I didn’t grow up with a pet so I didn’t have many experiences with animals as a kid, that’s probably why for a while I wasn’t really too fussed with them. I’m not saying I didn’t appreciate a cute little puppy but I probably didn’t share the same love for animals as my mates who had pets. Once I started to travel that all changed because when you get up close and personal with wildlife in their natural habit is a truly amazing experience, it’s actually pretty crazy!
The first time I met the elephants was in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I was lucky enough to know the lady who managed the park so I was able to go in after hours to wash and feed these giants, it was a special moment but also pretty scary at first because they were massive! That first encounter made me keen to have more and tick even more wildlife off the list.
The problem arises in Asia is that there are a lot of places which are unethical and should be avoided at all costs, so do your due diligence before choosing which place to visit. As a rule of thumb you should always avoid zoos and water parks, instead try to meet these animals in their natural habitat. Here are 3 places where I had my most memorable moments of wildlife adventures in Asia.
My first encounter in Siem Reap was magical but the experience in Chiang Mai was much better, it also felt a lot more ethical. Here you will find plenty of top organisations helping to care for elephants, they have been rescued from mistreatment after being used for logging or tourism. I went to a sanctuary where I was able to volunteer for a week helping to take care of the elephants, this was first class and so much better than just walking past them in a zoo. If you’re in Thailand please do not go to any of the Tiger Temples, they’re super unethical and shouldn’t exist – you can read plenty about them online.
One of the most stunning places in the world is also one of the best places to get a close look at marine life. The crystal clear waters provide the best opportunity for you to clearly see the likes of whale sharks in all their glory – swimming alongside whale sharks in the Maldives sounds pretty incredible right? Well, that’s because it is. There are also lots of volunteer programs you can sign up to if you want to give back during your visit. Of course this destination isn’t the cheapest but if you plan carefully you will find some great budget options.
Kosgoda, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka isn’t the biggest country in the world but it has a long list of wildlife experiences for visitors. The best thing to do here is experience sea turtles, every year the beaches are full of turtles who come to lay there eggs. Kosgoda is the place to go where you can learn about the conservation work organisations are doing and if you plan your dates properly you may be lucky enough to watch baby turtles being released on the beaches – that’s a very special experience indeed.