15 BEST Animal Experiences In The World For Wildlife Lovers

King Penguins in Chile - Where to see King Penguins in Chile. Is it just me that's a little bit in love with penguins? Read about my experience in Patagonia visiting these beautiful and funny birds. Includes top tips on visiting and also some of my favourite photos from my trip.

There are many wonderful animal experiences around the world. Having travelled for the last 8 years I have been lucky enough to see many different species of birds and animals on my trips.

From amazing wildlife moments like seeing wild gorillas in Uganda, the amusing King Penguins in Chile, to swimming with sharks in Caye Caulker Belize. And my latest trip, I finally saw puffins for the first time in Iceland, which I was totally in love with.

But it’s not just me that loves animals. I’ve asked a few of my favourite animal-loving travel bloggers to share with me their memorable wildlife experiences from around the world. And I’ve included a couple of my top experiences saving the best until last….well in my opinion!

Tell me what your favourite wildlife experience is 🙂

1. Okaukuejo waterhole at Etosha National Park, Namibia

By Jurga at Full Suitcase

Wildlife experiences - Okaukuejo waterhole in Etosha National Park
Wild elephants at Okaukuejo waterhole in Etosha National Park

One of all-time best wildlife experiences for us was watching animals at Okaukuejo waterhole in Etosha National Park in Namibia. Etosha NP is the perfect place to see a huge variety of African animals at your own pace. You can do self-guided drives in the park and visit many waterholes.

Okaukuejo waterhole offers the best wildlife-watching experience by far. Huge herds of elephants, zebras, giraffes and all kinds of antelopes are constantly present at the waterhole. On top of that, you can also expect to see lions, an occasional leopard and even a rhino.

And the best part of it all is that you can watch all this wildlife from the comfort of a seating area just in front of the waterhole, at the Okaukuejo camp. You can find more information about  Etosha and Okaukuejo waterhole on Full Suitcase family travel blog.

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2. Cutest Giant Pandas at Chengdu, China

By Kelly from  Girl with the Passport

Wildlife experiences Pandas in China
Giant Panda in China

When I decided to visit China, I knew the one thing that I just HAD to do was see a Giant Panda. So when I FINALLY arrived in Chengdu, China, my first stop would be to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. I had dreamed of a surprise encounter with a wild panda amidst the rolling bamboo forests of China, but that wasn’t realistic. But rather than give up, I simply hopped on a bus and headed to the research facility.

Not only were the enclosures expertly crafted to mimic the panda’s natural habitat, but there was a breeding nursery where you could have an up-close and personal encounter with newly born panda cubs. This experience touched my heart because I saw how vulnerable these creatures were. Rather than the robust, bear-like creatures I was used to, these babies were tiny, hairless, pink, and squeaked uncontrollably for someone to feed them.

In that instant, I realized that the capacity to either destroy or preserve all the wildlife of the world solely rested within the actions of the human race. That’s why I fell in love with this place. It reminded me that only through education and first-hand experience, we can create an everlasting experience that will foster a love of wildlife that will encourage others to protect the incredible biological diversity of this planet.

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3. Spotting wild koalas on Great Ocean Road, Australia

By Dawn from 5 Lost Together

Spotting koalas on the Great Ocean Road
Spotting koalas on the Great Ocean Road

When travelling to Australia, you have to see those classic Aussie animals.  It is one thing to see them in a zoo or wildlife sanctuary, but seeing them in the wild trumps that.

If you want to see koalas in the wild, head out from Melbourne down Great Ocean Road.  The two well-known spots to see them are at Kennett River and in the Otways National Park on your way to the 12 Apostles.  Take a 12 km detour to Cape Otway along Otway Lighthouse Road and you will almost be certain to see some.

Keep a lookout high in the trees or just simply look for other cars pulled over on the road.  Since koalas spend so much of the day sleeping, you can expect to see them doing just that.  If you are lucky, you might see them eating wedged into their favourite eucalyptus tree.  These cuddly iconic Australian animals are truly beautiful to see in the wild.

