1. The Firefly Phenomenon
Deep in the Smoky Mountains outside Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is a yearly experience like no other. Every evening, from late May through early June, a particular firefly species bursts forth and blinks in perfect synchronization. Dubbed the “synchronous firefly show,” this phenomenon is said to be humbling, magical, and an absolute must-see. The synch is due to their mating habits, and hundreds of thousands of fireflies participate. It’s a top-rated show, so it’s best to reserve lodging well in advance and get your passes to the Sugarland Visitor Center as soon as possible. Don’t be surprised if you’re waitlisted for a year or two!
2. Jellyfish Lake
Located on the island of Palau, Ongeim’l Tketau Jellyfish Lake is one of the few places on Earth where you can safely swim with millions of jellyfish. This is because both species in the lake, golden jellyfish and moon jellyfish, lack the sting that other species are famous for. This 12,000-year-old lake is open to the public for a small fee. Twice a day, the jellyfish migrate from one side to the other, which is prime interaction time for tourists. It’s important to note that scuba diving isn’t allowed. For one, the equipment can easily damage the jellyfish if they come in contact with it, and for two, water below the 15-meter mark is incredibly dangerous due to high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide.
3. Howler Monkeys
Okay, okay. I’m sure you’re looking at me a bit crazy right now. Howler monkeys aren’t exactly known for their warm welcome. In fact, I’m quite positive they’d cause many sleepless nights, but it would be worth it. Howler monkeys live in troops in Belize, and they’re the loudest land animal in the world. Their call can be heard over three miles away and has been clocked at 140 decibels. I won’t lie and say I want to see one up close, but I’d love to feel the thrill of sleeping in a hammock in a lovely mountainside cabin-esque room while hearing their mighty roar!
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other experiences out there, such as a trip to the Galapagos or a trek with the polar bears in Canada. After I get through my top three, I’ll be on the lookout for more! Happy travels, my animal-loving friends! I hope you get to experience your bucket list, too!