People have many reasons to travel. If you ask around, you are probably going to hear something like the following:
- To discover new places
- To meet different people
- To learn about different cultures
- To feel free
- To have fun!!
No matter what reason you have to pack your bags and explore the world, travel experiences always leave us thrilled and with a sense of breakthrough.
And talking about thrills, have you ever experienced the excitement of encountering wildlife in the country you are visiting?
Let me tell you I am a total sucker for wildlife (or just animal) experiences. Those experiences are near the top of things I love to do while traveling. I always make time to hike, enjoy nature and increase the probabilities of encountering new species. Because, let’s be honest, who can say he/she has seen a Geoffroy’s Tamarind or Coatimundi in the wild? Don’t have an idea of what I am talking about?
Let me give you a taste of the animal encounters I have experienced around the world.
This is probably one of the most famous countries for wildlife opportunities. Once you get out of the capital area, you start to see all kinds of animals. Around the Arenal Volcano, the Manuel Antonio National Park and the Sarapiqui Forest, I saw capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, two and three toed sloths, raccoons, Jesus Christ lizards, poisonous frogs, hummingbirds, toucans and more. For an animal lover like me, it felt like paradise.
I even had an encounter with a tarantula. I have to say she was pretty shy (she didn’t want to crawl over my arm).
Capuchin monkeys are all around. Definitely, one of the easiest animals to spot. But beware; the little guy in the next photo attacked a girl just in front of us. He left her with a big scratch in her arm.
The raccoon I saw was particularly cute.
When I went to Costa Rica, I didn’t have my camera with a 20x zoom lens. I took a look at this three toed sloth thru my guide’s big powered binoculars. I just like the photo even though some of my friends say the sloth is disgusting. Come on guys!! Show more love towards cute animals.
I also had experiences with more common species.
This is the country where I have seen the greatest variety of animals. I saw the same critters that I saw in Costa Rica plus coatimundis, agoutis, Geoffroy’s spider monkeys, night monkeys, Geoffroy’s tamarinds, crocodiles, iguanas and a boa (oh no!!).
I saw most of the animals in the jungles surrounding the Canal. I took a day long boat excursion. An adventure like this is highly recommended (animal lovers or not).
This time the capuchin monkeys invaded our boat. One even took a look at my earrings. I just stood still not knowing what he was going to do.
Later, we stopped at a boat house. In here, I had experiences I will cherish forever.
I was able to feed a toucan.
Hold a baby crocodile.
Hug a night monkey.
Spot a Geoffroy’s Tamarind. This is a species I never knew it existed. I read and learn about them once I returned home. These guys look like characters of a Star Wars movie.
Panama is without doubt one of the best countries to appreciate wildlife.
Thailand was all about the elephants. I was able to visit the Mae Sa Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai. It was fantastic. Read more about my experiences here and here. Highlight: I was able to ride an elephant!!
I also spotted this cute rodent while visiting the Doi Suthep Temple in Chiang Main. Not sure what he is.
In Oahu, I was able to see a huge green turtle in the North Coast. She was resting on the beach. Volunteers were protecting her from people trying to get too close.
This is another animal lover’s paradise. You must have heard about the Amazon and the Pantanal. I will love to visit those places. Plus, Brazil has the largest number of monkey species in the world. Imagine what you can encounter!!
Ok, I didn’t visit the Amazon or the Pantanal. However, this country is so amazing that there are tons of opportunities to spot animals even in the Rio de Janeiro State.
We saw tons of monkeys in the Tijuca Forest (while ascending to Corcovado).
The next photo shows a black or horned capuchin monkey. We saw it while walking around the Mata Atlantica section of Rio de Janeiro’s Botanical Garden. There we a bunch of these monkeys eating jackfruits. It was fun to watch them for a while. We even witnessed a fight between them.
Later, we moved to the Serra do Mar near Paraty. We spent a day in the mountains and were able to see the famous marmosets. It was difficult to get a good picture.
The area was also full of colorful birds.
Vancouver is not necessarily the place to see wildlife but I had some interesting animal encounters in here. First, in Grouse Mountain we got really close to some bears they had in an enclosed area. It was great to observe them in a semi-wild environment.
Additionally, I visited the Vancouver Aquarium. I was delighted to see beluga whales and giant otters. I say these were super good sights for a city.
I am telling you guys, travel is fun!! Don’t tell me you don’t feel like standing up, packing your bags and flying to another country just to have the opportunity to discover amazing animal species. Because travel sometime surpasses all our known notions.
Seriously, experiences like these are the ones that keep me traveling. In the future, I will like to experience the following:
- Birds and Amazon animals in Ecuador
- Llamas, alpacas and condors in Peru
- Monarch Butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
- Whales in the Baja California Peninsula
- Big five in Africa
- Old world monkeys in Asia
- And many more!!
It is true I am interested in the culture, customs and people of other countries. But I am also interested in the natural world. I want to discover the unique species each country treasure.
What are you greatest animal experiences while abroad? L et me know in the comments section below.