Africa

The Top 25 Wildlife Destinations in the World

LAST UPDATE:  5/30/2019

There is some absolutely beautiful, amazing, and overall fantastic wildlife in this world that most people will never see outside of a zoo.  Each wildlife destination offers its own unique sets of animals and landscapes to explore.  Whether it be on the plains of Southern Africa, the mangrove swamps of India, or the jungles of South America or Southeast Asia, this world has so much wonderful wildlife and so many great places to view it.  With so many wonderful options, it was really, really difficult to narrow this list down to just the Top 25 wildlife destinations in the world.

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When comprising my list of the Top 25 wildlife viewing destinations in the world, I used a number of different factors to choose and ultimately rank my choices for the best destinations.  These criteria included the following:

  • The quantity of wildlife
  • The diversity of wildlife
  • The scarcity of the wildlife
  • The ease in seeing the wildlife

In my opinion, what makes a destination a great wildlife viewing destination isn’t just the amount of wildlife that lives in that area.  While that is important, the diversity and the scarcity of the wildlife is equally as important.  If a destination is the last place on Earth where you can see a particular animal, that makes that destination special.  Just as having a large diversity of wildlife can really set a wildlife destination apart from other destinations.

It is also important to have a reasonable opportunity to see wildlife when you visit a wildlife destination.  Getting to most of these destinations isn’t cheap.  If you are going to invest the time and money to travel to one of these destinations, you want to have a reasonable chance of seeing the animals you came to see.  Most of us understand that nothing is guaranteed, but having a reasonable chance to see amazing wildlife will set one destination apart from others.  So without further ado, here is my list of the top wildlife destinations in the world.

25.  Everglades National Park, USA

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In addition to being one of the most unique ecosystems found in North America, the Everglades is also one of North America’s best wildlife viewing locations.  Found in the very Southern part of the state of Florida, the Everglades National Park is home to a wide range of unique and interesting animals.  In addition to the North American Crocodiles and Alligators that the park is famous for, Florida Panthers, American black bears, and lynx can also be found in the forests surrounding the wetlands.  Off the state’s shores, the loveable manatees are another big attraction for wildlife enthusiasts.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time of year to visit the Everglades National Park is during the dry season, which lasts from December until April each year.  During this time the temperatures are very comfortable, with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-’50s.  During the summer and autumn months of June thru October, there is a much great chance of rain and it can be stifling hot during the summer months of June thru August.

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24.  Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

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Mana Pools National Park, which has been named a World Heritage Site, is a beautiful wildlife park that is located on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. With some of the best guides in Africa and tours available on foot or in a canoe, it offers some truly unique wildlife viewing activities that are especially attractive to adventure seekers. The park is home to four of the Big Five animals of Africa and would be ranked higher on my list if the Black rhino wasn’t extinct within the park.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Mana Pools to see wildlife is during the dry season, which is between June and October each year.  During this time, animals are easier to spot because the vegetation isn’t as thick and the wildlife tends to congregate around the Zambezi River.  It is also much nicer weather with sunny and you typically run into fewer malaria-carrying mosquitos.

During the wet season, especially between January and March, the vegetation can be quite thick, which makes it more difficult to spot wildlife.  Because of the abundance of water during this time of year, the wildlife is also typically more spread out.  The roads can also get quite muddy and sometimes unpassable when the rains get especially hard.  Much of the accommodations around the park are also closed between January and March each year.

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23. Rainforests of the Atsinanana, Madagascar

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The Rainforests of the Atsinanana is a world heritage site that consists of 13 specific wildlife areas and 6 national parks in Eastern Madagascar. These rainforests are critically important ecosystems for Madagascar’s unique and wonderful wildlife, which has evolved in isolation over the past 60 million years.  Visitors to the parks will get to see animals that can be found nowhere else in the world.  This includes a number of species of lemur, fossa, chameleons, tenrec, and brookesia, among other species.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the rainforests of Madagascar is during the months of August thru December each year.  Between July and September, Humpback Whales can be seen off the coast and the weather is typically sunny and dry.  Between October and November, the lemurs begin having their babies, so this is the prime time to visit to see the babies being born.  The weather is typically warm and dry up until January when the wet season arrives.  While wildlife can be viewed year-round, the dry season is typically the most comfortable time to visit during the year.

