9 Amazing animal experiences from around the world!

9 Amazing animal experiences from around the world!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. In this post I share some of the most memorable – and unusual – animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe. What has been your most exciting wildlife experience on your travels?

All the encounters in these posts were with wild animals, apart from the horses which were domesticated and well cared-for.

Indri in Madagascar

A trip to the island of Madagascar, lying off the coast of southeast Africa, can only mean one thing: lemurs. And the largest of these is the indri (see cover photo above).

Tree-dwelling primates, the indri live in large family groups in the treetops, jumping sideways from tree to tree on their hind legs. They are territorial, and one family will rule a specific area of the forest, where their haunting cries can be heard for miles around. A good tracker will know the local families and be able to help you find the nearest group, although it will still mean a scramble across the hillsides which is all part of the fun! Dense forest is prime indri habitat, and standing on the forest floor looking up at these creatures in the trees above you is an unforgettable experience.

Top tip: use your phone to record a short snatch of the indri’s cries. Play it back and hear them answer you!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Spinner dolphins in the Maldives

One of the highlights of cruising the Maldives is the sight of spinner dolphins, which launch themselves out of the water and pirouette gracefully before belly-flopping back in. Look out for them as you sail between islands, and then sit out on deck and admire their athleticism!

Top tip: Between bobbing boats and energetic dolphins, it’s almost impossible to get a decent photo of a spinner dolphin, so don’t try. You might manage a short video, but otherwise just sit back and enjoy the spectacle!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Monkeys in India

If you’re a fan of monkeys, you really can’t miss them in the subcontinent. Big or small, there is a huge mixture of monkey species in India, and they are everywhere. And sometimes that can present a challenge!

Indian monkeys seem to be divided into the cute and the not-so-cute. Encounter a monkey in the countryside, and chances are he will be swinging from the trees, curious of you but content to just show off for the camera. Encounter a monkey in the city, and you’d better not put that camera down anywhere or the monkey will walk off with it! But either way, their antics are incredibly photogenic.

Top tip: Don’t get too close. Once the monkey starts to feel threatened, teeth will be bared and claws will be out. A monkey scratch will land you at the nearest clinic for a rabies jab, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. But monkeys will normally leave you alone if you give them a bit of space. And don’t wave food around…

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Komodo dragons in Indonesia

Now, I’ll be honest: komodo dragons aren’t the most dynamic of creatures. At least, not unless they are attacking, which is not a situation you want to find yourself in (and yes, the komodo dragon diet has been known to include humans). But their sheer size, toxicity and ferocity make them fascinating to see.

A trip to Komodo Island or its neighbour, Rinca, gives you the opportunity to view these creatures up close. A variety of trails of various lengths give you the chance to see them in their natural habitat, however many factors such as the time of day or year can make them hard to spot. But one place they can always be relied on to visit is the ranger station, where the wild komodos wait around for scraps of food. It may not be the wild sighting you were hoping for, but you are unlikely to leave without seeing them!

Top tip: Take a camera with a long lens. You can’t approach the komodos too closely: it’s incredibly dangerous, and your ranger guide won’t allow it anyway. To get a decent shot you will need to zoom!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Wild asses in Gujarat, India

The western Indian state of Gujarat is renowned for its wildlife, which includes the rare Asiatic lion. But one of its most striking inhabitants is much more peace-loving: the wild ass.

Living on the arid Little Rann of Kutch in the centre of the state, the asses – which look somewhere between a horse and a donkey – are under threat due to illegal salt-panning in this desert region. Protected by the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary (which is not just the largest wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, but the whole of India), the asses live in herds on the plains, and make a striking silhouette against the blue desert sky.

Top tip: To visit the wild asses, you will need to take a jeep safari into the sanctuary. Crossing the plains by open-top vehicle is part of the fun! You won’t be able to get too close to the animals, so this is another one where a zoom lens is an advantage.

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Coatí at Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil

A trip to Iguazu Falls, on the Brazil/Argentina border, summons up visions of thundering waterfalls and mists rising into the sub-tropical air. But the flora and fauna are also lush and mysterious here. Butterflies are everywhere, and toucans can be spotted in the trees; guinea pigs are also a common sighting. But you can’t miss the coatís.

The coati (or coatimundi) is a type of raccoon, and these cute creatures have overtaken the area around the falls, foraging through rubbish bins for food. Always check before you throw your trash in the can – there might be a sleeping coatí inside!

