Coolest Up-Close Animal Encounters
Natural Habitat Adventures / Brad Josephs
Where: Minshan Mountains, China
How: On foot
Rich in bamboo and largely devoid of human development, the rugged highlands of Sichuan province are the last stand of the giant panda. The World Wildlife Fund estimates the remote region harbors around 720 pandas, roughly 45 percent of earth’s wild population. The area is difficult to explore on your own, but Natural Habitat Adventures offers a two-week outdoor odyssey in the spring and summer that includes plenty of panda time, from Chengdu’s breeding center to two days trying to spy bears in the wild.