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22. Ujung Kulon National Park, Indonesia

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Ujung Kulon National Park is located about 185 miles from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta and about 85 miles from Serang, which is the capital city of Banten Province.  This beautiful park stretches across the Kulon Peninsula, as well as a number of neighboring islands and the Honje Mountain Range.  It is most well known for its endangered Javan rhinos, which are critically endangered.  In addition to the rhinos, the park is also home to Javan leopards, Sumatran dholes, Silvery gibbons, Javan rusa, and several species of monkeys.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Ujung Kulon National Park for wildlife viewing is during the dry season, which is between the months of April and October each year.  During this time of year, the weather is typically the warmest and driest, which makes trekking thru the park much easier.  The ocean is also much calmer during this time of year, which makes wildlife viewing near the coast much more enjoyable.

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21. Lone Pine Sanctuary, Australia

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Like Madagascar, Australia is also home to a number of species of animals that are found nowhere else in the world.  When visiting Australia, one of the best places to go to see all of this wildlife in one location outside of a zoo is the Lone Pine Sanctuary.  Located in the suburbs of the city of Brisbane in Eastern Australia, the Lone Pine Sanctuary is Australia’s oldest and biggest koala sanctuary.  In addition to the adorable koalas, the sanctuary also includes kangaroos, wombats, dingos, platypus, Tasmanian devils, and the dangerous Southern cassowary bird for visitors to see.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

While wildlife viewing in the sanctuary is good all year-round, the best time of year to visit Brisbane, in general, is during the months of March thru May, which is autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.  During this time of year, the temperatures typically reach the mid 80’s and there is very little rainfall.  The most popular times to visit are during the winter months of June thru August and spring months of September thru November, but accommodations are typically sold out during this time of year and the sanctuary is typically very busy.  Visiting during the summer months of December thru early March isn’t ideal because it is the wet season.  It rains most days and the temperatures can be brutally hot and humid during this time of year.

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20. Jim Corbett National Park, India

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As one of India’s most famous wildlife parks, the Jim Corbett National Park is probably most famous for its rich population of Bengal tigers.  In addition to its tigers, this forested wildlife sanctuary in Northern India is also home to an impressive array of other wildlife.  This includes Indian elephants, Asiatic black bears, Indian leopards, and a wide variety of other animal species.  The park has five different zones and each zone is known for different species of animals that can be seen within those zones.  With so much wildlife to see, visiting the Jim Corbett National Park in India is a great choice for any wildlife adventure.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the Jim Corbett National Park for wildlife viewing is during the winter months of October thru February.  During this time of year, there is the highest number of birds in the park and the Bengal Tiger is the most active and easiest to spot.  Because the weather is typically very nice during this time of year, it is easy to spot animals laying out in the sun and foraging for food.

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19. Bandhavgarh National Park, India

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The famous Bandhavgarh National Park in central India is the wildlife destination where you probably have the best chance to spot a wild Bengal Tiger.  No other park in India, let alone the world, gives you a better opportunity to spot these beautiful and elusive creatures.  A combination of the healthy population of tigers and conducive habitat for spotting the tigers gives visitors a better than not chance of leaving the park having had a tiger viewing experience.

In addition to a healthy population of Bengal tigers, the park is also home to some other amazing wildlife.  This includes Indian dholes, Indian wolves, Indian leopards, sloth bears, and the unique striped hyena.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

When planning your visit to Bandhavgarh National Park, the time of year that you will absolutely want to avoid is the Monsoon season that starts in mid-June and lasts until mid-October.  From November until February, the park is much drier, but the temperatures can become quite cold in the park.  In fact, low temperatures can drop to around freezing during this time of year.  For that reason, the summer months of March thru May are the best time of year to visit the park.  Temperatures are quite pleasant and the weather is typically dry, which makes wildlife viewing much easier and your visit much more comfortable.

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18. Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

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Bordering the nearby Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Sabi Sands Game Reserve has all of the Big Five animals of Africa (elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, and rhinoceros), as well as some of the best safari guides in the world to help you locate and view them.  In fact, this may be one of the best places in Africa to spot the elusive leopards.  Because the reserve allows off-road driving, the guides are able to get you up-close to the animals while on safari.  If there is any drawback to this destination, its that accommodations can be quite expensive and the focus of most safaris is limited to just the Big Five animals.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Sobi Sands for wildlife viewing is during the winter months of May to September.  This is the dry season and also the low season from a visitor standpoint.  This translates into more comfortable weather and fewer other tourists to deal with.  Because it is the dry season, it is also much easier to spot animals as the vegetation is less dense and the animals gather around the rivers and waterholes to get water.