Top tip: Don’t feed them. Just don’t. And watch your bag, especially if there is food inside. But they are still incredibly cute!

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Icelandic horses in Iceland

Iceland is not particularly known for its animals, but its horses are special. Squatter and sturdier than their southern counterparts, there are two unique Icelandic horse gaits which experienced riders will enjoy trying out!

Horses can be found all over the island, and Icelandic horse treks are a popular activity for visitors. But you don’t have to be a rider to get up close; if you are lucky enough to see a horse close to the road, stop and feed it grass from the palm of your hand. Or better still, book a horse ride to explore this beautiful country the way it has been travelled for centuries.

Top tip: Keep foreign germs away from Icelandic horses. The breed is hardy, but the horses have had very little exposure to disease; as a result, it is not possible to import any other breed of horse into Iceland, and nor is it permitted to bring an Icelandic horse back once it has left the country.

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Proboscis monkeys in Borneo

OK, so I’ve already mentioned monkeys, but the proboscis monkeys of Borneo are something special. Found nowhere else but on this vast island, the proboscis monkeys tend to get overshadowed by their more famous cousin, the orangutan, but they shouldn’t be missed if you are visiting the area.

Proboscis monkeys are comical-looking creatures. The name comes from their abnormally large nose, which makes them look slightly like old men as they lounge about, whiling away the hours until it’s time to eat again. Red-faced and curious, one of the best places to see them is at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary near Sandakan in the far north of the island. The monkeys are subject to the same threats from deforestation as the orangutans, and the sanctuary helps support the local primate community by providing food, although the monkeys live wild. They are incredible sociable and will come to with a few feet of visitors – don’t touch them though!

Top tip: Combine a visit to the Labuk Bay sanctuary with your trip to see the orangutans at Sepilok Nature Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia. Another great place to see proboscis monkeys is Bandar Seri Bagawan in tiny Brunei, where you can take a morning or afternoon boat trip to check out the local population.

For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Tree climbing lions in Kenya

Have you ever seen a lion up a tree? Unless you’ve been to specific areas around the Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania borders, chances are you haven’t. But in this part of Africa, lions have adapted to climbing trees – and seem remarkably comfortable.

If you are in Kenya, head to Lake Nakuru National Park, which is the only park in the country where these lions can be found. But keep your fingers crossed: actually seeing the lions in a tree is still a relatively rare event. I got incredibly lucky when I visited, and sat for a good half-hour watching a lion climb a tree and settle down amongst its branches for a snooze. It was one of the most special wildlife experiences I have ever had.

Top tip: If a lion is spotted, chances are yours won’t be the only vehicle to make a beeline for it. If you can, try to hang around until after most of the vehicles have left. The lions will feel much less threatened, and much more inclined to pose for the cameras. And you will get better shots as well as a magical experience!

Have you had amazing wildlife experiences on your travels? Let me know in the comments!


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For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |For me, one of the most rewarding things about travel is the opportunity to view and photograph wildlife I could never see at home. Check out some of the most memorable - and unusual - animal experiences I have had on my journeys around the globe! | Amazing wildlife experiences | Amazing wildlife experience | Best wildlife experiences | Indri | Spinner dolphin | Proboscis monkey | Icelandic horse | Komodo dragon | Coati | Wild ass |

Hi! I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting 65 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!

Swimming with manta rays in the Maldives

Swimming with manta rays in the Maldives

The Maldives are simply magical, but one of the most memorable moments of my time there was the day I swam with a manta ray.

swimming with manta raysWe had travelled by wooden dhoni through the islands, stopping off twice a day to snorkel on the spectacular reefs that litter the shores. However, between the shallow waters of the atolls are much deeper channels, and these are when you find the manta rays. We set off one morning in search of them, seeking out the stretches of ocean where the mantas are known to congregate, and watching dolphins, turtles and other sea life along the way. Eventually our patience was rewarded: a manta ray, gliding serenely ahead of our boat.

swimming with manta rays

Snorkelling in the blue waters of the Maldives

I have never seen a group of people enter the water with more enthusiasm. Dropping anchor, we quickly threw on our masks and flippers and jumped directly from the dhoni into the blue water. The first sensation was one of a curious prickling on my skin. The plankton on which the rays feed is, of course, plentiful in this area – it is what draws the manta rays here in the first place. I had expected cloudy water; however, I hadn’t expected the plankton to bite back! Still, it was a small (and harmless) price to pay.

