The Anti-Tourist

I like to beat new paths for myself.

Traveling for animal lovers

By 14:34:00

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One of the most amazing things about traveling to a destination is meeting other explorers. It’s hearing their tales, finding out their backstories, and sharing that fleeting bond before heading in your different directions. The other thing we love finding out about these kindred spirits is ‘what’. What brought them here in the first place? Sometimes it is the culture, or they are volunteering, or they ended up here while hitchhiking they way to there.

A lot of the time, though, it is a person’s amazing love for amazing animals that stirred their soul and made them take the trip. These are the tales we love hearing most because, well, we share this planet with some of the most amazing creatures and there is something special about hearing about or even seeing, a bond between humans and animals.

So, if this is what keeps your heart pounding and your body moving, traveling and exploring, then this list is for you, no matter what animal you care about most.

Pandas
There are only about a thousand giant pandas left in the world, and the majority of them are rolling about in China, or thereabouts. We’ve never seen a giant panda, but we met this amazing person recently who spent four weeks working with protected pandas in Chengdu, as part of a volunteer program. The chance to mingle directly with these animals was etched right across their face; the smile said it all.

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Elephants
These are about as close to mythical as any animal can get; so gracious and mesmerizing, gentle and breathtaking. The African elephant is the world’s largest land animal, but they are so one of the most vulnerable too, which is why so many choose to volunteer with elephants. Ivory poaching remains a big business despite the illegality of it. But it isn’t just poachers that are the threat, it is the expanding population of humans and human conflicts that are a threat too. This is what tugs at the heartstrings of so many travelers that have spent time trying to help vulnerable elephants, and rightly so.  

Whales
Seriously, who isn’t impressed with the awesomeness of whales? They are just so majestic, but they need to be seen in their natural habitat; not locked up in some small tank in the USA. The question is where? Well, pretty much every traveler we have ever spoken to about whale-watching has mentioned one of two places; Australia or Canada. If you really care about this giant of the ocean, please make sure you book a whale-watching tour with a company that cherishes the need to be eco-friendly. We’ve done enough damage as humans, try not to add to it.

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Orangutans
These are one of our favorite animals. There is just something about them, something so honest looking. Unfortunately, though, they are nearing extinction, especially in places like Sumatra where deforestation is so rife. That’s why we spend about an entire week researching how we could help, and the most hands-on experience you can get, one that is a real commitment to bettering the world, is a six-month program in Sumatra. Here the volunteers work alongside orangutans facing a seriously uncertain future and do their best to reintroduce them into the wild, hopefully for a happily ever after without but’s.

Monkeys

You have to go to Japan if you love monkeys because not only do you get to see them playing about in hot springs, you can also bath with them too. Yeah. In Yamanouchi, you can bath with a monkey in a natural spring. We know this isn’t saving the planet, or doing your part for an endangered species but, to the locals, these monkeys are godlike, which is why they are never chased away. Like we said, they are allowed to soak in the steamy waters. What could be more amazing than that if you love monkeys?

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