Many of our favourite travel experiences here at Exsus Travel involve encounters with of our planet’s extraordinary wildlife. From spotting lions on safari in the Serengeti to bird spotting in the Amazon Rainforest or swimming with whale sharks off the coast of Australia, an encounter with a wild animal in its natural habitat is sure to stir the soul.
That said wildlife is just that – wild – which means that sightings can never be 100% guaranteed. Of course, there are certainly better places to see certain animals, and better times of years to see them too. So, with that in mind, we have put together a handy list of where you can see animals during every month of the year – call it the Exsus Travel Wildlife 101…
Best time to see: Penguins, Antarctica
Penguins are undeniably adorable and comical creatures. Fall in love with an especially cute chick on a luxury adventure holiday to Antarctica during January’s hatching season, when we can arrange both cruise and land-based trips.
Best time to see: Snow leopards, Ladakh, India
To spot an elusive snow leopard you’ll have to head high into the Himalayan Mountains, where these majestic cats make their home. We suggest travelling during the winter as the snow leopards come down from the snowy peaks to find food, making it much easier to spot them.
Best time to see: Whales, Baja California, Mexico
Whale season in Mexico’s Baja California is in full force by March. Every year around 20,000 Pacific grey whales mate and give birth around this time, and there’s also a good chance you’ll spot dolphins and orca, dwarf sperm whales too.
Best time to see: Bengal tigers, Bandhavgarh, India
With over half of the world’s remaining Bengal tiger population (and growing), India is the place to spot a striped beauty. As the weather starts to heat up in April the water sources become fewer, meaning the tigers come out of their dense forest dens and are much easier to spot.
Best time to see: Turtles, Costa Rica
Witnessing a turtle hatching is high on many people’s bucket lists and Costa Rica is undoubtedly one of the best places to do it. With both leatherback and pacific green sea turtles hatching in May you have the best chance of making your dream a reality at this time of year.
Best time to see: Wildebeest, Serengeti & Masai Mara National Parks, Kenya & Tanzania
Arguably the most famous wildlife phenomenon in the world, the annual Great Migration of wildebeest comes to a head with dramatic river crossings in Kenya and Tanzania during June. Though movements vary every year, our partners on the ground are always hot on the latest updates.
Best time to see: Grizzly bears, British Columbia, Canada
Bear watching season in Canada has taken off in recent years and is now by far the most popular time of year to visit. Luckily we know the best lodges and remote locations where you will escape the crowds and join the best guides to spot a furry friend for yourself.
Best time to see: Jaguars, Pantanal, Brazil
Despite being the world’s largest tropical wetland, Brazil’s Pantanal region remains blissfully off the tourist radar. As the area reaches peak dry season in August, wildlife congregates around the riverbanks and visitors have the best chance of spotting an elegant jaguar or two.
Best time to see: Orangutans, Borneo, Malayasia
Our favourite hairy ginger friends, orangutans are incredibly fascinating creatures and can only be spotted in Malaysia and Indonesia. Visit Borneo’s tropical rainforests during the dry month of September and look out for the world’s largest tree-climbing mammals swinging in the canopy.
Best time to see: Polar bears, Manitoba, Canada
After a long hot summer, Hudson Bay begins to freeze from September onwards. As this happens the polar bears gather near Churchill, Manitoba, to prepare for the winter migration north into the Arctic Circle. Bear encounters don’t get much more special than this.
Best time to see: Cheetah, Okonjima, Namibia
As Namibia’s peak season draws to a close, be among the few to join the AfriCat Foundation experts in Okonjima Nature Reserve and head out to track the resident rescued cheetah. When you spot the cats you can help the team record data about their behaviour using radio collars.
Best time to see: Reindeer, Swedish Lapland, Sweden
For the ultimate festive family holiday, head to Swedish Lapland during December. Spend your days playing in the snow with local Sami guides; herding and feeding reindeer (look out for Rudolph and friends) and even enjoying a husky sledding safari.