During the wet season of October thru April, animals are much more difficult to spot because the vegetation is denser and the animals are more dispersed.  This is also the high season for visitors so it can get crowded.  In addition, the days are much more hot and humid, with more malaria-carrying mosquitoes to have to deal with.

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17. Okavango Delta, Botswana

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As one of Africa’s most famous wildlife destinations, I guess it is no surprise that it made my list of the top wildlife destinations in the world.  In addition to the Moremi Game Reserve, which also made my list, the Okavango Delta is comprised of several game reserves that offer excellent wildlife viewing as well as beautiful landscapes to enjoy.

The park offers both walking safaris as well as mokoro (or dugout canoe) trips, which are great additions to supplement the wonderful game drives within the park.  Rhinos cannot be found in the Okavango Delta, but you should have no problem spotting the other four of the Big Five animals of Africa.  And because off-road driving is allowed, your guide will be sure to get you up-close to see the wildlife.  The only drawbacks to this destination are that lodging can be quite expensive and wildlife viewing is limited to several water-based camps.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

Although the Okavango Delta in Botswana is a great place to visit any time of year, the best time to visit for wildlife viewing is between July and October each year.  During the wet months of January thru March, parts of the delta become inaccessible because of flooding.  This makes the wet season less than ideal for visiting.  While there is less wildlife in the delta during the wet season, there are more baby animals, which attracts predators.  If you are looking to see some predation, then the wet season might be the time of year you are looking for.  During the dry season, wildlife viewing is typically much better.  Water levels are the highest, so it is the best time of year for mokoro (or dugout canoe) trips.  Some lodges close from January to March each year, so this is typically the worst time of year to visit the Okavango Delta.

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16. Kruger National Park, South Africa

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As one of the most famous wildlife parks in Africa, Kruger National Park is very much deserving of a spot on any list of the top wildlife destinations in the world.  The park is both beautiful and absolutely enormous and is home to all five of the Big Five animals of Africa, which makes it a favorite choice for wildlife enthusiasts looking to take an African Safari. Kruger also offers a great choice of lodging for all budgets, which makes going on safari a relatively affordable adventure for any traveler. The only drawbacks to this destination are that the park can get quite busy during the high season and the paved roads aren’t exactly conducive to a wild safari feel.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time of year to visit Kruger National Park is during the dry, winter months of May to September.  During this time of year the vegetation thins out and animals tend to congregate around water holes and rivers.  This makes it easier to find and spot.  The weather is also typically sunny and the temperatures are very comfortable.  During the wet season of October thru April, it is typically much hotter and more humid.  The vegetation is also much thicker, making it more difficult to spot the animals.  Because water is much more plentiful, the animals are also much more spread out, which makes it harder to find them.

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15. Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

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Corcovado National Park is one of this world’s most impressive wildlife destinations. In addition to having some of the only remaining old growth rain forests on the Pacific coast of Central America, it is also home to an impressive array of wildlife.  The park is comprised of a staggering 13 different major ecosystems including lowland rain forest, cloud forest, Jolillo palm forest, and mangrove swamps.  In Corcovado, you have a decent chance of seeing endangered animals such as tapir, jaguar, and a wide range of monkeys that call the tree-top canopies their home.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time of year to visit Corcovado National Park is during the dry season, which is between December and April each year.  During this time of year, the temperatures aren’t as hot and it isn’t as humid and wet.  This makes it much easier to navigate thru the park during the dry season than during the wet season, which lasts from July thru October.  In fact, during October the park typically receives so much rainfall that many of the lodges on the Osa Peninsula temporarily close.

