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Top 10 Best Wildlife Encounters

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Welcome to Animals Around The Globe’s list of Top 10 Best Wildlife Encounters!

With the backdrop of a pandemic it can be challenging to find opportunities to witness wildlife, but with the dawn of every new year this fact can only be challenged. For all the adventurers and animal lovers we have compiled a list of fantastic experiences with nature and wildlife.

Top 10 ideas to see wildlife canoeing with wildlife
Kayaking on a waterway in National Park the Weerribben in Overijssel, The Netherlands.


Take a look at our top ideas to see wildlife around the globe! Or jump to the idea that excites/ inspires you the most or the animal you would love to see in the wild!

Key Points

EncounterKey Points
Swimming with Orcas– Orcas are intelligent toothed dolphins found in northern Norway.
– Best time to go: October/November to see them during herring gatherings.
– Observation can be challenging due to cold conditions.
Walking with Lions– Lions can be seen in Africa; Zimbabwe, Mauritius are great places.
– Respect their space and consider ethical operators.
Diving with Tiger Sharks– Tiger sharks are large but non-threatening if approached carefully.
– Diving spots include Tiger Beach (Bahamas) and Fuvah Mulah (Maldives).
Safari Drive with Brown Bears– Brown bears found in Europe, Asia, North America; best seen in Northern Finland and Greece.
– Consider operators like Nordic Experience and Callisto for ethical tours.
Canoe Safari with Hippos– Hippos found in Africa, mainly in protected shallow bays.
– Top spots: Raymond Island, Cape Otway (Australia), Tucki Tucki Nature Reserve (NSW).
Snorkel with Manatees and Dugongs– Manatees and dugongs are marine herbivores found in warm coastal waters.
– Locations: Australia, Philippines, Mauritius.
Boating with Whales and Dolphins– Dolphins and whales offer unique encounters; found worldwide.
– Top places for dolphins: Bahamas, Galapagos Islands, Maritius.
Cuddle with Koala Bears– Koalas are native to Australia, can be seen in various locations.
– Support NGOs and sanctuaries for protection and rehabilitation.
Bush Safari Tour/Hot Balloon above Wildebeest Migration– Witness the wildebeest migration in Serengeti (Tanzania) and Maasai Mara (Kenya).
– Hot air balloon tours offer unique perspectives.
Watch Wolves and Other Animals in Germany– Wolves are making a comeback in Germany; observation and treehouse stays available.

1. Swimming with Orcas

orcas in norway

One of the most intelligent and most prominent species of toothed oceanic dolphin in a family of whales.

Where to see Orcas/ Swim with Orcas: One of the best places to swim with Orcas is wintery northern Norway, where large quantities of herring gather.

Hundreds or even thousands of whales gather here to hunt. An exceptional natural spectacle – but one that can be challenging due to cold air and water temperatures, snow, ice, little daylight, and swell.

The cold and crystal clear fjord water are perfect for observing orcas’ pods. Many mammals have been seen, sometimes in pods of 200 or more. 

Best Time to Go 

Top 10 ideas to see wildlife for tiger shark diving

Basically, Norway is an excellent destination for nature lovers all year round. 

However, the best time to travel is between October/November and February if you want to watch the orcas at close range during their spectacular hunt. 

Temperatures can vary greatly, ranging from well above freezing to cold. 

In the Norwegian winter, the nights return, so the best time to see the unique northern lights is from late September to late March.

2. Walking with Lions

Lion Walk for the Top 10 ideas to see wildlife
Lion Walk

Coming in strong with number two of the Top 10 ideas to see wildlife! The distribution area of the African lion extends from the southern edge of the Sahara to South Africa except for the Congolese rainforest belt. Of the Asian lions, only a remaining population of 411 individuals lives in Gir National Park in India today.

There are many beautiful places where you can see lions in the wild. Most people only think of the African continent when deciding where to go for a lion safari.

Best places to walk with African Lions

lion walk safari
  1. Mauritius: What makes Mauritius one of the best places to walk with Lions is the environment. Our walk takes us along narrow sandy paths through a forest of thorn bushes, buffalo berries, and acacia trees.
  2. Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe is one of the best places to walk with Lions as it is one of Africa’s central Safari and Game Drive countries. Out on Zimbabwe’s open savannah, home to many feelings of pride of lions.

