Nature never fails to astound us with the amazing diversity of life to be found all over the globe – and if you’re looking to meet some of her more outlandish creations, what better way to do so than on your next vacation? We’ve put together some of the most weird, wonderful and delightful animals from around the globe that make a great excuse for that destination holiday!
Meet the Aardvark in South Africa
While most of us will only be familiar with this bizarre creature as the first word to appear in the English dictionary, there’s a lot to love about this strange mammal! Described as having “the ears of a donkey, the tail of a kangaroo and the snout of a pig”, there really is no other creature quite like it – literally. It’s the very last remaining member of its order, Tubulidentata. It feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites, and is perfectly designed for this role. Shy, nocturnal and elusive, it’s on the bucket list of animals to see in the wild for many avid safari enthusiasts.
Your best chance to see one is during the winter months, and some reserves have become pretty experienced in tracking them down! Samara Private Game Reserve in South Africa is one such place, where expert trackers who actively research this unusual creature for academic study in their natural environment know them better than anyone else. As an added bonus, it’s one of the most luxurious places to stay on an African safari too!
The wild cats of Costa Rica
From the little spotted cat, not much bigger than your average domestic tabby, to the astounding 2 meter long Jaguar, Costa Rica is home to some of the world’s most fascinating felines.
Las Pumas Rescue Center in the northwest, where rescued animals are rehabilitated before being released back into the wild, gives you an unprecedented chance to see them up close. Pumas, Jaguars, Ocelots, Jaguarundis and Margays are all cared for here, and will have cat lovers simply purring with delight!
See koalas and kangaroos in the wild in Melbourne, Australia
Seeing animals we’d normally only ever get to meet at a zoo in their natural habitat is always a treat, and Echidna Walkabout Tours in Melbourne is a great way to do just that. While Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Koalas are the main focus of the tour, you’ll get the chance to spot some other famous Aussie species, like Cockatoos and Kookaburras, Emus, a variety of parrots, eagles, kites and falcons, as well as wallabies and occasionally even the odd echidna! Like their more famous cousin the platypus, echidnas are the only other egg-laying mammal.
Marvel at the California Condor in North America
The story of the California Condor is certainly a dramatic one, and one that reminds us just how easily a creature can disappear forever. In 1987, their total number worldwide was down to just 27 individuals kept in captivity, and it was anyone’s guess as to whether the species would be able to survive. Luckily, and through the hard work of dedicated conservationists, their population had grown to 161 individuals by 1999, and more breeding pairs are being released each year.
Seeing them in a wild is an experience not to be missed, with their massive 10 foot wingspan that often has them mistaken for small planes! Those wings allow them to glide without flapping their wings for up to three miles at a stretch. Big Sur and Pinnacle National Monument in California are good places to see them, as well as Vermilion Cliffs in Arizona and Zion National Park in Utah.
Picture-perfect Puffins off Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK
Often thought of as one of the world’s most photogenic birds, the Atlantic Puffin’s brightly colored beak has also led to it being given the nickname of ‘sea-parrot’. They may look a little like penguins, but unlike their Antarctic cousins, they are expert flyers – reaching speeds of up to 88 kilometers per hour and flapping their wings around 400 times a minute!
On the island of Skomer off of the Welsh coast, you can even take part in a three day photographic holiday to get some snaps of these charming and endearing birds, which have become quite used to human company! The endemic Skomer vole and the single largest colony of Manx shearwaters in the world also call this rugged landscape home, and with rustic farm-style accommodation on offer, you’ll have it all to yourself after the day visitors have left for the mainland.
Whether you’re looking for the chance to introduce your children to new and exciting animals or broaden your own horizons, building your holiday around a unique wildlife experience is the perfect way to create some memories you’ll treasure for years to come!