25 Destinations People Visit To See Animals (Instead Of Touring)

Have you ever wanted to go on a vacation that wasn’t your typical vacation? Maybe you’re bored of the usual beach getaways, or ski trips. Better yet, maybe you’re a huge animal lover, looking to get up close and personal with one of your favorite animals. Luckily, there are a number of vacations out there that are perfect for animal lovers. You might have to do some traveling to other countries, like Kenya, Mexico, or even Costa Rica, but they're out there.

There are places all over the world that specialize in vacations that allow guests to interact with animals that they might never get to see, like dolphins, turtles, or even sloths. While other places, might offer a more fulfilling vacation, in which you can volunteer to help everyday animals like dogs, cows, and pigs.

Either way, these vacations are unlike any other. Instead of laying on a beach soaking up the sun, you can find yourself in the middle of a safari, surrounded by giraffes and zebras, or even underwater with dangerous sharks swimming around you. These types of vacations are adventures of a lifetime, that will be sure to leave you with some of the coolest memories that you could ever have, and stories to tell all of your friends and family.

These are 25 destinations people go to so they could see animals, instead of touring.

25 Dolphin Discovery - Mexico

via: prlog.org

Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal with a dolphin? Well, that could be possible at Dolphin Discovery. With multiple locations in Mexico, you can easily get one on one with a cute dolphin. There are three programs that you could choose from, depending on how close you’d like to get with one of the mammals. There’s the Dolphin Encounter, in which you spend 40 minutes with one dolphin, where you’ll receive a kiss, hug, and caress. There’s also the Dolphin Swim adventure, where you’ll spend a little more time with the animal, where you can ride on its belly and get kisses! Finally, there’s the Royal Swim, where you’ll be with two dolphins, who will push you up by your feet, and tow you around as you hang on their dorsal fins. (Source: DolphinDiscovery)

24 Giraffe Manor - Kenya

via: telegraph.co.uk

Perhaps one of the coolest experiences you could ever have is at the Giraffe Manor. The hotel has some friendly guests that sometimes come to visit — a herd of giraffes! The herd visits at least once a day, sometimes more, depending on how hungry they are. Either in the morning or in the evening, they’ll poke their head in through the windows to say hello and get a snack. This is one way to truly get up close and personal with the beautiful creatures, feeding them and spending some quality time with the friendly visitors. It is definitely a hotel to check out! (Source: TheSafariCollection)

23 Best Friends Animal Society - Utah

via: kanabutahvacationrentals.com

If you’re looking to help out some animals while on vacation, you might want to look into visiting the Best Friends Animal Society located in Utah. The sanctuary is a no-kill shelter for any animal in need. It is home to approximately 1,600 homeless pets ranging from dogs, to cats, to horses, to birds and other wild animals. The sanctuary will take in any animal in any condition, and will help them get back to themselves again, and hopefully adopted into a loving home. While visiting, you can even volunteer, as the sanctuary is always looking for them. Be sure to sign up in advance, though. You can make a difference while on vacation, too! (Source: BestFriends)

22 International Wolf Center - Minnesota

via: wolf.org

If you’re more interested in learning about wolves, then look no further than the International Wolf Center. Located in Minnesota, this center is a sanctuary for wolves, where you can get up close and personal with them, and learn everything there is to know about them. It’s home to a number of resident ambassador wolves, where you can watch and observe them and how they interact with one another. There are also other exhibits, in which you can learn about wolves and humans and how they’ve been intertwined for years. There’s also a lot for kids to do, making it a fun and educational vacation for the whole family. (Source: Wolf.org)

21 Cat Cafe - Japan

via: catcafesd.com

Are you more of a cat person? Well, a cat cafe might be the perfect place for you to visit! There are many cat cafes all over the world, however, they are extremely popular in Japan. Cat Cafes were started for people who couldn’t have pets, but still wanted the luxury of having one, even if it was for a short period of time. Customers can hang out in these cafes for as long as they want, and play with all of the cats as much as they want. What could be better than snuggling some kittens while drinking some tea? (Source: TimeTravelTurtle)

20 Wild Animal Sanctuary - Colorado

via: news.nationalgeographic.com

Want a taste of the wild, but you don’t want to leave the United States? Perhaps you should take a trip to the Wild Animal Sanctuary that’s located in Colorado. This sanctuary is far from a zoo. These wild animals have been rescued from living in conditions in which they cannot live and thrive. When visiting, expect to be educated about the wildlife crisis. It isn’t a zoo, and the wild animals aren’t held in closed spaces for you to look at. There are observation decks that you can walk through all the exhibits, and hopefully, you will see some wild animals roaming around. (Source: WildAnimalSanctuary)

19 Polar Bear Party - Manitoba, Canada

via: dailymail.co.uk

The perfect place to get up close and personal with polar bears would have to be in Manitoba, Canada. The polar bears flock to this city, and it’s the perfect place to view them and learn more about their way of life. Standing high above the bears, you will be able to see them interact with one another, and watch them wait for the ice to form in order for them to go out and hunt for seals. It’s something that you’d see on the Discovery Channel, but up close and personal. The Polar Bear Party is a great way to learn about polar bears, and see how they live in their own natural habitats. (Source: NatHab)

