A fascinating new photo book reveals the ultimate places for spotting your favourite animals.
The A To Z of Watching Wildlife, published by Lonely Planet, was written by acclaimed British biologists Amy-Jane Beer and Mark Carwardine and in total, 300 ‘exciting and unusual creatures’ are featured.
The experts provide details around each critter and reveal some of the lesser-known places on the map where travellers can find them. Scroll down for a sneak peek of the new tome – a round-the-world safari from the comfort of your chair…
For a very memorable whale encounter, travellers are urged to head out on a kayak in spots including Hawaii
If you dream of seeing humpback whales in the wild, blowing and exhibiting their incredible acrobatic ability, the Lonely Planet experts recommend heading to Hervey Bay in Australia where known individuals visit each year on migration.
Apparently tour boats are decked out with underwater microphones, so the haunting whale song can be heard.
Also, memorable kayak encounters can be had in spots including Hawaii, Alaska or the Saguenay-St Lawrence Marine Park in Québec.
The tarsier is the world’s second-smallest primate, fitting snugly into the palm of an adult’s hand. It has the largest eyes relative to body size of any mammal
The tarsier is the world’s second-smallest primate, fitting snugly into the palm of an adult’s hand. It has the largest eyes relative to body size of any mammal.
They’re also known for being the only carnivorous primate, feasting on insects – and occasionally birds and small mammals.
The Lonely Planet experts note that while they live across a swathe of Southeast Asian islands, including the Philippines and Malaysia, the pygmy tarsier was rediscovered on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in 2008, having thought to be extinct. The Tangkoko-Batuangas Dua Saudara Nature Reserve is noted as being one of its accessible homes in this area.
The keel-billed toucan boasts a colourful bill, which it can use with ‘surprising dexterity and delicacy’ to gather fruit and insects to eat
The keel-billed toucan boasts a colourful bill, which it can use with ‘surprising dexterity and delicacy’ to gather fruit and insects to eat.
The experts say that the ‘clownish’ and ‘playful’ birds fly as little as possible and prefer to hang out together, feeding and roosting.
While keelbills live in southern Mexico, northern Colombia and Venezuela, it is also the national bird of Belize. The naturalists note that the feathered critters can be seen on the mainland and are also present on Belize’s barrier reef islands such as Ambergris Cay.
The mysterious narwhal, with giant protruding tusks, are notoriously tricky to spot
The mysterious narwhal – known as the ‘unicorn of the sea’ thanks to the male’s protruding head tusks – is a notoriously tricky creature to spot.
For those who wish to see the shy sea mammal, the Lonely Planet book directs readers to head to the edges of the Arctic ice, and up to the Nunavut communities of Pond Inlet, Resolute and Arctic Bay.
The experts say that one of the signs of a narwhal pod being in the area is ‘the sight of a spiralling “horn” piercing the water like King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur’.
The koala is considered one of Australia’s cutest native marsupials with big teddy bear-like ears and shiny black eyes
The koala is considered one of Australia’s cutest native marsupials with big teddy bear-like ear, shiny black eyes and a sleepily-slow pace of life.
Its large head apparently contains shock-absorbing fluid in case of a tumble while relaxing in a tree. The Lonely Planet experts add that it also has one of the smallest brains of any mammal relative to body size.
While koalas are present in the groves of eucalyptus in Townsville, Queensland, southern Victoria and South Australia, the biologists recommend less-known spots to see them including You Yangs Regional Park near Geelong, Victoria and Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
Travellers are advised to wear bright clothing and tie bells to their backpacks to help keep bears at bay. Pepper spray is another recommended measure
The Lonely Planet experts highlight that the brown bear has the largest range of any bear species.
While Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is a popular place for sightings, the Wild Brown Bear Centre near Vartius on the Finland-Russian border is revealed as a top spot, with continual light and safe hides to hang out in.
Travellers are advised to wear bright clothing and tie bells to their backpacks to help keep bears at bay. Pepper spray is another recommended measure.
The monarch is one of the world’s best-known butterflies with its distinct orange, black, and white coloured wings
The monarch is one of the world’s best-known butterflies with its distinct orange, black, and white coloured wings.
