12 World Travel Ideas for People Who Love Animals

More interesting in pandas than partying? Time to start planning your next trip.

Jul 20, 2015
Special Collections: ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
A Japanese snow monkey in Jigokudani Park, Japan

A Japanese snow monkey in Jigokudani Park, Japan (Shutterstock)

There are many different motivations for travel - relaxation, food, romance and sport, to name just a few. Traveling for more specific interests like a love of animals just takes a bit of extra research and planning - but it’s definitely worth the effort. These 12 world travel destinations are home to beautiful animals, as well as stunning natural surroundings. Time to start packing!

1. LUCKY BAY, AUSTRALIA

ANIMAL: Western grey kangaroo
As if the turquoise water and white sand of this beautiful Western Australian beach wasn’t beautiful enough, Lucky Bay is home to hundreds of western grey kangaroos. At sunset, these adorable animals can be seen bouncing their way across the sand in search of dinner.

A western grey kangaroo chilling out in Lucky Bay

A western grey kangaroo chilling out in Lucky Bay (kepa kurl eco discovery tours)

2. GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR

ANIMAL: Giant tortoise
The giant tortoise is world’s largest tortoise, and can be found only on the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and the Alabra Atoll in Seychelles. With a life expectancy of over 100 years, the massive reptiles can weigh as much as 300kg and grow to be over one meter long.

Two giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands

Two giant tortoises chat in the Galapagos Islands (Shutterstock) 

3. JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK, YAMANOUCHI, JAPAN

ANIMAL: Japanese snow monkey
Just like their human relatives, Japanese snow monkeys like to kick back and relax in hot water - especially when the weather gets chilly. Tourists can visit the monkeys at the Jigokudani Monkey Park in winter between 9am and 4pm every day.

Japanese snow monkeys in a natural onsen (hot spring), in Jigokudani Park.

Japanese snow monkeys in a natural onsen (hot spring), in Jigokudani Park (Shutterstock)

4. INNERVENES-SHIRE, SCOTLAND

ANIMAL: Golden Retriever
Every July, the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland hosts the Golden Retriever Festival in Invernes-shire, the breed’s ancestral home. The fun includes a dog show (of course!), food and entertainment.

The 2013 Golden Retreiver Festival in Invernes-shire

The 2013 Golden Retreiver Festival in Invernes-shire (Flickr)

5. LOU GUAN TAI FOREST PARK, XI’AN, CHINA

ANIMAL: Giant panda
This beautiful forest area is home to animal houses that protect vulnerable and endangered species, including the giant panda. Tourists can visit or volunteer in the animal sanctuaries, even for short periods of a few days to a few weeks.

Baby pandas China

Baby pandas in rescue care (I to I Volunteering)

6. GREAT BARRIER REEF, AUSTRALIA

ANIMAL: 1,500 species of tropical fish
Visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef. Among the 1,500 species of tropic fish that scuba divers and snorkelers can witness in the deep blue is the highly recognizable clown fish - kids will love the Finding Nemo vibe!

Clown fish great barrier reef

Nemo! (Shutterstock)

7. KOMODO NATIONAL PARK, INDONESIA

ANIMAL: Komodo dragon
Got dragon fever from Game of Thrones? Time to plan a trip to Indonesia. Several Indonesian islands are home to these giant lizards, which can weigh over 100kg and are well over one meter in length. The Komodo National Park itself spans a whopping 30 islands; visitors can tour the area on boat trips from Flores and Lombok.

A komodo dragon in the Komodo National Park

A komodo dragon cools off in the Komodo National Park (Shutterstock)

8. CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

ANIMAL: Asian elephant
Northern Thailand is filled with nature parks, which care for rescued elephants and participate in rainforest restoration. The elephants in this region are both domesticated and wild, and a crucial part of Thai life and culture. The Elephant Nature Park is a good place to start.

A rescued elephant at Elephant Nature park in Chiang Mai

A rescued elephant at Elephant Nature park in Chiang Mai (Shutterstock)

9. HERVEY BAY, AUSTRALIA

ANIMAL: Humpback whale
From mid-July to late November, humpback whales make regular appearances in Hervey Bay as they make their annual migration south to Antarctica. Tourists can take a day trip on a whale watching boat to see both adults and calves close up.

A humpback whale breaches off the coast of Queensland,

A humpback whale breaches off the coast of Queensland, Australia (Shutterstock)

10. KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA

ANIMAL: The Big Five: lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhinos.
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa, and is home to a variety of native wildlife. Visitors can take organized safari tours - during the day or the night - set off for a day hike, plan a camping trip or check out a lavish bush camps for overnight visitors.

Zebras and giraffes lounge together at a Kruger waterhole

Zebras and giraffes lounge together at a Kruger waterhole (Shutterstock

11. VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, RWANDA

ANIMAL: Mountain gorilla
This national park, Africa’s first, was set up to protect the mountain gorillas of the Virunga Mountains. Tourists can spend an hour with one of 10 gorilla groups in the national park, though permits are limited - only 80 visitors are allowed to enter per day.

A mother and newborn baby gorilla in the Virunga Mountains

A mother and newborn baby gorilla in the Virunga Mountains (Shutterstock)

12. ANO NUEVO STATE PARK, CALIFORNIA, USA

ANIMAL: Northern elephant seal
From December to March every year, thousands of northern elephant seals show up on the beaches of the Año Nuevo State Park for breeding season. Visitors can enjoy naturalist-led walks during the season to explore both the beauty of the area and the gorgeous baby seals.

A baby seal during breeding season

A baby seal during breeding season (Shutterstock) 

As well as managing Goodnet.org, Elana writes happy headlines with a particular focus on yoga, meditation and family matters. She has a background in online journalism and web content.

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