Wildlife tourism–that is, watching wildlife in its natural habitat–is said to be growing worldwide, and commercial tour operators are making it easier to view, whether it’s bears or monkeys or rhinoceroses or even Tasmanian devils. Today, we explore six amazing destinations worth visiting. Photos and detail information are courtesy of Stephanie Pearson and Outside Online. If you enjoy these animals/locales, you can view their entire Top 10 of the World’s Most Incredible Wildlife Encounters on Outside’s website.
Photographer: Alexander Kutskiy
If it could talk: “No, son, those aren’t seals. Best to just smile and keep on walking.”
You might also see: Quamirjuaq caribou and the northern lights.
Details: The Arctic Kingdom Polar Bear Expeditions built three small cabins on the East Coast of Hudson Bay north of Churchhill, Manitoba, known as “Polar Bear Alley,” where one Inuit guide saw 300 bears in one area during the October-November season. $7,600 per person.
Photographer: Cristalino Jungle Lodge
White-whiskered spider monkey
If it could talk: “What are you staring at? Haven’t you ever seen a mother feed her young?”
You might also see: Brazilian tapir, jaguar, giant otter, white-nosed-saki monkey, red-handed howler monkey, dusky-titi monkey, and the Snethlage’s marmoset.
Details: The spider monkey isn’t the only attraction to this private 28,167-acre forest reserve in southern Amazon, as pointed out above. But there’s also the harpy eagle, cryptic falcon, crimson-bellied parakeet, crested owl, and potoo, among other “twitchers.” Standard room, double, from $315 per night.
Photographer: Tourism Tasmania
If it could talk: “Yeah, I know, you were expecting a pair of horns, a pointy tail, and a pitchfork. You weren’t thinking cute. Ha, fooled you!”
You might also see: Orange-bellied parrot, wallaby, wombat, and bandicoot.
Details: Visitors to King’s Run, an 800-acre sanctuary in the northwest corner of Tasmania, can take nocturnal wildlife tours that include watching the Tasmanian devil feeding. Personalized four-hour tour, $128; ocean-side apartments, $260 per night.
Photographer: Kodiak Brown Bear Center
Kodiak Island, Alaska
If it could talk: “I live among one of the highest-density brown bear populations in Alaska, so watch where you step in these parts.”
You might also see: Fox and bald eagle.
Details: The Kodiak Island Bear Center opened recently in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, where it promises “A bear experience like no other.” Wildlife viewing comes with a wonderful bonus–world-class fishing for salmon and steelhead. Four days, three nights from $2,695 per person.
Photographer: John Canning
Giant river otter
Guyana, South America
If it could talk: “You people got any shrimp? I could really go for some shrimp. I’m getting so tired of fish every day, you know?”
You might also see: Jaguar, green aracari, scarlet macaw, Guiana toucanette, and channel-bill toucan.
Details: Definitely for the adventurous. If you don’t mind hot-and-steamy jungle conditions and traveling to remote locales, the payoff is an unspoiled rainforest–home to 225 mammal species and 810 bird species. An extra treat is the beauty of 741-foot Kaieteur Falls. Packages start at $1,500 per person, per day.
Photographer: Mike Meyers
If it could talk: “If you must know, my horns are used for defense, intimidation, and digging up roots and breaking branches while I feed. And sometimes I hang my hat there.”
You might also see: Desert-adapted elephants, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok, springbok, kudo, lion, cheetah, and leopard.
Details: Track the rhino on foot or on 4x4s. The Desert Rhino Camp is located on the million-acre Palmwag Concession, said to support the largest free-roaming population of desert-adapted black rhino in Africa. From $488 per person, per night.