Often, one of the greatest joys of traveling is getting back to nature and exploring a whole new range of plants and animals beyond your backyard. So whether you are planning a trip to a national park or a fully outfitted safari, don’t miss our top picks for where to go to spot of some of the world’s most extraordinary animals, from Alaska to India and every continent in between.
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What to see: Grizzly bearWhere to see it: Denali National Park, AlaskaAlaska’s top attraction, the expansive Denali National Park, sprawls across 9,420 square miles, and is renowned for wildlife viewing—including grizzlies. In the summer, Denali’s tundra regions explode with wildflowers, while in September they blaze with autumnal yellows, reds, and oranges. Just one road penetrates the backcountry. With a full day, it is possible to take an early-morning shuttle bus to beautiful Wonder Lake and still have an hour or two to explore on foot before catching the last bus back. When to go: June–SeptemberDid you know? All grizzlies are brown bears, but not all brown bears are grizzlies.Find more travel tips in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Alaska [http://www.dk.com/us/9781465449429-dk-eyewitness-travel-guide-alaska/].
Central and South America[macaw spread- 74-45]What to see: JaguarWhere to see it: Amazon rain forest[jaguar image] The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rain forest, covering 2.1 million square miles fed by the long and winding river that shares its name. When exploring with a guide, keep your eyes open for the jaguar, although this cat can be difficult to spot. Its secretive nature makes it the least studied by scientists of all the big cats. If you’re not able to actually see one of these powerful predators firsthand, don’t worry. The Amazon rain forest contains around 10 percent of all the world’s known species, so there will be plenty of other animals to spot, from tamarin monkeys to the scarlet macaw to tiny leaf-cutter ants.When to go: If cruising, the rainy season (December–May) will allow water access deeper into the forest; if hiking, the “dry” season (June–November) will provide more reach via trails.Did you know? Adult male jaguars can break through bone and turtle shell in a single bite.
Europe[deer v. wolf – 130-131]What to see: Western red deerWhere to see it: Scottish HighlandsThe Highlands of Scotland encompass ancient rocky mountains, grassy plateaus, peat bogs, abundant small rivers and lochs, remnants of native forest, and vast swaths of heather moorland. This diversity extends to the region’s wildlife, and some species, like the Scottish wildcat, are only found in the Highlands. But it is the largest animal in the region, the Western red deer, so named for the color of its fur in summer, that puts on the biggest show. During rutting season, from mid-September to late October, males compete for the attention of the females, and although bucks will try to avoid all-out combat, dramatic clashes do occur. When to go: April–OctoberDid you know? A male’s antlers grow about 1 inch per day.Find more travel tips in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Scotland [http://www.dk.com/us/9780756669416-top-10-scotland/].
Africa[flamingos – 174-175]What to see: ZebraWhere to see it: Kenya[zebra image]Many species of zebra inhabit Africa, including the plains zebra that grazes in migrating herds across East and Southern Africa. In Kenya, they can best be seen in Amboseli National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve, and Meru National Park. They often are joined by wildebeest, giraffes, and Thompson’s gazelles, which benefit from the zebras’ warning “bray-bark” when a predator is spotted.When to go: December–late March; June–SeptemberDid you know? Each zebra’s stripe pattern is unique.Find more travel tips in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Kenya [http://www.dk.com/us/9781465449474-dk-eyewitness-travel-guide-kenya/].
Asia[elephants – 244-245] What to see: Bengal tigerWhere to see it: India[Bengal tiger image]The tiger plays a major role in India’s cultural history as a symbol of power and kingship, yet numbers of these big cats fell precipitously in the twentieth century. About 60 percent of the world’s tiger population lives in India, protected in 48 Project Tiger reserves across the country. The Royal Bengal tiger is the only tiger known to live in mangrove forests, and they have adapted to this environment, becoming expert swimmers and feeding on fish in addition to larger prey that it hunts in forest undergrowth.When to go: November–MarchDid you know? Despite the tiger’s great hunting potential, only one in twenty ambushes is successful.Find more travel tips in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: India [/].
Australasia[ocean – 310-311]What to see: Indigenous species[green-jumping spider] Photo courtesy of Michel DoeAustralasia boasts a significant proportion of plants, mammals, and birds that are found nowhere else in the world, from the remote tropical highlands of New Guinea to Australia’s savannas, deserts, and forests. One such species is the green jumping spider, the largest of its kind on the continent. Though its bite is painful, it is harmless—unlike the venomous fangs of the redback spider and Sydney funnel web spider. When in Australia, it’s advisable to watch your step.When to go: If traveling to the south, December–March; the north, May–October; the center October–November and March–MayDid you know? Male green jumping spiders spend a lot of time earning their mate’s trust, plucking “love messages” on the female’s nest and silk lines, and stroking her abdomen.Find more travel tips in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Australia [http://www.dk.com/us/9781465411471-dk-eyewitness-travel-guide-australia/].
Antarctica[penguins - 360-361]What to see: PenguinsIt isn’t easy—or cheap—to travel to Antarctica (and you’ll need a permit), but the unique landscape makes a trip well worth the effort. The land of ice and snow supports a great variety of fish, birds, and mammals, including penguins. Among the species represented are Adélie penguins; emperor penguins, the stars of popular 2005 documentary March of the Penguins; and rockhopper penguins, which, if you aren’t ready for trip all the way to Antarctica, can also be seen all along the south end of the globe. Some 2.5 million breed each year in the Falkland Islands.When to go: November–MarchDid you know? Adélie penguins’ insulation is so good that snow does not melt when it lands on them.