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4. Trekking with Gorillas in Uganda

By Becky from Becky the Traveller

The ultimate wildlife experience in Uganda - Gorilla Trekking
The ultimate wildlife experience in Uganda

One of the most amazing experiences of my life was trekking with mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. The whole experience is something I will never forget.

After the important safety briefing, our trek begins. I’m so excited, yet nervous at the same time, what if we don’t see any! The hike begins through a tea plantation then continues up the steep and very slippery mountain paths. An hour into the trek we are told to leave our backpacks and only take our cameras.

This was it, I was going to see my first mountain gorilla in the wild. The forest was dense but a few seconds later I see them. There are two at first just hanging out but as we follow the guides through the forest we see more and more.

It’s amazing seeing them in their own environment and they are pretty entertaining too. One bangs his chest loudly, shouts and then charges. That keeps everyone alert. But he’s just letting us know that we are in his patch.

During my hour trekking with them in total, I saw 16 gorillas, including three very cute babies and the mighty silverback. It was the perfect way to end the year!

Read more about my experience here Gorilla trekking in Uganda – Is it worth the money?

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5. Wild monkeys hiding in trees, Borneo

By Karen at Wanderlustink

Wildlife adventures in Borneo - Proboscis monkeys
Spotting Proboscis Monkeys in Borneo

Borneo should be on every animal lover’s bucket list. Sandakan is only a short and affordable flight from Kuala Lumpur (on AirAsia where mine cost USD $20 RT). From Sandakan, it’s about 1-2 hours to the incredible Kinabatangan river valley where you can spot rare wildlife, many types of monkeys, wild orangutans and wild pygmy elephants (if you’re lucky).

The Proboscis Monkey is endangered, yet while staying in the region, I must have seen hundreds of them swinging through the trees. It’s truly magical to see nature at its purest. I stayed at an eco-friendly resort and missed the opportunity to see a family of wild civets outside of the lodge next door after sleeping in.

Either way, going out three times a day down the river will make you feel ready for your own National Geographic special. So come prepared to listen out for monkeys and orangutans up in the trees, with your camera and good zoom! Read more here about Karen’s Borneo animal experiences.

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6. Orca whales hunting in Argentina

By Carol at Wayfaring Views

Wildlife in Argentina - Orca whales and seals
Capturing the Orca whales hunting

Have you ever seen that video of Orca whales lunging up onto a beach to grab sea lions? Well, you can witness it for yourself on the Peninsula Valdes in Argentina.

The peninsula is located in a little-visited area of northeastern Patagonia. The national park is home to migrating southern right whales, Elephant seals, sea lions, Dusky and Commerson’s dolphins, Magellanic penguins and, of course, the orca.

You can create your own marine mammal safari and self-drive the peninsula. Activities include whale watching, visiting a local finca with resident penguins and observing the orca hunt sea lions. This isn’t one of those wildlife experiences where you want to get right into the water with the Orca. They are carnivorous after all. But there are very few other places in the world with such varied and predictable populations of marine mammals.

So fly yourself down to Argentina…and happy hunting.

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7. The Sardine Run in Moalboal, Philippines

By Roneth at The Fickle Feet

Underwater wildlife experience - Sardines in Philippines
Sardines in the Philippines

I consider myself very lucky living in the Philippines. With more than 7,000 islands, it offers not just beautiful beaches but also amazing marine sanctuaries.

The famous sardine run located in Panagsama beach, is a known diving site in Moalboal, Cebu. And takes a couple of hours going to the southern part of Cebu to see these amazing creatures.

Thousands of sardines can be seen just a few meters from the shore where it has a reef drop off. Even on the surface of the water, I noticed the clouds of fish swimming. It was dark and scary at first, but as soon as I was in the water for a while I appreciated how amazing and beautiful the scenery was.

The sardines swim with synchronization as I swim towards them. Along with many other fish and turtles around the area. And the best thing about these sardines is that they can be seen year-round.

