Wildlife Viewing

My 10 most memorable wild animal encounters

On my morning walk I passed a sign that read Warning: Bear in Area. My first thought was that it’s awfully early in the season. I didn’t end up meeting any big furry creatures, but it got me thinking about the wild animals I’ve seen during my travels abroad and on local adventures in western Canada. Just like memorable monuments, landscapes, or people, wild animals encounters have left indelible impressions on me—most of them positive, and a few not. So, in no particular order, here are my most memorable critter experiences.

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Categories: Wildlife Viewing | Tags: , , , | 61 Comments

Coronado Island, Baja California Sur: 4-Hours of WOW!


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Dolphins next to our boat at Coronado Island, Mexico—C.Helbig

When I look back at our 4-hour visit to Coronado Island, it’s hard to believe we experienced so much natural beauty and marine life in such a short time. From dolphin pods to sea lion colonies to gorgeous white sand beaches, it felt like we had dropped into a National Geographic movie. This little island, just off the coast of Loreto, in Baja California Sur, packs a big punch but is also super accessible. There are plenty of tour agencies in town who will arrange a trip. Or, you can do what we did and hire a panga captain at the Loreto harbour who will take you around the island and make a few wildlife, beach and snorkel stops. Climb aboard and check out Coronado Island. Continue reading

Categories: Mexico, Wildlife Viewing | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

Snorkeling with Sea Lions at Los Islotes, Baja California Sur, Mexico

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My family snorkeling with sea lions at Los Islotes, Baja California Sur—Ruben Sandoval/David Oguey

Two of the best days of my life involved snorkeling with a colony of friendly sea lions. The first, many years ago, was in the Galapagos. The second, a few weeks ago, was at Los Islotes, a small cluster of tiny islands just north of Isla Espíritu Santo in Mexico’s Baja California Sur. The only way I can describe sharing the water with these amazing marine mammals is pure joy. I was completely mesmerized as they surrounded us with their graceful acrobatics. I’m thrilled to be including photos of this intensely uplifting experience (courtesy of fellow guests and ROW Sea Kayak Adventures). Continue reading

Categories: Activities, Mexico, Places, Scuba Diving/Snorkelling, Wildlife Viewing | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Top Moments from La Paz to Loreto—Baja California Sur, Mexico


Paddle boarding at Playa Balandra, Baja California Sur, Mexico—M.Sharp

I just got back from a family vacation in Baja California Sur, Mexico. We were only gone for two weeks but our experiences were so grand it felt like we were away for much longer. I checked off one of my top bucket list wishes—swimming with whale sharks. I danced an underwater ballet with friendly sea lions. I discovered the most beautiful beach on earth. I kayaked through impossibly turquoise water and camped on secluded, desert-backed beaches. I was seduced by the laid-back, friendly cities of La Paz and Loreto (see map at end). I’m sorting through hundreds of photos and have plans for at least four posts dedicated to special places and amazing nature activities. For now, I want to share a few of my favourite moments. Continue reading

Categories: Kayaking, Mexico, Places, Scuba Diving/Snorkelling, Wildlife Viewing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Kayaking with the Whales: Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia

A captivating moment with the orcas in Blackfish Sound—C.Helbig

A captivating moment with the orcas in Blackfish Sound—C.Helbig

I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences in some really beautiful places. Kayaking with the whales in the Broughton Archipelago ranks right up there with the best of them. The spectacular scenery in BC’s largest marine park, off Vancouver Island’s northeast coast, is alone worth the visit. But paddling through waters with orcas (killer whales), and waking up to the sound of spouting humpback whales puts it over the top.

I’m not a seasoned kayaker, nor do I own the necessary equipment. So, I decided to sign up for a 6-day kayaking expedition with Spirit of the West. Great decision! Sadly, Mike couldn’t join me; his back was out. Too bad, I’ll have to go again! Continue reading

Categories: British Columbia, Kayaking, Wildlife Viewing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Mountain Biking at Kruger Park’s Olifants Camp

Trailhead for Olifants Camp mountain biking trips

Trailhead for Olifants Camp mountain biking trips—Caroline Helbig

Mountain biking among the Big 5 in South Africa’s Kruger National Park is a unique and exciting activity, but what happens when a 2000 kg hippo stares you in the face?

Kruger National Park is one of the world’s greatest game parks. Most visitors see the animals from the comfort of a private car or open-air safari vehicle. We did that too, but also opted for a more active adventure—mountain biking at Kruger’s Olifants Camp. Continue reading

Categories: Biking, South Africa, Wildlife Viewing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Buckler’s Africa: A Great Base for Exploring Southern Kruger Park

Lion sighting just minutes from Kruger Park's Crocodile Bridge Gate.

Lion sighting just minutes from Kruger Park’s Crocodile Bridge Gate—Caroline Helbig

Buckler’s Africa, an outstanding small lodge near Kruger Park’s Crocodile Bridge Gate, is a great alternative to the park’s mediocre rest camps and pricey private game lodges. I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this gem of a place.

Buckler’s is a B&B and self-catering lodge only ten minutes from Kruger Park’s Crocodile Bridge Gate. It is a great location for exploring the southern section of the park. Kruger Park is massive, so it’s a good idea to divide your time among two or three locations. We spent a couple of nights at Kruger’s centrally located Satara and Olifants camps—cat and elephant country. Buckler’s became our base for three days of exploring the park’s southern reaches that boost the best chances of spotting the Big 5. Continue reading

Categories: South Africa, Wildlife Viewing | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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