Extreme Travel | Adventure Sports

Top 10 animal encounters

Our pick of the best places to see wildlife up close and personal
Top 10 animal encounters

Travel to some of the world’s most exotic places to see animals in their natural habitat. Here’s WideWorld’s pick of the top locations for adventurers to trek, climb, paddle or swim to encounter wildlife.

Grizzly Bears in Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National park adjoins the Canadian border in northern Montana, boasting breathtaking scenery, an extensive trail system and exceptional opportunities to see wildlife. It is a dream for adventurers seeking wilderness and solitude. It is one of the best places in all of North America to see bears. The park is home to more than 300 grizzlies with an even larger population of black bears. Trails wind up mountains, around lakes and through pristine forests, where you will be immersed in prime grizzly habitat. It is up to visitors to watch out for bears and be prepared for close encounters. Meeting a grizzly in its natural environment is an unforgettable experience that can be found in few other places around the world.

Glacier National Park http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm

Snorkel with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

The Philippines is known for its beautiful beaches and marble cliffs but just outside the island is where the real treasure awaits. The Bay of Donsol is considered the whale shark capital of the world, giving you the rare opportunity to swim with the world’s largest living fish species. Often targeted by commercial fisheries, the whale shark has diminishing populations and has been classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a threatened species. The money that you pay to go on eco-tours, developed by the World Wildlife (WWF) fund, help pay for the research and protection of whale sharks. On these tours no SCUBA gear is allowed – only snorkels – to limit human interaction with the sharks and limit disturbances. Whale sharks are rare and migratory but are abundant in the Philippines during the spring. This experience really should be considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Book your snorkeling adventure today http://www.worldwildlife.org/travel/2011/Asia/WWFTrip-snorkeling-philippines.html

Trek Uganda to see Mountain Gorillas

Hikers from around the world flock to East Africa to enjoy the exhilarating three-day adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Numerous trails wind through the dense woodland, making the search for the endangered mountain gorilla an exhilarating and rewarding experience. Learn to track gorillas in their natural habitat and savour the forest around you. During this three-day trek, you’ll encounter chimpanzees, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, exotic bird species and Black and White Colubus monkeys.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Trek in Uganda http://www.trekeastafrica.com/uganda/gorilla-tracking-bwindi.html

Wolves in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains

The Carpathian Mountains extend across seven countries in Eastern Europe: Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Austria. Romania accounts for more than 60 percent of the area with its rich biodiversity, high mountains and lush forests. Consisting of 17 National Parks, the Carpathian Mountains are the last true European wilderness. There is no better way to experience nature than to hike your way through it. This area is home to more than 3,500 wolves that roam freely as a protected species in Romania. By trekking this beautiful landscape you will have the opportunity to help preserve the wolf population from large-scale logging, resources extraction and construction that are threatening this important ecosystem. Mountain boots, warm clothes, and your hiking equipment are all you will need for this adventure, but be sure to bring a rain jacket because the Carpathian Mountains receive twice as much rainfall than any surrounding area.

Hike Romania today http://www.goromaniatours.com/active-adventures/hiking-tour-romania.html

Orangutans in Indonesia

Three to five day treks allow you to hike through the unique and unforgettable World Heritage Gunung Leuser National Park where you will see the critically endangered orangutan in the wild. The orangutans in this area are abundant and often seen feeding, making nests, playing with their young, and traversing the tree tops. Hikers should expect four to five hours of walking on rough, uneven trails and be prepared to trek down slows, cross streams, and make your way through rocky areas alongside streams. Different treks allow you to camp by the rivers alongside orangutan nests or sleep in the natural bungalows at Bukit Lawant or Tangkahan where orangutans can be spotted outside your balcony window. All treks are personalized and open your eyes to the additional 700 hundred species of animals and countless flora in the region. Funding for the treks help support the local government, increase knowledge of the plight of orangutans, and support local businesses that place value on natural resources to preserve the future of orangutans. This sensational experience cannot be replicated and access to the endangered orangutan in its natural habitat is not available in many remaining places in the world.

