The United States Of America

The US offers a spectacularly diverse array of wildlife, and there are just so many places to visit, so much to see.

The United States of America is the most famous country in the world. Everyone, including toddlers, seems to have heard a lot about this marvelous place, and sometimes the US’s reputation attains mythical dimensions. Hollywood, The Statue of Liberty, the White House, and even the traumatic Twin Towers are some American landmarks that have assumed larger-than-life proportions.

Most tourists are drawn to iconic cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago (just to name a few) and these places offer unforgettable sights and experiences. This is perhaps why a lot of people seem to associate the USA with bright lights and towering skyscrapers. One thing that has consistently flown under the radar is the fact that the USA is also a place of stunning natural beauty, with spectacular landscapes, beautiful beaches, and of course, diverse and wonderful wildlife.

The sheer expanse of the USA means that you’re likely to experience wildly differing outlooks, cultures, and perspectives from place to place. You may spend decades exploring the country, and yet, America will continue to throw up surprises. Beautiful does not even begin to describe the country, and if you’re planning a trip to America anytime soon, prepare to be enchanted and completely seduced.

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Why Visit the USA For Wildlife Photography?

Man-made landscapes in the US have for a long time overshadowed the country’s natural landscapes, but that does not mean that the country is without natural charm. While the US is not as popular as most countries in Africa for guided safaris, you can still see some of nature’s gorgeous offspring roaming freely across the land, and at a fraction of the cost too. 

 

Dotted across the country are several national parks where you can spot several exotic animals such as giraffes, zebras, moose, bison, rhinos, elk, foxes, buffalos, coyotes, bobcats, kudu, grizzly bears, and of course, wolves.

 

The US is also home to an astonishing number of reptile species, and over 200 species of birds. These, along with awe-inspiring sights such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, and the Alaskan wilderness are sure to fill both your mind and camera with unforgettable memories.

Wildlife Species To Photograph In The US

The US offers a spectacularly diverse array of wildlife, and there are just so many places to visit, so much to see. The Yellowstone National Park, stretching across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is by far the biggest and most popular park in the US, and this is where your adventure will likely start. 

 

In addition to a rugged, snow-capped landscape where you can often find packs of Canyon Wolves haunting the plains, Yellowstone National Park also accommodates large numbers of bison, elk, moose, coyotes, black bears, and grizzly bears.

 

Next, head to the Mojave desert for incredibly rare sightings of Joshua Trees (which can only be found in this desert) and desert tortoise. Desert tortoises used to be plentiful in this area,  but a combination of human activities such as mining, industrialization, and agriculture, along with the impact of ravens hunting them for food, have severely reduced their numbers. These days, desert tortoises are critically endangered. Find out what steps are being taken to preserve them here.

 

Joshua Tree National Park (named after the native Joshua Trees) is also famous for large populations of reptiles such as rattlesnakes and lizards, beautiful wildflowers, and the remarkable Mojave people.

 

For bird sightings, check out Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Here, you can spot large numbers of cranes and geese welcoming every new day and singing their farewell to the sun as it sets in an orange blaze. To catch exclusive sights of birds of prey in action, head over to the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. This park is home to prairie falcons and raptors. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is also a great place to spot birds, with over 200 species of birds including hawks, bald eagles, ospreys, and egrets. Alligators can also be found in this park.

 

You’ll have to overcome several obstacles to get to Katmai National Park, but the views in this park make every hassle worth it. You can catch sight of brown bears frolicking in the plains and fishing salmon at Brooks Falls.

The Best Time Of Year To Visit The USA

The US is vast and just as time zones within the country can be so dramatically different, the weather in different parts of the country differs too. The continental United States is vulnerable to rapidly changing weather patterns, which are mostly caused by westerly winds blowing in from the Pacific. The greatest time to go depends on your destination and what you want to see. Although the Northeast, from Maine to Washington, DC, receives little precipitation, temperatures can fluctuate from dangerously cold in the winter to unbearably hot and humid in the summer. In the summer, Florida’s temperatures aren’t particularly hot, but humidity is an issue; in the winter, the state is warm and sunny enough to draw a large number of people.

 

At Yellowstone, you can witness wildlife all year, though the seasons will influence which species you see. Bears may be seen best in March and April, whereas wolves and bighorn sheep can be seen best in the winter. During the summer, which is also the park’s busiest season, visitors can see elk, moose, bison, and mountain goats.

