We went back to Alexa for more extraordinary wildlife encounters and viewing in unexpected places like Uganda as well as Patagonia, Canada, Galapagos and Antarctica.
If your travel bucket list includes seeing some of the world’s most fascinating animals in their natural habitats in the most unique destinations, this article is for you.
Whether that means walking side by side with giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands, seeing polar bears in Canada, or getting up close with quirky penguins in Antarctica, these incredible wildlife encounters in some of the world’s most jaw-dropping destinations will leave you with travel memories to treasure for a lifetime.
So, if you’re looking for inspiration for your next adventure, here’s our list of the five alternative destinations for incredible wildlife encounters.
Destinations for incredible wildlife encounters
- The Galapagos Islands
With the Galapagos Islands’ unique ecosystem, wildlife has thrived here for several centuries. These animals are not shy, which makes the archipelago such a fascinating place to visit for wildlife lovers.
The most famous of the wildlife in the Galapagos is the giant tortoise, which can live for over a hundred years. According to the Galapagos Conservation Trust, an estimated 20,000 Galapagos Turtles dwell on the island. You’ll have a higher chance of seeing them in Santa Cruz, Isabela Island.
The marine iguanas are among the most unique animals in the Galapagos. Renowned for their hideous looks, these clumsy lizards feed on seaweed and algae, and you’ll see them almost anywhere around the archipelago.
When you visit the beaches of the Galapagos, you’ll likely spot some sea lions lounging along sandy beaches. Around 50,000 of them live on the Galapagos Islands and have become a favourite among visitors. These magnificent creatures hang out more in places like Bartolome Island, San Cristobal, Isla Lobos, Punta Suarez, and Islas Plaza.
Bird lovers will find incredible species of birds on the Galapagos islands. The most popular amongst them is the flamingo, which you’ll find all over the archipelago. As one of the world’s largest flamingo species, the Galapagos Flamingos feed on water plants and crustaceans, with their distinctive beaks filtering food from the water.
The Patagonia region has some of the most unspoilt wilderness on earth, home to over five hundred wildlife species, making it one of the best alternative destinations for incredible wildlife adventures. Booking luxury holidays in Patagonia offers endless wildlife opportunities, taking you to places home to fascinating creatures like pumas, condors, penguins, guanacos, and more.
One of the best ways to see wildlife in Patagonia is to rent a car and drive along the highway. You are sure to spot guanacos along the road. Considered one of the most adaptable animals in the world, you will find them roaming around the region.
The guanacos are the favourite prey of pumas. Some locals consider them a nuisance since you can easily hit them if you are not paying close attention, so always keep your eyes on the road when driving.
Another way to spot wildlife in Patagonia is to go hiking. Most trails begin in the town of El Chalten. From here, you can organise a guided trail to take you to the scenic trails with the spectacular views of Mount Fitz Roy in the backdrop. But one of the things to look forward to on your hike is the incredible wildlife. These include a small deer called huemul. You’ll also spot some captivating bird species like the Magellanic woodpeckers.
Canada is a vast country with diverse landscapes. It’s home to some of the world’s most majestic animals, such as polar bears, moose, and seabirds. Depending on which animals you want to see, many incredible places in Canada offer opportunities for wildlife encounters.
Manitoba is where you will go to see polar bears in the wild. You will see them gathering along the shoreline of Hudson Bay every autumn season. Aside from polar bears, you’ll also see beluga whales hanging around Churchill River every summer.
If you’re visiting Ontario, you’ll have a higher chance of spotting fascinating animals like moose, wolves, and black bears in the Algonquin Provincial Park. The park is also home to 272 bird species, including seasonal migrants.
If you’re interested in seeing whales and puffins, head to the Bay of Fundy. Nestled between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, it is famous for having the world’s highest tides. It’s one of the world’s best places to see different whale species, including minke, humpback, and fin.
Uganda lies along the meeting point of the western jungle ecosystems and the eastern savanna, which makes it an excellent destination for various safaris, from the classic game drives to trekking through lush rainforests in search of primates. Those looking for an adventure should consider booking wildlife safaris in Uganda as they are the best option for seeing gorillas alongside other wildlife species.
Uganda is the perfect destination for primate safaris. You’ll find chimpanzees roaming in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kibale National Park, while families of mountain gorillas dwell in the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi. Game viewing is also popular in the country, where you can enjoy sightings of lions, elephants, and leopards.
Uganda is also an ideal destination for avid birders, as the country boasts over a thousand species of birds among its varied habitats. You can expect to spot unique bird species like the purple-breasted sunbird, dwarf honeyguide, and handsome francolin. You’ll have a higher chance of spotting these birds when you book a guided safari.
Antarctica may be made up mostly of ice and snow, but it’s teeming with wildlife, especially around the Antarctic Peninsula, a region now easily accessible to visitors on a cruise.
One of the highlights of every Antarctica cruise are the penguin colonies, where you see the emperor penguins. Brimming with personality and undaunted by the presence of humans, the emperor penguins are found mainly in the Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea.
For the ultimate wildlife experience, consider booking a cruise that includes visiting the South Georgia Island. The sub-Antarctic Island is renowned for its profusion of wildlife. Aside from seeing king penguins, you can spot elephant seals, whales, and albatrosses.
Expert naturalist guides make up a crucial part of your wildlife expedition in Antarctica. They will accompany you throughout your journey, taking you to places where these fascinating wildlife species dwell.
Where have you had unique animal encounters?
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All photos on this page are either shot by our team and watermarked as such or stock images from Depositphotos.
About the author
Alexa is a talented photographer, writer, and world traveller who speaks four languages. She is equally comfortable walking around a city and exploring museums as she is out in the wilderness discovering nature and photographing wildlife. She is an avid coffee drinker, and can often be spotted in local cafes when she needs a break.