05/15/2013 08:38 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Call of the Wild: 8 Offbeat Places to Connect With Nature

Leo Aparicio

For years, travelers have flocked to the great national parks of Africa and North America to get a glimpse of the world's most incredible creatures in their natural element. More and more, however, travelers are parting from the beaten path and discovering interesting and bizarre corners of the world where they can come face-to-face with mother nature.

From ancient temples crawling with monkeys and rats to desolate beaches teeming with exotic wildlife, here are 10 unusual places to connect with nature, all recommended by real travelers and locals on minube.


1.) Giraffe Manor, Kenya - Located in a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, this colonial British hotel offers guests a most unusual roommate: live giraffes. While the rooms aren't cheap (they can be upwards of $500/night), they do offer a once in a lifetime chance to have brunch with one of your curious, long-necked neighbors. (Photo by Sonia Givray)


2.) Hanauma Bay, O'ahu - Hanauma Bay is a protected marine park on the island of Big Island of Hawaii and offers an unspoilt reef teeming with turtles, fish, and reef sharks. Aside from snorkeling in the shallows, travelers can find local dive operators who'll let them feed sharks in the wild and take turns in a shark cage. (Photo by Pablo2Ore)


3.) Jamaa el Fnaa, Morocco - Jamaa el-Fnaa is the main market in Marrakech and, as visitors can attest, is like entering an Indiana Jones movie. Travelers can find all manner of fruit and juice vendors, as well as fortune tellers, street dentists, monkey shows, and, of course, Morocco's legendary snake-charmers. (Photoby Leo Aparicio)


4.) Galwar Bagh Monkey Temple, India - In the Indian State of Rajahsthan, the Galtaji Temple has been a destination for religious pilgrims for centuries. More recently, the temple has been drawing travelers thanks to its large tribe of rhesus macaques which have earned the site the nickname "Galwar Bagh" (Monkey Temple). (Photo by Clara Matias)


5.) Punta Nifas, Argentina - Punta Ninfas (Nympth's Point) in central Argentina is a hotspot for adventurous nature lovers who are drawn there by the large colony of elephant seals. The seals also draw groups of killer whales, many of which are not shy about showing off for visitors. (Photo by Belen G. Bonorino)


6.) Tiger Temple, Thailand - In western Thailand, travelers can visit a temple where for the past two decades Buddhist monks have reared Indochinese tigers. While Tiger Temple does let visitors interact with the large cats, it now works hand-in-hand with NGOs after receiving criticism from conservation and animal rights groups. (Photo by Albeto S. Dosantos)


7.) Swayambhunath Temple, Nepal - Perched atop a steep hill in western Kathmandu, Swayambhunath Temple is one of Buddhism's most important holy sites and home to a playful tribe of monkeys. While the curious creatures are a draw for tourists, travelers shouldn't miss the incredible painted stupa and breath-taking views of the city. (Photo by Juanjo Fontanet)


8.) Karni Mata Temple, India - The Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok, India is definitely not for the squeamish. The temple is populated by thousands of rats which are revered as holy by local devotees. White rats are considered especially sacred and it's considered good fortune to have one of the rodent run across your feet. (Photo by Alfredo Vidal)