Albatross (Falkland Islands)
Photograph by NGT
Black-browed albatrosses alight on these rugged shores to nest before returning to the seas for months of feasting. Close Encounters: The largest colonies roost on Steeple Jason and Beauchene Islands. Lindblad Expeditions stops at the privately owned West Point Island.
Jellyfish (Eil Malik, Palau)
Photograph by David Doubilet, NGS Image Collection
Millions of golden jellyfish thrive in this South Pacific island’s Jellyfish Lake. By day, they follow the sun’s movement east to west across the lake. By night they migrate vertically—all in pursuit of vital nutrients. Close Encounters: Tour operators on the island of Koror offer snorkeling trips to the lake. The jellyfish’s stingers are harmless to humans, but snorkelers with sensitive skin are urged to wear a wet suit.
Walrus (Round Island, Alaska)
Photograph by Michael Melford
Each summer, up to 14,000 male walruses haul out on this remote island in northern Bristol Bay, basking in the sun. Close Encounters: Limited one- and five-day permits are issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Five-day permits allow camping on the island. Two miles of trails provide occasions to spot sea lions and puffins.
Flying Fox (Australia)
Photograph by KEO Films
Little red flying foxes (aka fruit bats) blot the sky in the search for eucalyptus blossoms. While roosting in trees (below), mothers will wrap their young in their wings. Close Encounters: A good place to see them in large numbers is in the Atherton Tablelands of north Queensland. They camp during the day, then disperse spectacularly by the thousands at dusk.
Burchell's Zebra (Botswana)
Photograph by Beverly Joubert, National Geographic Stock
When zebras move to fresh feeding grounds, their stripes help protect them from predators as long as they stick together—making them indistinguishable as individual animals. Close Encounters: Tour operators running safaris include Wild Botswana and Greenlife Africa Safaris.
Photograph by Joe Riis, NGT
Spring and Fall
Best seen in May, a small band of these icons of the American West still follows the longest land migration in the continental U.S., from Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin north 150 miles to Grand Teton National Park, to reach their fawning grounds—then back again. Close Encounters: Biologist Joel Berger of University of Montana and the Wildlife Conservation Society says the best viewing sites in the park are at Kelly Hayfields and Elk Ranch. Outside the park, the Red Hills and Black Butte areas also provide good vantage points.
Photograph by Anup Shah
Wildebeests migrate in a loop between the Serengeti and the Mara, but deadly crocodiles lurk in thirst-quenching waters. Close Encounters:Rekero’s tented camp occupies a prime location for migration viewing in the Masai-Serengeti ecosystem.
Subscribe to Nat Geo Traveler
Available in print and for iPad®! See destinations come alive with 360-degree photos, videos, and more!