My Top 20 Wildlife Experiences

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People sometimes ask me, “What’s the neatest thing you’ve ever seen or the scariest thing you’ve ever done?” And unless I really stop to think about it, it’s hard to answer them. And even then I usually end up with a four-or-five-way tie, because I treasure so many of my traveling experiences. So just for fun, I thought I’d put together a list of my top 20 wildlife experiences. It’s a quick read … check ‘em out!

top 20 wildlife experiences

This gal may look dangerous, but she’s really just a big cuddlebug! (The stingray … not me.)

Feeding Southern Stingrays by Hand – Stingray City, North Sound, Grand Cayman

  • This tour is super touristy, but an awesome experience. (Don’t forget to keep your thumb tucked in.)

Observed Loggerhead Turtles Hatching on a Beach at Night – Anna Maria Island, Gulf Coast, Florida

  • I recommend you do this at least once in your life.

Listening to Hippos Right outside Our Hotel Room Door – Naivasha Sopa Lodge, Nakuru, Kenya, Africa

  • No kidding, they were within six feet of our window. This might be in anybody’s top 20 wildlife experiences.

Saw Two Adult Male Lions Resting in the Bush – Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa

top 20 wildlife experiences

This beautiful howler monkey came down out of the trees to greet me while at the Community Baboon Sanctuary. Image credit: Greg Todd

Howler Monkeys Coming Down from the Trees to Say Hello – Community Baboon Sanctuary, Bermudian Landing, Belize

  • They were so cute … we even got to see a newborn.

Swimming with Nurse Sharks and Southern Stingrays – Shark-Ray Alley, Belize

  • It’s touristy, I’ll admit. But it’s worth the thrill to do it once. (I’ve been three times.)

Seeing a Nurse Shark at 40 Feet while Scuba Diving – “Paradise”, Grand Cayman

  • It was my very first dive, so seeing an unhabituated shark was fantastic.

Riding alongside a Pod of Orcas – Whale Watching Tour Departed from Seattle

  • We went more than half the tour without seeing any. Then all of a sudden they were everywhere. They breached several times right beside the boat.

Spotting Two Red-rumped Agoutis while Hiking – Amazon Rainforest of Brazil

  • The guide and I were the only ones who saw them. That’s one of the perks of being first in line on a hike.
top 20 wildlife experiences

Greg and I both spotted this grizzly as we were driving along the Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada. It was my first! Image credit: Greg Todd

Spotting My First Grizzly Bear – Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper, Alberta, Canada

  • This is an incredible story, but for now I’ll just say I was both petrified and exhilarated at the same time.

Watching a Snake Swallowing a Frog – My Pond in Eudora, KS

  • My daughter spotted it. It was an amazing spectacle of nature. But I love frogs, so we used a stick to make the snake let go.

Spotting Two Pairs of Octopi Mating – Snorkeling the Shallows of Bonaire

  • Not one but two pairs mating. Something must have been in the water.
top 20 wildlife experiences

I found this poor drown chipmunk floating in a bucket of water after a heavy rainstorm. Image credit: Cherri Megasko

Bringing a Drown Chipmunk Back to Life – Fort Valley, VA

  • This was awesome and I can prove it because I took pictures. Just look at these pictures (above and below) and tell me that shouldn’t be in my top 20 wildlife experiences!
top 20 wildlife experiences

And voila! After some emergency CPR (minus the pulmonary part), little Chippy was as good as new! Image credit: Cherri Megasko

Spotting a Rare Jabiru Stork with a Chick – New River, Belize

  • The nest was pointed out to us by our canoe driver. My daughter was looking through the binoculars and she’s the one who spotted the chick.

Seeing the Glowworms at Waitomo Caves – Waitomo, North Island, New Zealand

  • I had wanted to do this for years … it was totally worth it.

Spotting a Kiwi (bird) at Night – Zealandia, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

  • Well, it was within the confines of the preserve, but the preserve is huge, so it still counts.

Watching the Little Blue Penguins Come in from the Sea at Night – Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand

  • If you’re a penguin lover, get yourself to New Zealand. These little guys are adorable.

