Namibia’s premier wildlife refuge and often regarded as one of the top parks in the world for spotting animals. The park is home to four of Africa’s Big 5 and houses one of the world’s largest populations of critically endangered black rhinos. Etosha National Park’s main characteristic is a 4,760 square meter salt pan that covers approximately one quarter of the park. In the rainy season, the pan floods with water and attracts flocks of migrating birds. In the dry season, Etosha’s lack of water drives large herds of animals to the few water sources within the park and allows visitors to witness animal numbers in the hundreds.
Erika from Erika’s Travels
Taiga Forest, Finland
One of my favourite locations for wildlife spotting is a sparsely-populated area of north eastern Finland known as the Taiga Forest. Here you have a chance to see the four large, carnivorous predators of Europe (brown bears, wolverines, wolves and lynx). The remote wilderness location offers great opportunities to view these impressive beasts behaving naturally in the wild, away from human interference, and in a responsible way.
As well as both male and female brown bears, and a pair of young cubs, I saw wolverine, owls, arctic fox, and arctic hare during my visit, but the more elusive lynx, wolf and elk evaded us. As with any wildlife adventure, there are no guarantees, but coming face to face with Europe’s largest predator (from the safety of a hide) was one of the best wildlife encounters ever!
Amanda from Amanda’s Wanderlust
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
South Luangwa isn’t as famous as the Serengeti, but try telling that to the elephants, giraffes, and leopards that call it home. With over 60 species of mammals, Zambia’s premier park is an epic place for spotting wildlife and enjoying nature. It’s also one of Africa’s best-known parks for walking safaris, and exploring the park on two feet is a must.
Another thing I loved about South Luangwa was the option for rustic, budget-friendly accommodations and safaris. The luxury safaris in many of Africa’s parks can put a huge strain on limited local resources and essentially exclude most local people from being able to visit. Seeing South Luangwa is still a huge privilege, but the lower-key options available there leave a much smaller environmental footprint.
Jen from Passions and Places
The Gunung Leuser National Park, North Sumatra, Indonesia
The Gunung Leuser is a protected area of forest in the northern region of Sumatra and is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. The area is home to hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife including elephants, rhinos, tigers, leopard cats, siamangs, thomas leaf monkeys, macaques, gibbons and the endangered orangutan. Thankfully this protected area has provided a safe haven for the many orangutans that live here and has become one of the highest concentrations of orangutans in the world, making it the perfect destination to get up close to these marvellous creatures in the wild.
Eco trekking and responsible tourism is rampant in this region with many of the local people heavily involved in the protection of the forests and its species. Local guides take guests on treks through the jungle, educating them about the importance of conservation and providing a glimpse of the biodiversity that resides here. Even on a one day trek visitors are guaranteed to see orangutans, thomas leaf monkeys and baboons in the wild.
The best place to start your trek is Bukit Lawang. Find out more information about visiting the Gunung Leuser here.
Yours truly at The Altruistic Traveller
Need more wildlife inspiration? Check out part 1 and part 2 of my wildlife series.