10 of Our Best Wildlife Photos

Posted on April 21, 2015 by

Last month we started a wildlife theme on Instagram to share some of our animal photography from around the world. It turned out to be quite a hit with our followers. As requested by some of our readers, we’re sharing some of our best shots here with you. For more wildlife shots, please download our free wildlife photography e-book.

As huge wildlife buffs, we love photographing animals in the wild. There’s something about capturing the raw spirit of an animal through body language. Seeing animals in the wild is a very moving experience and in today’s world, it’s sadly becoming more and more rare.

We’ve been lucky enough to have had many intimate wildlife encounters around the world, from the savannas of Zimbabwe to the underwater world of the Galapagos Islands and glaciers of Antarctica. Some of our favorite wildlife experiences include getting up close with gorillas in Uganda, mingling with lemurs in Madagascar, swimming in great white sharks and seeing polar bears in the Arctic.

Here are ten of our best wildlife shots, carefully handpicked from thousands of photos we’d shot from all seven continents. We’d love to hear what you think, please let us know what you think in the comments section below:

A Silverback up close This is by far my favorite wildlife photo as I captured it just when the silverback was staring into my lens. This photo was shot while gorilla tracking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. After just an hour of hiking through the thick, muddy jungle, we found a family of gorillas all lounging around like it was a Sunday afternoon. This silverback was simply sitting by a bush munching on leaves when we first saw him. But as he sensed our presence, he slowly turned to stare at us. >> Read more about my gorilla tracking experience Cheetah spotted in Serengeti

In Kenya’s famous Masai Mara Reserve, we were rewarded with plenty of impressive wildlife sightings: from cheeky little jackals scrambling around the bush, to an elephant family of eight feasting together, a pool filled with lazy hippos, and a handsome cheetah just sitting under a tree a few feet from us. This close up shot of the cheetah shows its gorgeous tear stains beneath its eyes and its immaculate spots.

>> More images from the Masai Mara

A mother and son lion duo in Etosha We were game driving in Nambia’s Etosha National Park onboard a mammoth overland truck – I didn’t expect to see much wildlife up close, any animal in their right mind would be intimidated by the size of our truck. But as we gently slowed down to a halt, we got a good view of what lay ahead and an awed hush fell amidst our group of 20 travelers. A pack of nine lions was lying just inches away from our truck, nonchalantly flapping their ears, yawning and drooling – in spite of our presence. >> More images from Etosha National Park

Zebras in Victoria Falls Nature Reserve During our time in Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve, we were really surprised by how many impressive wildlife sightings we had: from herds of zebras grazing on the grasslands, to kudus galloping amidst the bush, and vultures eyeing the savanna from the top of the Acacia trees. Out of the six black rhinos that call this reserve home, we spotted four of them, as they linger just inches away from our jeep, oblivious to our presence.

>> More images from Victoria Falls Reserve

Lilac breast roller in Sabi Sands Reserve

One of our favorite animals to see on safari is the lilac-breasted roller, a unique bird found in the sub-Saharan Africa. This colorful bird is absolutely gorgeous with its beautiful multi-hued feathers. What makes it really stand out is the way it attracts the opposite sex. During the breeding season the male will rise to great heights, descending in swoops and dives, while uttering harsh, discordant cries. We’d tried photographing it many times, but only on this occasion in Sabi Sands Private Reserve did the bird stay still long enough for Alberto to get a good shot of it.

>> More images from Sabi Sands Reserve

A giant land lizard on the Galapagos Islands

One of the best places in the world for wildlife watching is definitely the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. This group of islands formed millions of years ago from volcanoes, and have been separated from the mainland since then. Through the years, wildlife slowly arrived by air and by sea. These creatures adapted to the conditions of the tiny islands, and evolved into endemic species i.e. the only place in the world where you can find them. These days, unique animals continue to roam freely around the islands – we saw sea lions just lounging by the port at Santa Cruz, penguins swimming in and around us when we snorkeling, giant land lizards (like this one pictured) hiding in the shade and weird blue-footed booby flying overhead.

>> Read about how to travel the Galapagos Islands on the cheap

The Philippine Tarsier in Bohol One of the things that brought us to the Philippines was the maomag or Philippine tarsier. These palm-sized primates are rare endemic creatures found almost exclusively on Bohol  in the Central Visayas of the Philippines The Tarsier Sanctuary, home to over 1,000 tarsiers, is the best place to see them. Just five minutes into our walk and she had already spotted two of the resident tarsiers hiding beneath a leaf.

>> Read the full story

Shark cage diving

In South Africa, we had the opportunity to go shark cage diving and come face to face with the great white. Being in the same water and within inches from such an intimidating animal was just adrenaline-pumping. I could literally feel their vigilant eyes scouting their surroundings for the next bite, and I couldn’t help but think that their next bite could easily be myself if not for the iron bars that separate us. At the end of our cage shark diving experience, we witnessed the most spectacular jump of the day as the great white shark breached high above the waters, right before our eyes. Alberto got the timing right and captured the exact moment of the shark leaping out of the water with its eyes and mouth wide open.

>> Read more about our cage shark diving experience

Watching the penguins at Cuverville

Antarctica stands strongly as my number 1 destination for wildlife experiences. From the moment we crossed the Drake Passage into the Antarctic waters, we were literally surrounded by pods of whales, fur seals, elephant seals and of course, hundreds and thousands of penguins. I snapped more than 2,000 photos on my 8-day expedition with G Adventures and this one above is my favorite – not because it’s skillfully taken, but because it captures that perfect moment on Cuverville Island when my friend and I simply sat on the snow under the bright sunlight and watched as the penguins trotter past us before taking a dip in the ocean.

>> Read more about wildlife in Antarctica

A polar bear in the Arctic

We were cruising under the midnight sun across a vast ice field in the Norwegian Arctic when someone spotted a vanilla-colored fur ball in the midst of the field. We watched through our binoculars as the polar bear playfully lay on its stomach, licking its paw and peeking at us through the ice floes. As we inched closer, the polar bear stood up and approached us, leaping from one ice sheet to another with surprising agility. Lingering close to the bow of the ship, it stood just a few feet from where I was. I held my breathe. We locked eyes. I somehow expected it to growl and roar but all it did was look down, with a glimmer of disappointment in its eyes. Seconds later, it turned around and returned into the vastness of the ice.

>> Watch my video of this intimate polar bear encounter

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

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