Orangutan Trek in Indonesia http://www.baliecolodge.com/orangutan-trek-info/

Dive with Sharks

“You might see a shark” is the coined phrase of almost all companies who can make no promise for an encounter but with Shark Divers they guarantee sharks for you to see and dive with. This is a conservation shark diving company that provides safe and sane dives. The industry’s largest shark cages are used for encountering a diverse range of shark species, including the Great White. Shark Diver has different packages available including: Tiger Shark Diving, Great White Shark Diving, Elite Adventures, and Deep Sub Shark Adventures. This company is the only commercial shark diving operation on the planet to offer deep submarine adventures. Shark Diver offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience that promotes shark preservation efforts, research support, and positive media efforts for shark behavior around the world.

Dive with Shark Diver http://www.sharkdiver.com/

Swim with Dolphins in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Zoos and theme parks around the world give tourists an opportunity to swim with dolphins but would you rather swim with them in a swimming-pool-sized enclosure or out in the open ocean, visiting them in their natural habitat. Dolphin Encounter is a locally owned business in Kaikoura, New Zealand that will take you out an eco-tour to interact and share in activities with the wild animals. They offer one of the best dolphin experiences with the least impact on the environment and marine mammals they interact with. In this area the dusky dolphin is the main species found along the east coast of the south island. All tours on this adventure are on the dolphin’s terms as they are not enticed to the boat by artificial means. So put on your gear and get ready for a swim.

Join Dolphin Encounter on their next adventure http://www.dolphinencounter.co.nz/

Eco Elephant Safari in India

Take your next safari on the back of an elephant and go where no jeep has gone before. The India Eco Elephant Safari allows you to explore some of the most remote and densest areas in the country. Riding your way through the forests allows you to get to know these majestic animals up close and personal. Safaris make their way through areas of Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, the jungles of Assam in northeast India and in the Himalayan region around national parks. This is the best and safest way to explore these parts of the world and give you access to the unknown wilderness where most tours don’t have access. Each elephant is equipped with a howdah, a large seat, and an umbrella that serves as shade over the rider’s head. During this adventure you may see other animals such as leopards, monkeys, deer, tigers and elephants which you will often see bathing and playing in streams throughout the forest. Don’t forget your camera since pictures are allowed at all times during the tour and bring a water bottle, sun screen, goggles and a first aid kit as a precaution.

Safari in India http://www.ecoindia.com/activities/elephant-safari.html

Dugongs in Palawan, Philippines

Wilderness Travel was named an extraordinary cultural, wildlife, and hiking adventure for a reason. This 13 day adventure includes world-class snorkeling, sea kayaking, hiking local islands, and an unforgettable experience to swim with the threatened dugong species. The tour takes you around the southwestern Philippine Archipelago of Palawan and around the waters of the Indo-Pacific Coral Triangle, recognized as an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. You will have the opportunity to kayak around limestone cliffs, through secret lagoons, and coral reefs to interact with the mystical dugong. The trip leader of the tour is a marine biologist who will unveil the wonders of the sea and teach you about coral reef conservation. On this trek you will paddle an average of two-to-five-hours a day dispersed between other activities and will spend eight nights in hotels and beach resorts and four nights camping out in the wilderness.

Snorkel and Sea Kayak with Dugongs http://www.wildernesstravel.com/trip/philippines/palawan-snorkeling-kayaking

Track Pandas in China

To encounter a panda in a zoo is a miracle in itself with so few left in the world, but to see them in the wild, in their natural habitat is an experience like no other. The company, Elevate Destination, offers an exclusive nine-day adventure to explore the core conservation areas in western China where the majority of the world’s remaining 1,600 pandas live. Track panda routes by learning to understand their behaviour and recognize their presence through bamboo consumption and other traces. You will hike through countless amounts of bamboo, rhododendron and pine forests. The adventure will take you through China’s Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, Wanglang Nature Reserve, Shuzheng Valley with its 40 dazzling lakes, and explore Baima ethnic villages along the way. The trip also grants you access to visit a prime research center in Chengdu that protects, breeds, and studies pandas in an enclosed environment. Not only will a trip with Elevate Destination be an unforgettable and life changing experience, but 5 percent of trip costs are donated to improving life and conservation in China. Elevate Destinations designs its trips to be responsive travel that gives back to destinations around the world with all trips being carbon offset and feature leading eco-lodges and conservation areas. Experience travel that matters.

Track the wild Panda with Elevate Destination http://elevatedestinations.com/china_panda.html