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14. Yellowstone National Park, USA

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Yellowstone National Park in the United States isn’t called the Serengeti of North America for no reason.  Of all the national parks in North America, visiting Yellowstone National Park is about as close as you can get to a safari-like experience in North America.  Large numbers of grazing animals including American bison, Roosevelt elk, and Pronghorn antelope graze in the park’s large valleys.  Meanwhile, predators such as the grey wolf, grizzly bear, and mountain lion stalk the valleys and forests in search of prey.  Not to mention, the Yellowstone Caldera, which encompasses most of the national park, is one of the most active geothermic areas in the world.  The result is a seemingly endless number of geysers, hot pools, and other thermal features to explore.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best times of year to visit Yellowstone National Park are either during the spring months of May and June or the autumn months of September and October.  During these months the temperatures are quite mild and the crowds aren’t as thick as they are during the summer months.  If you visit in the spring, you will get to see the baby elk, bison, bears, and other baby animals around Yellowstone.  This is also the best time of year to see animal predation as the park’s grizzly bears tend to prey on the baby elk and bison.

During the fall months, you will get to see the elk, bison, and other grazing animals in their rut.  This is when the animals typically fight for breeding privileges, which can be remarkable to see in person.  During the summer months of July and August, the park is typically very crowded, which can make it more difficult to get around the park and find accommodations.  While the park is much less crowded during the winter months of December thru March, the temperatures in the park can drop to well below freezing and snowfall can make certain parts of the parks inaccessible.  However, this is typically the best time of year to spot Grey Wolves within the park as this is typically their most productive hunting season.

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Learn More:

If you would like to learn more about Yellowstone National Park, make sure you check out my Yellowstone National Park visitor’s guide for more information.

13. Katmai National Park, USA

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The state of Alaska in the United States has a lot of beautiful national parks and a lot of amazing wildlife, but one park stands above all of the others in terms of its wildlife viewing.  Katmai National Park and Preserve is located on the Katmai Penninsula in Southern Alaska.  With a beautiful mix of tundra, forest, lakes, and mountains, the landscapes in the park are breathtaking.  However, it isn’t the park’s landscapes that make it world-renown.  Instead, the park is known the world over because of the large numbers of Alaskan brown bears that are attracted to the park to fish for the masses of salmon that migrate up the park’s rivers.

Witnessing this spectacle of nature is one of the most amazing wildlife viewing experiences a traveler can have.  In addition to seeing the fishing brown bears, visitors to the park also have a chance to see some of the park’s other amazing wildlife.  This includes grey wolves, moose, caribou, wolverines, and humpback and killer whales off the shores of the peninsula.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

When visiting Katmai National Park, you will want to coordinate your visit for a time of year where you will be able to see brown bear activity.  After all, they are the biggest wildlife draw within the park. The best times to see Brown Bear activity are during the late spring and early summer when mothers and cubs emerge from hibernation and during the late summer months when the salmon run is happening. My favorite time of year for brown bear viewing in Katmai is during the salmon run because you can see the bears fishing for salmon in the rivers. The times of year you will want to avoid are during the early spring months of April thru mid-may when the bears are fighting and during the winter months of November thru March when the bears are in hibernation.

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12.  Etosha National Park, Namibia

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In the world of African safaris, the country of Namibia is a relative newcomer.  However, that hasn’t stopped the country from garnering some serious attention as one of the premier safari destinations in the world.  With rugged coastlines, abundant and diverse wildlife, and constantly changing landscapes, Namibia is a safari lover’s paradise.  In Namibia, no other place encapsulates this excitement like Etosha National Park.

Home to some of Africa’s tallest elephants, the endangered black rhino, an abundant population of cheetah, as well as healthy herds of zebra, wildebeest, and African buffalo that can be found throughout the park.  The park also has some of Africa’s most unique accommodations, including some tree-top camps that give you a birds-eye perspective of all the wonderful wildlife around you.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Etosha National Park is during the dry winter season, which stretches from July to October.  It is much dryer during this time of year, so the animals tend to gather around the remaining water sources in the park.  This makes them much easier to find.  The weather during this time of year is also fantastic, but the park can be fairly crowded.

During the wet summer season, water becomes more available, so animals tend to disperse throughout the park.  This can make them much more difficult to spot.  It also tends to be very hot during the summer, so you need to make sure to wear proper sun protection.

