Playing with Animals in the Wild

The Daily Beast recently published a story about “Where to Play With Monkeys and Other Animals in the Wild,” and I’ve got to say, the first two experiences they list are slam-dunks on the “envy-enducing meter” of adventurous vacations. Snorkeling with humpback whales? Walking with cheetahs? (On the beach no less!) Lots of cool things to check out for sure—and for good measure, I’ll share some of my favorite memories of interacting with the wild.

1. Swimming with stingrays (Mo’orea, French Polynesia)

There’s nothing better than scooting around a tropical island on a flat-bottomed boat—especially when you know that you’re on your way to play with ocean animals. Swimming with rays was much more fun that I expected. They’re surprisingly adorable when you feed them, and “jump” around you like a dog does when it wants a treat.

2. Everyday Elephants (All over Thailand)

The frequency of elephant encounters were one of my favorite things about living in Thailand. For just 2 Baht you can feed an elephant—so it’s up to you whether you’re feeding them on the beach, amongst ancient ruins, in a small town, or on a hike. You can probably write your own Dr. Suess book about it, actually.

3. Tiger Tourism (Kanchanaburi, Thailand)

I wrote a long-form post about how much fun this one was (check it out here)—if you’re in Thailand, this is a must.

4. Plunging with Penguins (Cabo Frio, Brazil)

Ok, the alliteration is getting old. This was probably the defining moment of my Brazil trip, mostly because we had no idea that there were penguins in Brazil. Apparently they occasionally frequent Brazilian beach towns outside of Rio. Who knew?