Friday, April 06, 2012

Animal-inspired travel: 10 places to see my favourite animals

No doubt having a two-year-old boy in the house helps, but even before he came along I was often interested in visiting places because of their animals. I think that's part of a natural curiosity so many people have (starting as kids) to see interesting and different animals, but it's probably also because down here in Australia we have so many unique and diverse animals. Whatever the reason, I love seeing animals when I travel, and when I thought about it I realised there are a whole bunch that could inspire some new destinations for my future travels. I decided to make up my top ten list of animal destinations, so here it is:

Giraffes in Kenya

I've already mentioned my love of giraffes when I discovered Giraffe Manor in Kenya. And it's hard to go past a hotel where a giraffe may stick their head in the window while you're eating breakfast as my number one giraffe viewing destination, so I will limit my giraffe desires to Giraffe Manor - I really want to go here!

Giraffe at Giraffe Manor - VisitingKenya

Platypus in Queensland, Australia

The elusive platypus is one of those unique Aussie animals and I've never had the good fortune of seeing one in the wild - even as far as zoos and wildlife parks go I think I've only seen them a couple of times in my life. When we were staying in Strahan in Tasmania last year a local told us that on one of the signposted walks just off the main road she had quite often seen a platypus swimming, but unfortunately we didn't have the chance (or sufficiently good weather) to go looking for one - so this wish of mine remains unfulfilled. Apparently the Eungella National Park near Mackay in Queensland is a good place to spot them, so it's going on my list. They're such fascinating animals!
(Image: Platypus at Sydney Aquarium by Christian Haugen)

Tigers in Russia

I strongly suspect Russia is not the best place in the world to see tigers, but because I didn't have time to take any side trips from Vladivostok and I vaguely heard that there was a place nearby to see Siberian tigers, then I just have it in my head that this would be a good excuse to get back to far-eastern Russia. Apparently the Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve north of Vladivostok is the place to find Siberian tigers in the wild - and the Siberian Tiger Project  looks like an interesting organisation helping out those tigers. (P.S. I remember finding a chained-up but otherwise out-in-the-open tiger at Gorky Park in Moscow. I didn't like that from my point of view or his. Just for the record.)

Tiger in Moscow Zoo, James UK

Galapagos Tortoises

Visiting the Galapagos Islands is one of those really dream list things I'd love to do, and when friends and bloggers I know get the chance to go there I am obsessed with looking at their photos and reading their posts. I have to admit when I put this animal on my list though, I named it a Galagapos turtle ... but having googled it I discover I should be thinking tortoise. Good to know.

Galapagos tortoise by James Preston

Panda in Hong Kong

I adore pandas - not least because they rhyme with my name! Memorably, I have seen them in the Berlin Zoo and in Shirahama, Japan, where several babies played with their mothers and totally won my heart. Recently a friend sent me a postcard of a panda from Hong Kong, where she'd seen some rescued ones - since I'm already plotting a Hong Kong trip that sounds like a great chance to me.

Panda in Ocean Park by confuzzyus

Wombat in Tasmania

I've kind of achieved this animal dream already - you'll remember that on my recent trip to Tasmania we spotted a wombat ambling along in the grass close to Cradle Mountain plus I have had the chance to hold a wombat here in Perth. But they are such amazing animals that I want more. Perhaps during a multi-day overland walk in Tasmania I'd get the chance to see more of them in the wild? I'd like that. There is some amazing bushwalking to be done in Tasmania, most famously the track between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair and at the right time of year (which for me means when it's not too cold - Tassie can be very chilly!) I'd love to experience that kind of walk and I would be very keen to be the chief wombat lookout person!

Gibbons in Malaysia

My son is in love with the gibbons at the Perth Zoo. We visit often, and always make the long trek to the back of the zoo so we are the first visitors there in the morning, and we often get to "chat" to the gibbons through the large glass wall for half an hour before anyone else joins us. They're so curious and interactive, along with being cute, and I'd love to have the chance to see them in the wild. Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Malaysia seems like a possibility - though everything I read suggests that in general, your chance of seeing gibbons in the wild is relatively low.

Gibbon in Malaysia by davidpaccoud

Elephants in South Africa

I haven't yet visited South Africa, but since Perth is geographically kind of close - just a massive ocean in between - I have met numerous South Africans here and can imagine "popping over" the ocean for a safari trip. Obviously there are plenty of choices then for wildlife safaris and I really want to see all animals possible, but I especially find elephants intriguing - they're so clever! The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve sounds like the kind of place that will have me looking up flights to South Africa in a heartbeat - you have the chance to see pretty much every amazing animal you can imagine plus they seem to be doing some really good conservation deeds (oh, and it has a cool name).

Elephant in South Africa by kleinz1

Flamingos in the Caribbean

Aren't flamingos fascinating? I love both their colour and their shape and think seeing a massive flock of them would be a real travelling highlight. I'm pleased to discover that they're easy to find in the Caribbean, mostly because I haven't been to the Caribbean before, yet read so much about it because it's an easy place for American travellers to head to. Apparently the Bahamas, Aruba and Cuba are great spots to do some flamingo spotting.

Flamingos in the Caribbean by microwavedboy

Orangutans in Borneo

I loved seeing orangutans in Singapore Zoo where they "range free" above parts of the zoo (cool idea) but of course seeing them in the wild would be one step better. One of our close neighbours, Borneo, has always interested me as a destination anyway and the possibility of seeing some orangutans there is an added bonus.

Orangutan in Borneo by zrim

So now it's your turn: if you could travel anywhere in the world tomorrow to see one particular animal, which animal would you pick?


  1. What a lovely idea to travel to see animals. I love both, but my travels are not that exotic. Nevertheless you can see animals of all kinds everywhere, and I have petted a snake in Jersey Zoo and fed a baby Robin with bits of bread. I actually also saw flamingos at one time – I was in Morocco some years ago, and one day we went for a ride and saw a huge and very pink “sea” of flamingos. What a sight!! 

    1. Thanks Mia - not too many of my travels are very exotic either but I always have hopes for the future ones :-) A huge "sea" of flamingos would be gorgeous - I think they're amazing.

  2. Hiya. When you plan your Hong Kong visit, make sure it's not during the 3 day period when the pandas are removed from their enclosure so they can concentrate on breeding. This year it was in late February - a friend discovered this much to her boys disappointment!

    I'm with you on your desire to see elephants in the wild. And giraffes. What an extraordinary animal.

    Good luck with the list - I hope you get to see them all!

    1. Oh dear - what a panda disaster! (though I suppose the pandas were having a good time!!). I will remember that, thanks for the tip.

      Giraffes are amazing, aren't they? They're my favourite at the zoo :-)


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