It’s one thing to see pictures of incredible wildlife online, but getting up close and personal with them is another matter entirely.
From meeting pandas in their natural environment and snow monkeys in Japan, to ethical experiences with elephants in Thailand, here are six amazing travel ideas for animal lovers.
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Don’t Miss These Amazing Animal Experiences Around The World
Elephants in Chang Mai (Thailand)
It’s common knowledge that elephants in Thailand are often abused and tortured for human gain, and the tourism industry is largely what fuels unethical practices. That said, there are many ethical elephant experiences available throughout the country offering a natural way to get up-close to these incredible creatures.
One of the best-known elephant conservation projects in Thailand is Elephant Nature Park in Chang Mai. More than 35 elephants roam free here, and many of these have been saved from torturous camps that exploit elephants for tourism or logging purposes.
Stop by for the day to bathe in the river with the elephants and help at feeding time, or stay overnight to spend more time with these gorgeous animals. Longer volunteer placements are also available here.
The founder was named Asian Hero of the Year by Time magazine in 2005 and the park has been featured in many international publications including National Geographic magazine as well as feature documentaries from; The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, BBC and CNN.
Image credit: ryan harvey
Pandas in Ya’an (China)
Bifengxia Panda Reserve is located in the Yucheng district in Ya’an. Since opening in 2004 the reserve has become home to more than 100 giant pandas, and this is a fabulous opportunity to see this exotic species in a beautiful natural setting.
Set in dense forest, numerous waterfalls and breathtaking scenery, the reserve is a research and breeding facility. But luckily for those that get the chance to visit, it’s also open to the public.
Bifengxia Base is divided into the giant panda breeding zone, baby giant panda care zone, research centre, bamboo woods and office area. You don’t need a guide as it is all translated.
Photo credit: playlight55
Snow Monkeys in Jigokudani (Japan)
Situated in the Snow Monkey’s natural forest habitat, the Jigokudani Monkey Park offers the unique opportunity to witness wild macaque monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring.
The park features a man-made pool around which the monkeys gather. They’ll often be seen in large groups sharing the hot spring. They can be observed close-up, as they almost completely ignore their human guests. Take a peek at them now on the park live cam!
The park has a small information centre with information mostly in Japanese. However, there is a small explanation of the alpha male system of the monkey troop in English, as well as portraits of the park’s present and former alpha males, dating back dozens of years.
Narwhals in the Arctic Circle
Guided by Inuit and travelling in small groups, journey to the Artic floe edge for days of discovery, narwhal watching and the chance to see a variety of sea birds, polar bears, seals and possibly beluga and bowhead whales.
Perfect for families, first-time visitors to the Arctic (and also professional photographers) trips usually sail from Canada. See the Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari run by Arctic Kingdom for a truly unique expedition.
Giant Tortoises in The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos islands are home to many large, and rare species. Giant Tortoises, also known as Galapagos tortoises, are mainly found in the highlands of Islands like Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, San Cristobal and Española.
Two of the more popular farms to visit and see the giant tortoises in their natural habitat are Manzanillo and Primicias. Almost anyone who visits the Galapagos islands to see giant tortoises in the wild will come to see them at a farm in these highlands.
Galapagos tortoises are the longest living in the world. One named Adwaita lived to an astonishing 255 years old and passed away in 2006. Another affectionately named Harriet lived to 175.
Camels – Pushkar, India
Camels play an important role in Indian culture and if you venture to the annual Pushkar Camel Fair, drawing hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists every year, you’ll be able to see this first hand.
Elaborately decorated camels are paraded and even raced. It’s a fascinating and peculiar sight, and a great opportunity to witness an old traditional-style Indian festival.
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