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11 Amazing Places To Experience Animal Encounters In The Wild

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Umi Amirah  •  Nov 02, 2016

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Have you ever wanted to be an animal whisperer? It’s time to break away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and let yourself roam free. If you're thinking of an unconventional holiday, here are 11 places to catch wildlife in all its natural glory.
Credit: giphy
1. Kalahari Desert, Namibia
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Credit: Frank on Flickr
The Kalahari Desert is known as the world’s oldest desert and home to the Fish River Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world. This desert is definitely far from being lifeless and barren! While the big cats and meerkats are the talk of the town, many other exotic creatures run wild here. Amongst the red sand dunes, and the gorgeous sunset in the background, this place is brimming with water buffalos, antelopes, ostriches, hundreds of species of birds and more.
2. Yellowstone National Park, Idaho and Montana, US
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Credit: Diana Robinson on FlickrIf you want to get the best views of wildlife and geysers, Yellowstone is the place to be! It is America’s oldest national park and is a haven to elks, bison, moose, black bears, grizzly bears, deer and grey wolves! The chance to get up close and personal with so many of these furry creatures was what made Yellowstone famous in the firstplace. You can also spot other fun-sized animals like the owl, yellow-bellied marmot and the osprey (also known as fish eagle). What’s even better is that you can team up with the animal-tracking, biology and the photography experts there for the trip of a lifetime.
3. Everglades National Park, Florida, US
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Credit: Dennis Church on Flickr Everglades’s renowned residents may not look like the friendliest bunch with its sharp teeth and scales, but they are definitely worth making a trip down for. This is the only place where alligators and crocodiles coexist in the same place. Crikey! The subtropical wetlands was what allowed this coexistence to thrive. The Everglades is also home to 36 other federally protected animals, in order to protect these endangered species. Get ready to spot the cute Florida panthers, sea turtles, the Cape Sable seaside sparrow and the West Indian manatee. #HHWT Tips: Focus on the eyes of the alligator or crocodile to take their best photo shots! But be careful not to get too close, even if they look sleepy or inactive. They will still be able to move fast.
4. Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserves, Mexico
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Credit: Luis Avalos
Be astounded by the sheer beauty of these orange and black-winged creatures as they make the journey from easternCanada to the forests in Mexico. At least 60 million Monarch butterflies hibernate in clusters at the reserves, even bending the tree branches due to their weight. These butterflies are a sight to behold when you visit this UNESCO world heritage site. They fill the sky, and compose a tune very similar to how a slightly rainy day would sound like when they beat their wings.#HHWT Tips: Catch these butterflies in action as they migrate here in late-October, till February or March before they leave again. Or…Maybe you want to start your wildlife adventure to some place closer to home. Fret not, Asia is full of wonderful locations that are filled to the brim with wildlife as well!
5. Similan Islands, Thailand
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Credit: Lakshmi Sawitri on Flickr
If you want to be like Ariel in the Little Mermaid and be friends with Flounder and Sebastian, Similan Islands is the place to be! It is made up of a group of islands that’s filled with a plethora of marine life. Dive or snorkel with the 3,000 types of fishes and explore the 500 coral species. You can spot leopard sharks, stingrays, bottlenose dolphins, parrotfish, barracuda, sea snakes and more! Wildlife on land is also packedwith vipers, bats and the hawksbill turtles. You get the best of both worlds, just like Ariel!
Credit: giphy
6. Ranthambore National Park, India
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Credit: Christopher Kray on Flickr
We definitely can’t deny the prominence of tigers living in the wild. Located in the former hunting grounds of the maharajas of Jaipur, this is a place full of history and animals. The first building block was placed here in 944 AD! The Ranthambore National Park continues to draw wildlife seekers with its strong line-up of mammals and reptiles. This includes tigers, hyenas, wild boars, leopards, deer, bears, macaques, vipers, turtles, hedgehog and more. Since this is a UNESCO heritage site, you know that this place is the real deal.
7. Foping Nature Reserve, Shaanxi Province, China
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Credit: Hyjk2000
1 panda, 2 pandas….MANY PANDAS! Pandas are definitely loved by the masses all around the world, and the Foping Nature Reserve knows it! It may be difficult to control yourself when you visit this place, up close with the giant pandas. You can also find China’s “second national treasure”, the golden monkeys, here. Other than that, takins, leopards, golden pheasants, and salamanders fill the place. Nestled in Qinling Mountains, the reserve is actually in the vicinity of many other wildlife sanctuaries, including the ZhouzhiNature Reserve, which specialises in rescuing injured animals and protecting the endangered.
8. Woraksan National Park, South Korea
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Credit: Eric Burks on Flickr The Woraksan Mountains are made up of beautiful valleys and waterfalls. Woraksan is not for the faint-hearted, due to its steep hikes. This is exactly the reason why you should visit this place, as it never gets too crowded. Leaving the wildlife all to yourself. During the trek, you’ll not only get to admire the rare antelopes, insects, reptiles and mammals but also a remarkable view above the clouds with the lake beneath your feet!
9. Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
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Credit: Buddhika on Flickr
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Credit: Ankur P on Flickr
Go on a safari adventure at the most visited national park in Sri Lanka! Yala National park is a safe haven for the large population of elephants and the Panthera pardus kotiya, a majestic leopard endemic to Sri Lanka. You can also spot deer, the sloth bears and water buffalos. What’s interesting about this place is that the park is actually made up of several ecosystems, which includes moist and dry monsoon forests as well as wetlands, all in one! So you don’t have to travel far and wide just to experience different wildlife environments. Good for you!
10. Gunung Leuser National Park, Indonesia
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Credit:Peter Nijenhuis
Rounding up the list is the Gunung Leuser National Park. Located in Sumatra, there are about 500 animal-species that are found in this park. (Boy, that’s a really big number. How exciting!) Apart from wildlife, the park has also set up an orang utan rehabilitation centre, where they will gradually be re-integrated back into the wild. Head into the jungle to spot the black gibbons, sambar deer, Thomas Leaf monkeys, Sumatran tigers and rhinoceros, clouded leopards and flying lemurs! The lush jungle awaits.
11. Bonus: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore
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Credit: Melvin Yap on Flickr
To those who have a harder time to overcome their fear of being up close to these majestic, exotic creatures, why not take a small step forward to see wildlife up close in your very own Singapore? It may not boast of rare variety, but we still get to see some wildlife up close nonetheless. The reserve is home to mudskippers, crabs, shellfish, water snakes, birds, monitor lizards and otters. You can also try to spot some estuarine crocodiles in the waters! So with that, live wild and live free my friends.