LANDED’s Top Wildlife Encounters

Embark on a customized journey in nature with LANDED. We can help you encounter the most captivating wildlife in Central America, South America, and Antarctica. 

Over the years, we’ve enjoyed unforgettable animal interactions throughout these regions. Here are some of the experiences that have enriched our lives and strengthened our connection to nature. We invite you to explore these and other options with our expert travel planners. We’ll help you get to the right places at the right times, to see what wonders nature has in store for you.

Puma Tracking in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Imagine tracking pumas with expert “leoneros” in the Torres del Paine region of Chilean Patagonia. Feeding primarily on guanacos, these predators can exceed 200 pounds in weight and over eight feet in length (nose to tail). The cats live within the park, and throughout the surrounding mountains and valleys. 

The local population may exceed 200 individuals. Although solitary in adulthood, it’s often possible to see mothers with their young. If you’re especially lucky, you might even see them on the hunt. You’re also likely to observe condors, rheas, caracaras, foxes, and guanacos. Along the way, you’ll be awed by the stunning landscapes of one of South America’s natural treasures.

Sloths, Monkeys, and Sea Turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is so biodiverse, that it’s difficult to choose favorite destinations or experiences; we’ve had more than our fair share–from Osa and San Gerardo de Dota to Guanacaste and Monteverde. But if you’re traveling with young children, Tortuguero offers the advantage of approaching wildlife smoothly and silently by canal boat.

With the assistance of expert guides, even very young children can see sloths, monkeys, blue morpho butterflies, toucans, and dozens of other species–all without the…ahem…excited sounds of children that would accompany a forest walk and startle the forest residents ahead of the party. In the canals, your guides can also point out camouflaged caimans, turtles, and even manatees. At the right times of year, you can visit the brown sugar beach by moonlight to observe nesting sea turtles. Pure magic.

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks at Gladden Spit, Belize

Dive into the turquoise waters off the coast of Belize for a mesmerizing encounter with whale sharks at Gladden Spit. This area of the Mesoamerican Reef is a whale shark hotspot, where these gentle giants congregate from March to June to feed on plankton and spawning fish. If you want to ensure you have a good chance of seeing whale sharks, our recommendation is to schedule your excursion to take place a few days after the full moon.

Although we’ve loved diving and snorkeling throughout Belize’s corner of the Caribbean, no other underwater adventure has compared to snorkeling alongside the world’s largest fish. Our local guides know the best locations and conditions to help you enjoy maximum awe and safety.

Spotting Pink Dolphins in the Brazilian Amazon

The botos of the Amazon seem otherworldly–a gracefully aquatic, shockingly pink embodiment of keen intelligence. They’ve inspired legends of mermaids and magical love affairs. They swim circles around expectant mothers, recognizing the heartbeats of in utero children. And they can startle intrepid travelers (like me) as their toothy grins emerge, playfully, right in front of your face from the opaque waters while you’re swimming near your canoe. 

LANDED can take you deep into the Brazilian Amazon, aboard comfortable river cruisers or from gorgeous riverside lodges. We’ll help you discover locations where these rosy cetaceans fish and play. Observing them up close is an absolute thrill, and a highlight of days that also include forest walks and canoe trips to see tamarins, frogs, caimans, sloths, and countless bird species. Top off your days with a sunset swim at a white-sand river beach, a nightcap, and the sounds of the forest.

Observing Marine Wildlife in the Galapagos Islands

Yes, the tortoises are magnificent and the shorebirds are delightful. True, diving with pelagics is a privilege and a pleasure. But I’ll never be the same after swimming and snorkeling close to the shores of Isabela and Fernandina. Imagine entering a semi-submerged cave, curtains of sunlight filtering through effervescent waters. You’re suddenly circled by one, then three, sea lions–the golden retrievers of the Galapagos. They spin and frolic, encouraging you to follow the leader. You wear out long before they do, and your face hurts from smiling.

Later that day, as you’re snorkeling among the lava-rock shallows near the coast, you find yourself surrounded by DOZENS of sea turtles. Meanwhile, marine iguanas are taking it easy in the current, clawing onto the black formations as they munch on algae salad. Flightless cormorants rocket around you with fighter-plane agility, nabbing fish and webbing their way through the narrow channels. This is Eden.

Kayaking with Whales, Seals, and Penguins in Antarctica

Antarctica is one of the wildest, purest, and most awe-inspiring places on earth. The mountains, sea, sky, and ice combine in breathtaking beauty. On the coasts, you’ll be able to visit massive colonies of penguins and seals. As fascinating as these animals are while on land, they’re mostly at rest or caring for young while in their rookeries. To observe them in their full grace and glory, you need to hit the water. Zodiacs have their place, but kayaks offer a much richer sense of connection and serenity.

Gliding silently in a sheltered bay, we’ve had the feeling of being suspended–perfect visibility below and a mirror-smooth surface surrounding us. As you paddle, you’re likely to be joined by curious penguins–Gentoos, Adeles, and Chinstraps. We’ve even seen lone, juvenile Emperors. Meanwhile, Weddel, Crabbeater, and Leopard Seals bask on floating ice or pursue their lunch below. Sea Leopard teeth are serious hardware.

Topping all, we’ve been left breathless by Antarctic whales and dolphins–playing, logging, and traveling beneath us. Once, a Humpback surfaced and lingered near us, eye to enormous eye. No words suffice. It was like staring into the heart of the universe. Sei, minke, and killer whales are also commonly observed in these bays.

Discovering Rare Bird Species in Colombia

Due to its unique geographical features and diverse ecosystems, Colombia is home to the largest collection of bird species on earth –1,958 species recorded– making it a birdwatching paradise. Explore the lush landscapes to spot rare species such as the Blue-billed Curassow, Zig-zag Heron, and the vibrant Ruby Topaz Hummingbird. Whether in the cloud forests, Amazon basin, or coastal regions, Colombia’s avian diversity enchants every observer.

Our recent visit to the vibrant heart of Colombia’s Coffee Region was made unforgettable by the insights of Camilo Garcia Escobar, a passionate biologist and birdwatcher whose stories are as captivating as the landscape itself. He tells us about endemic bird species in Colombia –among other interesting topicsin this ‘The LANDED Podcast’ episode.

Jaguars and Macaws in Brazil’s Pantanal

During the pandemic, we had to defer one of our dreams: tracking jaguars in The Pantanal. Straddling the southern Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, this enormous basin covers 195,000 square miles. Although the Amazon has greater biodiversity, the Pantanal actually has the highest concentration of wildlife in the entire Western Hemisphere. Its ecosystem includes caimans, giant anteaters, maned wolves, tapirs and an estimated 1,000 avian species.

The jaguars of the Pantanal wetlands and savannas are awesome creatures, larger and heavier than the tree-climbing jags of the rainforest regions. We spent three days tracking these felines at a private reserve. Our first sighting was only a few yards from our open-top safari vehicle: a powerful juvenile male resting in the shade of some palms. We observed him, in solitude and at close range, for more than 20 minutes. Over the next few days we spotted five more while on game drives. Along the way, we enjoyed the company of hyacinth macaws, Jaribu storks, capybaras, and anteaters. We long to return.


We know the territory. We’ve spent decades exploring the landscapes of Central America, South America, and Antarctica.  Moreover, we can provide context and comparison, as we’ve also enjoyed wildlife-focused travel across Africa, Europe, Asia, and Oceana.

At LANDED, we don’t just offer trips; we curate experiences that connect you with the essence of each destination. Trust us to plan the perfect journey, tailored to your preferences. We’ll help you create one-of-a-kind experiences you’ll treasure always.

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