Where the wild things are: 10 affordable ways to see exotic animals: Features Article by 10Best.com

Puffins are so darn cute – find them in far northern regions best reached by cruise ships that have Norway or Alaska itineraries — Photo courtesy of Ernst Furuhatt/nordnorge.com

Cuddly koalas and bright-eyed lemurs – how exciting to see them in their native habitat! Yet, that’s usually far off the beaten track and not easily accomplished.

If you’re looking for a guaranteed way to have a close encounter of the animal kind, package tours will take care of every detail of your quest. It’s an expensive way to travel but can assure you that the best effort will be made to help you see the wildlife that inspired the trip.

On the inexpensive side, a trip of your own design can also work very well, but it’s smart to hire a local guide to tap real expertise.

As a third option, cruises may surprise you. Cruise ships can tuck into small ports near remote animal habitats, sometimes making them the most efficient option, as they’ll deliver you right to the doorstep of remote wild critters.

Here are some tips on how to find ten wild things.

Lemurs

Lemurs live on the island of Madagascar off East Africa — Photo courtesy of Mathias Appel/Flickr

Animated movie Madagascar rocketed lemurs to fame. Since then, travelers have been eager to reach Madagascar, the Indian Ocean island home of lemurs.

Costa Cruises’ 14-day sail from Mauritius to Réunion includes three days on Madagascar, where you can trek Lokobe Nature Reserve hoping to spot lemurs. Hike Amber Mountain National Park to find the long-tailed, startled-looking creature.

Costa cruise: From $1,795 per person

Package tours: Madagascar safaris range from $3,000 to $10,000

Do-it-yourself trip: Airfare runs $2,200-$2,500 to Madagascar.  Consider upping your lemur-spotting game with a wildlife tour – guide, car, hotels for $2,000.

Puffins, beluga whales, Shetland ponies

The small, white beluga whale could be spotted in Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park — Photo courtesy of Britt Reints/Flickr

Viking Ocean Cruises’…

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