Best Operators:

  1. Victoria Falls Guide (Victoria Falls)
  2. Volunteer Encounter (Antelope Park or Victoria Falls)
  3. Lion Encounter (Victoria Falls)
  4. Wildlife Encounter (Victoria Falls)
  5. Mauritius Attractions (Mauritius)
  6. Safari Adventures (Mauritius)

3. Diving with Tiger Sharks

Tiger Shark

We recommend encountering tiger sharks as one of the most exhilarating experiences! Tiger sharks are also known as non-threatening to encounter, although it is always important to take caution with wildlife.

The tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) is the fourth largest shark in the world after the whale, basking, and great white sharks. It can grow to five meters long and weigh over 1,000 kilograms.

Where to dive with tiger sharks? Mainly in the tropics, we have found the top 3 places to encounter tiger sharks worldwide.

Operators that offer unique experiences:

  1. Tiger Beach, Bahamas

2. Fuvah Mulah, Maldives

3. Beqa Island, Fiji

diving with sharks
Shark reef. Scuba Diver. Underwater scene with diver in blue.

We hope that you have been inspired to interact with these beautiful creatures. Some more fun facts:

1. As one of the largest shark species, tiger sharks can grow up to 18 feet (5.5 m) long and 2,000 pounds (900 kg).

2. Tiger sharks are named for their gray vertical stripes or spots covering the sides of their bodies.

3. Tiger sharks are known for eating almost anything, including other sharks, fish, seabirds, dolphins, sea turtles, rays, and crustaceans.

4. Female tiger sharks have anywhere from 10 to 82 embryos and give birth to an average of 30 to 35 pups per litter.

5. Tiger sharks live in shallow, coastal waters.

Do you agree that tiger shark diving had to be on the Top 10 ideas to see wildlife list!?

4. Safari drive with Brown Bears

Brown Bear Cubs

They are mostly known as Brown Bears in European areas, unlike in North America, where they are instead called Grizzly Bears- named after their gray fur coat.

Where to see Brown Bears?

They are found in Forests and Mountains across Europe, Asia, and North America. The World’s most giant Brown Bears are found in the coastal regions of Alaska and British Colombia – on islands such as Kodiak.

However, we recommend Northern Finland and a partnering operator’s tours, Nordic Experience. As well as Greece, which offers a unique experience of connecting with Brown bears through an NGO:

NGO, Callisto, is working to preserve and grow the remaining bear population in Greece.

For the past five years, Callisto has offered intrepid travelers the chance to track brown bears in the Pindos Mountains and use tourism as a conservation tool. Each hike explores truly remote trails in the Pindos Mountains and, led by a bear expert, includes a donation to Callisto.

What does a bear tour entail?

First and foremost, respecting a bear’s space is so important. Binoculars and spotting scopes will allow you to see them up close without getting physically too close and invading the bear’s space. Secondly, one must never approach, crowd, pursues, or displaces bears. 

Feeling enticed? Here are a few more Fun facts:

  1. Bears are commonly silent but can communicate with grunts, roars, or squeals. 
  2. Nearly 50 percent of all brown bear cubs die before one year old. 
  3. The brown bear is the largest predator still living on Europe.

5. Canoe Safari with Hippos

hippo in the water
hippo in the water

The family of hippopotamuses (Hippopotamidae) consists of two genera with only one species each: The hippopotamus (large hippopotamus) and the pygmy hippopotamus. 

Hippos are large semi-aquatic mammals with a sizeable barrel-shaped body, short legs, a short tail, and an enormous head! They have greyish to muddy-brown skin, which fades to a pale pink color underneath. They are considered the second largest land animal on Earth (the first place goes to the elephant!).

Where to see Hippos:

Do you want to find out the best places to see Hippos in the wild? Look at this article on the best locations for Hippo safaris and adventures. 

They are huge vegans with dangerous fighting teeth and show off with the size of their excrement heaps. Hippos produce sunscreen, and their jaws have the force of a sledgehammer.

hippo tooth

But what are the best places to see Hippos in Africa or worldwide?

Hippos tend to walk underwater rather than swim. They can stay underwater for five to eight minutes. Birth is also usually underwater, as young animals can swim immediately. It is a great picture to see Hippos underwater.

Where do Hippos live?

photo was taken on a half day trip in Okavango Delta Botswana, the Delta is the biggest sweatwater reservoir in this area and the water is absolutly clean, summer time is green season with low water, the mokoro are fiberglass replicas of dug out canoes, is easier to build than a genuine dugout, silence there is amazing

Hippos are today only widespread in Africa south of the Sahara. They are rare in western Africa and the population is divided into several smaller groups, comprising around 130,000 animals in 19 countries.

