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My Favorite Wildlife Encounters Around the World

I’ve been truly blessed with some astonishing wildlife encounters over the past eight years in our world travels. This past year has been particularly memorable, and I thought it would be good time to pull together a post about My Favorite Wildlife Encounters Around the World. I hope you enjoy it.

Leopard Tanzania

My Favorite Wildlife Encounters Around the World

When we started the Grand Adventure Travel Life, I didn’t really set out to discover incredible wildlife. It quickly became apparent however, that fascinating, new-to-us wildlife was going to be a big part of our travels. Wildlife in the jungles, forests and savannas. Birds in the air. Fish and mammals in the sea. Even insects, reptiles and crustaceans became a new fascination for these old folks – always ready to learn something new.

Elephant Family Etosha National Park Namibia

The wildlife encounters listed below are by no means the only ones…but they are some of my favorites. Some of these moments simply took my breath away. Gave me pause. Held me in rapture at nature in all her glory.


Australia. Oh my God. The land of never ending surprises. Of course there are kangaroos, wallabies and koala. There are also immense collections of bird life, reptiles and bugs. There are so many animals in the wild, and in fact it’s astonishing how many kangaroo get hit by cars. Australia blew our mind – and we are planning to return for our third visit in 2025.

Stork, Nelson Bay Australia
Mama Roo and Joey, Booderee National Park, Australia
Great Barrier Reef, Australia


When we first started talking about Namibia, I wasn’t even sure where it was (just north of South Africa). Our ten day tour in Namibia is still one of our favorite travel experiences. The elephant image below, is in my mind, the best photo I ever took. It was easy though…so much beauty everywhere we turned.

Black Rhino Etosha National Park Namibia
Lion King, Etosha National Park Namibia
Sunset Elephant, Etosha National Park Namibia


To celebrate my 60th birthday we splurged on a Mountain Gorilla Trek in Uganda. Life changing. If you can make this happen once in your life, do it.

Silverback Dominant Male, Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
One Year Old Gorilla, Uganda
Happy Birthday to me!


I’ve told this story before about how when I was a child we had a picture book with a tarsier on the glossy cover. I was terrified of that animal. Seeing it in the wild in Philippines was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. Tiny and harmless, I love these animals so much. We also had one of our best snorkel days in the Philippines…swimming with millions of sardines.

Teeny nocturnal Tarsier, Bohol Philippines
Snorkleing at Ningaloo Reef Panglao Philippines


Our most recent wildlife adventure was a ten-day private tour in Madagascar. I was mostly looking forward to seeing the baobab trees, and was hoping we would see a few lemurs. Oh my goodness. Lemurs and so much more. It was an absolute joy and I am so glad we did this tour.

Indri – the largest of all the Lemurs in Madagascar
Fascinating chameleons all over Madagascar
Sifika Lemur Madagascar


Botswana was a quick visit while also visiting Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe. But our brief visit afforded us some fabulous wild life encounters including lots of hippopotamus in the Zambezi River.

Large male elephant, Chobi National Park Botswana
Curious giraffe, Chobi National Park Botswana
The hippopotamus is one of the most dangerous animals in the world

Papua New Guinea

I did not take this photo (Thank you Canva), but seeing the Bird of Paradise in Papua New Guinea was a dream come true. In fact, we saw several different species of Bird of Paradise, as well as multiple other very special and beautiful birds. Astounding.

Raggiana Bird of Paradise Papua New Guinea

Sri Lanka

We loved our visit to Sri Lanka, a country many people overlook. We started our three week visit with a six day tour, that included a visit to Yala National Park. Yala is home to a giant population of Asian Elephants. It was the most elephants in one place I had ever seen. We also had a wonderful up close and personal encounter with a beautiful and camouflaged leopard.

Beautiful leopard
Asian elephant, Yala National Park Sri Lanka


I had always wanted to see the Orangutans, and so when we decided to spend a couple of months in Malaysia, I began to research how to spend a few days on the island of Borneo and visit the Sepilok Reserve. We did this four day visit without a tour guide, it was very easy to do. We loved the Sepilok Forest Edge Lodge and the fact we could walk to the Orangatan Reserve. AND seeing the incredible Proboscis Monkeys was an added bonus!

This orangutan just mosied past me on the walkway!
Funny looking and beautiful too – Proboscis Monkey
Mama and baby at the Sepilok Reserve

Costa Rica

Our three week visit to Costa Rica with our dear friends was one of the most memorable trips we have made. Not only did we get to see sloths for the first time, the turtles and bird life was spectacular.

Stand up Paddle Board and Sea Turtle spotting in Mal Pais Costa Rica
What a beauty, Fortuna Costa Rica
Sleeping Sloth, Fortuna Costa Rica


We spent six weeks on the island of Roatan Honduras and I would definitely go back. There are several reserves set up on the island to protect and conserve remaining wildlife. I think our favorite moments though were spotting beautiful Red Macaws right near our condo and the giant and docile iguana

Macaws are the national bird of Honduras
The biggest iguana I have ever seen, Roatan Honduras


We came for the scenery and the midnight sun, and we were not disappointed. Wildlife was a bonus and our favorite things were the wild reindeer and the beautiful puffins. I did not take this puffin photo (Thank you Canva), we were not this close, but Iceland did not disappoint and I encourage everyone to visit that incredible country.