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You might like to read  Whale watching in New Zealand

8. Releasing Turtles in Mexico

By Helen at Helen on her Holidays

Up close with wildlife - releasing baby turtles
Releasing baby turtles – an amazing wildlife experience

Between July and January, visitors to Mexico’s Pacific coast can see something very special – the chance to witness tiny baby ‘Olive Ridley’ turtles being released.

Because baby turtles make a nice meal for predators, volunteer groups up and down the coast turn out every evening to find turtle nests and carefully remove the eggs. The eggs are then taken to government-regulated turtle release centres to hatch in safety.

We arrived at the turtle release centre in Nuevo Vallarta just before sunset. The volunteers from the centre gave us a talk about the turtles and explained what they were about to do. The baby turtles were squirming in their container, desperate to get their first taste of the sea. But were released on the wet sand of the beach rather than straight into the waves so they could taste the sand and “imprint”. Doing this means they’ll remember the beach and hopefully come back and lay their own eggs.

It was a magical experience to see the tiny turtles making their way slowly to the sea. The odds may be stacked against the little turtles, but it was wonderful to see the efforts that the volunteers put into giving them the best possible chance of survival.

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9. The Okavango Delta, Botswana

By  Elaine & David at The Whole World is a Playground

Wildlife in Botswana
Cheetah in Botswana

The Okavango Delta in Botswana, a wetland of meandering waterways flowing from the mountains of Angola, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Among the crystal clear waters and swampy grasslands, an incredible mix of Africa’s greatest wildlife roams freely throughout its plains.

As we boarded our tiny plane into the Okavango, we knew we were about to experience an incredible animal moment. The Delta lent itself to amazing scenes with hundreds of impala, red lechwe, storks and zebra meandering in the lush grass and every moment brought exciting wildlife encounters.

Hippo splashed beneath our sundeck as we slept. A three-day-old baby elephant taking one of its first journeys stumbled alongside our safari truck. And a majestic cheetah stalked for pray in the shadows.

We listened to lions roaring across the plains as we sipped sundowners in the bush. And met a grumpy hippo blocking our path home as he took the opportunity to cool down in a puddle in the path rather than the deeper waters surrounding them.

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10. Wildlife Experiences in Costa Rica

By Daniela at The Lost Romanian

Wildlife in Costa Rica at night - Frog
Red-eyed tree frog in Costa Rica

Shortly after arriving in Santa Elena (Monteverde Cloud Forest), I looked for things to do. Within walking distance from Santa Elena centre, there is a Frog Pond (Ranario, in Spanish). One ticket gets you 2 entries to the pond, (one guided tour and one self-guided tour). You can choose your times, but it’s best to do one during the day and the other one at night. They usually run tours every hour.

I went for the guided tour during the day, when many of the little frogs stay hidden. The tour was very interesting, especially as I didn’t know much about frogs. They are so amazing and unique, I loved it. Above is my picture of a red-eyed tree frog.

The following evening I returned, determined to see them all, this time by myself. I spent about 15 minutes looking under every leaf for one frog! Some frogs are 2cm in size and similar colours with their environment. And you have only a weak lantern to spot them in the dark.

But luckily, a family with two kids came by and started doing some intense search. They spotted all the frogs, one by one, and I really enjoyed the rest of the tour.

11. Seeing Wild Bison, Elk and Bears, Yellowstone Park, USA

By Jamie at Photo Jeepers

Wildlife in the USA - Bison
Bison in the Yellowstone Park

The greater Yellowstone region has more abundant wildlife than any other in the lower 48 states of America. Yellowstone National Park has the largest concentration of mammals. Bison, elk, bears and the elusive wolves are the more popular wild animals that live in the park.

Top 5 places for wildlife experiences in Yellowstone:

  • Lamar Valley
  • Yellowstone River
  • Tower-Roosevelt
  • Geyser Basins
  • Flat Ranch Preserve

Seeing bears and wolves usually involves luck, timing and a telephoto lens or spotting scope. Never pursue an animal to take its picture.

