Top 5 Places to Experience Wildlife with Kids
Kids are natural animal lovers, and no experience is as thrilling as observing animals in their natural habitat. These five places to experience wildlife will make for an educational and exciting adventure for you and your family.
1. Costa Rica
The tropical forests of Costa Rica are home to an enormous variety of wildlife; in fact, Costa Rica is one of the top countries in the world for biodiversity. A variety of eco-tours allow you to explore the rainforests while learning about the threats to the country's 500,000 species of animals and insects. Some of the wildlife here include frogs, reptiles, insects and butterflies, monkeys, macaws, and sloths, and wildlife sanctuaries allow for an up-close view.
The cloud forests of Costa Rica are a magical place. Photo by E Capitan.
2. The Galàpagos Islands
The Galàpagos Islands might be the ultimate family destination for animal lovers. The islands are packed with adventure opportunities such as sea kayaking and snorkeling. Besides encountering sea turtles, giant tortoises, and sea lions, kids and their parents can learn about the discoveries of Charles Darwin in the islands’ unusual landscape.
A sea lion shows he is as curious about this little traveller as she is about him.
The coast of California is a haven for ocean wildlife and is one of the best places to view marine mammals in the world. Whales can be seen from the shore during the winter and spring months when they migrate to and from Alaska. In the late spring, mothers and their new calves can be spotted near the shore. Spring is birthing season, and seal pups can be viewed in places like Point Reyes and Point Lobos from February to April. However, the marine sanctuary of Monterey Bay is home to many ocean animals year-round. Small whale-watching boats offer up-close views of whales, dolphins, and sea otters, and slower boats in the nearby Elkhorn Slough offer more peaceful tours appropriate for small children.
Whale watching is an exciting activity to do with your children. Photo by Michele W.
While visitors to this beautiful country can encounter tropical birds, monkeys, and even Komodo dragons, the ultimate wildlife experience is seeing endangered orangutans in the wild. These peaceful primates can be seen in rehabilitation centres in Indonesia and Malaysia, but a more adventurous experience awaits if you and your family venture to see them in their natural forest habitat. One such place is Gunung Leuser National Park, the only park that has a wild population of orangutans on the island of Sumatra. Most of the places to see orangutans require a bit of a journey, like the three-day boat ride to Tanjung Puting National Park on Indonesian Borneo, so choose carefully according to your family’s level of adventure.
An orangutan snacks on a banana in Gunung Leuser National Park. Photo by K Leempoel.
5. South Africa
What child doesn’t dream of taking a safari? In South Africa, you and your family can spot the Big Five – lions, rhinos, buffalo, elephants, and leopards – in their natural habitats. But there are plenty more animal species to be seen, including antelope, hyenas, cheetahs, and baboons. You can explore Kruger National Park and Timbavati Private Game Reserve from the comfort and safety of a safari vehicle. And when you’ve had your fill of wildlife sightings, South Africa offers so much more for a family vacation. From the history and culture of Johannesburg and Cape Town and the beauty of wine country to the natural beauty of its beaches (complete with penguins!), South Africa offers so much for an active family.
A family of elephants takes a drink from a watering hole in Kruger National Park.
There are many places where we can expose our children to the wildlife of our planet, places where animals roam freely and we become only an observer. Here the planet becomes a classroom, teaching kids about the life cycles of animals, migration patterns, and the challenges they face in today’s climate. I can’t think of a more awe-inspiring and fun family vacation!
Content courtesy of G Adventures
Author: Jenna Francisco