Early February marked World Wetlands Day, a day that recognises the 1971 Convention on Wetlands in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Since then governments and local groups have used the date to bring awareness and education to their respective nations about the importance of wetlands. But where can you find the most spectacular?
1. The Everglades, Florida, USA
The world famous sawgrass marsh seen on movies and TV for decades, Florida’s rain-fed nature reserve plays host to the sort of reptiles you might feel more comfortable looking at from the behind the safety of a zoo’s reinforced glass. The American Alligator enjoys basking in the hot sun, whilst Burmese pythons have recently been found breeding out amongst the reeds. Enjoy the view but avoid chance of a close encounter by taking a trip on an airboat along the Kissimmee River.
2. Pantanal, South America
A vast jaw-dropping stretch of preserved wildlife that spans no fewer than three countries (Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia), it’s a bustling habitat of marsh, lagoons and floodplains home to an astonishing array of species. As well as over 650 species of birds, 50 reptiles and well over 1,000 butterflies, keep your eyes peeled for the endangered Great River Otter or even a Jaguar.
3. Kakadu National Park, Australia
Bring your cork hat and a crack open a tinny for the Northern Territory’s enormous and wildlife rich wetlands park. With its well-regarded Yellow Water billabong, you’re bound to spot a croc sooner rather than later. Then there’s the wild horses, buffalo and flatback turtles to capture for your holiday snaps. Parts of it are safe for swimming and fishing too. (Make sure your travel insurance covers activities!) A twitcher’s paradise, this country-sized reserve is a resting and nesting point for millions of birds every year. Don’t forget your RSPB guidebook.
4. Kerala Backwaters, India
The Arabian Sea coast in southern India is where you’ll find this network of lagoons and lakes that make up this popular tourist resort. Both natural and manmade canals are part of this immense maze of tropical waterways and greenery that boasts miles of navigable rivers and rivulets. Its unique ecosystem is derived from its saltwater meeting fresh, meaning that you’re never left without some indigenous wildlife to point your camera at. Expect to see crabs, mudskippers, frogs and turtles, all peering from the fringes of the water’s delightful palm tree enclosure.
5. Okavango Delta, Botswana
The 1000th site to be officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list, expect a hot and heady swamp teeming with the continent’s most iconic animals. Cheetahs, baboons, wildebeest, giraffes, rhinos and lions are just a small sample of the creatures this region’s ecosystem sustains. Autumnal months such as October are especially dry so try to stick to a spring visit for a more forgiving climate.
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