Guestpost by : Kate Himalaya
For me, the best part of traveling is when I get to experience the different and exotic wildlife of different countries. By spending most of my living in the Midwest, it is hard to come across interesting flora and fauna in the wild unless I travel to a unique location.
The closest I have come to seeing something exotic this year is when I saw a ferret running through the woods while on a hike a couple of weeks ago. I have a friend whose most exciting experience with wildlife in the middle of the country was a close encounter with a mountain lion while on a hunting trip; not the kind of excitement that I tend to seek out.
Iguana in Galapagos Islands
The good thing for me is that I don’t stay in the Midwest for extended periods of time unless my job calls for it. By exploring places like Australia, taking safaris in the heart of Africa, hopping on Galapagos Islands cruises, and even exploring Bangkok; I’ve had some pretty nifty wildlife encounters. Here are a couple that hit a soft spot every time I think about them:
The Heart of Africa
Of course, I have to include my journey to Africa on my exotic animal list. It’s hard for most people to not think of animals when they conjure up images of the great African plain lands. On my trip to Africa, I was lucky enough to witness one of the most impressive things in my entire life. I saw a group of lions try to attack a hippopotamus only to have their attempts made futile when the giant beast decided to fight back. The hippo is one of the most aggressive and violent creatures, contrary to its depiction in popular culture, and is the number one killer of man on the entire continent (and that’s including lions, crocodiles, and cape buffalo too).
Australia is the marsupial haven of the planet. While journeying through the outback I was able to see kangaroos, wallabies, dingos, and too many emus to even count. The most interesting animal I encountered in the land down under was the platypus. Before going to Australia I always thought of the platypus as an awkward and goofy looking duck. Our tour guide on the trip informed me that the platypus was actually able to generate venom through spurs on its hind limbs.
The Galapagos Islands
While taking a cruise to this unique archipelago off the coast of Ecuador, I was able to see one of the most majestic creatures I’ve ever witnessed; the Aldabra Giant Tortoise. These creatures aren’t like the garden variety turtles your kids find roaming through the backyard and keep in your basement. They can live up to 200 years and grow to over 600 pounds.
Monkeys in Bangkok
If you’ve seen The Hangover 2, then you know firsthand how cool it would be to have a monkey do your bidding. What I didn’t know before I went to Thailand’s largest city was that citizens dress the monkeys up and have them perform in a monkey theater. They are trained to lip sync to songs and perform tricks for an audience. Good luck trying to get anyone in the states to train a group of monkeys to perform on American Idol.
I am so grateful that I get to travel the world to see more than squirrels and weasels in my backyard. If you’re an animal fanatic like me, I suggest packing up and flying halfway across the globe to see what you’re missing.
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia