If you’re an animal lover like us, you’ll want to know where you can go to see some of the most exotic animals on the planet. So, here’s a list of countries that are home to exotic animals.
1. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Perhaps the most famous for its most exquisite animal species on Earth, these islands, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, have been shielded from contact with the outside world for so long that they have become a treasure trove of rare animals: penguins, vegetarian iguanas, giant tortoises and more. And the scarcity of human experience has made them all less afraid of the two-legged, upright visitors. Normally, a zoom lens is not necessary — you’re going to have to step back to take some shots.
2. The Amazon Basin
Only 40% of the area drained by the mighty Amazon River is in Brazil. Such forests and tributaries are so vast that you can visit them in many other countries, including Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Venezuela. The Napo River in Ecuador is just one of the many places to find eco-lodges that bring travellers in the jungles and along the rivers to see the vibrant local flora and fauna. Sacha Lodge, for example, offers a walkway over the canopy, jungle mud-and-boardwalks, and a secluded lagoon only a short walk from Napo.
Borneo, the third-largest island in the world, is part of the Malaya Peninsula and is split between Malaysia, Indonesia and tiny Brunei. It is home to Asian elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros and, tragically, one of the last known habitats of endangered orangutans. It’s tiresome trying to count how many species there are: the list grows every year as new ones are discovered. There are 400 bird species alone. Head north to the Malaysian state of Sabah where you can climb Mount Kinabalu, snorkel the surrounding waters or watch the sea turtles lay their eggs on nearby Selingan Island.
4. Serengeti, Tanzania
It is more than just “endless plains” (which is what its name means in the Maasai language), the Serengeti also has a rich forest and swampland and is home to a number of national parks and reserves in Tanzania. This is the place of life’s dream safari. Along with the large herds of wildebeest (2 million), gazelle (half million) and zebra (quarter million) the predators are tigers, cheetahs, leopards and crocodiles. Add in the elephants, giraffes, and the Serengeti, and it’s a magical sight for someone who has only explored their local zoo.
5. Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Located between the long narrow Baja peninsula of California and the Mexican mainland, this nutrient-rich sea attracts a wide range of marine life. It is a designated World Heritage Site, the Sea of Cortez hosts whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, ten species of whales, sea lions, turtles, and a number of shorebirds. Join a whale-watching excursion or paddle yourself in a kayak to see them up close. Snorkel with marine sharks or see the largest species on Earth: the blue whale.
6. Jim Corbett National Park, India
Tigers are in extreme danger of extinction in the wild, and there are not many areas where you can see them. Corbett National Park in the foothills of the Himalayas is one of your better chances. Visitors to the park can stay overnight and, with a good guide, have a good chance of seeing this incredible animal. There are also herds of elephants, crocodiles, sloth bears, over 600 bird species, and leopards in the park if you’re fortunate.
Many Rhinoceros, both black and white, have been decimated by poachers over the years, but Namibia has provided them with some sanctuary. Etosha National Park is the most remarkable wildlife reserve in the world. You can see tigers, giraffes, elephants and rhinos, as well as an occasional cheetah or leopard. A fifth of the park is a dry salt pan that was once a lake and is now partially filled with water every year during the rainfall. It’s part of the Kalahari Basin. You could also consider visiting Cape Cross on the Skeleton Coast to see a colony of more than 200,000 cape fur seals, that can only be located on this southern coast of Africa.
8. Churchill, Manitoba
Hidden in between parks and on the western shores of Hudson Bay, Churchill is not just a great place to see Beluga whales — you can snorkel with them. And if you have a bit of an adventurer in you to do that, then you should go on a tour to take a closer look at these mighty white animals themselves. These may be the two great stars of the show, but the Churchill landscape includes a wet and dry tundra, a boreal forest, a wetland, a lake, an estuary, and a coastline of over 250 bird species. Life-listers are hoping to find the unusual Ross’ Gull.
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