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Wildlife spotting | 10 Wildlife experiences for your bucket list!

Do you think one of the best things on holiday is spotting wildlife? I do! And now when you think of wild animals you might think of a safari in Africa, but of course there are more places where you can spot wildlife. I'm Maaike van travelluck.nl, and I'll take you to my top 10 wildlife travel experiences. And give you tips where you too could see these animals!

Also read: 24 Must-See-in Africa † The most beautiful places for your bucket list ✔️
Also read: 20 Must-See-in South America † Food for your Bucket List ✔️

1. Spotting Lions | Kruger Park

What a magnificent animal it is: the lion. Of course this one is deserved. And of course you spot these on safari in Africa. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to do this yourself is with a self-drive safari through the Kruger Park† Lions are difficult to spot with their camouflage colors, but where many cars stop you often see this king of the animal kingdom.

Lion in Kruger Park
Lion in Kruger Park

One of the nicest ways to see them is during the evening safari that you take through San Parks in the Kruger Park you can book. Because what could be more impressive than seeing a group of lions dozing on the still warm asphalt just in front of the raised open safari car? Especially when one is on it, roars and starts to walk around the car!

2. Whale watching | Tenerife

The number 2 of this election I give to the whale. Whales are the largest living animals on Earth and it is so impressive to see them! Or hear them sing, as I did on a snorkeling trip in Mozambique† We also saw humpback whales with their calves just off the coast of Sydney. Whales can also be seen closer to home, for example in the strait between Gran Canaria and Tenerife.

Whale Watching in Tenerife
Whale Watching in Tenerife

If you want to see whales, it is important to find out in advance when the whale season is for your destination. And whether you can see them from the coast like in South Africa and Mozambique. Or it is better to book a boat trip such as in Australia and the Canary Islands. You can often see dolphins.

3. Spotting the Savannah Elephant | Kruger Park

Okay, true story: for our trip through South Africa we rented a large 4×4. A colleague showed me videos of smaller cars being knocked over by elephants: 'Aren't you afraid of that?' Of course not, because we rented a cool car! Until we actually had to drive through a herd of elephants in the Kruger Park. To the left was the matriarch (the big, wise granny elephant) and to the right of the road a little calf. Very cute yes. Only Grandma is more than 2,5 meters high. She turned to us and started flapping her ears furiously.

Also read: The 10 Most Beautiful National Parks in South Africa | Panoramas & Wildlife

Savannah Elephant in Kruger Park
Savannah Elephant in Kruger Park

Got the hint, so we quickly put the car in reverse. What now? There were no other cars around and there was only one road. 10 minutes later we tried again and she remained calm. After we passed the herd, we drove away very fast.

4. Spotting the Hummingbird | South America

I'm not much of a bird expert, but certain birds are always nice to see in the wild: swans, robins, eagles, parrots and… the little hummingbirds. When you go on vacation to America, especially South America, chances are you will see them. The chance that you can photograph them nicely is a lot smaller, because they are constantly moving. They are also about 5 centimeters and weigh about 5 grams.

Hummingbird in South America
Hummingbird in South America

During our trip we had Mexico, Guatemala en Belize Tried a few times to get a good photo of one. One afternoon we were sitting on a terrace and a hummingbird flew around us. We quickly switched the zoom and I said to my husband, let me try. This shot in one shot. And the hummingbird flew again.

5. Spotting the G'day Koala | Australia

Where to start wildlife spotting in Australië† You can spot so many special animals in this country! Kangaroos, but you can actually see them everywhere on this continent. Huge 7 meter saltwater crocodiles in the North: but if you're lucky you won't see them in the wild (at most a few scales from a boat). That line that we saw sliding through the water at sunrise, that must have been a platypus… And after days of looking out of the sockets, we still hadn't seen a cassowary. 

Koala in Australia
Koala in Australia

In the end I choose the koala. Make no mistake: it took 4 weeks before we spotted our first wild koalas. They cannot be found everywhere on this huge island and then they are also threatened with extinction. Our first real attempt near Noosa came to nothing. But near Cape Otway near Melbourne we saw yet another warning sign for koalas. And this time we finally saw real koalas. Alone, in a group, with young and one even crossed the road so that we could study it well.