It is estimated that only 130,000 specimens live in freedom, which limits the best places to see Hippos.

In southern Africa, the total population was around 80,000, most of them living in Zambia, which had the highest number of all countries with around 40,000 individuals. 

6. Snorkel with manatees and Dugongs


Manatees are large, fully aquatic, primarily herbivorous marine mammals, sometimes known as sea cows. The dugong is a medium-sized marine mammal. It is one of four living species of the order Sirenia, including three manatees species. 

Dugongs are related to manatees and are similar in appearance and behavior— though the dugong’s tail is fluked like a whale’s. Both are related to the elephant, although the giant land animal is not similar in appearance or behavior.

Where are Dugongs found:

They are found in warm coastal waters from the western Pacific Ocean to the Eastern coast of Africa, usually in protected shallow bays. The largest population of dugongs is between Shark Bay and Moreton Bay on the east coast of Australia.

Where are manatees found:

Manatees live in the shallow waters of marine coastal areas and freshwater habitats. They can be found in the warm water of tropical regions only.

Where to see Manatees and Dugongs?

  1. Citrus Country/ manatee capital of the world
  2. Palawan Philippines
  3. Coral Coast and Ningaloo, Australia


  1. Explorida,USA
  2. Manatee Adventures,USA
  3. Family Adventure Charters, USA
  4. Dugong Dive Center, Busuanga Island, Palawan
  5. Busuanga Bay Divers, Busuanga Island, Palawan
  6. Shark Bay Dive and Marine Safaris , AUS
  7. Exmouth Dive and Whalesharks, Ningaloo Reef, AUS

7. Boating with whales and dolphins

whale watching and diving
Deep under the ocean, looking up towards a Diver and Humpback Whale.

People use the term dolphin, porpoise, and whale to describe marine mammals from the order Cetacean. Whales (Cetacean) are divided into two group’s baleen whales (Mysticeti) and toothed whales (Odontoceti). The main difference is that baleen whales have baleen and two blow holes, while toothed whales have teeth and one blow hole.

Dolphins are toothed whales; the largest dolphin is the Orca (generally mistaken for a whale due to its name, killer whale). A related family to dolphins is Porpoises.

People often confuse dolphins and porpoises, but there are differences to look out e.g., their faces, teeth, fins, and figures. Dolphins tend to have prominent, elongated snouts & cone-shaped teeth, while porpoises have smaller mouths and spade-shaped teeth. The dolphin’s hooked or curved dorsal fin differs from the porpoise’s triangular dorsal fin.

For information on where to watch and encounter whales around the globe, look at our all-inclusive feature Whale sightings blog for everything you need to know!

Best Places to see Dolphins

As Dolphins are at home almost everywhere on the planet, are curious, and love to play, swimming or diving with dolphins in the wild is possible in many places. We have listed a few of our favorite places to swim with dolphins! A highlight for Top 10 Wildlife Encounters.

  1. The Bahamas

Travel time: All year round

Dolphin species: spotted dolphin, spinner dolphin, blue-white dolphin, and porpoise


  1. Wild Quest 
  2. Balmoral Island 
  3. Island Routes Caribbean Adventures – Bahamas  

2. The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Travel time: All year round

Dolphin species: Bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, spinner dolphin and spotted dolphin


  1. Galapagos Ninfa Tour 
  2. Voyager’s Travel 
  3. Galapagos Island Trips 

3. Flip-en-flack, Maritius

The bottlenose dolphins can often be seen in and around Mauritius and you will probably meet them on your trip. 


  1. Taxi a Maurice 
  2. La Pirogue – Swim with Dolphins 
  3. Ushuaia Boat Services
Young woman swiming in the beautiful water on Mauritius island with dolphins

Dolphins are brilliant and fun beings. Under the right circumstances diving or swimming with dolphins can be an excellent adventure for humans and animals.

Dolphins need our protection. Have fun exploring dolphins responsibly and make unforgettable memories when going to the best places to swim with dolphins.

8. Cuddle with Koala Bears

Top 10 ideas to see wildlife koala tree
koala tree

Koala cuddles come in at number 8 on the Top 10 ideas to see wildlife list; they can only live in one place in the world, Australia, due to their staple diet of Eucalyptus leaves, which they can eat 2,5 pounds of food in a day! The koala hops from tree to tree and climbs to get the leaves.

Where to see Koala Bears?

