Getting relief from troubling times through nature – and maps

Today is Map Monday, but all the maps I’ve been looking at are awfully depressing. They seem to offer yet more evidence of what poor decisions humans have made throughout history. I thought I’d see what maps I could find that tell us about the animals that inhabit the world instead. Once I got past maps of what animals are endangered or extinct thanks to the poor decisions of humans, I settled on simple maps that show us where we are still able to observe the beauty and majesty of animals in nature … that is once we are able to travel again! Meanwhile, we can watch them close up and personal on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.

You can click on any of the maps or images to zoom in on them. Image credit: Dieter Braun

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about Speech Day and the amazing animals of Botswana. Botswana has to rate at the very top of anyone’s animal viewing list. Bar none. But there are other options that are very worthy of being added to your own personal animal-viewing list.

Fairly recently I ‘gave’ another technology-enabled grandmother speech to one of our sons’ families in a city currently off limits. This ‘speech’ was called “Choosing the best wildlife trip”. (Of course, what it should have been called was choosing the best wildlife trip after Botswana, but I did explain that in my presentation. And I did explain that I was not suggesting that we were going to take them on the trip they chose; this is purely hypothetical!)

In fact, there are obviously way more than 3 or 4 astounding wildlife trips on offer around the world, but these three make a good starting point, after Africa. I’m going to give you the overview and see which trip you would pick if you could only choose one. And if you’re keen, another week I could take you on some other virtual wildlife tours, like to Costa Rica and Borneo. Or maybe to see the amazing herds of buffalo roaming the broad valleys of Yellowstone. Or all the places in the world for unbelievable whale-watching.

Here we go. Let’s suppose you are offered, as a special treat, ONE special wildlife trip, bearing in mind that nothing will ever measure up to wildlife viewing in Botswana – or maybe Kenya or South Africa, or Tanzania.

Which will it be? Your choices are:

  • Galapagos Islands
  • Madagascar
  • Canadian High Arctic and Greenland

Each one has different unique animals, unique geology and geography, unique history, and unique cultures.

First, let’s take a look at what the Galapagos Islands have to offer. The Galapagos were first made famous for Charles Darwin having spent time here while on his around-the-world voyage collecting animal and geological specimens. Many of the animals that live here are not found anywhere else in the world. Some are only found on their one tiny island in this group of islands. The animals are not afraid of humans at all; you can lie on a pristine beach next to sea lions and iguanas. Try snorkeling or scuba diving. As a bonus, you could pair this trip with a visit to Ecuador’s upper Amazon region.

Now, let’s take a look at Madagascar. Madagascar split from the African continent over 160 million years ago. The Malagasy people who live there are descended from seafarers from Borneo, Polynesia, and east Africa. There’s a French influence to their food, which is always a good thing. The only place on earth where you can find lemurs and several other species of animals. It’s a poor country and it is difficult to get around, but fascinating and unique.

And, finally, let’s take a look at what we’d see in the High Arctic. What isn’t special about the high Arctic. History and culture of 12,000 years of indigenous habitation. History of the European explorers trying to find a way to Asia, through all that ice and cold. All those amazing animals. All those amazing icebergs. You probably only want to go there between July-mid-August; it’s pretty darn cold the rest of the time, but has the bonus of nearly 24-hour days in mid-summer.

And so,

I know what our family chose, and it surprised us. What about you? Which of these three special opportunities would you choose? Why?

Let me know if you’d like to have further around-the-world wildlife trips to think about. There are lots more!


This entry was posted in Map Monday, Wildlife Wednesday and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Getting relief from troubling times through nature – and maps

  1. Love the detail within that top Map Jane, and while I love the Arctic and have been to the Canadian Columbia Icefield’s. The Galapagos Islands hold such a wealth of species and would keep me fascinated for a very long time 🙂

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Good choice, Sue. The Galapagos are special in a way that I hadn’t thought about before we were there. They don’t have the overwhelming power of the size and quantity of the animals one finds on the African plains or of the vastness of the African plains. They have a sense of wonder and delight that has nothing to do with size, quantity, or power, but instead imbues its visitors with the wonders of nature through its mysteries of differentiation on small scales and the honour of walking with animals that accept your presence as no threat (hopefully their instincts remain correct) and just carry on with their daily routines.

  2. Jean says:

    The local zoo backs onto a popular bike path and one can see the poor 2 muskox ….Poor things..they can’t run around. I find the muskox and narwhal just fascinating. I would have to go the Arctic ouside of mosquito and deer fly season!

    Maybe Madagascar…because it will include culture also.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Yes, zoos without enough space or inappropriate climates are sad. You make a good point about the bugs in the far north, Jean! There’s a reason why so many birds fly so far to nest there – lots of insects to eat. But the high Arctic is pretty well bug-free. And there’s the culture of the Inuit, both historical and current, to observe and learn about. For us, Madagascar is the one we haven’t been to, so if traveling were an option … !

  3. iidorun says:

    Galapagos is on my bucket list! I hadn’t thought of Madagascar – I think the kids’ movie turned me off, but now, I will have to reconsider. And as much as the Canadian high arctic looks fascinating, I am not so much a fan of the cold…I can’t wait to travel again!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Funny, my granddaughter said the same thing about the Arctic, and she lives in Ottawa, the world’s coldest national capital! The Galapagos were on my bucket list from the time I was a teenager, along with the Grand Canyon. Both exceeded all expectations. 😊

  4. They’ve de-horned the rhino in captivity, a measure to keep them safe. 😔

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know. It’s sad beyond measure although it’s done with very good intentions. My understanding is that poaching started to increase again with the arrival of COVID because the tourists were no longer there and the poachers had less chance of being caught. It’s hard to win, isn’t it.

  5. Pingback: Getting relief from troubling times through nature – and maps – Musings and Wonderings

  6. dfolstad58 says:

    I love the first map Jane, lovely when I looked at full screen. My first thought was Madagascar but then I saw 90+ snakes, it was the birds I wanted to see. Then I thought Galapagos but when I looked at the Canada far north I realized I need to see more of the north in my own country. I really enjoy being outside and it would be cool to see a narwhal. Final answer – Canada Far north definitely. I will start packing now. 🙂

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Good choice, David. We’ve been to the Galapagos and the far North. Not Madagascar – yet. Tough choices, but my husband and I chose the Arctic as well. It’s simply mesmerizing, knowing that people live there in that compelling landscape, seeing polar bears with their cubs on the ice. Amazing. Go for it!

  7. LA says:

    Ok…you’re making me choose one? Galapagos…..

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