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10 great places for a North American safari


“The Tetons are perhaps the most iconic mountains of the American West,” Chandler says. The Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, just outside the park, offers a four-hour safari led by a wildlife biologist. “This outing begs you to look closer at the animal component of the ecosystem … the elk, moose, bears and wolves that really keep things interesting.” As “junior ecologists,” kids get hands-on specimen samples, including animal scat, claws and skulls. 307-732-5000;

Wild Animal Safari 

Pine Mountain, Ga. 

Have you ever seen a liger, vervet or southern pig-tailed macaque? Hop on one of the park’s tour vehicles, and you might. Or take a self-drive through the preserve featuring animals from six continents. “It’s sure to be easier than driving in Atlanta’s traffic, just an hour and a half away,” Chandler says. 800-367-2751;

San Juan Islands 


Score some one-on-one time with resident killer whales on an afternoon kayaking trip to this group of islands located near Vancouver, British Columbia. Among the outfitters is Sea Quest Expeditions, with guided trips through the whales’ favorite feeding and play areas. Here in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains, you’re also likely to see bald eagles, harbor seals (also known as rock sausages), Steller sea lions and minke whales, Chandler says. 888-589-4253;

Monarch butterfly preserves 

Various locales in Mexico 

The annual monarch migration is “nothing short of a miracle,” Chandler says. “It takes several generations of butterflies to complete a single migration. Amazingly, the butterflies know their way every year, even though the butterflies returning are the great-great-grandchildren of the butterflies that left the previous year.” Among outfitters offering guided trips: G Adventures. 888-800-4100;

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve 


“Grizzly bears rule the roost in this 4-million-acre behemoth,” Chandler says. Among the ways to spot them: an overnight trip organized by Silver Salmon Creek Lodge. The outing incorporates fishing, other wildlife viewing and sea kayaking. 888-872-5666;

La Paz, Mexico 

For jaw-dropping scenery, this Gulf of California city doesn’t disappoint. Same goes for the wildlife. Dive shops, including Baja Expeditions, offer two-tank dive packages starting at $50 per person, Chandler says. “Snorkeling with sea lions is an option for non-divers,” she adds. And if you’re lucky, you’ll spot whale sharks, giant Pacific mantas and hammerhead sharks. 800-843-6967;

Wagon Trails Animal Park 

Vienna, Ohio 

This interactive park, where you can feed and pet many of the animals, is great for kids, Chandler says. Sixty acres of woods and ponds are home to camels, zebra, bison, water buffalo, ostrich and antelope. (The park is closed November through April.) 330-539-4494;

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center 

Glen Rose, Texas 

This 1,700-acre park offers options ranging from self-guided day trips to private tours with overnight accommodations, Chandler says. Choose from photography expeditions, behind-the-scenes adventures or feeding tours, where guests accompany the zookeeper on the morning breakfast rounds. 888-775-6742;

Yellowstone National Park 


“The greater Yellowstone ecosystem is one of the world’s most precious resources for geology and ecology, not to mention recreation,” Chandler says. One way to experience it is through the Yellowstone Association Institute’s field seminars. They let you join experts in animal-tracking, biology and photography to get “a first-rate look at the wildlife of Yellowstone.” 406-848-2400;

Safari West 

Santa Rosa, Calif. 

In the heart of California’s wine country, this 400-acre preserve with 800 free-roaming animals is a Sonoma Serengeti of sorts. For a complete safari experience, Chandler recommends spending the night in one of the on-site luxury tents. Some overlook a pristine lake; others are nestled in the woods for a true bushveld feel. 800-616-2695;

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