Ignoring the plankton, we swam off in the direction in which the manta ray had been spotted. And suddenly there it was, many metres below us, drifting slowly along between us and the deep waters below. It was an incredible moment. The manta ray was remarkably close to us, and unmistakable, swooping and gliding with its distinctive wide, curved “wings” and long, needle-like tail. We started to follow it as it swam, completely in awe and somewhat jealous of how well adapted it was to its environment; it glided along with grace and ease, unlike us humans who were having to work for every metre we swam in the open water.

swimming with manta raysA few members of our group picked up the pace, and the manta ray took off for safer pastures. We swam after it as quickly as we could, but it disappeared into the blue of the sea faster than we could keep up. I wish we had had more time to spend with this beautiful creature; apparently they will often stay and play if they are not scared off. But it was an incredible moment nonetheless, and one I will not forget.

swimming with manta rays


My trip around the Maldives was organised with Voyages Maldives via Explore!. This post is not sponsored.


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swimming with manta rays

 

Hi! I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting 65 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!

The real Maldives: Taking a Maldives liveaboard vacation

The real Maldives: Taking a Maldives liveaboard vacation

It’s funny how there are some places you never thought you would visit. Many people have extolled the virtues of the beautiful Maldives over the years: these idyllic islands in the sun, with their white sand beaches and stilted bungalows, are most people’s image of paradise. But I always knew that luxury holidays in private resorts weren’t for me.

Don’t get me wrong: the idea of paradise is oh, so appealing. The problem is that I will never spend that sort of money on a single holiday when I could do it cheaper, plus I know that I can’t lie on a sunbed all day without getting incredibly bored. Couple that with the fact that I can’t imagine flying all the way across the world to only see the inside of a resort, however beautiful, and this type of vacation just isn’t my style. What I wanted was to see the real Maldives, the local islands and the people who live there. And I needed a way to see the Maldives on a budget.

Do you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
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Our home for the week. Yes, the water really was this blue.

But then I discovered another solution: taking a Maldives liveaboard vacation by dhoni. A dhoni is what the Arabs tend to call a dhow: a long sailing ship with cabins and a high prow, fitted these days with an engine and roof to make the journey more comfortable. Still used everywhere in the country as fishing vessels, a number of dhonis are now fitted out for tourists. So it was that I set out for the Maldives one September, to spend a week on one of these boats cruising the islands.

Do you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
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Dolphin spotting in paradise…

Well, it was bliss. Our dhoni headed south from the capital, Male, for the atolls of Felidhoo and Meemu, making regular stops on the way. Our days were spent on board, sleeping in two-birth cabins and eating the wonderful food cooked by the crew; largely fish-based, the food was spiced in a manner very reminiscent of India which, of course, lies not far to the north-east. Fruit – mango, coconut, bananas – was surprisingly easy to come by, and tasted wonderful in the tropical heat. Our days were spent on deck, enjoying the blue waters and palm-fringed islands, reading and watching spinner dolphins and flying fish (which I was surprised to find actually exist – with wings and everything!) from the deck.

Do you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
Maldives budget travel | Living in Maldives | Best beaches in Maldives | Maldives on a budget | Maldives travel | Cheap Maldives #maldivestravel #maldivespins #maldivesdestination #maldivesholiday

Shoals of angel fish on one of our many snorkel trips

But if this is all starting to sound like a floating resort, it wasn’t. Our week was full of discovery. Twice a day we would snorkel (no dive equipment allowed on the boat), always in a different location, and view the most spectacular corals and sea life I have seen anywhere in the world. Huge shoals of fish would flash past us: angel fish, parrot fish, Napoleon fish, and even the little clown fish making regular appearances. We saw moray eels, turtles, and on one magical occasion, a manta ray that we swam with for a while before it disappeared into the distance.

Do you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
Maldives budget travel | Living in Maldives | Best beaches in Maldives | Maldives on a budget | Maldives travel | Cheap Maldives #maldivestravel #maldivespins #maldivesdestination #maldivesholiday

Local salesman on one of the many inhabited islands

Occasionally we would moor up near deserted islets and swim to some of the best beaches in the Maldives, enjoying the solitude and the views of our boat moored offshore. We fell into bed exhausted every night, first a little burned and then bronzed despite swimming in shorts and t-shirts for sun protection. Be warned: the combination of blue sea and sparkling coral beaches reflect the equatorial sun like a magnifying glass. The poor red-headed guy in our group was swimming in full length outfits by the end of the trip.

