Here are 11 properties and destinations offering one-of-a-kind animal encounters for travelers in 2022 and beyond:
The Singular Patagonia
Right outside the grounds of The Singular Patagonia in Puerto Natales, Chile is an animal lover's paradise. Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia region is considered an Eighth Wonder of the World. Known for its soaring mountains, bright blue icebergs, and deep grey waters, Torres del Paine is home to a lush assortment of wildlife, including guanacos, pumas, the endangered huemul, and over fifteen birds of prey species. For accommodations and access to the amazing wildlife for the region, The Singular Patagonia affords guests the opportunity to discover everything Torres del Paine has to offer through adventurous treks, boat rides, glacier navigations, horseback riding, kayaking, fly fishing, biking, and more.
There is no better place to experience rare animal sightings than the magnificent Galapagos Islands. The islands are full of a variety of birds, marine life and other species found no where else in the world. A famous Galapagos staple, the blue-footed booby has a name that says it all - this breed of bird is easily identified by their bright blue feet. Found exclusively on the islands, visitors can expect to spot chicks in a number of locations, such as on Española and Isabela.
The best way to explore the islands and view blue-footed boobies up close is by joining a Quasar Expeditions sailing. Quasar offers one-of-a-kind cruises on their yachts, the M/V Evolution and the M/Y Grace, allowing guests to spot the islands' amazing animals through hiking, snorkeling and kayaking. During a trip, guests can also expect to see sea lions, giant tortoises, Galapagos penguins, and Darwin's famous finches - all in their natural habitats.
The Saxon Hotel & Villas
Located in the tranquil, tree-lined suburb of Sandhurst, within minutes of Johannesburg's world-class shopping and business hub, the Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, is an exclusive 5-star, all suite-hotel situated on 10 acres of magnificent indigenous gardens. For travelers that have a passion for birding, The Saxon Hotel is home to frequent visitors that make for a prime sighting experience. Some unique birds native to the area include the Grey Louries also known as the Grey Go-Away bird as they can commonly be heard calling “go-way” in alarm when it perceives a threat. Another chatty one home to the Saxon is the Hadeda Ibis that has a habit of waking up the entire neighborhood at 5 in the morning with their non-musical “song” during breeding season of spring-time. The shouting variations of the "HA" call can be heard all over the country and the name "Hadeda" is derived from their call (Ibis is the family of birds that the Hadeda is a part of).
Gaya Island Resort
The rare and unique proboscis monkey, also known as the long-nosed monkey, roam freely in the jungles on the island of Borneo. The endangered species is protected by law in all regions of Borneo and is mostly found in mangrove forests and on the coastal areas of the island. At Gaya Island Resort, set within the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, proboscis monkey preservation is at the heart of their Gaya Island Resort Wildlife Centre program. At the wildlife centre, the resort’s Resident Naturalist leads programs to preserve the island’s endangered proboscis monkeys, research and rescue wildlife species and create nature trails around the island.
During a visit to the resort, guests can spot a few of the rainforest's 100 monkeys in their natural habitat while on the property's Proboscis Monkey Jungle Trail and observation platform, as they learn about the rescue programs. Other exotic animals that can be seen by guests at Gaya Island include turtles, boobook owls, bearded pigs, red giant flying squirrels, and more.
A 12-day exploration through three of Tanzania’s most spectacular landscapes, Unseens Tanzania is a bespoke itinerary by travel company, Niarra Travel, that offers intimate encounters with Africa’s wildlife. Through this slow, minimalist adventure through Tanzania’s remote wilderness, guests directly support wildlife conservation and local community initiatives.
After an overnight stay in the city of Dar es Salaam, guests venture to the heart of Tanzania for a three-night stay in Kichaka Frontier at Ruaha National Park, East Africa’s largest protected area. Through the savannahs, woodlands, swamps, and riverine forests on expertly guided game walks, guests will encounter one in ten of Africa’s lion species, the third largest population of wild dogs, and a stronghold of cheetahs.