Spotting a Blue Starfish in Shallow Seas – Off the Coast of a Deserted Island in Fiji

  • True story … I was snorkeling and saw this, but I didn’t have my underwater camera with me. So I swam all the way back to the beach, got my camera, swam back out and amazingly found it again.
top 20 wildlife experiences

This may very well be my favorite picture I ever took. And believe me … it was much prettier in person. Image credit: Cherri Megasko

Snorkeling through a Huge Swarm of Tiny Jellyfish – Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico

  • This was definitely in my top 20 wildlife experiences and was beyond freaky. There were thousands, maybe millions of these itsy-bitsy jellyfish. The swarm was so large that once inside it you couldn’t see anything else. No, they didn’t sting.

Chilling Out with Dozens of Bahama Starfish on a Sandbar – East-Southeast Dominican Republic

  • These things are huge – about a foot or so across, I’d say. They hang out there in the shallows because the water isn’t deep enough for their predators.

So there you have it – my top 20 wildlife experiences. Do you have an awesome wildlife experience you’d like to share? Please tell us about it in the comments below.

 

 

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24 thoughts on “My Top 20 Wildlife Experiences

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Tanj – It was a little unnerving for the first few seconds, but you see dozens of other people doing it, so you know you’re at least simi-safe.

  1. Tami

    No way! You actually revived a drowned chipmunk??!! That’s amazing! And I have never seen such a blue blue sea star – absolutely beautiful! What a fun collection of sights and experiences.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Yep … I sure did. And I was quite proud of myself, too! I wrapped him in a towel and briskly rubbed his whole body. I kept him until I felt confident he was OK and then I let him go.

  2. Paige W

    These are definitely some great experiences! I think swimming with manatees is my number one animal experience. Although, just nature-watching in Yellowstone or Alaska are pretty high up there. I’ve seen some pretty incredible things those two places! I can’t believe you brought a chipmunk back to life! That’s so incredible!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      We had a 5-month Alaska trip planned and the day we were to leave I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m all good now, so we will soon be re-planning that trip. I can’t wait!

  3. Stacey Billingsley

    You’ve had some amazing wildlife experiences! Living in Missouri, I’ve seen deer and other small critters in the wild. I also have a bird feeder where I entertain cardinals and other birds. Sometimes there is a black snake or a toad in my yard. My most amazing encounter would be seeing black bears in the wild in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But they are not too exciting compared to your Grizzly!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I am originally from Missouri. When I was a kid, I used to see the occasional bobcat out on the dirt roads by our house, but they’ve been pushed out for a long time now. And black bears are great! They’re actually more unpredictable than grizzlies.

  4. Shannon

    This is a fantastic list! I’ve had a couple of amazing wildlife encounters myself.

    While camping in Yosemite two different times I had amazing encounters with chipmunks. The first time I was having a snack on a hike to Vernal Falls when two chipmunks climbed up on my legs and started begging. Cutest thing, of course, I didn’t give them anything though.

    The second time, about a decade later I was sitting around the campfire with my family. I put a cracker on my knee while I pulled open a package of cheese. Suddenly my family all start giggling. I have no idea why, assumed I missed something, and I had! A cheeky little chipmunk came up and stole my cracker right from my knee.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Oh my goodness … you must be the chipmunk whisperer! Good for you for not giving in the first time. (I’m not so sure I could have resisted!)

  5. Karla

    I’ve always been a lover of seeing animals in the wild. Hmmm now I want to go to Brazil and other places too. I wanna do more of Africa actually, I had really good safari experiences there.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Karla – Greg and I love Africa, too. We’ve just recently started talking about going back.

  6. Guy Crotty

    We’ve done the same snorkelling in Belize’s shark alley…so cool! Recently we went kayaking with 1000’s of seals in Namibia which was epic. They were so friendly and playful. Loads of fun. Thanks for sharing a few more great ideas!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Kayaking with seals sounds list-worthy, too. Greg and I just started planning our next trip to Africa, so I’ll keep this in mind.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Amelie – I wrapped it in a warm towel and rubbed it all over very briskly, especially on its underside. You should have seen my face when I saw it take a breath!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      They are precious to me, Jas. I hope I have three times this many before I’m too old or ill to stop traveling.

  7. Gabriela

    OMG your experiences are amazing, I don’t even know where to go first! It’s really nice that you travel for wildlife experience rather than visiting cities. I really admire that

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