Wildlife holidays: where’s best?

(Almost) everyone loves animals, and South / Latin America offers some excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. There’s great variety on offer - the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, Brazil and Guyana offer the best options for wildlife holidays in South America……

Monkey on the beach
Monkey on the beach - destination unknown

The Galapagos Islands has to rank as the best destination for wildlife viewing. The wildlife on these islands off the coast of Ecuador has evolved in an environment where there are no real predators, and as such the animals have no fear of humans. In fact, they walk right up to tourists. In addition to numerous species of birds, there are seals, sea lions, penguins, tortoises, turtles, sharks and whales to name a few. For wildlife lovers, the Galapagos is hard to beat.

On a similar note, Antarctica also has fearless wildlife. Visitors can see penguins, seals, sea lions and whales amidst some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The ecosystem is fragile, and tourism in Antarctica is heavily controlled.

On the mainland of the continent of South America, Brazil’s pantanal, Argentina’s Ibera wetlands and Venezuela’s Llanos all offer great wildlife viewing potential. All three of these places are wetlands that vary by the season, as such different wildlife can be spotted at different times of the year. Wetlands such as these are like “rainforests without the trees” in terms of wildlife viewing potential - there’s there are huge numbers of animals, plus they are easy to see as there is little room to hide from tourists. Birdlife is prevalent in all three of these wetlands, in addition to larger mammals such as the Jaguar, Caiman, Otters, Capybara and Tapir. Brazil’s pantanal is probably the pick of the three.

The rainforest also offers a different kind of wildlife holiday. Rainforests are full of biodiversity and a range of animals (monkeys are particularly common and often seen), but as the forests are so dense, it’s harder to actually see the wildlife. Rainforests have an appeal that goes beyond just wildlife viewing - to sleep and spend time in the rainforest is an enchating, magical experience. Guyana is probably the best place in South America for such a wildlife holiday, though very few people visit this small English speaking nation. Almost the entire country consists of primary rainforest that is perfect for rainforest tours. Costa Rica has placed itself as one the leaders for rainforest tours - places such as Monteverde rainforest and Tortugero offer some great wildlife viewing holidays. Other countries offering great rainforest tours and holidays include Belize (perfect for a rainforest + beach holiday), Brazil’s Amazon (around Manaus) and also the Amazon regions of Ecuador and Peru.

Amazon river dolphin
Amazon river dolphins are found throughout the Amazon basin, in countries including Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Brazil.

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