The koalas are naturally only native to Australia. Their habitats are on the mainland and some islands on the east and southeast coasts. Areas of these are dependent on the availability of trees and the fertility of the soil in the area—another great animal from the Top 10 Best Wildlife Encounters.

The top 10 places you are guaranteed to see Koalas in the wild:

  1. Raymond Island, VIC
  2. Kennett River, VIC
  3. Cape Otway, VIC
  4. Port Stephens, NSW
  5. Kangaroo Island, SA
  6. Tucki Tucki Nature Reserve, New South Wales (NSW)
  7. Tidbinbilla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
  8. Port MacQuarie, New South Wales (NSW)
  9. Flinders Chase National Park, South Australia (SA)
  10. The You Yangs, Victoria (VIC)

However, we do recommend supporting NGOs and sanctuaries that support Koala Bear protection and rehabilitation:

WWF Australia

After the bushfires in Australia, the WWF is determined to turn this sad story around. For this reason, it is launching a worldwide campaign, “On the way to two billion trees”. – Adopt a Koala

Their adoption helps to rescue and treat sick and injured koalas and to release them back to their homes where possible.

9. Bush Safari Tour aside/ hot balloon above wildebeest migration

Top 10 ideas to see wildlife Wildebeest Safari
Wildebeest Safari

The wildebeest migration is one of the largest migrations on earth. The wildebeest are joined by around 400,000 antelopes and 200,000 zebras in a spectacular 3000km journey that is a privilege to witness.

Where to witness the migration taking place in the African wilderness:

  • Serengeti, Tanzania
  • Maasai Mara, Kenya

Duration: In February and partly in March, the wildebeest find rest and give birth to their calves the in the grassy plains of the highlands of Tanzania. Around half a million calves are born within a few weeks.

Top 10 ideas to see wildlife migration
Sunrise over the Masai Mara, with a pair of low-flying hot air balloons and a herd of wildebeest below in the typical red oat grass of the region. In Kenya during the annual Great Migration.

Tour Operators:

Kenya-Based Safaris

  1. Kenya Bush Safaris
  2. Perfect Wilderness Tours
  3. Bencia Africa Safari
  4. Dala Safari
  5. Simba Paka Safaris


  1. Serengeti Safari 
  2. Wildebeest Safaris
  3. Adventure Backpackers
  4. Africa Sky

Did you like our number 9 on the Top 10 ideas to see wildlife list?

10. Watch wolves and other animals in Germany

pack of wolves

There is no doubt that Germany is a great place to visit, but have you ever considered the wildlife that resides in the countryside and cities of Germany? It is often overlooked by many!

Take a look at our feature blog about Germany’s vast wildlife. For this insert in a taste of Germany’s wildlife, we focus on the population of wolves! Seeing wolves is number 10 of the Top 10 ideas to see wildlife! The fantastic idea on Top 10 Wildlife Encounters.

For more than a century, wolves were extinct in Germany. In recent years, however, especially since the country’s reunification in 1990, the animals have been reintroduced and are slowly making a comeback. They are especially prevalent in the former East German states, since many have crossed the border with Poland.

Two grey wolf in love

During a guided tour, you will not only learn some cool facts about the fascinating four-legged friends but also have the opportunity to watch the wolves at close range!

For even more adventure-tingling, you can stay in one of the Tree Inn’s tree houses in the middle of the enclosure. Here you have enough space to watch the wolves all night long with three other adventurers


Summary of Top 10 Best Wildlife Encounters

YouTube video

Did you enjoy reading our top 10 ideas to see wildlife in 2023?

Let us know which of these encounters excited you the most. Also, have a look at Visit Africa for a trip of a lifetime or Take a look at wildlife encounters in Europe!

Thank you for reading the Top 10 Best Wildlife Encounters.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do you do when you encounter a wild animal?

When encountering a wild animal, it’s important to stay calm and avoid sudden movements. Back away slowly while keeping your eye on the animal. Do not approach or corner the animal, and give it an escape route. Maintain a respectful distance and avoid direct eye contact.

What should or shouldn’t people do if they encounter a wild animal?

People should stay calm, stand their ground, and avoid running. Do not approach the animal, especially if it’s a predator, and give it space to move away. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises that might startle the animal. Do not feed or provoke the animal in any way.

What animal should you not look in the eye?

Direct eye contact is often seen as a challenge or threat among animals. Predatory animals like big cats and wolves may interpret direct eye contact as a challenge to their dominance. It’s generally safer to avoid staring directly into the eyes of wild animals.

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