Wildlife photographer Alex Cearns provides her top spots to see the best and wildest of creatures around the globe – from the safari to the jungle!
I like travelling because to me, travel is food for the soul. It opens my mind to new experiences, and is a beautiful way for me to meet and connect with the people and creatures who share this planet. There are so many wondrous places to visit, and to see them in person is an incredible privilege.
My top 5 travel destinations to view wildlife are:
1. Serengeti National Park & Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
The Serengeti National Park is an extraordinarily unique photographic destination, particularly during June and July when more than 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebras migrate across its vast, short grass plains like a voracious lawnmower.
Within the Serengeti ecosystem is the Ngorongoro Crater, an area of spectacular beauty and a breathtaking place to view wildlife. Millions of years ago a large volcano exploded and collapsed in on itself resulting in this incredible crater, which has lush vegetation and abundant water. It is home to more than 25,000 large mammals and approximately 400 species of birds including large flocks of flamingos.
Best time of the year to go: Year-round, but June to July for the qildebeest migration.
2. Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar
The World Heritage listed Ranomafana National Park is a place of spectacular mountainous scenery and immense biodiversity. It is heaven for lemur lovers! Twelve species of lemur spring through the dense rainforest canopy or graze among bamboo thickets. Other plentiful wildlife includes mongoose, hedgehogs, bats, geckos and civets. There are at least 115 species of birds and countless reptiles including chameleons, snakes, and geckos.
Best time of the year to go: Lemurs are most active during April, May and June. July and August are cool and dry and ideal for exploring. December is hot but lemurs and reptiles are still active and wildlife viewing is quite good.
3. Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Waterfalls, mountains and forests are found in Costa Rica’s central northern highlands and the peaceful Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is bursting with mist and shades of green. The incredible biodiversity of this high elevation rain forest includes around 2500 species of plants, 120 species of amphibians and 100 species of mammals. At least 400 species of birds, including the extremely rare Resplendent Quetzal, the ancient holy bird of the Mayans, live here.
Best time of the year to go: Costa Rica’s dry season from November to April is the best time to visit for naturalists and photographers.
4. Agra Bear Sanctuary, Rajasthan, India
Not far from the Taj Mahal is a heartening example of the achievements of Australian-based Free the Bears Fund who helped remove every ‘dancing bear’ from brutal treatment on the streets of India. The Agra Bear Rescue Facility is the world’s single largest bear sanctuary, and provides haven to around 300 rescued and rehabilitated sloth bears who roam free in a beautiful, natural forest habitat.
The practice of dancing bears is now outlawed in India, but non-governmental organisations dedicated to improving conditions for bears still have much work to do as the threat of poaching and smuggling cubs for bile production and bear-baiting remains severe in the region. You can sponsor any one of the bears, and of course, donate to this very worthy cause.
Best time of the year to go: When the weather is pleasant in October to March.
5. The Tarkine Wilderness, North Western Tasmania
The unique and pristine ecosystem of the Tarkine is one of Australia’s best kept wilderness secrets. Spanning 447,000 hectares with a wild coastline, grand and wild rivers, waterfalls, plateaus, cave systems and an extraordinary wealth of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage sites, it is the largest unbroken expanse of rain forest in Australia.
The Tarkine is home to more than 267 animal species, including at least 60 threatened or critically endangered species such as the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, and the iconic Tasmanian devil. The best way to gain access to the ancient forests is on a walking tour via a recently opened forest trail.
Best time of the year to go: All year round, but the weather is milder and the days are longer between November and April.
For more of Alex Cearne’s photos see www.houndstoothstudio.com.au
What’s your favourite place to spot wildlife? Let us know your favourite nature adventures!