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!
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
- It was our first African safari and it did NOT disappoint.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.