You dream of nursing endangered turtles to health, running with wild horses and seeing lions in Africa. If you are an animal lover, you can easily plan a trip around your passions. Wildlife tourism ranges from extravagant safaris to volunteering at local nature preserves. Here’s a look at how to plan your next safari.
Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the most stunning destinations in the world. Don’t attempt to tackle the park on your own, though. While visiting this park, you need to work with a tour operator. Companies like Wildlife Safari will transport you from Johannesburg and drive you through the national park. Working with experienced tour guides, you are guaranteed to see a range of creatures in their natural habitat. Imagine getting an up-close view of a pride of lions devouring a giraffe or a hippo bathing in a stream while the sun sets in the background. It will be a trip that will change your life forever.
Photo by Nithin bolar k via Flickr
If an expensive safari doesn’t fit into your budget, consider volunteering abroad. Global Vision International (GVI) is just one of the many organizations that helps animal lovers connect with volunteer opportunities abroad. Over the last 15 years, the organization has worked with more than 20,000 volunteers in countries around the world, and it currently offers a range of exciting opportunities. The organization’s wildlife and terrestrial conservation trips include volunteering with lions in South Africa, marine expeditions in Thailand, conservation work in Kenya and even working with wild horses in America.
Photo by Benh LIEU SONG via Wikimedia Commons
A Lifetime of Animal Conservation
If you love animals so much you want to make caring for them a regular part of your life, consider pursuing a career with animals. According to Penn Foster, you can become a vet tech in just a few months. Once you have veterinary experience, you can volunteer for a trip that is devoted to animal care. GVI can match you with opportunities to volunteer with turtles in Mexico or practice your vet tech skills in Nepal.
Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region via Wikimedia Commons
Exotic Animals at Home
There’s no need to jump on a plane to see wildlife. Depending on where you live, you can see and work with wild animals near your home. You simply need to find an animal sanctuary or wildlife refuge. Wildlife refuges provide respite to native wild animals, while sanctuaries provide a home to mistreated exotic animals like Bolivian lions and black bears. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a list of refuges across the country.
Photo by ZoeShuttleworth via Flickr
To be committed to wildlife, you don’t necessarily have to work with animals directly. Instead, you can volunteer to improve or safeguard their habitat. To get started, contact local conservation and wildlife organizations, or the National Park Conservation Association (NPCA). The NPCA has job and volunteer opportunities for people all over the country. You can volunteer at National Parks in various areas.
If there isn’t an organization in your state, call the city parks and rec dept. and they can often help you find volunteer opportunities. You will find jobs like painting endangered trees to deter beavers from chewing and killing them (preserving a living space for birds), or you can even pick up trash—removing fishing line from wildlife areas is critical for safeguarding waterfowl and other creatures.
About the Author
Charlotte Dawson is a park director, animal lover, & freelance writer.