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11. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

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When it comes to wildlife destinations in Africa, few, if any, destinations are as well-known and celebrated as the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.  Home to part of the great wildebeest migration, which is one of the single largest animal migrations in the world, the Serengeti National Park delivers an absolutely fantastic wildlife viewing experience to its visitors.  Not surprisingly, the park is home to some of the biggest herds of grazing animals in Africa, which in turn attracts some of the largest numbers of predators in sub-Saharan Africa.  The best part about the Serengeti National Park is that it offers accommodations and viewing experiences to accommodate people at all price-points, which makes it one of the most accessible safari locations in Africa.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

Wildlife viewing in the Serengeti National Park is good throughout the year, but it is best during the dry season between June and October.  Not only is the weather dryer, which means animals tend to congregate around the water holes, but the Wildebeest migration also happens during June and July, which is absolutely magical to witness.

During the wet season between November and May, the weather can be much hotter and wetter, but the park is also far less crowded.  If you visit during late January and early February, you can witness the Wildebeest calving season, which is the prime time of year to witness predation in the park.

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Learn More:

If you would like to learn more about the Serengeti National Park, make sure you check out my Serengeti National Park Safari Guide for more information.

10. Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

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Yala National Park is one of the most spectacular, and also one of the most underrated and somewhat unknown, wildlife viewing destinations in the whole world. Encompassing a huge expanse of forest, grassland, and crystal blue lagoons in Southeast Sri Lanka, it is home to a mind-boggling array of spectacular wildlife. This includes Sri Lankan leopards, Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan sloth bears, and a variety of other mammals, reptiles, and birds.  The wonderful thing about Yala National Park is that whether you are a returning visitor, or you are visiting the park for the first time, you are almost assured of having a wildlife experience you have never had before.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

For the most reliable wildlife viewing, it is best to visit Yala National Park during the dry season between February and June.  During this time of year, the animals are forced to visit the lagoons to drink, which makes them much easier to find.  Temperatures are pretty reliably warm year-round, with high temperatures typically reaching the mid-80’s.  However, during the months of September until December, the Northeast monsoon typically hits the island and brings a lot of rain.  During September, the park typically closes down for maintenance.

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9. The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

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The Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador is another wildlife destination that doesn’t need much of an introduction.  Ever since Charles Darwin made his visits to the islands in the early 1800s, the world has known the ecological significance of the Galápagos Islands.  The collection of marine and land-based habitats on and around the islands are home to some of the most amazing creatures you will find on this planet.  In fact, it is the uniquely fast evolution of some of these species that made Charles Darwin’s research so important to our understanding of how species of plants and animals evolve.

One of the best ways to explore the Galápagos Islands is to take a LiveBoard cruise around the islands and do some snorkeling or scuba diving.  You will have a chance to see some of the amazing marine wildlife that calls the Galápagos Islands their home.  This includes the gigantic whale sharks, Galápagos sea lions, Galápagos sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks, and the unique Galápagos penguin.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

There really isn’t a bad time to visit the Galápagos Islands to view wildlife, but the best time to visit is typically the wet season between December and June each year.  During the wet season, the air and water temperatures are typically warmer, which makes it the prime season for snorkeling and scuba diving.  However, you will need to deal with short, daily rain storms and cloudier skies.  During the dry season from July to November, the water temperature gets colder because of the Humboldt current, which can make a wet suit necessary for snorkeling.

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Learn More:

If you would like to learn more about visiting the Galápagos Islands, make sure you check out my Galápagos Islands visitor’s guide for more information.

8. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

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With some of the very best guides in all of Africa, and amazing array of safari options that include some of the best night safaris you can find in Africa, and an almost guaranteed opportunity to see four of the five animals in the Big Five of Africa, South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is truly an amazing wildlife viewing destination.  With one of the densest populations of leopards in Africa, South Luangwa is one of the best places to spot the most elusive of the Big Five of Africa.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit South Luangwa National Park for wildlife viewing is between the months of July and November.  During this dry season in the park, water is less plentiful and animals are forced to congregate around the water holes and rivers, which makes them much easier to find.  However, keep in mind that the months of October and November and typically very hot and humid.

During the wet season of November thru April, there are typically fewer tourists and rates are typically cheaper.  However, animals are much more dispersed throughout the park because water is more readily available.  When the rains are hardest, it can make some of the dirt roads in the park impassable, which can restrict your access to certain parts of the parks.  Because of the lower number of tourists during this time of year, some lodges closed between December and March, which means your selection of lodging may be more limited.

