Rwanda is best known for its gruesome and brutal civil war in the 1990s that resulted in one of history’s worst cases of genocide and murder. It has taken a long time for the country to heal from its wounds and a lot of work remains to be done, but for the first time in a long while, Rwandans are beginning to see the future with optimism and hope.
Though Rwanda’s beautiful scenery and fauna is often overshadowed by its turbulent recent history, there’s no doubt that the country is one of the world’s most unique and beautiful places to view wildlife. Besides boasting a beautiful landscape, Rwanda is also home to a significant portion of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas.
Mountain Gorillas, because of their remarkable intelligence and similarity to humans, are a captivating and fascinating animal. Unfortunately, rapid industrialization and conflict have threatened the very survival of these gorillas. Less than 1,000 are estimated to remain in the wild and without a lot of help, the gorillas could soon be gone forever.
Rwanda has in recent years restructured its national park program and has begun to take advantage of its newfound stability to welcome thousands of travelers annually to these parks. Travelers come from around the world to take walking safaris through the area’s mountainous forests in the hopes of seeing one of the mysterious and beautiful gorillas. The influx of cash from the tourists has given the Rwandan conservation efforts millions of dollars to help protect the gorillas.
Alaska, United States
The Last Frontier”, Alaska is 650,000 square miles of isolation and tranquility. While its human population is small, the state has an abundant wildlife community with everything from Kodiak bears to bald eagles. The landscape isn’t too bad either. Especially beautiful parts of the state include the Aleutian Islands, which are surrounded by frozen and wild waters, and the Denali National Park, home of the jagged Mount McKinley.
There are many different ways to see Alaska’s wildlife. Marine life enthusiasts can embark upon whale watching tours from Seward, where there are gray whales, orcas and even humpback whales! Denali National Park, on the other hand, is the place to see land-dwelling animals such as grizzly bears, caribou, moose and more.
One fun adventure that is possible in Alaska is a dogsledding trip. Alaska is, after all, the home of the annual Iditarod sled dog race. Don’t worry though, travelers don’t have to undertake the grueling race to experience dogsledding. Many companies offer day-trips and weeklong adventures through Alaska’s frozen wilderness.
Amazon Rainforest, South America
The Amazon Rainforest – the world’s largest – is a hot, remote and mysterious place. Intersected by the Amazon River, the rainforest borders eight countries and is larger than most countries. More than 1/3 of the world’s animal species call the rainforest home, but much of what lies inside the rainforest is still a mystery. New tribes, plants and animal species are found in the forest almost every year.
Despite the Amazon’s immense importance to the global environment, logging and deforestation persist at an almost unchecked rate. In the last few years alone the rainforest has lost an area the size of Greece! Environmentally sustainable tourism isn’t a cure-all, but it can help stem the rate of deforestation in the Amazon. The long-term money generated by tourism, if done right, can provide an incentive to communities and regions to preserve the natural habitat.
One interesting way to see the rainforest is via a river cruise down the Amazon. This is the world’s largest river and one of its longest, stretching over 4,000 miles from Peru to the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil. Many cruises depart from the Brazilian city of Manaus. There are also jungle lodges in the Amazon that offer tourists a unique way to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the rainforest.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands are a tiny piece of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. The islands were once a stopping point for the HMS Beagle and its soon-to-be-legendary geologist Charles Darwin. Darwin developed his theory of evolution after observing the unique characteristics of the islands’ wildlife and their adaptations to the local environment.
It’s been almost 200 years, but the islands’ wildlife is still inspiring to travelers. The most famous residents are the green sea turtles, sea lions and the iconic Galapagos land iguana. Scuba diving is the best way to get up close and personal with the islands’ marine life. There are several operators that offer scuba diving trips to the islands and it’s even possible to swim with more dangerous animals like sharks!
Getting to the Galapagos isn’t easy or cheap and for conservation purposes there’s also an annual cap on visitors. But travelers who are persistent enough to make it to the islands are rewarded with a striking landscape that few have ever seen and animals that people have been talking about for centuries. Winning!
Botswana is nourished and well preserved by mother nature, in fact, the whole nation is practically one big national park! The country has one of the world’s most conservative environmental policies and has tailored its tourism market to the upscale eco-traveler in an effort to bring in much needed cash, without risking the environmental impact of mass tourism.
The Okavango Delta region in the country’s north is particularly renowned for its biological diversity. It’s the world’s largest inland delta and the stamping ground of many of Africa’s big names such as: lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, rhinos and giraffes!
To experience the Okavango Delta and its wildlife visitors can stay at one of the area’s many luxurious game lodges. The typical experience at one of these lodges involves taking two daily safaris – one in the early morning and one just before dusk – with the rest of the day spent lounging, birdwatching and eating fantastic food!d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’).appendChild(s);