 

Fall, on the other hand, is a terrific time to observe bears, elk, and raptors while still enjoying milder temperatures. When viewing wildlife, keep a safe distance for both your protection and the animals’ well-being. Visitors are not permitted to approach wildlife to snap photographs or selfies, according to the park’s rules.

Where To Stay In The US

The US offers an expansive array of accommodation options such as hotels, business hotels, motels, AirBnBs, inns, and camping sites. Hotels are the most expensive, especially in the big cities where they offer lots of amenities and typically cost a king’s ransom.

Business hotels

Business hotels are not as expensive as hotels, although they offer less in terms of amenities. Motels are relatively cheap, but AirBnBs offer a much warmer atmosphere and are generally cheaper than most motels.

Camping

Camping can be a highly cost-effective lodging alternative, especially when the weather is nice. The disadvantage of camping is that most campgrounds are located outside of urban areas, making it an inconvenient alternative for vacations to major cities.

How To Get Around In The US

Due to the enormous size of the US, air travel is the most widely used travel method in the country for interstate trips, although cars are a close second. However, the US also boasts reliable bus and rail transportation.

 

Air travel is fast, convenient, and relatively cheap. Some American buses and trains can get you from one state to another. Cars are. However, the most popular means of transportation in the US, by a long mile.

Is It Safe To Travel To The US?

Many people hold the impression that the US is very unsafe, filled with instances and occurrences of violent crime. In reality, the US is pretty safe.

 

In inner-city areas or poor areas along the US-Mexico border, much crime is gang or drug-related. It mostly happens in places that aren’t particularly interesting to visitors, but it can and does happen in popular tourist areas as well. By taking common-sense precautions and remaining aware of your surroundings, you can almost guarantee that you will not be a victim of crime.

What To Pack For A Wildlife Photography Holiday In The US

This would depend on which part of the country you’re planning to visit. However, these are some basic things every wildlife photographer should go with:

 

  • A Backpack: You’ll be doing a lot of hiking, so you should ideally choose a backpack that’s solid enough to not fall apart during the trip and also easy on your back.
  • Hiking Shoes: Wildlife photography terrain may be too much for ordinary shoes to handle. Besides, hiking shoes protect from snakes and other reptiles lurking in the underbrush.
  • Water Bottle: Having an easy source of water is a major advantage, especially out on the trail.
  • Camera: There’ll be several unforgettable experiences and sights, and you’ll want to capture every single one of them. So, don’t forget to pack a camera. 
  • Universal Adapter: You’ll need it to plug in your device and recharge them when they run out of juice in the country. 

Passport and Visa Information

The US offers visa-free entry to citizens of 38 countries including Canadians, Bermudians, and Mexicans. If you’re not from any of these countries, you’re going to need a visa to get into the country. 

 

The visa application fee for the rest of the world, or for those who don’t fit the profile of a Visa Waiver Program entry (e.g., need to stay more than 90 days), is a non-refundable $160 for visas not issued on the basis of a petition (ex. business, tourist, transit, student, and journalist) and $190 for those that are (employment). This charge is occasionally waived in extremely limited circumstances, such as for those applying for exchange visitor visas.

Other Places To Visit In The US

The US’s vast size and first-world status mean that there is no shortage of places of interest to visit and explore.

 

Away from the safari scene, the bright lights and skyscrapers in New York are some of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. A cultural melting pot, New York attracts thousands of immigrants every year, each hoping to grab a slice of the American Dream. 

 

Check out the marvel that is the Grand Canyon. Watch radiant displays of color and sound, and if you’re minded to, go biking, hiking, or rafting in this amazing place.

 

A visit to the Yosemite National Park is also highly recommended for the sheer thrill of watching thunderous waterfalls tumble over cliffs, and for its beautiful, flower-decorated surroundings. Hawai’i, with its picturesque beaches, is the country’s premier holiday destination. It’s also home to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, with its dramatic landscapes and fiery volcanoes.

My Suggested Itinerary for a Wildlife Photography Holiday in The United States Of America

Columbo City

1-2 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Wasgamuwa National Park

5 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Kandy Beach Resort

2-3 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Yala National Park

5 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Helpful Resources

Now that we have all the information we need, it’s time to plan your wildlife photography holiday to The United States of America!

Here are some helpful resources to help you get your trip started:

Flights: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Accommodation: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Home Stays: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Travel: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Travel Insurance: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Day Trips & Tours: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.
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