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7.  Gir National Park, India

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As it is the last remaining stronghold in the world for what remains of this world’s Asiatic lions, it should come as no surprise that the Gir National Park in India is ranked so high on my list of the top wildlife destinations in the world.  This is the last place in the world where you can visit and see these magnificent animals in the wild.  In addition to seeing Asiatic lions, visitors also have a good chance of seeing Indian leopards, striped hyenas, golden jackals, and the infamous Indian cobra.  With such an array of beautiful wildlife, the Gir National Park should be a destination on every wildlife enthusiast’s bucket list.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Gir National Park is typically in the months of December thru March, when the weather is the driest, but temperatures typically aren’t too hot.  However, months of April and May are typically the best wildlife viewing months, but the average high temperatures can be brutally hot.  Between mid-June and mid-October every year the park is closed because of the Southwest monsoon.  The area typically gets a lot of rain during this period and navigating within the park can be near impossible in places.

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6. Gunung Leuser National Park, Indonesia

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For a park that has such an amazing and diverse array of wildlife, it absolutely baffles me how Gunung Leuser National Park in Indonesia has managed to slip underneath most wildlife traveler’s radars all of these years.  Unlike the nearby Bukit Lawang National Park, Gunung Leuser offers visitors a much more authentic wildlife experience.  This is about as close to a real jungle experience that you can find in the region.  With the endangered Sumatran rhino, the Sumatran elephant, and the Sumatran Tiger still accessible for visitors to see in the park, that authentic wildlife experience couldn’t be more amazing.

There are a number of other amazing animals that can be seen in the park, including the elusive clouded leopard, but the star of the park is undoubtedly the Sumatran Orangutan.  These lovable apes can still be seen in their natural habitat within the park and are reason enough to rank this park so high on this list.  Add in all of the other amazing animals you can see and the Gunung Leuser National Park is a hidden gem for wildlife enthusiasts to discover.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Gunung Leuser National Park for wildlife viewing is between the months of January and July, which is the dry season of the year.  Although this is also the busiest season of the year for the park, the weather is much more comfortable than it is during the wet season.  You also won’t have to worry about the dirt roads in the park becoming too muddy and impassible, which can be an issue during the wet season.

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5.  Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

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No bucket list for a wildlife enthusiast is complete without adding a trip to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to the list.  As one of the last remaining refuges for the mountain gorillas of Africa, Volcanoes National Park is an absolute must-see for travelers who love wildlife.  Made famous by Dian Fossey during her studies of the gorillas, Volcanoes National Park is one of the best places left to view these beautiful creates.  If you want to visit this park, you will need to make sure you book your trip well in advance.  Only 64 visitors are allowed to trek to see the gorillas daily, so getting the spots is very competitive.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

Although you are able to trek to see the gorillas throughout the year, and seeing gorillas is almost guaranteed no matter when you visit, the trails you have to hike do become slippery during the wet season.  For this reason, visiting during the dry season of June thru August is considered the best time to visit to see the gorillas.  However, it can also be more difficult to obtain a permit and lodging is typically more expensive during the dry season.  If you visit during the wet season of September thru May, it will be easier to obtain a permit to see the gorillas and you will likely have to pay less for lodging.  However, you will likely have to deal with slick trails and rain storms that can last for days.

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Learn More:

If you would like to learn more about visiting Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, make sure you check out my Trekking to See Gorillas in Rwanda article to learn about this adventure.

4. The Amazon Basin, Brazil

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As one of the last truly wild places left on this planet, the Amazon Rainforest is a place that has mystified and amazed human beings for centuries.  With such a wide variety and sheer volume of wildlife, it can be argued that it is the premier wildlife destination in the world.  The only reason it doesn’t rank higher on this list is the fact that it can be so difficult to spot the wildlife.

For wildlife enthusiasts who would like to experience this unique and amazing place, your best bet is to visit the Amazon Basin in Brazil.  In addition to the jaguar, the South American tapir, Brown-throated sloths, green anacondas, black caiman, and a seemingly endless list of other animal species, the Amazon rainforest is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream.  If you are planning a visit, I would recommend you do your research on guides.  In a place where wildlife is so abundant, yet so difficult to find, having a good guide can mean the difference between having the trip of a lifetime or feeling like you missed out.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

In the Amazon Basin in Brazil, there is typically a Low Water Season (July thru December) and a High Water Season (January thru June).  During the Low Water Season, there is typically better trail access, fewer mosquitos to deal with, and less precipitation.  However, temperatures are typically very hot.  During the High Water Season, the temperatures are much cooler, but there is typically intermittent daily rain showers, which can be heavy at times.  These rains also bring an abundance of mosquitos and can make some of the trails impassable.

