5 unique, once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experiences


It’s true; the plains of Africa, and the rainforests of Asia and South America, offer some of the most thrilling wildlife experiences on the planet. However, along with traditional safari wildlife encounters, there’s a whole host of unbelievable destinations and wildlife encounters you might never have thought about. From Alaskan grizzlies to the birds of a remote Atlantic island, consider the following as being among the ultimate experiences for all wildlife lovers.

Extreme Hawaiian shark encounters

Sharks, terrifying or fascinating? Whatever your deep-down feelings are, this once-in-a-lifetime exhilarating opportunity to get up-close and personal with the denizens of the deep will stimulate your emotions, and give you stories to last a lifetime.

In a specially constructed cage submerged below the waters of the Hawaiian Pacific, get an eye-to-eye encounter from behind the safety of thick, reinforced windows – offering crystal clear visibility – of the kings and queens of the ocean. In the company of professional naturalists, along with experiencing a blood-pumping adrenaline rush, you’ll learn about the shark’s biology and its importance in the natural order of the planet’s ecosystem.

Bird, dolphin and whale watching in Madeira

Churned into life and magnificence by the action of submarine volcanoes over many millennia, Portugal’s Atlantic island of Madiera and the surrounding archipelago are both stunningly beautiful and remotely isolated. The oceans around the islands are teeming with a great diversity of marine life, whales, dolphins, turtles, and an amazing proliferation of seabirds.

This sublime wildlife experience will see you set sail from Machico Harbor in a sturdy rigid-hulled inflatable vessel, perfect for the task in hand. On this unique adventure, you’re likely to spot striped and bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales and sperm whales who are drawn to the area to feed and play. As a bonus, you may even be lucky enough to get a sighting of the largest creature to have ever lived on land or in the waters of planet earth, the Blue Whale.

Bioluminescence kayak tour in Florida

Not as well known as Africa’s Big Five, but, the tiny single-celled marine organisms Dinoflagellates add their own brand of spectacular beauty to the world of wildlife. Bioluminescence is the characteristic that turns these tiny creatures into the glowing stars of the animal kingdom. Florida’s Banana River, close to Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island, is home to one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena, the eerie nocturnal bioluminescence of millions of these microscopic creatures.

Disturbed by the wake of your kayak the creatures flush with blue/white electricity, creating an unforgettable and natural marine light show. Immerse your hand or kayak paddle into the water and watch the ensuing lights flicker and dazzle. This is a once-in-a-lifetime encounter and one which might even be intensified by the presence of other wildlife visitors such as dolphins or the elusive manatees who inhabit the region.

Winter wildlife and Alaskan wildlife conservation center

Conservation of wild animals is essential to their species’ survival. This incredible – non-profit – Alaskan Wildlife Conservation experience will give you an overview of the importance of these centers, the type of work in which they are engaged – the care of injured or orphaned native animals species and their return to the wild – and an insight into the variety of wildlife inhabiting the vast Alaskan wilderness.

You will see wildlife roaming in habitats as close to their natural home as possible while they engage in their rehabilitation process. Meet brown bears, wood bison, musk ox, and caribou while learning about efforts to protect their habitats and avoid human-wildlife conflict. Located at Portage Glacier your journey to the center will take you past Turnagain Arm and the Chugach Mountains, giving you the opportunity to also view and photograph animals in their natural environment. This is the perfect wildlife experience for anyone with a genuine love of animals and their conservation.

Chitwan safari in Nepal

Nepal rarely springs to mind when discerning wildlife lovers think of safari experiences, but that’s about to change. The Chitwan National Park was the first national park in Nepal, established in 1973 and given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1984, and is home to some of the most amazing wildlife experiences in all of Asia.

On your Chitwan wildlife experience, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter Indian elephants, leopards, crocodiles, rhinoceros, monkeys, snakes, amphibians, butterflies, a huge selection of native birds, and of course, the indigenous Bengal tiger. This specialist safari will take you deep into the national park to witness the great diversity of the Nepalese ecosystem. Featuring jungle hikes, a visit to an elephant stable, and a wildlife canoe ride, your sensational safari wouldn’t be complete without witnessing unique sunsets and the hospitality and friendliness of the local Tharu people.

Linas Ceikas is CEO and Founder of Tinggly. Tinggly is an experiential gift company offering you the chance to give unique experience gifts in lieu of material possessions, ideal for all discerning travel-lovers.

