The world is full of amazing animals and ecosystems that are a real delight to explore if you’re fascinated with wildlife. If you’re planning your next eco adventure, check out our suggestions of the top places to discover this year.
It’s every wildlife lover’s dream to visit true wilderness areas and see unusual animals in their natural habitats – and you can’t get much wilder or more remote than Antarctica. What’s more, the animals that manage to survive in this inhospitable environment are some of the most captivating on the planet, making a trip to this region one of the most memorable you’re ever likely to experience.
Obviously, you can only go on Antarctic cruises in the summer, which is not only when the weather is at its best, but also when the wildlife is in abundance. There are penguins, seals, whales and a host of birds located on the ice and around the Antarctic islands, with many animals breeding at this time of the year.
Chinstrap and gentoo penguins are among the flightless birds you can see rearing their chicks, while Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals inhabit the ice floes and the water. In the sea, look out for minke, humpback and killer whales as they breach the surface.
As anyone who’s interested in wildlife will know, Madagascar is a true gem, with this island off the coast of Africa home to a wide variety of creatures that are found nowhere else on earth. Its isolation from the rest of the continent has allowed some truly amazing animals to evolve, such as lemurs, aye-ayes, fosas and an array of frogs, chameleons and geckos.
Approximately 80 per cent of Madagascar’s wildlife is endemic, with 99 per cent of its frog species found nowhere else. The various lemurs are one of the main attractions here, but so too are reptiles like the stunning chameleons and exotic tortoises.
There are dozens of national parks to explore and wildlife-watching opportunities almost everywhere you go, making this an outstanding place to visit if you’re keen to see some really incredible creatures.
Costa Rica – and in fact much of Central and South America – is another hotbed of biodiversity, making this a fantastic choice for wildlife lovers who want to explore some amazing stretches of jungle and beautiful areas of coastline. Costa Rica is particularly good for both of these ecosystems, as well as boasting active volcanoes and wild rivers.
One of the most elusive and stunning animals to look out for in Costa Rica is the resplendent quetzal, a colourful bird that’s now very rare. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the best places in the country to spot these beautiful birds – keep an eye out for a flash of their emerald green and red plumage among the trees if you’re exploring here.
The Manuel Antonio National Park on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is also well worth a visit for wildlife lovers, as it is home to the likes of coatimundis, sloths, capuchin monkeys and squirrel monkeys, as well as boasting some of the country’s most pristine beaches.
For sheer diversity of habitats in a relatively small area, it’s tough to beat Costa Rica and with adventurous activities – like forest canopy tours and climbing volcanoes – also on offer, it’s the perfect place for any wildlife lovers who want to inject a few thrills into their break.