Always watch wildlife from pullouts. If you see animals while driving, do not stop on the road or block traffic. The safest view of the animals is from inside your vehicle. Please keep your distance. This protects you and the animals. Remember they are wild animals. Always stay at least 100 yards from bears or wolves, and at least 25 yards from all other wildlife.

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12. Tree-climbing lions in Kenya

By Jill at Reading the book

Wildlife safari - spotting lions in Kenya
Spotting lions in Kenya

I spent a day on safari in Lake Nakuru National Park, which is home to some of the very few tree-climbing lions in Africa. And the only ones in Kenya. Seeing the lions is rare; however, I was lucky enough to see not one, but two lionesses.

We arrived just as one was jumping down from the tree, and thought we’d missed our chance. Like all wildlife experiences, we waited patiently anyway… and 10 minutes later her friend appeared, padding slowly across the grass.

She wandered over to the tree, where she stretched, jumped onto a low branch. Then proceeded to climb slowly up the trunk before settling to sleep on a high branch, two paws dangling either side. A few moments later she sat up and posed for the camera, gazing sleepily into the distance.

When your Kenyan guide has only ever seen this a handful of times in his life and asks for copies of your photos. You know you’ve seen something special. Read more about The lion that climbed the tree here.

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13. Releasing Wild Seals in the Netherlands

By Karen from Wanderlustingk

Amazing wildlife experience - releasing seals into the sea in Netherlands
Releasing seals into the sea in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, you can have the amazing responsible tourism wildlife experience of releasing rehabilitated seals back into the wild. One of the leading Dutch seal sanctuaries takes in injured and abandoned seals. And releases them once they’re ready to go back into the wild.

This amazing experience together with the Pieterburen Zeehondencentrum costs only 40 euros. Although it’s not often done (as it’s dependent on when the seals are ready).

The seal release is from a boat that leaves from a departure point in Groningen, which is about 3 hours from Amsterdam by car. The seals are often released from a sandbank in the middle of the UNESCO world heritage site of the Wadden Sea. Although they’re occasionally released from the sea. The experience is truly moving and most animal lovers might cry as the seals re-entered the sea. Read more about Karen’s wildlife experience here: Releasing wild seals back into the sea

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Would you love to see seals in the UK? Click here to read about my amazing experience at Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony in Lincolnshire.

14. Rhinos at Kaziranga National Park, India

By Sapna at My Simple Sojourn

Spotting wildlife in India - Rhinos
Rhinos at Kaziranga National Park

During my travel to North East India, I visited Kaziranga National Park. The main wildlife attraction of this park is the one horn Indian rhinos. After driving for 45 minutes, we came across a male.

He was busy grazing and didn’t pay any attention to our jeep. It was exciting to see a giant animal in its natural surroundings.

Our guide explained that Indian rhinos are mostly solitary and only during breeding season they live in pairs. Rhinos weigh about 2 tons; surprisingly, at this weight, they are excellent swimmers and can run at the speed of 30 mph for short periods.

Sadly, Indian rhinos are under threat, mainly for its horn, believed to be the strongest aphrodisiac in China. The poaching of rhinos in the area has reduced in the last couple of years. After the government gave orders for a shoot at sight if forest rangers saw suspicious people during night-time. So hopefully, these beautiful creatures will still be around in future years.

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15. Visiting King Penguin Colony in Chile

By Becky from Becky the Traveller

King penguins in Chile - my favourite wildlife experience
King penguins in Chile – my favourite wildlife experience

I’d booked with Tucan Travel over Christmas to spend 3 weeks in Patagonia. But the main reason I had selected this tour was that it included a penguin stop on the itinerary.

On arriving at Parque Pinguino Rey (King Penguin Park) in Chile, I patiently listened to the briefing talk. Then we were split into two groups to watch them at two different places, a big group huddled together and a few that were hanging out on the beach.

