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Wildlife and Birdwatching

Watching animals and birds in their natural environment is one of the great joys of wilderness travel. Escaping the urban environment to witness polar animals such as penguins, seals, polar bears, narwhals, or whales is truly amazing and scouting for birds you’ve always wanted to see in the wild can be equally addictive. Spending time in the oceans swimming with majestic whales, witnessing a fever of manta rays, quietly contemplating orangutan behaviour, or the frenzied chaos of the sardine run off Africa, these spectacles will leave you totally awestruck.

Some of the world’s most knowledgeable ornithologists, marine biologists and animal behaviourists work with operators to provide you a unique experience in the animals’ local environment, and ensure you take home stunning photos of incredible interactions that most people only see on documentaries. Whether it be traveling to the seven continents in chase of your wildlife tick list, exploring the jungle for jaguars, Churchill for polar bears, mountain gorillas in Rwanda, South Georgia for king penguins, the Galapagos for giant tortoises, Palau for jellyfish, or Africa for the ‘big 5’, we have compiled the best way for you to connect with nature and the wildlife that live there.   

Scenes of African safaris, the Serengeti, roaming elephants and wildebeest migrations against a fire orange sky are the images that inspired numerous adventurers and explorers. Ensure you consider places like Botswana, Zambia and Namibia along with more famous locations in South Africa and Kenya. These are really immersion experiences and one you will never forget. Different operations offer varying degrees of comfort from bare-bones simplicity to super luxurious, but generally all involve a fair degree of creature comforts to ensure you have quality down-time when not viewing the wildlife.

There is such a vast array of experiences around the world for you to witness wild animals and birdlife in their natural environment, so spend time enjoying the search for your next adventure and highlight destination, then go and explore!

Ability

No specific ability or skills required, just a sense of discovery and adventure. Most wildlife safaris are low physical impact, and you will be seated in a vehicle/jeep or on a boat. There are specific wildlife adventures that are walking based (or can include a component of foot tracking and viewing) and these will require the ability to walk comfortably for the duration of the activity. Individual lodges or camps can provide more detail on what is required for the exact trip and activity you are looking for.

Gear Required

Generally all you need is comfortable travel footwear and clothing, while being prepared for evening/overnight temperature drops, and daytime hot weather. Always prepare for rain events and sun protection is vitally important (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses). High quality camera equipment and binoculars will help you to spot the wildlife and capture the memories to take home as photos.

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exploreGO Top Experiences

  • Swim with Humpback whales in Tonga or Niue
  • Take a micro-light flight with migrating birds
  • Big cats and meerkats in the Kalahari Desert, Namibia
  • Viewing orangutans and gibbons in the Danum Valley, Borneo
  • Observing dolphins in Shark Bay and whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, Australia
  • Getting up close to mountain gorillas in Rwanda
  • Any Antarctic journey; where you’re guaranteed to see penguins, seals and maybe whales  
  • Falkland Islands for a birders paradise
  • Yellowstone National Park in the USA for  grizzly bears, moose and wolves
  • An African safari to spot the ‘big five'

Best time to travel

There are so many options for viewing birdlife and wildlife around the globe, below are some examples of what can be seen in different months.

January – Penguins; Antarctica. Birds; Colombia and Guatemala.

February - Snow Leopards; India. Birds and monkeys; Vietnam.

March – Whales; Baja California, Mexico and Antarctica. Birds; Puerto Rico.

April – Tigers; India. Bird migration; Egypt. Birds; Hawaii.

May - Sea turtles and tortoises as well as displaying seabirds; Galapágos Islands, Ecuador.

June - Wildebeest migration; Serengeti, Tanzania. Narwhals; Baffin Island. Birds; Scottish Highlands.

July - Whale sharks; Australia. Atlantic Puffin; Treshnish Isles, UK. Birds and Orangutans; Borneo.

August – Jaguars; Pantanal Wetlands, Brazil . Komodo Dragons; Komodo.

September - Grizzly bears; British Columbia, Canada. Birds; Peru and the Amazon. 

October - Polar bears; Hudson Bay, Canada. Birds; South Africa and Australia.

November – Turtles; Heron Island, Australia. Giant Pandas; China. Birds; India.

December - Mountain gorillas; Rwanda. Birds and monkeys; Mozambique and Sierra Leone.

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exploreGO Top Tips:

  • Consider combining a couple of wildlife viewing experiences in at least two different locations to see different animals and varying landscapes. Some trips are single animal specific – e.g. Polar Bears or Penguins, but looking for a trip(s) that get you viewing a range of other creatures can be really rewarding, even if you have a single goal in mind. Birding is great as you will most probably want to tick off as many species as possible while in-location.
  • Make sure you have good long range camera gear and binoculars. At least a 200mm lens, but if you’re serious about your photography, a 400mm lens is portable enough, and will give you great depth of field shots. A good set of low light binoculars is imperative for dawn/dusk or low light viewing.
  • Take enough cash to buy what you need, pay porters/local guides, transport etc. Often access to ATM’s is very limited, and cash still talks to get the things you need.

Related Experiences

Interested in Wildlife and Birdwatching but seeking a different experience right now? Check out some suggested experiences below or click the link to browse our full suite of activities.

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exploreGO is currently sourcing the top Wildlife and Birdwatching experiences from around the globe.

If you are an operator or guide and have an experience you want to list with us - Get In Touch.