Do you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
Maldives budget travel | Living in Maldives | Best beaches in Maldives | Maldives on a budget | Maldives travel | Cheap Maldives #maldivestravel #maldivespins #maldivesdestination #maldivesholiday

Young boys building a “snowman”

Do you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
Maldives budget travel | Living in Maldives | Best beaches in Maldives | Maldives on a budget | Maldives travel | Cheap Maldives #maldivestravel #maldivespins #maldivesdestination #maldivesholiday

At the time we visited, it was not possible to spend the night on the local islands (this has now changed, and islands such as Fulidhoo welcome visitors with open arms). So we would moor offshore, and on several evenings were able to visit the villages. We heard mosques chanting the call to prayer as the sun went down, and watched children playing on the beach, making “snowmen” out of the white coral sand. One evening we came across a group of local ladies, hijabs flapping in the breeze, playing a game which involved one friend hitting a tennis ball backwards over her head while the opposing team tried to catch it. I joined in, making a fool of myself in the process but loving the opportunity to laugh with a group of women in a country which is still conservatively Muslim.

Do you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
Maldives budget travel | Living in Maldives | Best beaches in Maldives | Maldives on a budget | Maldives travel | Cheap Maldives #maldivestravel #maldivespins #maldivesdestination #maldivesholiday

Making a fool of myself with the local ladies!

On another evening we were treated to a performance of Bodu Beru. This Maldivian tradition involves double-ended drums which are beaten to a frenzied rhythm and which the islanders dance to with abandon. We had the opportunity to try the drumming – much more strenuous than it looks – and then dance the night away to the sound of the musicians who know how to do it properly. It was one of those evenings where you could either sit on the sidelines, too embarrassed to get up, or join in and throw yourself into the fun. I have never yet regretted throwing caution to the wind.\

Do you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
Maldives budget travel | Living in Maldives | Best beaches in Maldives | Maldives on a budget | Maldives travel | Cheap Maldives #maldivestravel #maldivespins #maldivesdestination #maldivesholiday

Bodu Beru drumming. Hard work, but so much fun!

On our last day in the Maldives we moored up at Male, the capital, for a tour of its streets, mosques and markets. A huge contrast to life in the atolls, the city is very built up and has all the shops, hotels and schools you would expect from a city, all on an island a mile square. We visited the fish market, which boasted some impressive catches – yellow fin tuna and many more I could never name.

Our day in Male showed yet another side to this magical country which so many get so close to, and yet never see. For some people, all they need from a holiday is palm trees and relaxation, and that’s fine by me. I just can’t imagine being one of them.

Do you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
Maldives budget travel | Living in Maldives | Best beaches in Maldives | Maldives on a budget | Maldives travel | Cheap Maldives #maldivestravel #maldivespins #maldivesdestination #maldivesholiday

The fish market in Malé, the capital of the Maldives


I travelled on a group tour with Explore!, but there are local operators like the one they used (Voyages Maldives) who can run trips independently. My Maldives trip cost almost half what I would have paid for a week in a resort, with all food included, and yet I saw so much more than I could ever have done staying on a single island. Maldives budget travel may seem too good to be true, but if you dream of paradise but can’t afford the price tag, give a dhoni a thought. You won’t regret it.


Want to visit the Maldives but unsure what to wear and stay respectful on the local islands? Check out this post from Our Oyster!
What to Wear in the Maldives – Everything a Female Traveler Needs to Know


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Do you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
Maldives budget travel | Living in Maldives | Best beaches in Maldives | Maldives on a budget | Maldives travel | Cheap Maldives #maldivestravel #maldivespins #maldivesdestination #maldivesholidayDo you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
Maldives budget travel | Living in Maldives | Best beaches in Maldives | Maldives on a budget | Maldives travel | Cheap Maldives #maldivestravel #maldivespins #maldivesdestination #maldivesholidayDo you dream of discovering the real Maldives away from the expensive resorts? A Maldives liveaboard is the perfect, affordable way to see the country!
Maldives budget travel | Living in Maldives | Best beaches in Maldives | Maldives on a budget | Maldives travel | Cheap Maldives #maldivestravel #maldivespins #maldivesdestination #maldivesholiday

Hi! I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting 65 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!