Wild Reindeer, Iceland
Puffin (Canva)

New Zealand

We loved our seven week visit to New Zealand, although we loved it mostly for the beauty, scenery and hiking. We did not encounter much wildlife on this trip, but at the very end of our visit we stumbled on a biologist tagging Kiwi birds. Kiwi are incredibly shy and are rarely seen by visitors or locals. So to be able to meet this beautiful bird before she was released back into the brush was very special.

The sweet, shy Kiwi bird, national symbol of New Zealand


Although this trip was before we launched the Grand Adventure, our week touring the Galapagos Islands for my fiftieth birthday is one of our favorite memories of our travel life. Teeming with fascinating animals and bird life, it’s a memorable and once in a lifetime destination. Just go.

Galapagos land Iguana – he smiled at me!
Underwater delights, Galapagos
Blue Footed Boobies, Galapagos
Male Frigate bird showing off, Galapagos


Of course, since I am an American, I have had many opportunities to see wildlife in my own big country. Montana is a favorite, Hawaii too, New England as well as my own great state of Washington where I spend my summers.

Sea Turtles are protected in Hawaii
Monk Seals are also protected in Hawaii – stay clear
Young Grizzly, Glacier National Park Montana
Porcupine in Maine

There is More

There is more…but I think these I’ve listed here remain some of my all time favorites. And I’m not done yet…we have lots more travel in our future, as we explore and show reverence to Mother Nature and the fascinating wildlife of our planet.

Lioness, Nambia

My Favorite Wildlife Encounters Around the World

Nature teaches us so much about the fragility of our world, and careful, sustainable travel provides so many opportunities to understand nature better. I have been so incredibly blessed to have had so many amazing up close and personal wildlife experiences – My Favorite Wildlife Encounters Around the World.

See last week’s post A Day Trip to Bratislava Slovakia.

We love it when you comment, pin, and share our blog posts. Thanks and talk to you again soon.

Howler Monkey Costa Rica

NOTE : With this blog post I end year eight of our Grand Adventure. I will be taking several weeks, possibly a couple months, off from posting new blog material. We have fall travel planned, I’ll be back before that, but in the meantime, I want to be present here in the USA with my family. Thanks for your continued support – I’ll be back…

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  • Reply Sonia

    The sloths in Costa Rica are an all time favorite of mine. We had one just outside our house on one of our visits, which provided hours of enjoyment.

    June 21, 2024 at 8:29 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Wonderful! They are amazing!

      June 22, 2024 at 7:43 am
  • Reply Tania Muthusamy

    I’m glad you included our Australian animals, they are some of the most unusual. I would love to do the Mountain Gorilla Trek in Uganda you suggested, sounds amazing.

    June 21, 2024 at 10:16 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      We absolutely love Australia!

      June 22, 2024 at 7:42 am
  • Reply Anja

    So beautiful. I want to do everyone of them. I don’t like visiting zoos or animals in captivity (I make an exception for cat cafes with rescue cats) and all these look totally commendable. I think every one of them is on my wish list -I have been to Africa several times in NAtional PArks, and watched birds in the UK, so lots of room for more.

    June 22, 2024 at 3:33 am
    • Reply Laureen

      We have enjoyed several zoos that focus on conservation as well as all these lovely wild experiences.

      June 22, 2024 at 7:42 am
  • Reply Terri

    I will miss your posts during the summer. But you deserve your family vacation in the US. What a lovely June blog post before you take a “vacation” from your blog. I love how you list individually all the countries where you saw the wildlife. Your photos are amazing!

    June 22, 2024 at 4:42 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Thanks as always Terri.

      June 22, 2024 at 7:41 am
  • Reply Kait

    Wow, so many wonderful experiences! I wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite

    June 22, 2024 at 7:04 am
  • Reply Jolayne

    Wow. I would have to agree though on the Tarsier. Those eyes would have freaked me out as a child too!

    June 22, 2024 at 8:10 am
  • Reply Linda (LD Holland)

    Wildlife too has been a big part of our travels. So much so that when we get to places with little wildlife we are a bit surprised. We still have Uganda on our list for gorilla encounters. And the Galapagos keeps moving up on our priority list. Lots of great animal encounters!

    June 22, 2024 at 9:23 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Loved both of those!

      June 22, 2024 at 10:24 pm
  • Reply Jenn | By Land and Sea

    You’ve definitely seen some incredible critters in your adventures! I would love to go on an African safari at some point. The photos look incredible.

    June 22, 2024 at 6:26 pm
  • Reply Shweta

    What fabulous adventures! You have been to some of the best wildlife spots around the world. I would love to go to Galapagos and Uganda and Madagascar someday.

    June 22, 2024 at 8:27 pm
  • Reply Erica Forrest

    What amazing experiences you have had! It’s great that you have seen all of these in their native habitats, rather than as captive animals. How extraordinary to see so many of the earth’s magnificent animals on your travels.

    June 23, 2024 at 11:00 am
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