Where to spot winter wildlife

Nature

While many of us may be dreaming of getting away this winter, let's face it – this year is the time to embrace hibernation. So, to distract you and inspire you to travel again when the time is right, here are some animals that do the opposite of hiding away and actually come into their own during the cold weather.

From watching monkeys bathe in Japan's hot springs to spotting orcas off the coast of Iceland, here are the world's top destinations for admiring an array of winter wildlife.

Yamanouchi, Japan

The park's snow-loving monkeys escape the cold in their own hot spring

The park's snow-loving monkeys escape the cold in their own hot spring

At Jigokudani Monkey Park in Yamanouchi, visitors can see Japanese Macaque, also known as snow monkeys, bathing in hot springs. Accustomed to humans, they’re happy to go about their monkey business with an audience. The park is open year-round but the monkeys use the pools most during the snowy winter months – January and February being the best times to visit.

Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine in Quebec, Canada

March is the best time to see the island's harp seal pups

March is the best time to see the island's harp seal pups

At the beginning of March each year, hundreds of harp seals make their way to Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine to give birth to their pups on the sheets of ice that surround the island. These adorable pups, aptly-named ‘whitecoats’, spend the first weeks of their lives here. During this time, there are a number of organised trips available where you can observe the young pups in their natural habitat.

Grundarfjörður, Iceland

In recent years, orcas have made the Grundarfjörður harbour their winter home

In recent years, orcas have made the Grundarfjörður harbour their winter home

In recent years, orcas – also known as killer whales – have started to appear on the shores of Iceland during the summer. The majority of sightings have taken place in and around the Grundarfjörður harbour, where the orcas hunt the herring that take shelter in the fjords. You can organize a boat ride to see these beautiful mammals up-close or simply view them from the harbour’s shoreline.

Anchorage, Alaska, USA

You're more likely to see a moose during the winter than the summer in Anchorage

You're more likely to see a moose during the winter than the summer in Anchorage

When the temperature drops, the moose outside of Anchorage head to lower elevation in search of food. This means that you actually have a better chance of seeing these giants in Anchorage during the winter months than in the summer. One of the best places to see them in their natural environment is along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, a 17km-long trail that starts in downtown Anchorage and finishes in Kincaid Park.

Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø is the best place to learn about reindeer and the Sami people's shared history

Tromsø is the best place to learn about reindeer and the Sami people's shared history

The Sami people of Arctic Europe have a history of working with reindeer that spans hundreds of years. While many of their interactions with the reindeer have been modernized, lots of older traditions remain and Tromsø is the perfect place to experience them firsthand. Take a reindeer sledding ride, feed a herd of reindeer and learn about Sami culture with one of the numerous local organized tours.

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