Five Unforgettable Wildlife Experiences to Cross Off Your Bucket List

Escape on a wildlife adventure of a lifetime.
Orlaith Costello
November 23, 2023

in partnership with

In a world brimming with concrete jungles, it's time to escape the urban hustle and immerse yourself in the wonders of the wild. Together with Intrepid Travel, we've curated a list of unparalleled wildlife experiences, from heart-pounding encounters with orangutans to seeing gorillas, sea turtles and much more.

All Intrepid Travel adventures are built with local communities, businesses and NGOs to support the conservation of wildlife and the people protecting the wild. So, you can rest assured knowing that the money you spend is reinvested into the protection of the wildlife you see and the communities you visit.

Plus, every wildlife trip includes at least one local wildlife expert – either a local park ranger or Indigenous person with a special connection to the land. So, buckle up, fellow adventurers, and welcome to the wild side.

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SEE RHINOS AT DUSK

Did you know rhinos are most active at dusk? Black rhinos have made a huge comeback from their staggering low numbers of only 2500 to more than 6000 today, largely thanks to the massive conservation efforts across Africa. They are still registered as critically endangered, but there is hope. Their close cousins, the white rhinos, are near threatened. You can support their comeback from the brink of extinction by visiting the Khama Rhino Sanctuary on the edge of the Kalahari Desert — the only place left in Botswana where both black and white rhinos reside. Other wildlife that resides in this sanctuary include zebras, giraffes, leopards, ostriches and wildebeest, all of which can be seen grazing the many waterholes. Take a trip to the Okavango Delta region and visit the sanctuary and the Delta's lush waterways, where you can witness hippos and elephants going about their day. 

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SWIM WITH SEA LIONS AND SEA TURTLES

What wildlife experience could be better than island hopping through the Galapagos Islands? This archipelago is swarming with unique animals, from ancient giant tortoises and nesting blue-footed boobies to marine iguanas. La Lobería, located on the southwest coast of San Cristobal Island, is known for its white-sand beach and crystal-clear waters speckled with volcanic rocks that are sometimes teeming with sea lions. Don your snorkel set and swim with the locals; you might even spot a sea turtle or two. The wildlife doesn't just reside in the waters. As you take a break on land, you'll spot sea lions lounging around town. 

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SEE THE BIG FIVE ON SAFARI

What's the Big Five, we hear you ask? The inhabitants of the expansive African bush: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo. Be immersed in the animal kingdom as you veer off the beaten track to seek out these local legends shelter under the flat-topped acacias in the epic setting of the Great Rift Valley and Lake Naivasha. Here, hippos spend their days floating among the floating islands of papyrus reeds. 

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MONKEY-AROUND WITH ORANGUTANS

Explore a mystical land of natural beauty and rare wildlife on an adventure to Sabah in Borneo. See where sea and green turtles lay their eggs; macaques, orangutans and proboscis monkeys hanging off branches; and, if you're lucky, pygmy elephants. The red-headed locals of the region are a huge draw. Orangutans are the largest arboreal mammal (tree-dwelling). They are highly intelligent, super strong, and, unfortunately, critically endangered. The world's first orangutan rehabilitation centre was set up in Sabah to support the red-headed giant. Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre opened in 1964 and now covers 43 square kilometres of the rainforest as well as a clinic, treatment ward and nurseries for orphaned orangutans. If you visit, you will see its protected orangutans in their wild habitat, as they can roam as they please.

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SEEK OUT MOUNTAIN GORILLAS 

Follow local expert rangers through the steamy forests of Uganda to seek out and witness the rare and gentle mountain gorillas of the mountainous Bwindi National Park. These gentle giants have been pushed further and further up the mountains as their habitats are destroyed. But they are resilient, and their numbers have been bolstered over recent years thanks to conservation efforts. The silverback gorillas are calm creatures who spend their days eating, sleeping, grooming and playing. Visits to the gorillas are strictly controlled to minimise disturbance. For an unforgettable hour, watch the adult gorillas keep an eye on the scene and the smaller ones as they play or hang out in the trees. 

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Get out, explore, dive into adventure and find your WOW with Intrepid Travel. Find out more on the website.

Published on November 23, 2023 by Orlaith Costello
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