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Comments (14)

  1. T. York says:

    I’m more a “safe” kind of person and would rather save the more dangerous activities to the youngsters. Though that shark cage dive can be a story you can boast over and over again, but really not my cup of tea. I love the bioluminescence kayak tour. I’ve only experienced a similar tour with the fireflies in Palawan, Philippines. Pretty amazing.

    • Brendan says:

      My favorites would be the Nepal safari and the whale watching in Madeira (which a pretty spectacular place anyway, even without the whales).
      I’ve seen the bioluminescence in East Africa and that really is something special.
      But sharks, as much as I love them, no thanks, diving with them is not for me.

  2. Lydia Haigh says:

    Put me down for the nocturnal bioluminescence tour please but please leave my name off the shark experience. I think watching Jaws has just framed how many of us perceive sharks. It’s probably unfair but I’m afraid that our movie watching habits have shaped our attitudes.

    • Tracy Walker says:

      That’s a good point, I do think our views are shaped by things like that more than we perhaps realise sometimes. For me, it’s reading news stories of people mauled by sharks that’s made me see them in a more vicious, dangerous light and as something to be feared rather than looked at through a glass cage.

    • Brendan says:

      I love watching sharks in the wild, and from the safety of a boat. But the big word is ‘Wild’. Having been on many wildlife safaris you get to know that wild animals are just that, wild. They follow their instincts, they don’t have emotions like being mean, vicious, or attack just for the fun of it.
      So, yeah, shark diving is not for me.
      The Nepal safari looks amazing though.

  3. Tim says:

    Interested to read the footnote: Tinggly is an experiential gift company offering you the chance to give unique experience gifts in lieu of material possessions, ideal for all discerning travel-lovers.

    I think that just about sums up my grown-up children! You can’t fob them off with socks and scarves. They’d love some of these experiences. Maybe as a honeymoon wedding present. For birthdays and Xmas I think we can stick to toiletries and slippers.

    • Rob says:

      Your kids sound like mine. It’s the Millennials’ experience thing isn’t it? They want to do things rather than own things. Well, if that’s what they want I’m happy to go along with it occasionally – 21st birthday present, engagement present etc. Though for their 23rd, 24th etc it will probably just be an Amazon voucher.

    • Brendan says:

      It’s amazing how popular experience gifts have become, with all ages.
      I think we’re all getting tired of collecting stuff we don’t need.

  4. Piers says:

    The trouble with “once in a lifetime experiences” is that are just so utterly fantastic that not only do I want to do them again but I also want to share them with my family and friends. Perhaps I ought to show a bit more self restraint?

    • Brendan says:

      What I love about experience gifts is that the person who has the experience gets to enjoy it, and then I get to hear their incredible stories. But yes, I do get jealous a lot. I’d love to try everything, but I’m afraid I’m not brave enough for many of them.

  5. Tracy Walker says:

    I’m still not sure what to think of these shark dive experiences. I’d definitely want to do it with a reputable company and a good quality cage with the thickest, strongest glass possible! The kayak tour in Florida to see the bioluminescence is so interesting, though a little scary to be out there doing it at night. Another one I’d want to feel secure with the choice of guide and tour operator for!

    • Brendan says:

      No matter what you do, even going for a walk, if you choose to go with the wrong person the whole experience can be ruined.
      I do know that most of the really popular experience gift companies hand-pick their experiences and only use the most reputable.

  6. Dick says:

    This was a great idea for a post and a brilliant idea for a travel company too. Never mind experiences for the Millennials I think some of these once in a lifetime trips would do us oldies good. I’ve heard a few people say that every now and again you need to do something that challenges you and scares you. I think we all need to be shifted out of our comfort zone every now and again. It’s all too easy to go back to the hotels and resorts that you now and love. I had a phase where I went to Barbados for 7 years in a row but then I felt that it was all getting a bit too cosy. Time to consider some of these options seriously.

    • Brendan says:

      A beach in Barbados sounds wonderful, but there’s very few stories you bring back from two weeks sipping cocktails. Personally (and I’m 57) I love adventures with wildlife. I’ve been on hundreds of African game safaris and never get tired of them. I’m not one for jumping from aircraft or bungee jumping, but there’s still thousands of ways we can push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Even simple things like trying new foods can be a challenge for many.
      My advice – Go do it! And good luck.
      Let us all know if you do.

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