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3. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

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Neighboring the Serengeti National Park in the North, the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is a continuation of what has become known as one of the top wildlife viewing areas in all of Africa.  Like the Serengeti, the Masai Mara offers visitors a chance to see the great wildebeest migration.  However, in the areas the Serengeti is famous for, the Masai Mara is even better.  You are almost guaranteed to see the three big cats of Southern Africa (the African lion, the African leopard, and the African cheetah), as well as elephants, giraffe, and seemingly endless herds of buffalo, antelope, and zebra.  If you are planning your first safari in Africa, the Masai Mara in Kenya is a great choice.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

Like the neighboring Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the south, wildlife viewing in the Masai Mara is good throughout the year, but it is best during the dry season between June and October.  Because the weather is dryer, animals are forced to congregate around the watering holes and rivers for water, which makes them much easier to spot.  While the Wildebeest migration is difficult to time exactly, your best shot at seeing the Wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara is to visit in late September and October.

During the wet season between November and May, the weather can be much hotter and wetter, but the park is also far less crowded.  If you visit during late January and early February, you can witness the birth of newborn animals, which also means that there will be more easy-to-view predation in the park.

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2. Kaziranga National Park, India

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Although it may not be as famous as some of the others, out of all of the parks in India, the Kaziranga National Park is my absolute favorite.  The park has the largest number of remaining Indian rhinos, which is reason enough alone to love this park.  However, it also has an abundant supply of Bengal tigers, Indian elephants, Asiatic black bears, Indian leopards, sloth bears, and an amazing array of other wildlife.  If that isn’t enough, if you are lucky enough to get out on the rivers in the park, you might be lucky enough to spot a South Asian river dolphin, which is always a treat for visitors to see.  For anyone planning their first safari in India, I could not recommend the Kaziranga National Park enough.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Kaziranga National Park is during the winter season, between December and March, which also happens to be the dry season in India.  During the winter the park roads are much easier to navigate and the temperatures are much milder.  The park is closed each year from May 1st until the end of October because of the heavy monsoon season and the flooding of the Brahmaputra River.

Kaziranga National Park

1.  The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

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If you were to check the lists of the top safari locations in Africa, chances are that you won’t see the Ngorongoro Crater on the top of many lists.  It isn’t that the crater isn’t widely considered a great wildlife destination.  Most people recognize it as exactly that.  However, in my opinion, most lists are comprised by valuing the sheer number of animals ahead of the quality of the experience.  What the Ngorongoro Crater may lack in sheer numbers of animals, it more than makes up for with the likelihood of seeing the animals you would like to see.

In my opinion, nowhere else in Africa are you as close to assured of seeing the Big Five animals of Africa than you are in the Ngorongoro Crater.  With water available in the crater year-round, the animals in the crater have no need to migrate.  They are there year-round.  In fact, it is such a plentiful environment that you often see some of the biggest bull elephants in Tanzania inside the crater feeding.  The only downside to this destination is that safari vehicles are not allowed to leave the roads, which may mean that you aren’t able to get as close as you may like to some of the animals.  Either way, if you are looking for a sure-fire, yet authentic,  wildlife viewing experience, there are few destinations in this world as good as the Ngorongoro Crater.

Wildlife You Might See

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Best Time to Visit

With an ample supply of water inside the crater year-round, the animals inside the Ngorongoro Crater have no need to migrate.  Because of this, and the fact that they are enclosed within the crater, there is excellent wildlife viewing inside the crater year-round.  No matter which time of year you choose to visit, you are almost guaranteed to see all of the animals found within the crater.

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Learn More:

If you would like to learn more about the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, make sure you check out my Ngorongoro Crater Safari Guide for more information.

 

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7 replies »

  1. A wonderful post! I had no idea there were this many safari locations around the world. Great to know so many of them are best seen during my most convenient months of June-August! Thanks for an amazingly thorough post!

  2. Such a comprehensive post of the different wildlife parks and habitats to visit around the world. Really like the recommendations on the weather and best times to visit throughout the year. Definitely comes in hand when deciding on where to travel to see wildlife. Amazing photography too 🙂

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