Love animals? Love to travel?
Here are some ideas for your next trip… Observe magnificent wild beasts, feed adorable baby chimps, learn how to take an elephant’s pulse, meet special people who help suffering dogs.
Meet Elephants in Thailand
Not only can you ride a magnificent Asian elephant, you can also learn how to take her pulse at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp. Anantara combines a resort environment with elephant conservation and education. It is fairly easy to get to the elephant camp – take a commercial flight to Chiang Rai followed by a 45-minute scenic car ride (Anantara will pick you up). There are different activity options ranging from a super interesting presentation by a Think Elephants International research assistant, to an elephant ride through the countryside followed by a dip in the river. Unlike a safari where you must keep a safe distance from the wildlife, you can get up close and personal. And, you will fall in love with these incredible, intelligent animals! Read more about our visit to the elephant camp >
Lions and zebras and giraffes – oh my. . . It is tough to get up early on vacation, but one of the best times to observe wildlife is in the morning. So roll out of bed, grab a cup of hot coffee, and settle in for the ride. It is thrilling to drive through remote terrain in search of wild beasties – and then suddenly find them. In some areas, the scenery is as breathtaking as the wildlife. We’ve gone on several very different safaris in South Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania. Before you go, do a lot of research to determine the best location and time of year to observe your favorite animals. On a March visit to Tanzania after baby season and we saw cute, awkward zebras and wildebeests nursing and running after their mommies.Read about our Tanzania safari >
Penguins on the Beach
Take a drive down the beautiful coast from Cape Town to Simons Town and visit the penguin colony on Boulder’s Beach. The colony was established in 1983 to protect the endangered African penguins that lived in the area. Hang out on the boardwalk overlooking the beach and watch the cute, silly birds going about their daily life. Then stop by the visitor center to learn about the efforts to protect the species. Sometimes the penguins wander away from the beach, so you may run into one like this guy.
Gorilla Trek in Uganda
There are only three countries where endangered mountain gorillas live in the wild: Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. In Uganda, you can observe gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Plan early because you must apply for and purchase a permit in advance – permits are limited and expensive. (To protect the gorillas, only a limited number of people may trek each day.) Permits are not sold online, so it is easier to get them from a tour operator or the lodge where you will stay. As the name implies, Bwindi is in a remote location – you can reach it by small plane or road. After an early morning safety briefing, small groups set out to find their assigned gorilla group. It can take one or several hours to find the gorillas, during which time you will hike up steep hills and over streams. Once you find the group, you can only observe for one hour before heading back. It is an incredible experience! Read more about our visit to Uganda >
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre Behind-the-Scenes Tour
When you are in Uganda for a gorilla trek, spend a day or two at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC). The Centre used to be a zoo and then changed into a refuge to provide a better life for the animals (many are rescues) and allow greater public interaction. UWEC is in close to the international airport, so it is really easy to visit on your way in or out of town. There are several visitor programs like the behind the scenes tour, chimpanzee close up, keeper for a day, and even a long-stay volunteer program. We spent the afternoon on a private behind-the-scenes tour where we fed baby chimps, met cute but scary lion cubs, hand fed a snack to gorgeous giraffes, scratched an endangered white rhino on the ears, and more. When you visit, say hi to our favorite resident, Sushi, the endangered shoebill stork. Read more about our visit to Uganda Wildlife Education Centre >
Learn About Animal Welfare in Koh Phangan, Thailand
Visiting Thailand was bittersweet. While the scenery, food, and people were wonderful, it was really tough to see so many street dogs in need. In a Koh Phangan travel guide, Lori saw an ad for an animal care organization, Phangan Animal Care. She checked out the website and posted a comment on their Facebook page. There was a quick reply and invitation to stop by, so we did. We learned a lot about the challenges of pet overpopulation in Thailand and the extremely valuable work Phangan Animal Care does. We’ve been following them on Facebook for nearly a year, and while some of the stories are heartbreaking, it is inspirational to see their ongoing progress. Phangan Animal Care’s staff and volunteers have made a huge difference in the lives of so many suffering beach dogs. Check them out on Facebook and see… Read more about our visit to Phangan Animal Care >