American Way: Close Encounters


Close Encounters
All you need is a passport, a desire to travel the world and a love of animals, and you’ll find that it’s not difficult to unearth a cornucopia of animal encounters in some of the world’s most amazing destinations. From swimming with dolphins in Australia to sipping wine among peacocks in Portugal, here are some of the top travel experiences for animal lovers.

1. Swim with marine iguanas in the Galápagos Islands. Anyone can take photos of giant tortoises from the main tourist spots, but with Metropolitan Touring, guests stay off the mainland at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel and have access to daily boat excursions where local experts guide you to some unreal animal encounters, like lounging with sea lions on Santa Fe Island or swimming with the marine iguanas on a snorkeling adventure.

2. Sip port wine with peacocks in Portugal. Vintage port is apparently the trendy wine this year, and there’s no place you’ll feel more stylish than sipping it across the road from The Yeatman Hotel in Vila Nova de Gaia, where a flock of flawless peacocks roams the grounds of the Taylor Fladgate port-wine aging cellars.

3. Swim with dolphins in Australia. Temptation Sailing is the first boat in South Australia with a dolphin-swim license, allowing passengers to hop into the open waters for a dip with wild dolphins. For those not wanting to get wet, the crew offers an afternoon tea between November and March where you can eat cake and sip martinis while the dolphins entertain you from the waters below.

4. Release sea turtles in Mexico. Not only can you adopt a baby Golfina sea turtle through the wildlife-conservation program with Baja ­Outback, but from August to November, you can actually join the team and release your little one by hand into the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.