The insect is also famed for its mammoth migration, which takes it on a journey covering up to 3,000 miles.
For a less commercial encounter with the colourful creature, the Lonely Planet experts recommend heading to the Piedra Herrada sanctuary, south of Mexico City. The winter colonies around the cities of Pismo Beach and Goleta in California are also said to be astounding, while in the summer, Point Pelee on the northern shore of Lake Erie, Ontario, is tipped as a top spot.
Japanese macaque living in Joshinetsu National Park are famed for bathing in hot springs during winter and they are also found on the main islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu
The Japanese macaque, also known as the snow monkey, is able to survive harsh winter temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius.
Those living in Joshinetsu National Park are famed for bathing in hot springs during winter and they are also found on the main islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.
But the Lonely Planet experts say a troop living on Koshima Island off Kyushu display an equally interesting habit, with them dipping pieces of food in seawater to season it, mimicking human behaviour.
The red underside of a kea’s wing can be seen as it lands on a patch of rock in New Zealand’s Mount Cook National Park
The kea is the world’s only alpine parrot with its home around the higher altitudes on New Zealand’s South Island. Along with having a striking red colour under its wings, it is known for being extremely clever, with the ability to complete a range of tasks.
Over recent decades, the ground-nesting bird – which feeds on berries, seeds, leaves and grubs – has come under threat with the introduction of imported predators such as cats and rats.
The Lonely Planet experts reveal that Arthur’s Pass National Park, located deep in the New Zealand Alps, offers regular sightings, especially along Scotts Track to Avalanche Peak.
To see large concentrations of lesser flamingo, travellers are advised to head to alkaline lakes such as Natron in Tanzania, the salt pans of Etosha National Park in Namibia, Makgadikgadi in Botswana and at Kamfers Dam in South Africa
The lesser flamingo is the smallest yet most abundant species of flamingo, the Lonely Planet experts note, with populations ‘widespread across southern Africa, the African great lakes and Rift Valley, as well as extreme West Africa, Yemen and India, principally the western state of Gujarat’.
To see large concentrations of the long-legged pink birds, travellers are advised to head to breeding grounds around alkaline lakes such as Natron in Tanzania, the salt pans of Etosha National Park in Namibia, Makgadikgadi in Botswana and at Kamfers Dam in South Africa.
The flamingo gets its striking pink plumage from its diet, which consists of microscopic shrimps and algae.
While Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania are popular places to see cheetah, other places offering sightings include Etosha National Park in Namibia and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the South Africa-Botswana border
The cheetah is the world’s fastest sprinter – it can reach 60mph in just three seconds.
While Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania are popular places to see the spotted beauties, other places offering sightings include Etosha National Park in Namibia and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the South Africa-Botswana border.
The Lonely Planet experts point out that critically endangered Asiatic cheetahs are restricted to central and northern Iran.
Despite being called glowworms, these bioluminescent creepy crawlies are in fact beetles, not worms
Despite being called glowworms, these bioluminescent creepy crawlies are in fact beetles, not worms. The adult beetles glow to attract a mate, while the larvae lights up to entice prey.
In New Zealand, there are dozens of spots to see them, with the showcaves of Waitomo in North Island being the best-known and most popular location.
However, the Lonely Planet experts say that glowworms can be seen in ‘other caves and sheltered areas of woodland’ all over that area, where there’s a bit more peace and quiet to watch the magical scene.
A pride of lions sit among the golden grasses carpeting Hwange National Park in west Zimbabwe. The area is also home to large elephant herds and African wild dogs
Many wildlife fans flock to Kenya’s Masai Mara and the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater National Parks in Tanzania in a bid to see lions.
But the Lonely Planet experts say that spectacular sightings can also be had at the slightly lesser known parks of South Luangwa and Kafue in Zambia or the Okavango Delta or Chobe National Park in Botswana.
For a ‘lion encounter with a difference’, travellers are advised to head to India’s Gir Forest National Park as it is one of the last places where short-maned Asiatic lions can be seen.
