O.K. so there are two categories of people in this world: those who love animals, and those who don’t. I fall into the former. In first grade, we had Mammal Zoo Day; I dressed like a killer whale, wrapping a toilet paper roll with blue construction paper and putting my high ponytail through it like a blowhole. The other lower schoolers made their way around the geographic regions painted along our gymnasium’s walls, hearing mammal facts from all the cheetahs and giraffes. Only one other first grader stood with me in the oceanic section, dressed like a manatee, but I didn’t care because I loved Orcas and wanted to be one more than I wanted to stand with all my friends as a cheetah.
Which gets me to my next point. If you fall into my same category (you know, the animal lover one), whatever you do, DO NOT GO TO SEAWORLD! I have seen the documentary Blackfish at least four times— I told you, I’m obsessed with killer whales— and I have become very passionate about the subject. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about the poor treatment of the whales in captivity at SeaWorld, which includes the separation of mothers from their calves, inbreeding, and confinement to small cages. All of this fosters aggression to the point where the whales end up lashing out at the trainers. Point of my story? Don’t go to SeaWorld, but if you love animals and want to know the top vacation spots to check out, look at the list below.
1. Ubud, Bali:
Great for: the Monkey and Elephant obsessed
Recommended by: @Leahliyah
The Experience: When Leah traveled to Udub in Bali, she came home with stories from the Monkey Forest and Elephant Sanctuary. Some of her highlights? Feeding the monkeys and using the elephants like a taxi service. One came to pick her up from her hotel to take her to dinner that night!
2. Africa: South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana:
Great for: People wanting to experience The Lion King in real life
Recommended by: @NomadicMatt
The Experience: In a few of his blog posts, he calls Africa “God’s Zoo” and
in this article here, he recommends six of the best safaris. You can sleep in tents on the camping grounds of these places and witness the wildlife in their natural habitat at all hours of night— an experience I’ve added to my travel bucket list.
3. Queensland, Australia:
Great for: Those whose parents could never get them out of the pool when they were younger— “you’re going to turn into a fish!”
Recommended by: @YoungAdventuress
The Experience: Liz Carlson said that the best part of Tropical North Queensland is the Great Barrier Reef, and I agreed that it’s a must-do when you’re in the area. You’ll swim through the translucent blue water, passing tropical aquatic animals and walls of coral like you’re in the real-life Finding Nemo. Just beware of the extremely poisonous box jellyfish!
4. Reykjavik, Iceland:
Great for: Horse Lovers
Recommended by: Me
The Experience: I haven’t been to Iceland, but it’s definitely on my list of top vacation spots to explore before I die. I first saw pictures from Iceland on Facebook. My friends posted an album. In some images, they were standing in front of a glacial skyline with a cotton candy-pink sky, their hands reaching out to pet these copper-colored ponies. Then, a few photos into the album, these same beautiful, wild horses were sticking their heads through the window into my friends’ car. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen! And apparently Reykjavik horse tours are a thing, so why not!
5. Exuma (Big Major Cay), Bahamas:
Great for: People with the motto: pigs are friends, not food!
Recommended by: Huffington Post
The Experience: Have you ever seen Uptown Girls? Well, I’m pretty sure that anyone who ever watched that movie immediately wanted to own a pet pig. I mean, my roommates and I wanted to buy one this year, but we realized we’d be in quite a fiasco if the pig wasn’t still teacup-size when full-grown. To avoid this issue, just go to this beach at the Bahamas where you can swim with wild pigs. I’m already planning my 2016 spring break trip.