It was important to keep really quiet and move slowly so as not to scare them. Especially as some were incubating eggs that were due to hatch very soon. But I was so excited I felt like I was going to burst inside!

I went to the big group first, there were over 50, I couldn’t believe my eyes, I never expected to see that many. You could actually see them balancing eggs on their feet. It was amazing.

After seeing so many I didn’t think it could get any better. But when I swapped to go to the beach, the Penguins were putting on a real show. Waddling around, relaxing on their tummies and some seemed to be having a penguin fight. After an hour it was time to leave. I honestly could have stayed there all day watching them. It was a truly memorable experience.

Click here to read about my wonderful wildlife experience in Chile seeing  King Penguins

What animal and wildlife experiences have you done around the world? I would love to hear about, maybe for my next trip! Tell me in the comments below:

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15 awesome wildlife experiences from around the world. Inspiration for animal lovers. Travel bloggers share their favourite experiences and memories of their wildlife animal encounters | African safaris to releasing turtles in Mexico. | Animal experiences | Wildlife conservation | Wildlife preservation | Natural wildlife | Wild animals | African safaris | Releasing turtles | Gorilla trekking in Uganda | King penguins in Chile | Monekys in Borneo | Sardines in the Philippines

*Becky the Traveller participates in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, as well as other affiliate programmes. If you make a purchase through these, I earn from the qualifying links. This is at no extra cost to you. Read more here.

18 thoughts on “15 BEST Animal Experiences In The World For Wildlife Lovers

  1. Kelly says:

    What a great post. Thank you for letting me participate and for giving me a ton of ideas on where I can travel next to have the best animal encounters.

  2. Ella says:

    Animals are the best! I was lucky enough to do a safari in Kenya and see wild koalas on the Great Ocean Road and they were some of the best experiences I’ve ever had! Number 8 and 15 are ones that I’d definitely like to… they’re so cute! 🙂

  3. Chiera says:

    I have had such an obssession with the Okavango Delta for as long as I can remember. I want to do ALL of these! I might start planning my future travels with seeing amazing animals in mind ha! Thank you for sharing, great list of locations!

  4. Roxanne Reid says:

    Great to see so many African experiences on your list. Seeing gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda is still on my bucket list. BTW there are cool penguin and turtle visits to be had in South Africa as well.

  5. Sabine says:

    Love this post. I’m a wildlife and animal lover. I came to Africa many years ago and became addicted to going on safaris and observing wildlife in their natural environment. I have done countless safaris and still counting on many more. I have been to some places of this post, and I got some extra ideas for upcoming trips. Thanks for post!

  6. Tasha says:

    I love reading about different wildlife experiences so this post is perfect for me. It would be a dream to do any of these, especially seeing a cheetah in the wild. My top wildlife experiences would have to be whilst volunteering on a game reserve in South Africa. On my last day I finally got to see a lion! One of the happiest moments of my life.

  7. Jamie says:

    Pandas, koalas, whales, baby turtles, penguins….I want to see every animal on this list! This is a terrific article. Thank you for letting me share about the wildlife in Yellowstone National Park.

  8. Fiona Mai says:

    Such an awesome blog post! I desperately need these wildlife experiences now since most of the destinations I’ve visited so far only involve humans and cities… I love all the photos in this article as well!!!

  9. Janine Good says:

    I love everything about this. All the animals are happy looking and enjoying life. I have personally experienced the pandas in Chengdu and have spotted wild koalas, though not on the Great Ocean Road. I want to do the rest of these experiences and commend the people running these to keep the animals happy.

  10. Ketki says:

    Being a wildlife lover myself, I totally enjoyed reading this article. Kenya and Tanzania have been for long on my wishlist! But being in India, thankfully I get to visit a lot of protected areas and enjoy wildlife photography.

  11. Stephanie says:

    Yes!!! So many of these are on my bucket list!! And if I were to add a couple it would be, seeing the thousands of Monarch butterflies in Mexico’s forests, and seeing the Caribou migration across northern Canada!

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