Experts' guide to unusual wildlife
You've heard of East Africa's Great Migration, India's tigers and Canada's bears. But the planet has many more wildlife wonders worth traveling for – from camouflaging cuttlefish to dancing red-crowned cranes. Why not make your next trip truly, uniquely, unusually wild?
Unusual underwater experiences
Manta rays can measure up to six metres across
Manta ray snorkeling in Hawaii
Take to the seas off Hawaii's Big Island for a special opportunity to go snorkeling with manta rays. After a short boat ride along the coast, head into the water and hover over these gentle giants as they gracefully feed on the plankton that accumulates near the surface after dark. These completely harmless and elegant creatures will come incredibly close as you bob at the surface just behind the vessel, making this trip ideal for beginners and expert snorkelers alike.
By USA specialist Carl
Muck diving in the Philippines
The Philippines offers incredible diving and snorkeling. And just off the dark volcanic sands of Dauin, on Negros Island, lie some very bizarre marine creatures indeed. My favorite encounter was with the flamboyant cuttlefish (pictured at the top of this page). It uses the chromophores in its skin to change its appearance like a chameleon. Just after I took this shot, it camouflaged itself perfectly against the dark sand, even taking on the same texture. Critter lovers will also find frog fish, pipefish, blueringed octopi and nudibranchs.
By Philippines specialist Chris
- Experience the unique marine creatures off Negros island with our Grand tour of the Philippines trip idea
Weird & wonderful creatures
A tarsier can turn its head through 180 degrees
Tarsier in Southeast Asia
In the steamy jungles of Southeast Asia lives a tiny bulbous-eyed predator that can turn its head through 180 degrees. Due to their size, tarsiers are difficult to find. For the best chance of seeing them, visit the sanctuary on Bohol Island in the Philippines. In the wild, your best chances would be with one of our hawk-eyed guides in Borneo or, if in Indonesia, Sulawesi.
By Southeast Asia specialist Glynn
- Encounter Borneo's wildlife on our Wild Borneo trip idea
- Try to spot the elusive tarsier on our Bali & Sulawesi discovery tour trip idea
Indian giant flying squirrel
The Indian giant flying squirrel is an upper-canopy dwelling species that travels from tree to tree with jumps of up to six metres. Its main predators are birds of prey and leopards. The giant squirrel is mostly active in the early hours of the morning and found in Kerala and the Satpura Hills.
By India specialist Sophie
- Discover the highlights of Kerala with our Classic Kerala: culture, tea, wildlife & backwaters trip idea
Red-crowned cranes performing their mating ritual
Red-crowned crane in Japan
Japanese cranes are a national icon. Normally migratory birds, a resident population is found in the wetlands of Hokkaido, north Japan. The birds are known for their striking courtship dance, which sees the birds jump, flap, bow, run and toss grass.
By Japan specialist Layla
New Zealand's kiwi
Numbers of these nocturnal, flightless birds have declined dramatically due to the arrival of predators. However, there are some predator-free colonies, such as those in the Ulva Island, off Stewart Island, and the Zealandia Sanctuary, near Wellington.
By New Zealand specialist Christopher
Monarch butterflies roosting in the valleys around Mexico City
Mexico's monarch butterfly migration
Every October, following a journey of up to 3,000 miles from North America, around 50 million monarch butterflies cluster together in the valleys around Mexico City, covering whole tree trunks and branches. These are the only insects on the planet known to do this and, despite a return migration taking four generations, butterflies often end up roosting in the same trees as their great grandparents.
By Mexico specialist Chris
Fruit bat migration in Zambia
Each year in November and December, dark billowing clouds start to roll in over Kasanka National Park, located about 323 miles northeast of the capital Lusaka. However, these murky skies are not bringing rain; rather it is the onset of the largest mammalian migration in the world – the arrival of around five million fruit bats. After a night of foraging on the region's ripe trees, the bats make their way back to their roosts, creating a symphony of chattering and shrills.
By Zambia specialist Vanessa