Part of the fun in traveling is enjoying the surprises that come up along the way. And recently, one of my favorite “travel surprises” is encountering wildlife. I thought it would be fun to put together a list of some of my favorite surprise encounters with animals in the wild (where they belong!) There are many ways animals suffer as a direct result of tourism, so it’s really important to do your research before engaging with animal activities while on vacation. Here’s a great article about how to choose ethical animal attractions abroad. In my opinion, the best (and only) way we should enjoy wild animals is from a safe distance and let them be! With that being said, here are some of my favorite wildlife encounters.
While cruising through Alaska, I had the chance to see a couple different types of wildlife. I saw an orca whale and humpback whales during a whale watching tour out of Juneau. This is probably my favorite wildlife encounter to date. Being so close to such magnificent, large animals was truly breathtaking. Using binoculars allowed me to feel as though I was right next to these whales. I loved hearing the sounds they made and watching them as they worked together to eat. It was an unforgettable experience.
Below is a video of a few shots I captured from my whale watching experience!
Alaska also provided me with plenty of opportunities to see America’s national bird, the bald eagle! It was great to see how their population has been revitalized, considering they were once on the endangered species list. I captured this bald eagle while I was in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Finally, I also saw the most adorable baby seals floating by on icebergs in the water during our cruise through the stunning Tracy Arm Fjord. They are really hard to see in the picture below, they are the black dots in the foreground, but in person they were so so cute!
While trekking through Peru, we came across many wild llamas living in the Andes mountains. I noticed they mostly hung out around the Incan ruins, though we spotted a few amidst the brush. It was a nice surprise to turn a corner and see one of these cute little guys! It’s a good idea to keep your distance though, they can bite.
Florida, United States
Earlier this year I visited Sanibel Island with my cousin – a beautiful island off the west coast of Florida. While enjoying a gorgeous sunset one evening, we found ourselves being entertained by a pod of dolphins swimming very close to the shore for almost 30 minutes. It was stunning to watch, and I’ve been an absolute lover of dolphins since I was in elementary school. They are so playful and beautiful!
During a different trip to Florida, my cousins, boyfriend and I took a drive out to the keys, Islamorada to be exact, and ate dinner at an outdoor restaurant called Robbie’s. After dinner we wandered to the water and saw huge tarpon fish that you’re allowed to feed and lots of big birds that I’m not sure what they are called. South Florida is “swimming” with wildlife.
Wyoming, United States
There’s no better place in the United States, in my opinion, to see wildlife up close and personal than in Wyoming. While exploring Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, my family and I saw mule deer, elk, bald eagles and other enormous birds, foxes, coyotes, and hundreds of bison. This is one of the most beautiful areas in our country and totally worth a visit to see the most bizarre and beautiful landscapes, and of course, wildlife!
While not “wild”, these beautiful Icelandic Horses are completely native and unique to Iceland. While driving the Golden Circle, we came to a screeching halt to jump out of our car and trek across a muddy hill for the chance to say hi to and pet these beautiful horses. (The mud was totally worth it!)
Japan was full of surprises. But one of my favorite memories was taking a ferry to Miyajima Island, located in the Hiroshima prefecture. This beautiful island is an oasis of temples and nature, but the best part was seeing the wild deer! They live peacefully on the island, and don’t seem to mind the tourists waving their hands in excitement at the sight of them. While they look friendly, it’s advised not to pet them, which we didn’t. I just sat really close to a few as they ignored me. It was very exciting! (For me, probably not for them.)
And those are my top wildlife encounters. I hope to have the chance to visit Africa soon because I’m pretty confident that’s one of the best places in the world to spot wildlife. I would love to hear your wildlife stories, let me hear them in the comments below!
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