Some of the best experiences in the world come from the wild. Imagine it! Spotting river dolphins whilst trekking in the Amazon rainforest, or polar bears galumphing along an iceberg aboard an Arctic expedition cruise ship… or maybe your headed for a safari in a 4×4 through sprawling savannah landscapes, and suddenly… you spot some wild, wild, wildlife!
In this blog, cruising and travel meets creatures and environments, as we list down the unique animals and where in the wild world you can actually find them… to make incredible memories, and to take some spectacular photographs, of course – so get your camera ready!
Let’s begin! Now, where in the wild world would you see…
Bears, Bears and more Bears!
Whether it’s the imposing, black bear, or the mighty grizzly, one of the most accessible places you’ll find these great animals is in British Columbia, Canada and nearby Alaska – considered by many a traveller to be the best place to spot them. And if you head above the arctic circle, who knows, you may even come across the elusive Polar Bear hidden among the sparkling icebergs and glaciers.
While they may be solitary animals, bears can be found in groups feeding together where food is abundant – and this would be a great opportunity to take out your camera! The great salmon runs prevalent throughout Canada and the Alaskan coastal regions make this an ideal time to get onboard an Inside Passage Alaskan cruise or delve further inland, into well forested areas to see bear in their natural habitats. We suggest the Rocky Mountaineer Rail journey for an in-depth wilderness discovery of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
For an unhurried and hassle-free viewing experience, many cruises will offer excursions into Denali National Park, with overnight stays in various lodges located in the heart of the Alaska’s wilderness. Be patient, enjoy the natural surrounding environment, fresh mountain air and keep your eyes peeled for moose, caribou, bald eagles and more while you are waiting for your elusive bear. Just a sneaky hint – on Vancouver Island near Vancouver you can see bears via Zodiac, as you traverse through small bays and shores, subalpine meadows, and rocky rivers.
Puffins and Penguins – North or South – you choose!
Okay, let’s first face the facts – while they may look like they’re cousins, penguins and puffins are completely different species. The clearest distinction? The ability of flight. Sadly, penguins can’t fly. So why do they have wings? Well, technically they have a pair of rigid flippers that just look like wings. And they weigh anywhere from the little Blue Fairy Penguins 1kg up to a massive 23kg of an Emperor Penguin. Wouldn’t want one of those to come down on your head!
On the other hand, a puffin has feathered wings just right for flying, and is much lighter in weight (around half a kilo), allowing them to fly.
Additionally, they aren’t even neighbours! Puffins can be found mostly near Iceland and in the upper Northern Hemisphere, so you could easily spot one during an Arctic cruise expedition. Meanwhile, their chubbier penguin friends can be found down on the other side of the world, in the Southern Hemisphere, scattered all across Antarctica and southern-most locations in South America, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
For the adventurous traveller, Vacation Rewards has a wide selection of expeditions heading North to the spectacular glaciers and fjords of the Arctic and south to Antarctica and beyond… just don’t confuse them from one another!
Platypus – a what?
Is it a duck? An otter? A beaver? A swimming-duck-fish-beaver-otter-bird?
This is arguably the weirdest animal in this list and there’s no denying the curious attraction of the platypus. Here in OZ we already know about the truely unique Australian mammals we have on hand – kangaroo, koala, emu, echidna, wombat – and more. This particularly unique, egg-laying mammal is part duck with its bill, part beaver with its tail, and part otter with its webbed feet, plus its mammalian body all goes to make up one very strange (yet cute) hodgepodge of an animal!
Wanna see one? The best locations are right here in good old OZ! You may not be lucky enough to see one in the wild (although not unheard of!) because the very shy platypus spends a lot of time underwater or in their burrows. We think the best spot to view them is at Sydney’s world-famous Taronga Zoo where a large enclosure with tank is dedicated to showing off their habitat and lifestyle. Plus you are smack dab in the heart of Australia’s iconic Sydney Harbour – think Opera House – think Harbour Bridge – think giraffe and elephants with one amazing view! Or head down south to Victoria’s Healesville Sanctuary for a world’s first experience, where you can actually get up close and personal with a platypus and learn all about their environment.
Pink River Dolphins – adventure awaits!
Do you like dolphins? What about a little adventure? Combine the two with a visit to the Amazon Rainforest to explore, obviously, yet also to spy on one of two world species of river dolphins. And they are pink! Yes. You read that right. It’s a dolphin and it’s pink.
But are they born this way? Not quite. These dolphins actually have a typical grey sheen, and they slowly turn pink as they age. The pink color can also be attributed to their capillaries being so close to their skins. Adorable? You bet. Plus, if the dolphin likes you, it can even blush!
These dolphins can be found in the Amazon’s tributaries, slow moving river basins, streams and lakes, thus we recommend an Amazon River Excursion to visit not only these cute creatures, but to experience the epic river in all its bountiful glory.
The Big 5 – let’s go on safari!
We’ve made an exception for Africa and added a few more MUST SEE animals into the mix.
Whenever you’re in Africa, you’ll always hear about “the Big Five” consisting of the following animals: the African elephant with huge fan shaped ears and curved tusks of ivory; the black rhinoceros for their massive size and distinctive horns (on the endangered list); the robust and unpredictable Cape buffalo; the leopard with its bright spotted coat; and the king of the jungle, the majestic African lion.
Safari is the best way to see Africa and the Big Five. Explore your options throughout Africa, but please don’t miss the Rift Valley of Kenya and Tanzania – offering up not only a wilderness experience like none other, but the addition of Olduvai Gorge or the “Cradle of Humankind” which gives you an awe-inspiring discovery tour of ancient human fossils. Other areas to spot wildlife (and be totally amazed) include the vast Okavango Delta region known for hippo, crocodiles and a multitude of birdlife; South Africa’s largest game reserve – Kruger National Park, renowned for the “Big 5” and make sure you include the thundering Victoria Falls one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World!
Get your camera ready and start discovering this planet’s unique wildlife today.
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