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The world's best wildlife experiences

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13 July 2011 by Luke McCormick

Each week Luke McCormick, Wexas Channel Editor, provides an inside look at the latest headlines and gives his independent, expert comment.

This week: The world's best wildlife experiences

Expedition cruise in the Galapagos

GalapagosA visit to the Galapagos Islands is a unique and unforgettable experience. Lying 1,000km off mainland Ecuador, the islands are renowned for their fearless wildlife - brought about by the lack of natural predators.

Here, you can snorkel with sea lions, watch giant tortoises lumbering through cactus forest, and catch the courtship displays of blue-footed boobies and red-throated frigate birds.

Native animals on Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo IslandKangaroo Island may be just 15km from the mainland, but it is a world away in terms of seclusion and natural diversity. It is regularly recognised as Australia's own Galapagos: arguably the best place to see the widest range of Australian native animals in their natural habitat.

Seal Bay is home to a permanent colony of 500 rare Australian sea-lions, the sand hills and rock faces around Penneshaw and Kingscote are breeding grounds for Little Penguins, while pink pelicans, fur seals, wallabies, possums, echidnas, goannas, platypus, sea eagles and numerous bird species all abound. Kangaroo Island is also renowned for its diving, with more than 60 shipwrecks littering the rough coast.

Swim with whales sharks at Ningaloo reef

Whale sharksThe spectacular landscapes of the remote Kimberley region are among Australia's best, while the experience of diving with the hundreds of tropical fish and giant whale sharks at the well-protected Ningaloo Reef or wild dolphins at Monkey Mia will be remembered for a lifetime. Ningaloo Reef is the world's largest fringing coral reef, located just off the shoreline.

Spot jaguars in Brazil's Pantanal

JaguarsThe Pantanal is the world's largest wetland: a vast area of rivers, marsh grasses and crystal-clear lakes. Brazil's largest is a paradise for naturalists, home to 300 species of birds and scores of rare animals, such as jaguars, peccaries, bob-cats and capybaras. Base yourself at Mutúm and enjoy guided excursions by foot, canoe, horse and boat.

Track gorillas in Rwanda

GorillasThe Parc des volcans in Rwanda's north-west provides the best opportunity for spotting some of the world's last remaining 700 mountain gorillas. The national park borders the Congo and Uganda and is home to five habituated gorilla families.

Big Five safari in South Africa

LionSouth Africa has the best Big Five viewing anywhere, with numerous game reserves throughout the country offering great opportunities to spot lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino. Sabi Sand Game Reserve in Kruger National Park is the country's most prestigious, renowned for its freely roaming wildlife and excellent lodges. Head to Cape Town to dive with Great Whites and spot Humpback whales off Hermanus and you'll have ticked off the ‘Big Seven'.

Bengal tigers in India

TigerMadhya Pradesh is the heart of India, due in part to its location and as home to the cultural heritage of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Throughout the plateau state, numerous monuments, finely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces grace the landscape, while the spectacular mountain ranges, winding rivers and dense forests are home to some of the country's best tiger reserves, among them Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Panna and Pench.

Witness the Great Migration in Kenya

Great migrationEast Africa's great migration takes place from June to October when millions of migratory wildebeest, gazelle, zebra and eland make the journey from the dry plains of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania across the Kenyan border into the Masai Mara in search of greener pastures.

The Great Migration is the largest mass movement of animals on the planet, and the seething mass is a sight to behold, even before you add the resident populations of topi, impala, buffalo, gazelle, kongoni, giraffe, warthog, waterbuck and elephant.

Orangutans in Malaysian Borneo

OrangutanOrangutans are the major attraction in Sabah. From Kota Kinabalu dense rainforest, craggy mountains and abundant reefs can be easily reached. The russet-furred orangutan, whose name means ‘man of the forest' in Malay, is the best known of the incredible nature to be found here, but proboscis monkeys, sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles, a wealth of bird species and enormous rafflesia flowers not to be missed either.

In Sepilok the well-known Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary is a great place to see orangutans up close. An area of preserved rainforest next to the educational centre is home to orphans and other rescued orangutans, and the younger ones come to feed on bananas and milk twice a day at a series of feeding platforms among the trees.

Macaus in the Manu Biosphere

MacawPeru's Manu Biosphere Reserve has the highest concentration of bird life on Earth and is one of the Amazon's most pristine wilderness areas. Over 925 species have been recorded and a visit to the Macaw clay lick is a sight to behold as thousands of brightly coloured parrots and larger macaws gather to eat the mineral rich clay that is essential for their digestion. There are some excellent lodges in the area and wildlife watching can be combined with cruises on the Manu River.

Images: Jaguars - Christine Schmitt; Macaw - Michael Baird 

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