Also read: The Wild West of Western Australia | An alternative round trip route!

6. Spotting manatees | Belize

Well, you never hear about that: snorkeling with manatees and there aren't many places in the world where this is possible: Florida, Belize and parts of the Caribbean† But really: put this on you bucketlist.because that's so cool! They are a bit shy, so you have no guarantee that this attraction will be crossed off. 

Manatees in Belize
Manatees in Belize

While on Caye Caulker Belize, we went on a snorkeling trip. The first manatee we saw disappeared immediately. Our guess: snorkel to the edge of the reef in hopes of having a better chance there. Just as we were about to give up, we saw a manatee floating. We continued to float quietly. When we decided to swim back to the boat, another one arrived. And they started with an intriguing mating dance, like we were in the middle of a nature documentary. After a few minutes we decided to give them a little more privacy.

Also read: Most beautiful diving spots in the world | Our top 5

7. Spotting Slow Lori | Thailand

In our Thailand you may not immediately think of jungle. Yet that is what you will discover during a walking safari in Khao Sok National Park, in the dark! When all the animals you don't normally see and probably don't know go out. Yes, it is a bit exciting. Because you see, for example, cateye snakes hanging in the trees and other crawling and stealthy critters.

Evening safari in the jungle
Evening safari in the jungle

But luckily there is a guide who points out all the beautiful things and protects you if necessary. One of the most special animals we saw was a slow loris. We had never heard of that before and when we saw the flashlight, this rare prosimian climbed back into the tree as quickly as possible. 

8. Spotting Hippos & Zebras | Swaziland

And also wildebeest and nyala antelope. With crocodiles and hippos in the water. This is the out-of-Africa feeling in a beautiful setting! And we did all this on horseback! I've ridden horseback before on holiday, but this was truly an unforgettable experience. Where you can ride among the zebras and other wild animals? At the Mlilwane resort in Swaziland.

Horseback Riding with Zebras in Swaziland
Horseback Riding with Zebras in Swaziland

If you are not into horse riding, you can also walk freely among the 'relatively harmless' wildlife. Just report to the reception that you are going out, because it remains nature. So we ended up in a fight between two impalas. Pretty painful if you get impaled on one of those horns.

9. Spotting Weedy Sea Dragons | Australia

I can hear you thinking: Weedy Zee Wattes? Justly. Chances are you've never heard of this huge colorful seahorse. It only lives in Australië, and then only on the south and south-west coasts. We saw them at the Portsea pier. We rented thick wetsuits there, because in October the seawater is also very cold there.

Weedy sea Dragon in Australia
Weedy sea Dragon in Australia

Yes, for the same money we could also see them in captivity in the Melbourne aquarium. But in their natural environment is of course more fun. With their 40 centimeter long bodies, they certainly stand out among the rest of the seaweed. We saw 2 females and 3 males: with beautiful red colored eggs on their bellies. Within an hour we were back on dry land with big smiles on our severely hypothermic faces.

Also read: Life in Australia | Weak coffee, eating fries, whales and dolphins

10. Spotting seals | The Netherlands

Are you now inspired and do you want nothing more than to spot wildlife yourself? That is of course also possible The Netherlands† My personal tip is the Engelsmanplaat between Vlieland and Terschelling.

Spotting gray seals in Zeeland
Spotting gray seals in Zeeland

It's like sailing into a National Geographic documentary, seeing hundreds of gray seals that gather here from November to January to give birth to their pups. This is one of those 'in the middle of a nature documentary experience', just in the Netherlands!

About Travel Happiness

Oh, how difficult it was for me to make this top 10! My favorite animal the giraffe isn't even in it, the huge buffalo that wouldn't leave the trail, or the beautiful Mini-sized sea turtles I've been diving and snorkeling with. Or the whale shark I ripped my knee on. Or… there is too much! Follow me on Instagram at @Travel Happiness of Facebook if you want to see more of that, or look at travelgelukjes.nl.

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