18 Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary - South Africa

via: lionsrock.org

Home to over 100 different species of big cats, the Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary is a home to big cats that were kept in poor conditions in circuses, zoos, or any other form of captivity. When visiting the sanctuary, you can learn about all of the animals that call it home, even go on a Game Drive, where you are driven around the sanctuary to see all of the animals, while given a guided tour of the grounds. In addition to the big cats, there are also other animals, such as wildebeests, impalas, and zebras. It’s a really awesome educational vacation! (Source: LionsRock)

17 Bifengxia Panda Base - China

via: travelnpleasure.com

Who wouldn’t love to learn all about cute and cuddly panda bears? If you find yourself taking a trip to China, you consider making a stop at the Bifengxia Panda Base. The base is a branch of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. With nearly 1,000 acres, the pandas are able to roam around, and live healthy and free lives. If you’re interested in helping out and making a difference, you can even donate some of your time to them as a volunteer. Who wouldn’t want to help out these goofy and adorable bears? Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity, for sure! (Source: PandasInternational)

16 Kauai Humane Society - Hawaii

via: huffingtonpost.com

The Kauai Humane Society is located in Hawaii, and is any dog lover’s paradise. If you have the opportunity to visit the dog sanctuary, you can spend some time with the dogs who are up for adoption. The Humane Society has a program called “shelter dogs on field trips.” This program allows visitors to go to the sanctuary and take one of the many dogs available for adoption out for the day. When you take a dog on a field trip, they wear a vest that says they’re available for adoption. Therefore, not only do you get to spend the day with a pup, you could potentially find them a forever home. How sweet is that? (Source: KauaiHumane)

15 Kangaroo Sanctuary - Australia

via: kangaroosanctuary.com

When you think of Australia, you almost always think of kangaroos, therefore, when in Australia, what do you do? Visit a kangaroo sanctuary, of course! The sanctuary was specifically established to rescue orphaned baby kangaroos, as well as adult kangaroos that are in need. The sanctuary prides itself on educating people about the animals, and encouraging them to help rescue and care for the animals. If you find yourself in the area, you can visit the sanctuary. They offer guided tours in which they teach visitors about the animals, and show them exactly what they do for them in their time of need. (Source: KangarooSanctuary)

14 Lewa Wildlife Conservancy - Kenya

via: lifegate.com

How could we talk about places to visit animals without talking about going on a safari? If you find yourself in Kenya, you should definitely consider visiting the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. You can learn a lot about the animals at the sanctuary, as it is home to elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, and even some lions. Take a guided safari tour, in which you can take a look into the lives of these beautiful wild animals. The best part is, all of the money that comes in from the tourism, goes straight back into the wildlife conservation to make it even bigger and better. (Source: Lewa)

13 Aqua-Trek Shark Diving - Fiji

via: diveplanit.com

If thrill-seeking is more of your thing, you should definitely make a stop in Fiji on your next vacation, and check out the Aqua-Trek Shark Diving. If you choose to do the dive, you will encounter eight species of shark. This dive isn’t your typical underwater shark encounter. Normally, you would be in a cage, protected from the sharks. However, if you choose to do this dive, you won’t have the protection of a cage. You’ll dive 60 to 80 feet below the surface, where sharks will swim below you and around you. Take this trip, if you dare! (Source: AquaTrek)

12 Sloth Sanctuary - Costa Rica

via: suggestedpost.eu

Everyone loves sloths! They’re the strangest animals — so ugly they’re kind of cute, make the silliest noises, and move comically slow. If you’re a fan of these animals, then you should definitely check out the sloth sanctuary located in Costa Rica. It’s a way to get up close and personal with these cute creatures, and learn more about them. You can also take a guided canoe ride through their habitats, and catch them in their natural homes. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to touch or hold one, but this is definitely as close as you can get to them! (Source: SlothSanctuary)

11 Sky Falconry - San Diego, California

via: skyfalconry.com

If birds of prey are more your thing, you should take the time to visit the Sky Falconry located in San Diego, California. Here, you can get extremely hands-on with these wild birds, learning all about them, in addition, to help conserve them. You even have the opportunity to put on a glove and have a hawk fly to you, landing on your hand. You can take photos with the birds, and even take a walk with them, seeing how they fly and act in their natural habitats, all while flying back to you and landing on your glove. A once in a lifetime experience, it’s definitely something you don’t pass up on. (Source: SkyFalconry)

10 Flamingo Island - Aruba

via: booking.com

Are birds of prey a little too frightening for you? If so, it looks like calmer birds are more for you. Fear not, look no further than Flamingo Island, located in Aruba. This island is home to a number of flamingos, making the beach look like a scene out of a nature book or even a postcard. You can spend the day at this beautiful beach, swimming in the water, and enjoying the sun, all while the beautiful bright pink flamingos surround you on the beach. Talk about one of the coolest photo opportunities ever, right? (Source: ArubaPrivateIsland)

