The Top Five Travel Destinations For Animal Lovers

“It is better to see something once than to read about it a thousand times.”

This is one of our favorite travel mottos. But it doesn’t just apply to destinations – it applies to animals, too. For animal lovers, no magazine spread or nature documentary can compare to the experience of seeing an animal in its natural habitat.

After all, why do we travel?

To broaden our horizons. To experience something new. To disconnect from everyday life. We travel for a change of scenery. We want to connect with nature and immerse ourselves in our new surroundings.

These five destinations are as famous for both beautiful natural surroundings and incredible local wildlife. If you love animals, add these spots to your travel bucket list!

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s capital city of Colombo has so much to offer visitors. The food is wonderful. There are beautiful temples to visit and winding streets to wander. But beyond the city, the island of Sri Lanka offers even more. There are pristine beaches, lush rainforests, idyllic villages, and aromatic crops of spices. There’s also an elephant orphanage.

Yes, you read that correctly. An. Elephant. Orphanage.

The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was created to care for baby elephants who’d been found orphaned or abandoned. The elephants are cared for and studied by the Sri Lankan Wildlife Authority. They grow up and even reproduce here.

Visiting the orphanage offers travelers a rare opportunity to learn about Asian elephants and efforts to conserve their natural habitats. If you’re lucky, you might even see some elephants enjoying their daily bath!

Travel and lifestyle writer Ann Tran visited Pinnawela with Azamara in 2015. Ann enjoyed learning about the orphanage’s history and loved feeding bananas to its residents. “After meeting these delightful, gentle and majestic creatures, I can see how worthy the orphanage’s cause is.”

If you’re in the mood for a serene and culturally stimulated getaway, Sri Lanka is for you! Find voyages here.

Gibraltar, United Kingdom

The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is found at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, sharing a border with Spain.

The famous Rock of Gibraltar is home to around 300 Barbary macaques, the only wild monkey population in all of Europe. These apes live in the Upper Rock area of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve and are a major tourist attraction for Gibraltar. It’s believed that macaques were introduced to the area by the Moors, who kept them as pets. Watch out, though! These apes might be cute, but they’re certainly not pets anymore. Never feed the macaques, and remember that they're wild animals.

Azamara guests have taken some wonderful photos of Gibraltar's Barbary macaques over the years!

The waters surrounding the Iberian Peninsula are also worth exploring! They’re home to three different species of dolphins – striped, bottlenose, and common – as well as flying fish, whales, turtles, and other types of marine life.

The Strait of Gibraltar is the narrowest crossing point for birds migrating between Europe and Africa, making the area a wonderland for bird watchers. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded in the area!

If you're looking for a sunny Mediterranean getaway with a twist, Gibraltar is for you! Find voyages here.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is an adventurer’s – and an animal lover’s – paradise. Snorkeling, zip-lining, and nature walks are just a few of the activities awaiting you here. You’ll find birds, fish, monkeys, sloths, and more in this tropical paradise.

In Quepos, animal lovers should not miss a tour of Manuel Antonio National Park. It’s the jewel of the Costa Rica national parks and boasts 683 hectares of abundant wildlife! In Caldera, birdwatchers will enjoy Carara National Park while those looking to snorkel or dive should head to Tortuga Island.

In Golfito, have a dolphin-watching adventure in the waters off the Osa Peninsula. National Geographic called this area “the most biologically intense area on earth.” In addition to dolphins, you might spot sea turtles, tuna, and manta rays. Get up close and personal with spider monkeys during your visit to Golfito’s Rescue Animal Care Center – or now, thanks to Azamara 3DI 360-degree videos!

If you crave adventure, Costa Rica is for you! Find voyages here.

Indonesia

Komodo, Indonesia should be on everyone’s bucket list! And take it from world traveler Lee Abbamonte – a cruise is the best and easiest way to get there.

The island’s main draw is its famous Komodo Dragons. These massive lizards can grow up to ten feet long and 150 pounds! Lee said, “Being around the Komodo Dragons is really exciting and unnerving at the same time. You want desperately to get close to them and take their picture but you also need to be mindful of how close you’re getting, as they will kill you!”

Another (more peaceful) highlight of Indonesia is the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, or Ubud Monkey Forest, in Bali. It’s an important spiritual center in the village of Padangtegal, as well as a conservation area. There are three Hindu temples within the grounds, as well as hundreds of crab-eating macaques.

Indonesia is also home to elephants. When docked in Benoa, Bali, guests can enjoy elephant safaris at the world-renowned Elephant Safari Park in Taro. There’s even the option of a “Safari Under The Stars” at twilight – talk about memorable!

If you desire an out-of-the-ordinary travel experience, Indonesia is for you! Find voyages here.

Australia

More than 80% of Australia’s plants, mammals, reptiles, and frogs are unique to Australia, making it one of the most ecologically fascinating destinations in the world. From koalas to kangaroos and wallabies to wombats, Australia’s wildlife is infinitely intriguing.

They also have 140 species of snakes – yikes!

In Brisbane, Australia, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a must-visit for animal lovers. More than 100 koalas, kangaroos, and wallabies roam free in this protected but natural environment. If you’re really keen, take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about conversation efforts and get up close and personal with the animals!

In Darwin, Australia, crocodiles rule. Imagine the excitement of cruising down a river in search of wild saltwater crocodiles! Or, watch from more of a distance during a demonstration at Crocodylus Park.

Then, of course, there’s the Great Barrier Reef. Talk about wildlife! The Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,500 species of fish, over 100 species of sharks and rays, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, porpoises, and more.

When it comes to Australian wildlife, this is just the beginning. The opportunities are endless!

If a mix of modern cities and exciting wilderness is up your alley, try Australia! Find voyages here.

What wildlife experience is on your bucket list? Tell us in the comments!

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