4 Best Safari Experiences That Aren't in Africa

by Jodi Lucas

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Think “safari” and images of the big five roaming over the vast savannah will immediately spring to mind. Or, if you’re anything like me, you might just imagine Rafiki holding a baby Simba up for all the African animals to see in the Lion King’s most iconic moment.



Either way, Africa has a hold on our collective idea of what a safari should be. But there are plenty of unique safari destinations around the world that offer rare opportunities to encounter exotic animals in their natural habitat.

If going on a safari is on your bucket-list but the journey to Africa is not in your travel plans for this year, then fret not! We have put together a wanderlust-worthy list of the best wildlife destinations outside of Africa that still offer an authentic safari experience.

Costa Rica
Iguanas fighting

This pint-sized country is brimming with curious wildlife to encounter, and what it lacks in size is more than made up for with its incredible biodiversity and the variety of landscapes to explore.

From serene oceans to rugged jungles and picturesque islands, Costa Rica is an eco-tourist’s dream destination. If a tropical getaway is what you’re looking for, then this should be the next place to tick off of your travel bucket list.

Why We Love it:

Costa Rica was practically made for adventure seekers and animal lovers, as it is home to as much as 6% of the world's plant and animal species.

If it is the wildlife you came to see, you’ll most likely encounter rainbow-billed toucans, mischievous white-faced capuchins, wide-eyed ocelots and an array of scarlet frogs while trekking through the region’s rugged rainforests.

Add to the amazing safari scene, high-altitude hiking trails, rushing white-water rapids, simmering volcanoes, and world-class surf breaks, and you’ve got yourself an action-packed itinerary to enjoy.

Best Time To Travel:
Costa Rica

The region experiences two main weather conditions; rain or no rain. This makes deciding when you want to travel super easy! The dry season (from mid-December to April) is the most popular time of year to visit as it offers plenty of sunshine, making it an ideal time for exploring rainforests and lounging on beaches.

That being said, the peak season is also the most crowded and expensive time to travel, so if you’re looking for a budget safari, want to escape the crowds, and don’t mind getting a little wet, then May and November would be the best time to travel.

Our Favorite Safari:

9 Days Eco Nature and Wildlife Tour

From sightseeing in the capital to trekking active volcanoes and wildlife spotting in the lush Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, this action-packed safari tour gives you the very best of Costa Rica. 

Brazil
Amazon rainforest

There is so much more to this tropical paradise than just Carnival and amazing football. Brazil is a prime destination for safari lovers too. This sprawling country boasts numerous different ecosystems, but none more iconic than the legendary Amazon basin which is recognized as having the largest biological diversity in the world. If you’re seeking a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, then this is it.

Why We Love It:

A vacation in Brazil can go from meandering through frozen-in-time colonial towns to trekking through verdant rainforests and sipping ice-cold cocktails on tropical beaches. But, if there is one thing any adventurous traveler must do, it is to explore the Amazon rainforest.

Named after a tribe of women warriors in Greek mythology (the famous Amazons), this fabled rainforest has been in existence for at least 55 million years and is more species rich than the wet forests in Africa! In fact, one in ten known species in the world lives in the Amazon rainforest.

Here you can encounter bizarre and dangerous animals such as bird-eating spiders, piranhas, and anacondas. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then head over to the coral-fringed islands where you’ll see pink dolphins, ancient sea turtles, and thousands of other marine species.

Best Time to Travel:
jaguar drinking water

No matter what time of year you visit this beautiful region, it is always safe to pack a swimming costume. That being said, it can get cool in the evenings during the winter from June to September, so pack a light jacket too.

If you’re headed to the South of the country, the best time of year to travel is from March to November when there is less rain. Both the Pantanal and the Amazon can be visited throughout the year, but it is recommended to travel between July and August. And, if you’re traveling in the Northern region, be sure to arrive between March and July, where the short bursts of rain give much-needed relief from the average 30 ° C temperatures.

Our Favorite Safari:

5 Days Forest Wildlife Adventure Tour in Amazon

Strap on your adventure boots and get ready for the trip of your lifetime! This epic tour takes guests across the fabled Amazonian Island where wild animals and jaw-dropping scenery await. It also includes accommodation, transfers, and meals, so you don’t have to sweat the small stuff. 

 

Cambodia
elephants in jungle

Known for its sizzling street food, majestic temples, and paradisiacal beaches, Cambodia is one of the most awe-inspiring travel destinations. Although small in size, this ancient kingdom is packed full of amazing sites to see and wildlife to encounter.

Why We Love It:

Despite having the eighth wonder of the world in its backyard, it is the region’s amazing scenery and wildlife that puts it on this list! Imagine trekking through rainforests filled with mysterious jungle temples, intricate architectural ruins, and exotic animals by the likes of panthers and wild oxen. And this is just the start of the adventure! There are also amazing beaches and an amazing cultural history to be discovered while on safari here.

Although decades of illegal poaching have taken their toll on the wildlife population, conservation efforts by a number of organizations have stopped many of the regions beautiful animals from going extinct. This means that a safari here gives you the chance to see some of the world’s most rare animal species.

Best Time to Travel:
Cambodia

The country’s warm weather makes it a great year-round destination, but of course, there are a few other things to consider when planning your travel dates. If you want to escape the crowds, then arriving between May and September is your best bet. Keep in mind that it is the rainy season, so be prepared to get a little bit wet. On the plus side, the rain brings down the temperature, meaning it will be much cooler.

If you want to escape the rain and don’t mind the heat, then you should look at traveling between November and March. Although it is slightly more crowded (and expensive), the lack of rain makes it a great time to explore the region’s pristine beaches and national parks.

Our Favorite Safari: 

15 Days Lost Temples and Remote Jungle Safari in Cambodia

Get to know Cambodia with this in-depth safari of the region’s most beautiful places. From sunset cruises to caring for the region’s adorable sun bears and discovering ancient temples, this safari is an eco-tourist’s dream getaway. 

 

India
India Temples

More than just a yogi’s paradise, India is quickly establishing itself as a top destination for wildlife enthusiasts as well! After all, it is hard to resist the intoxicating allure of the iconic Himalayan peaks and the region’s majestic tigers. Jungles and forests are an important part of India’s ecological balance and cover more than 20 % of all geographical areas of the country.

Why We Love It:

When it comes to wildlife encounters, your best chances of spotting the region’s diverse animal life are in the national parks of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Here you can track down and get a real-life view of incredible wildlife by the like of exotic lions, rhinos, elephants and, of course, the royal tigers.

While wildlife safaris are the most popular style of travel, India is also a great place to immerse in a new way of life by going on a cultural safari! The country’s intricately carved religious sites such as the Golden Temple and Konark's rock-carved Sun Temple are a must for any cultural enthusiast, as well as Humayun's Tomb and the iconic Taj Mahal.

Best Time to Travel:

India wildlife

India is so big that there a number of weather patterns existing throughout the country. If you’re traveling in the Northern region and are looking for warm, dry weather then October through to March would be the best time to explore.

Temperatures are much cooler between December and January, but you might be met with a lot of fog. In the southern region, the best time to travel would be after monsoon season, from November onwards.

Our Favorite Safari: 

7 Days Tiger Safari in India

Ever wanted to experience the wild like Mowgli in the Jungle Book? Well, this is the tour you've been waiting for! Meet the real-life Shere Khan while tracking the region’s majestic Royal Bengal Tigers and Witness the exotic locales immortalized by Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book.


Less planning, more traveling! Check out these all-inclusive safaris that give you all of the best adventures without the hassle. 

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