Wildlife reserves offer safe haven to some of the planet’s most vulnerable species and give visitors the opportunity to view them responsibly. Here are five of our favorites:
Where: The headwaters of the Amazon in northern Peru.
What’s there: A staggering amount of wildlife in the air, amidst the trees and below the river’s surface; local villages maintaining long-practiced traditions.
Why it’s notable: Covering 10,000 square miles,Pacaya Samiria is Peru’s largest rain forest reserve.
How you’ll get there: The reserve is accessibly solely by water. Fly to Lima, Peru’s capital, and then take a short flight to Iquitos where you’ll board a riverboat. Outings on smaller excursion boats allow exploration of the reserve’s narrower waterways.
Keep your eyes peeled for: Some of the 22 species of orchids found here—Pacaya Samiria is home to Peru’s largest variety of flora.
Where: Remote, southern Tanzania.
What’s there: More than 13,000 elephants, one-third of the world’s endangered wild dog population, Tanzania’s largest black rhino population, cheetahs, lions, giraffes—the list goes on.
Why it’s notable: Though the reserve is one of Africa’s largest wildlife reserves and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Selous is far less crowded than Tanzania’s more well-known destinations.
How you’ll get there: Fly to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, then take a short flight to the Selous airstrip. With no time to waste, you’ll look for wildlife during the drive to your camp located on the banks of the Rufiji River.
Keep your eyes peeled for: Large numbers of crocodiles and hippos during boating safaris, a popular way to explore the reserve.
Where: Some four million acres of wilderness on the northern part of the Alaska Peninsula.
What’s there: More than 2,000 brown bears—the largest population on Earth.
Why it’s notable: Unobtrusive platforms overlooking Brooks Falls allow visitors—and scientists—to observe the bears up close as they fish for salmon. Visitors may see as many as 50 bears at once. In addition, Katmai is home to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes where the 20th century’s largest volcanic eruption occurred, forever altering the landscape.
How you’ll get there: The park is only accessible by air and sea. On our Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari, you’ll take a small plane from Anchorage to King Salmon and then a floatplane to Brooks Lodge, which is just a short walk to the falls.
Keep your eyes peeled for: Other wildlife, including wolves interacting with the brown bears.
Where: Ten thousand acres of protected area in the north of Borneo, the world’s third largest island and a WWF priority place.
What’s there: A staggering amount of wildlife including many of the planet’s last wild orangutans.
Why it’s notable: Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center is located on the edge of the reserve. The center cares for orphaned and injured orangutans and prepares them to return to the wild. While an orangutan sighting can never be guaranteed, scheduled feeding times make it likely.
How you’ll get there: Arrive in Sandakan after a short flight from Kota Kinabalu. From there a one-hour drive will bring you to Sepilok Nature Resort.
Keep your eyes peeled for: Other notable species, including proboscis monkeys and macaques, found in the reserve.
Where: Western Australia’s northern Kimberley region. Perth, the state’s capital city, is some 1,200 miles away.
What’s there: More than half of the Kimberley’s bird and mammal species, including rock wallabies and bandicoots, and more than 500 plant species.
Why it’s notable: The reserve is considered one of Australia’s most remote locations which, when considering the size of the Outback, is saying something. Due to its difficult location, the region remains largely undisturbed with minimal human influence.
How you’ll get there: There are no roads on the reserve, so you’ll need to arrive by plane or boat. On our Voyage to the Outback, the ship anchors in a nearby basin and guests board an excursion boat to explore Prince Regent River.
Keep your eyes peeled for: The Bradshaw rock paintings—mysterious works of art created by the area’s ancient Aboriginal inhabitants.
By Marsea Nelson, WWF guest blogger