9 Greenland Adventures - Greenland

via: greenland.is

Another once in a lifetime opportunity would have to be the Greenland Adventures, where you can experience dog sledding first hand. When you visit Greenland, you can set up a dog sledding tour. You can pretend like you’re in the movies, gliding through the snow, all while adorable dogs pull your sled. If you want to do more than just a small sledding trip, there’s also the opportunity for the dogs to take you to see the Northern Lights on an eight-day adventure. Make sure you book these tours in advance though, it’s definitely an opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss. (Source: Greenland.is)

8 Eco-Touring - Galapagos Islands

via: goodnature.nathab.com

The Galapagos Islands are home to a number of unique and out of this world species of animals. When visiting the Galapagos Islands, there are a number of eco tours that you can take. Eco-tours are when you visit a number of different habitats and other undisturbed places in nature, where you can see these creatures up close. You can see how turtles live in these beautiful islands, or even follow in Darwin’s footsteps when he made all of his scientific discoveries. Either way, you’re bound to learn a lot when you take an eco-tour in the Galapagos Islands. (Source: Galapagos)

7 Serengeti National Park - Africa

via: bookmundi.com

Serengeti National park is one of the most well-known wildlife conservations in the world. When going on safari in Serengeti National Park, you’re guaranteed to have one of the most authentic safaris that you could possibly go on. It’s also most famous for the migration of zebra, as well as wildebeest. When planning your visit, the best time to take a trip would have to be during the dry season, since it is the best time to see the most animals. However, no matter what time you decide to visit, you will most definitely have the experience of a lifetime, going on a safari adventure straight out of the movies. (Source: TanzaniaTourism)

6 Farm Sanctuary - New York

via: farmsanctuary.org

One interesting vacation you could take is to a farm sanctuary that’s located in Watkins Glen, New York. The farm sanctuary is exactly what it says it is, a sanctuary that’s specifically made for farm animals. Now, when you think of sanctuaries, you tend to think of ones for wild animals, such as lions and elephants, however, farm animals need one too. The sanctuary is home to over 500 farm animals that have been rescued for a number of different reasons. Each animal has their own story, and you can learn all about them when you visit, taking a guided tour, and learning about why each animal is at the sanctuary. They might be ordinary animals, but this trip is anything but. (Source: FarmSanctuary)

5 Cheetah Outreach - South Africa

via: roomsforafrica.com

Cheetah Outreach was created to teach the public about these beautiful animals, and ensure that they survive. Not only is their goal to spread information about cheetahs, but they allow you to actually get up close and personal with them, if you choose to do so. You have the opportunity to meet a real-life adult cheetah, see one up close, and truly learn about them in a hands-on fashion. Additionally, they also offer the opportunity to meet cheetah cubs, if it is possible. The Cheetah Outreach program is the perfect opportunity to not only get really hands-on with the animal, but providing a lot of educational insight, as well.

4 Virunga National Park - the Democratic Republic of the Congo

via: visitvirunga.org

Originally founded to protect the mountain gorillas, Virunga National Park is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If you decide to visit the national park, you have the option to go on a guided trek to see some mountain gorillas first hand. The treks are a bit of a hike, literally. You can spend up to an hour or two hiking up the mountain in order to see a gorilla up close. These giants are very gentle, and amazing to watch and get up close and personal with. As of right now, the park is closed for security reasons, but hopes to open again soon. (Source: VisitVirunga)

3 Parahawking - Nepal

via: cnn.com

Parahawking is truly an experience that will last you a lifetime of memories, and one of the coolest adventures that you could possibly go on. When going parahawking, you are paired with a guide who will go paragliding with you. As you sail through the air, you are accompanied by some sort of bird of prey, flying beside you as you glide. One of the cooler things is the birds will actually land on you as you fly, and they will be rewarded with a piece of meat. This is the perfect opportunity to meet one of these stunning creatures, but fly amongst them, too. (Source: Parahawking)

2 Elephant Nature Park - Thailand

via: elephantnaturepark.org

Elephant Nature Park is a park especially established to take in elephants in need. The park is located in Thailand, and visitors come from all over the world to see these gentle giants. When visiting, you have the option to just spend the day with the animals, watching them bathe, eat, and interact with one another. You also have the option to spend the night in the park, really getting a feel for how these creatures live, as well as getting up close to them. The park also accepts volunteers, and you can help care for these beautiful creatures. (Source: ElephantNaturePark)

1 Pig Island, the Bahamas

via: businessinsider.com

Did you know that pigs could swim? Well, these pigs can! Pig Island is located in the Bahamas and is home to a number of pigs who have adapted to living on the island, and as a result are able to swim in the Caribbean waters. It’s not quite certain just how the pigs got on the island, however, they’re native there now. Upon visiting the island, you can interact with the pigs all you want. They’re used to having humans around, as many tourists visit the island just to see the pigs. Want an interesting vacation story? Tell people you swam in the ocean with a pig from Pig Island! (Source: Bahamas)

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