Coming nose to nose with your tabby cat when he needs more dry food isn’t cutting it for you anymore. At the same time, when you stared a bit too longingly at the “Do not enter” sign atop the zoo’s lion cage last month, security gave you the side eye. In a world where keeping your cat declawed is too tame but you’re not sure how to go about adopting a cheetah, there is promising news. A few travel companies across the globe are just crazy enough to present you with the opportunity to get face to face with some of the deadliest animals in the world. Here are a few places where you can get your adrenaline pumping with a (supervised) tête-à-tête:
Listen Up, “Sharknado” Fans
Have you ever stared into the deep blue sea and thought, “I wonder what it’s like to hover underwater while a vicious creature looms ominously just on the other side of a steel bar?” Well, guess what, buddy? You can get face to face with a great white shark for the low, low price of a few hundred bucks and some Imodium®. Journey to Guadalupe Island, Mexico, where a cage carrying you and your fellow chums… erm, friends, will descend about 30 feet beneath the sea. The cage is dropped where the sharks naturally congregate. You’re basically crashing their tea party, which they’re sure to love. Off the coast of Gansbaai, South Africa, you can head out to sea with a guide who dumps blood and chum into the water to attract the sharks. Once a shark is spotted, you just jump right into the open-top cage, hold your breath, and take a little look-see beneath the surface. Probably into the mouth of Jaws.
Lions and Tig… Nope, Just Lions
Walking through the kitten exhibit at the local animal shelter is great and all, but when you threw that steak onto the floor they didn’t have the reaction you were hoping for. Take thee to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where you can get up close and personal with a lion pride. Leave your feather lures at home, folks, you’re not here to play. You can, however, have the remarkable experience of walking along the banks of the Masuwe River amid some of these predators.
Is That You, Cousin Ted?
You never got along so well with your immediate family (your sister knows what she did). Why not head out to the jungle to visit some of your more distant relatives? In countries like Rwanda and Uganda you can go silverback gorilla trekking. Sure, it requires a permit, but that only makes the experience much more exclusive and exciting. Bring your best hiking boots and a can-do attitude: You might walk for hours before your first gorilla encounter. Gorillas are actually quite shy, so they will play nice as long as you do (keeping a fair distance won’t hurt, either). You can gorilla trek in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, among other places.
Sure, Those are Just Crocodile Tears You’re Crying
The closest your friends have ever gotten to an alligator is a pair of boots they picked up a while back. Not you, Crocodile Dundee. You’re ready to look a gator in the nose and… slowly back away, hoping he doesn’t consider you lunch. If find yourself in Oz (that’s Australia, not the end of the yellow brick road), a unique alligator experience awaits you. Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin City lets you get in the “Cage of Death,” which is just a charming name for a glass enclosure. For 15 exciting minutes, crocs will be attracted to the other side of the glass by reptile handlers. If you want to hang out with Cajun crocs, Louisiana offers lots of alligator and croc tours. Kayak your way through Lake Martin swamp if you really want to make friends with one of these toothy reptiles.
What are you waiting for? Meeting the world’s deadliest animals is a more attainable goal than your parents are comfortable with. Strap on your adventure cap, upgrade your health insurance, and get ready to make a new best friend from the animal kingdom.