The first time I saw a blue-footed booby in the wild, I was memorized. It was on North Seymour Island in the Galapagos archipelago, and the aptly named avian with its yellow eyes and clumsy gait wandered up to me, looking my way inquisitively. I couldn’t stop staring back. From then on, I saw them everywhere—meandering through the brush, perched on stoney beaches and guarding fluffy chicks. Still, they remained a highlight of my Ecuador ‘safari,’ storied isles where ancient tortoises, marine iguanas and sea lions roam. 

Although safaris are synonymous with Africa, plenty of other places around the globe (like the Galapagos) are just as incredible when viewing wildlife. Here are five of our favorites from Boreno’s jungles to South America’s Amazon Basin. 


There’s nowhere else on Earth where you can see wild, tree-hanging orangutans, bearded pigs and long-nosed proboscis monkeys all in one place. Located in Southeast Asia’s Malay archipelago, Borneo is the third largest island in the world. This rugged expanse of vast rain forest, coastal swamps and mangroves, and expansive beaches is home to three distinct countries—Malaysia and Brunei in the north and Indonesia to the south—with plenty of extraordinary wildlife throughout. The island’s Kinabatangan River alone is home to 10 primate species, including maroon langurs and Bornean gibbon. While saltwater crocs feed in its waters, pygmy elephants lumber along its banks. Birds such as rhinoceros hornbills keep an eye on the goings-on from high without the forest canopy. 

Sun Bear Conservation Center malaysia borneo

Photographed by Nat Hab Expedition Leader © Court Whelan at the Sun Bear Conservation Center

On Nat Hab’s Wilds of Borneo: Orangutans & Beyond adventure, you’ll have a chance to track down many of the island’s rare species: embarking on guided nature walks through dense jungle to observe orangutans swinging from branches and traversing lush mangrove trails to check out bearded pigs, a ‘cultural keystone species’ for Borneo’s Indigenous groups. Civets, flying frogs and clouded leopards spring to life at night, while frogmouths and white-rumped shamas add their melodic bird songs to the soundscape. 

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center (BSBCC) in Sabah offers the best opportunity to take in both orangutans and sun bears, the smallest bears on the planet. 

Australia’s Daintree Rainforest

At 460 square miles, the Daintree Rainforest is known for its remarkable diversity and some pretty quirky wildlife. Prehistoric-like southern cassowaries, crocodiles up to 16 feet long, and amphibious platypus are all inhabitants of this world’s oldest rain forest in Queensland, Australia. The former are native only to the forests of New Guinea and northern Australia and are easily recognizable by their helmet-like crests, sharp three-taloned feet, and enormous size—they can stand up to six-and-a-half feet tall. 

Southern cassowary, Daintree National Park

Southern cassowary, Daintree National Park

Approximately 90% of Australia’s butterfly and bat species also reside in this spectacular setting of untamed wilderness, where rainforested hillsides give way to long sandy beaches. Less than 90 miles south sits the Atherton Tablelands, a prime place for tracking down rare Lumholtz’s tree kangaroos. 

Travelers on Nat Hab’s new 21-day Ultimate Australia Safari will get an up-close look at both the Daintree and the Atherton Tablelands, as well as other wildlife-heavy locales. These include southern Australia’s Kangaroo Island, which has one of the largest koala populations. The island’s offshore status helps all its wildlife—kangaroos, wallabies, adorable spine-covered echidnas, and even New Zealand fur seals and Australian sea lions—thrive. 

The trip also pays a visit to Tasmania, Australia’s largest island and one sporting wildlife found nowhere else on Earth. We’re talking endemic birds like the small, greenish-gray, forty-spotted pardalote, eastern quoll marsupials, and the legendary Tasmanian devil, a squat, sharp-toothed carnivore with a menacing screech and a mischievous nature. Wombats, identifiable by their stubby tails and stout, rounded build, are also common across the island. 

British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii 

On Haida Gwaii: Islands at the Edge of the World, Nat Hab travelers set out on an intimate sailing voyage through these northern Pacific islands, often called the Canadian Galapagos because of their distinct wildlife. Made up of more than 200 islands, this archipelago is one of North America’s richest biological sites: a windswept and wild place that’s brimming with forests of old-growth cedars, Sitka spruce and western hemlocks, all shrouded in mist. Among them, endemic animals such as Haida ermine—a loveable little weasel with big eyes and a mouse-like head—and Haida Gwaii black bear, the islands’ largest native land mammal, have evolved in isolation over thousands of years. 

Humpback whale breaching in British Columbia

Humpback whale breaching in British Columbia

Since being introduced in the 19th century, Sitka deer have become abundant across the islands, while Steller sea lions, Pacific white-sided dolphins and whales—especially humpbacks—are often visible in the surrounding nutrient-rich waters. More than 1.5 million seabirds make their way to the region for its large amounts of available fish and plankton, and bald eagles abound here, too. Keep an eye out for unique avian subspecies like the endangered Haida Gwaii northern goshawk, a year-round raptor whose population is now less than 50 adult birds, as well as tufted and horned puffins. 

The Amazon

More than three million species live in South America’s Amazon rain forest, making this incredible ecosystem one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. Nat Hab’s Great Amazon River Expedition cruises along the coco-colored waters of its remarkable river, touring Peru’s Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in search of spider monkeys, colorful macaws and pink river dolphins. At five million acres, this mix of vast jungle and flooded whitewater forest attracts nature lovers. It’s popular with birders, who look for short-tailed parrots, crimson-crested woodpeckers and black-collared walks. Capybaras, giant river otters and pygmy marmosets reside here as well. Expert guides point out hard-to-spot wildlife, like three-toed sloths nestled in the foliage of cecropia trees, during rain forest walks and while sailing around tributaries. Green iguanas, Amazonian manatees, saddleback tamarins and caiman lizards are regularly on view. 

Family of capybara on the shores of the Amazon River in Manu National Park, Peru

Family of capybara on the shores of the Amazon River in Manu National Park, Peru

Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula

Costa Rica has one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity of any place worldwide. You’ll find more than half of its flora and fauna on the Osa Peninsula, a wide stretch of land that makes up the country’s remote southwestern tip. Its vast rain forest is teeming with tapirs—with their short legs and elongated noses—and Costa Rica’s largest remaining jaguar populations. 

costa rica rainforest wildlife

White-nosed coati photographed on Nat Hab’s Natural Jewels of Costa Rica © Lynne Bergbreiter

At more than 163 square miles, Corcovado National Park sits at the heart of the peninsula’s wildlife action. Hiking trails wind through thick jungles, where two-toed and three-toed sloths reside in the tropical evergreen canopy, and white-nosed coati forage the ground for insects. On Nat Hab’s Natural Jewels of Costa Rica, you’ll spend two days in Corcovado on the lookout for spider monkeys, white-faced capuchins and tamandua anteaters. The park is also brimming with some spectacular birdlife, including keel-billed toucans and white-crowned parrots, and is one of the last habitats for endangered scarlet macaws. 

In addition, our partner Lindblad’s 8-day Costa Rica & the Panama Canal adventure cruise includes Golfo Dulce (Costa Ria’s only tropical fjord), whose mangrove forests are ideal for spotting crocodiles and caimans. A visit to Panama’s Coiba National Park offers even more opportunities to spot wildlife. This UNESCO World Heritage site is made up of 38 smaller islands, a special zone of marine protection that shelters manta rays, hammerhead sharks, and—between December and April—whale sharks, and the largest island in Central America, 194-square-mile Coiba Island, a haven for more than 30 bat varieties.