Travelers then fly west to Katavi National Park, visited by just a few hundred people each year. Here, a raw and rewarding landscape of grassland plains, marshlands, lakes, and rivers have remained untouched and are home to a diverse array of wildlife for guests’ private viewing. From the intimate Chada Katavi Tent, guests can peer out onto Chada Plains as elephants and giraffes amble between tents.
Along the clear waters of Lake Tanganyika, Mahale National Park features jungle-clad peaks that slope down to meet the palm-fringed, powder-soft beaches. Both a relaxing escape and wildlife encounter, Mahale National Park is known as the best location for chimpanzee encounters and offers some of the clearest, untouched waters for a refreshing sunset swim. Guests will enjoy kayak adventures and guided chimpanzee trekking through incredible surroundings.
Nestled in the Alpine region of Arosa at 5,900 feet is the Valsana Hotel the first hotel in Switzerland to be powered by an Ice Battery. Inspired by nature and the surrounding Alps, the property boasts 49 rooms and apartments, a spa and a lobby, lounge and restaurant that seamlessly bend together to create a rustic, open concept giving the Alpine backdrop center stage throughout the hotel. With a central location in the middle of town, visitors can hike and bike the area’s Alpine trails, take a boat out on one of the many lakes and visit the Arosa Bear Sanctuary.
A collaboration between the destination of Arosa and international animal welfare organization Four Paws, The Arosa Bear Sanctuary provides a safe forever home for bears coming from poor living conditions. The sanctuary currently houses two bears (with two more on the way) formerly used for entertainment, and is open year round for visitors of all ages to learn about the animals, giving them a sort of purpose and making a connection with the species. And, with the addition of the Adventure Trail, similar to a treetop path, travelers now have even more opportunities to view and learn about the bears.
The only mammal covered in scales, pangolins are a real prize to see on safari. As one of the most trafficked animals in the world, pangolins will roll into a tight ball and omit a distinct stink to protect themselves from all sorts of predators. Being that Pangolins prefer sandy soils and woodlands, the best time to see these creatures in action would be in the Dry Season which occurs through October and begins in May. According to Tswalu Kalahari Researcher Wendy Panaino, “One of the reasons Pangolins are so difficult to spot in general is that they are nocturnal or crepuscular, though in cooler months and drier periods they will sometimes be more active during the day.”
Set in the green Kalahari, Tswalu is South Africa’s largest privately-owned reserve and home to one of the world’s leading pangolin research teams. Its low-impact, high-value approach to ecotourism ensures that revenue flows directly back into conservation work. With experts like Wendy at the forefront of this Pangolin research, guests can join Wendy in the field as she studies the pangolin’s diet and how climate change is impacting their life cycle. Guests of Tswalu enjoy their own private game drives and have the opportunity to work side by side with guides and trackers to catch a glimpse of the majestic wildlife in action. When on safari with Tswalu, guests are not only able to see the Big 5, but are welcome to get off of their private vehicle to join their guide and tracker in the red Kalahari sand to examine a set of tracks to lead them to the animals, including pangolins.
After a day of exploring the Kalahari, guests can unwind at the Motse, a secluded “village” of nine recently refurbished dwellings, each complete with an open viewing deck. Beds are situated to maximize guests’ views of the wide-open Kalahari landscape, complete with sweeping vistas and greenery. (from $1,820 per person, all-inclusive) For groups traveling in larger numbers, Tarkuni Homestead is a stand-alone estate, featuring five-bedrooms (from $13,630 per night, all-inclusive)
The Principal Madrid
Spain has one of Europe’s largest populations of bird species, and all of them can be seen within the Province of Madrid year-round. According to the American Birding Association, many of northern Europe’s birds winter in Spain, including Common Cranes (which pass through Madrid in migration), an increasing number of over-wintering European White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), and a wide variety of waterfowl. Around February, Barn Swallows appear, and many Africa-wintering water birds massively arrive in March. Other migrants, however, rarely arrive before April. By August, many birds are once again on the move.”
