With the thawing of winter in many parts of the world, animals and humans alike are starting to wake up and get outside. As avid wildlife watchers, members of the travel website VirtualTourist.com compiled the “Top 10 Places to See Animals in the Wild.”
• Serengeti National Park — Tanzania. Northern Tanzania provides more opportunities to see large numbers of animals in the wild than possibly any other spot in the world. VirtualTourist members mentioned both Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area as prime spots to see animals in the wild. Both of these areas are famous for spotting the “big five:” lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards and rhinoceros.
The Serengeti area also provides a unique opportunity to watch animal migration in action. The wildebeest and zebras spend the rainy season from December to June in the volcanic open plains below the Ngorongoro Crater, where the grass growth is most productive and nutrient contents high. Once the rains stop in June, the animals move west towards Lake Victoria, and then migrate north into the Masai Mara, only to return to the Serengeti with the rain in December. It is one of the last great migratory systems intact and a rare opportunity to see over a million of any species, let alone just two, roam together.
• Bandhavgarh National Park — Madhya Pradesh, India. Many travelers would love to see a tiger, but the endangered species is increasingly rare. According to the World Wildlife Fund, only about 3,200 wild tigers remain, with the largest population, the Bengal tiger, found primarily in India.
A VirtualTourist member suggested Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India, as a great destination for spotting these in the wild. Since 1993, the park has been considered a tiger reserve so it has the highest density of tigers in India, making it more likely you’ll spot one during your visit. In addition to the Bengal tiger, the park is also home to more than 22 species of mammals including leopards, jungle cats, striped hyenas, jackals and Bengal foxes.
A safari at the park can be experienced one of two ways: via jeep or on the back of an elephant. The best time to visit is from mid-November to June.
• Kangaroo Island — South Australia. Only 10 miles off the South Australian mainland, Kangaroo Island is a great site for seeing all kinds of animals, but two species in particular have drawn VirtualTourist members there: kangaroos and seals.
One spot not to miss is Seal Bay Conservation Park, located on the island’s southern shore, where visitors can observe Australian sea lions via the self-guided boardwalk or opt for beach access through a guided tour. Another recommended location is Flinders Chase National Park, which is home to hundreds of kangaroos and New Zealand fur seals. Many also members enjoyed photographing the Remarkable Rocks, a unique collection of rock formations in Flinders Chase National Park.
Although there is animal activity on Kangaroo Island year round, two times of year provide special sights. In the Australian summer (December to February), kangaroos and wallabies can be seen at dawn and dusk. It’s also the time when the Australian sea lion breeding season begins, so Seal Bay will be populated with cute pups. In Australian winter (June to August), kangaroo and wallaby joeys (babies) start to emerge from the mother’s pouch and feed alongside them, and southern right whales pass along the island’s shores during their migration from Antarctic waters.