Top 10 – Animal encounters

After 25 years of travelling to every country here is my list of my top-10 encounters with animals in the wild.

  1. Lemurs and chameleons, Madagascar.

All lemurs and almost all chameleons are endemic to Madagascar. A wide range of species of both animals can be seen in the National Parks of Madagascar – including the Mouse Lemur (World’s smallest primate), the Indri (World’s largest lemur), the Golden Sifaka, the Red Vari etc. Spectacular chameleons and elusive geckos (like the satanic gecko) can also be found. Photos here.

  1. Bears, Alaska, USA

Most people will see bears in Denali National Park in Alaska. We were lucky to meet both brown bears and a grizzly family. We even had a close encounter with a big brown bear when just driving through the countryside.

  1. Crocs and hippos – Liwonde NP, Malawi

Maybe not the most famous of African National Parks. But nowhere else have I been able to get as close to Hippos and Crocs in the water as in this park sailing in a small boat on the Shire river. Photos here.

  1. Leopard, wild dogs, elepahnts etc. – Etosha

My all time favorite self-drive safari park. Especially in the dry season (when all the animals flock to the water holes) you can get super close to elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards etc. Plus, you can enjoy the spectacular sunsets behind the water holes directly from your (fenced) camp. Photos here.

  1. Bison, wolves, eagles, Yellowstone, USA

Rent a snowmobile and cruise among bisons, eagles and wolves. Check out geysers and amazing volcanic landscapes. Photos here.

  1. Cheetahs, Lions, Leopards etc – Serengeti, Tanzania

My favorite African animal park for predators. Self-drive is not allowed – but camping (as a part of a tour) in non-fenced(!) camp sites is possible. Probably the best place in the world to see the big cats in the wild. Photos here.

  1. Puffins, Mykines, Faroe Islands

Only accessible by public boat in the summer months Mykines is a fascinating place. A steep walk on the rugged island takes you to the lighthouse at the islands end. In season many puffins can be spotted here near the steep cliffs. In winter we were told that only 12 people live on the island. Photos here.

  1. Giant green turtles, Ras Al Jinz and Ras Al Hadd, Oman

Turtles (we were told) can be seen year-round – but more so in the summer months. Giant female green turtles come a shore at night to lay their eggs in the warm sand. They can be seen both as a part of a tour from the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Teserve (tours start every night at 20.30 and every morning at 4.30) or independently on the beach of Ras Al Hadd or Ras Al Jinz (late nights/early mornings). Photos here.

  1. Great white sharks, Gaansbai, South Africa

Tour operators in Cape Town arrange day trips to ‘Shark Alley’. A boat takes you from Gaansbai to the alley. Sharks are attracted by pouring fish oil and chum in the water around the boat. Decoy seals are used to get great whites circling around the boat. You can watch either from the boat or from inside a cage submerged behind the boat. Photos here.

1.  Mountain gorillas, Parc National Des Volcans, Rwanda.

Out of an estimated (2006) population of only 700 mountain gorillas we managed to see around 40 in the SUSA group high in Volcanoes NP. It is a steep and tough trek to get there – especially when it rains – what it often does. When you get there, you are rewarded with the perhaps best animal encounter you will ever get and get super close to something very human. Visits last an hour only. Susa group has since split into two separate groups (SUSA 1 &2) and population happily has increased to around 1.000 (2018). Photos here.

Runner-Ups:

  • Koalas Magnetic Island, Australia. (photos here)
  • Eagle, Kyrgyzstan (photos here)
  • Orcas, penguins and seals, Antarctica (photos here)
  • Polar Bears in Svalbard, Norway (photos here)
  • Flamingos, Senegal (and Bolivia) (photos here)
  • Lions, Moremi NP, Botswana (photos here)