Walking through the center of Madrid, it’s possible to see House Sparrows and Rock Pigeons, along with the very similar but more arboreal Stock Dove (Columba oenas), which nests in sycamores lining such main streets as the north-south Paseo de la Castellana. For accommodation, The Principal Madrid offers the city`s most extraordinary views and central location. The luxury property boasts a singular location, unique décor and gastronomy, and unmatched services. Located in the heart of Madrid, elegant rooms and suites round out an exclusive stay in the heart of the city.
Tucked away in the Khwai Private Reserve between Moremi Game Reserve and the Khwai River, Hyena Pan is a private piece of big-game Africa, featuring authentic and intimate wildlife encounters. The eight tents look over a lagoon amongst a grove of cathedral mopane trees, providing undisturbed views of elephants and herds splashing in the lily-filled waters. With the simple, stylish tents are ensuite bathrooms and twin beds that can fold out into doubles; each tent is solar-powered
Guests can spend an afternoon in the ground level hide, a favorite amongst photographers, and capture some shots that you’ll remember for life; Hyena Pan is located next to the only permanent source of water for miles around (a magnet for wildlife – elephant in particular), you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your room for top-notch wildlife-watching. Nomadic herds of buffalo and elephant; lions, leopards and wild dogs fiercely defending their territories; and herds of dainty antelope dotted across the can be witnessed across the plains on early morning and afternoon game drives. From the perfectly-positioned private deck, guests can enjoy constant, up-close elephant and hippo sightings from the splash pool or outdoor dinner table. Private, informative guides provide in-depth and entertaining game walks to for a true safari experience.
For those looking to get up close and personal with marine life, Protaras and Ko Samui are the hottest spots for the coolest underwater experiences. THIRDHOME is the premier travel club for second homeowners who share a mindset for luxury and exploration, and THIRDHOME Rentals offer homes in destinations all over the world where guests can expect high standards in luxury, including two luxurious properties on these islands where guests can see the local marine animals in the crystal clear waters.
The owners of this Seafront Deluxe Villa with Direct Access to Waters in Protaras, Cyprus are an active family who enjoy taking maximum advantage of the sea, and want guests to experience that same luxury. They have chosen this four-bedroom property because it can support their favorite activities: direct access to the water for canoes, windsurfing, and even a small dock for those that own a speed boat. The property is also a gateway to the amazing snorkeling amidst Cyprus’ ancient ruins. Cyprus is known for its snorkeling, featuring some of the best snorkeling in the Mediterranean – much of the sea life that live in the coral reefs surrounding the small island will be visible on the local snorkeling trips.
Guests at this Beachfront 5 BR Villa in Amphoe Ko Samui, Thailand will be thrilled to take the ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Tao. Koh Tao, which translates to literally mean Turtle Island, is the scuba diving destination of choice in Thailand. The warm, clear waters are the perfect place for guests to catch a glimpse at the abundance of sea turtles. After a day of scuba diving, guests can return to their extravagant villa at its dreamy beach front location in one of the most sought-after locales on the island, Fisherman’s Village on Bophut Beach.
Perched high on a sandstone ridge overlooking the shimmering expanse of the Malilangwe Dam, Pamushana Lodge is set within one of Africa’s last truly wild places. The 130,000-acre Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve remains as close and as untouched as possible, populated with endangered black rhino and healthy populations of cheetah, wild dogs, and leopard. At Pamushana Lodge, the eight suites and private plunge pools create unique wildlife encounters from within the lodge, each detail heavily influenced from the rich, tribal history of ancient Zimbabwe. The series of staged and interlinked platforms provide deepened connections with the landscapes and surrounding wildlife the lodge was built into. Twice-daily game drives lead by Singita’s experienced and passionate guides are an intimate way to connect with the surrounding wilderness. Guests will encounter giraffe, zebra and wildebeest along the Banyini Plains and sable antelope and Liechtenstein’s hartebeest in the eastern and southern mopane woodlands. These wildlife sightings usually take place during the twice-daily game drives, but Singita Pamushana also offers guests a unique wildlife experience in a well-camouflaged photographic hide at one of the waterholes. At Pamushana, a safari that’s both soothing and inspiring with luxurious comfort awaits guests yearning for a true wildlife encounter.