For those who love nature and dream of watching mammals or birds in their natural habitat, it’s better to go to one of the many national parks for impressions, the benefit is huge. Just keep in mind that wildlife is unpredictable, and animals try to avoid contact with people, so in most reserves, it is almost impossible to meet an animal larger and more interesting than a squirrel.
To help you avoid disappointment at the failed meeting, we have compiled a list of places where you can certainly see the most interesting representatives of the fauna – from a tiny lemur the size of a finger to a giant blue whale.
1. Kalimantan, Indonesia
Orangutans, monkeys, deer, clouded leopard, 230 different bird species, crocodiles and many reptiles inhabit the Indonesian part of the island in the Tanjung Puting National Park. In the northern part of the park in Camp Face, a scientific base for the study and protection of orangutans, in conditions as close as possible to the natural, there are several dozen individuals of these animals. The animals move freely around the base, and almost the entire population can be immediately seen during the daily feeding.
2. Masai Mara, Kenya
One of the most spectacular sights on the planet – the great migration of animals can be seen in the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya. From August to October, thousands of herds of zebras, antelopes, and gazelles in search of green pastures across the ford of the dangerous Mara River.
3. Bwindi Forest, Uganda
Bwindi Forest is a unique eco-system that is home to many birds, reptiles, insects and mammals. The main inhabitants of this jungle are mountain gorillas, the closest relatives of a person. Look at the gorillas from a short distance (up to five meters) is possible only during the tracking tour. To participate in the tour, it is desirable to have at least the average physical form; walking over rough terrain will have a lot.
4. Azores, Portugal
In the coastal waters of the Azores, there are more than 20 different species of cetaceans. If dolphins and bottlenose dolphins live here permanently, then most of the whales swim to the Azores during migration. In the spring and at the end of winter off the coast you can see a blue whale, and in the summer you will almost certainly meet a seyval whale. Most of the offices that organize whale tours are located on the islands of Pico, Faial, and Terceira.
5. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Galapagos is primarily unique in that the majority of animals living here are endemics, i.e. they are not found anywhere else in the world. It was the diverse and unique fauna of these islands that inspired Charles Darwin to write his famous work, The Origin of Species. Amazing sea iguanas, fur seals, blue-footed boobies, Galapagos penguins, and, of course, a giant ivory turtle – a long-lived champion among mammals (the average life expectancy is 150 years).
6. Svalbard, Norway
Svalbard (in Norwegian Svalbard) is an archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean and the northernmost part of Europe. Despite the distance from civilization and harsh conditions, tourism is very well developed here. The capital of the archipelago, the city of Longyearbyen – the main starting point for expeditions to the North Pole and less extreme tours along the coast or deep into the archipelago. Most of Svalbard is a huge nature reserve, where you can meet arctic foxes, seals, walruses and, of course, polar bears. To date, the size of the population of bears on Svalbard is about 3000, i.e. there are literally more of them than people, so meeting at least one of them is almost guaranteed.
7. Everglades, USA
The Everglades Nature Reserve is located in the marshland less than 100 kilometers from the bustling Miami. Most of the park is an “absolutely wilderness zone”, i.e. there are no buildings and there is no economic activity. The reserve is equipped with convenient walking routes that allow you to observe a variety of birds and small mammals. Rivers, marshes and channels of the Everglades, which are literally teeming with crocodiles and alligators, conduct special excursions on the airboat (boat with a propeller).
8. Isla Mujeres, Mexico
One of the best places for swimming with whale sharks is water near the island of Isla Mujeres in Mexico. The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, reaching 20 meters in length. They eat plankton and are absolutely safe for humans, so you can get close to them and even touch them. The migration routes of the whale shark pass along the shores of Mexico from May to September.
On this African island, there are about a hundred of various species of lemurs — animals that are not found anywhere else in the world, from a 30-gram dwarf lemur to a 10-kilogram ring-tailed lemur. Keep in mind that some species of these cute animals can only be observed during the night tour (they sleep during the day). In addition to lemurs in Madagascar, you can see Madagascar chameleons, several species of turtles and lizards, and a few island predators, foss and wyvern.
10. Yellowstone, USA
Yellowstone is the largest national park in America and one of the largest in the world. The fauna of the Yellowstone Park is represented by predators (including large ones), diverse artiodactyls, rodents, birds and reptiles. And if it is absolutely impossible to see rare animals like wolves, lynxes or cougars near tourist paths, then a meeting with a herd of wild buffalo is almost guaranteed even during a short excursion. Also recently, coyotes have been increasingly seen here, sometimes even near tourist areas.