The 12 best places where you can see wildlife up close

From face-time with Rwanda’s mountain gorillas to leopard spotting in Sri Lanka (and great white tagging off Cape Cod), we share some of Earth’s most interesting—and experiential—wildlife encounters. Check out the full list here:
  1. Cheetahs, South Africa
    There’s no denying Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve is a haven for big cats, but as a safari-goer, you’re more likely to get those prized shots of a cheetah in South Africa. Photo courtesy: Getty
  2. Wildebeest Migration, Kenya and Tanzania
    Each year millions of wildebeest in search of lush grasslands migrate between Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and the contiguous Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Photo courtesy: Paul Rubio
  3. Mountain Gorillas, Rwanda
    Coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla—a creature that shares 97 percent of our DNA composition—is arguably the ultimate wildlife encounter. Photo courtesy: Paul Rubio
  4. African Lions, Tanzania and Botswana
    Insider’s tip for lion-spotting: Skip the national parks and head to more remote lodges on private concessions, where off-roading and night driving are permitted, and the number of vehicles is limited to the number of guests on the land. Photo courtesy: Getty
  5. African Bush Elephant, Namibia
    Elephants impress in any habitat, but there’s something extra special about observing them in Namibia, where they’ve adapted to the harsh desert climate. Photo courtesy: Paul Rubio