To catch glimpse of the magnificent emperor penguin, travellers must journey to the frozen wilds of Antarctica
To catch glimpse of the magnificent emperor penguin, travellers must journey to the frozen wilds of Antarctica.
The Lonely Planet experts say that it’s best to head south during the Antarctic summer from November to January, as ‘the breeding grounds are in striking distance of open water (usually via helicopter) and there are chances to see parents and young on land and in their element at sea’.
When picking an expedition company to travel with, they add that it’s best to select an itinerary that stops at spots including Gould Bay and Snow Hill Island.
There are different species of giraffe dotted across Africa, from Kenya to Somalia
There are different species of giraffe dotted across Africa, from Kenya to Somalia.
While some of the species are in decline, the Lonely Planet experts say that populations are actually increasing at Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda, Etosha in Namibia and Kruger in South Africa.
And incredibly, at Kouré in Niger the critically endangered West African subspecies has increased tenfold in 20 years.
For the best chance of seeing a Bengal tiger, the Lonely Planet experts direct travellers to central India and Rajasthan
For the best chance of seeing a Bengal tiger, the Lonely Planet experts direct travellers to Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh in central India and Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan.
Other areas are said to have ‘larger or denser’ populations but they are more difficult to access, with swampy terrain.
But the journey is said to be well worth it, with the sight of ‘the world’s largest cat reclining in a glade, bathing, patrolling a dirt road with lazy confidence or threading through trees’ being a memory to ‘last a lifetime’.
African savannah elephant
While elephant populations in east and south Africa have apparently become fragmented due to human intervention, Botswana’s Chobe National Park is highlighted for having the largest remaining group
The Lonely Planet experts say if ‘the lion is Africa’s king of beasts’, the elephant, ‘the world’s largest land animal, might be its high priestess’.
They add that ‘an encounter in the wild leaves you in no doubt you’ve been touched by greatness – three to six tonnes of it’.
While elephant populations in east and south Africa have apparently become fragmented due to human intervention, Botswana’s Chobe National Park is highlighted for having the largest remaining group.
Three Arabian oryx traverse the golden sands in the Desert Conservation Reserve near Dubai. The white antelope is famed for being the origin of unicorn myths, with them sometimes only showing a single horn when viewed from the side
The Lonely Planet experts reveal that the Arabian oryx is famed for being the origin of unicorn myths, with it sometimes only showing a single pointed horn when viewed from the side.
In the late 20th century, the svelte white antelope was apparently on the brink of extinction but thanks to conservation efforts, it became the first species to have its status downgraded from extinct in the wild to vulnerable.
The biologists say that for the best chance of seeing oryx in its natural environment, travellers should head to reserves including Wadi Rum or Shaumari in Jordan, Sir Bani Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, or the area around Ein Shahak in Israel.
The biologists highlight that giant tortoises were once widespread, but they suffered drastically from poaching and over-exploitation, with the gentle giants slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells
The biologists highlight that giant tortoises were once widespread, but they suffered drastically from poaching and over-exploitation, with the gentle giants slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells.
They are now found on remote island areas, with the Galapagos being one of the best-known spots for getting up close to them.
However, the experts note that giant turtles (a different species) can also be seen on the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, with smaller populations on other islands in the archipelago, as well as on Mauritius and nearby Rodrigues, and Changuu Island off Zanzibar.
Polar bear populations have been hit by climate change, with the depletion of sea ice leaving them stranded and exhausted from long swims to the next viable spot
Lonely Planet’s A-Z Wildlife Watching is out now , priced at £19.99 for a hardback copy
Polar bear populations have been hit by climate change, with the depletion of sea ice leaving them stranded and exhausted from long swims to the next viable spot.
The biologists note that commercial sightseeing tours run around the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, and Churchill on Hudson Bay in Canada is another popular spot.
However, there is also the possibility of seeing the majestic bruins around the quieter northern areas of Alaska, Russia, Greenland and Scandinavia.
Lonely Planet’s A-Z Wildlife Watching is out now, priced at £19.99 for a hardback copy.