For those who want to get closer to Wales’ fluffy, scruffy, feathered and furry, here come some of the best animal and wildlife experiences across the country.
Rural animal experiences
Good Day Out is a small organisation based in the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) offering a unique experience to animal lovers. They work with local sheepdogs, mini-donkeys, Kunekune pigs and their handlers to offer an inventive range of activities.
Visitors can take guided walks with a dinky donkey, learn how to work with a sheepdog or roam the countryside and river paddle with pigs. These are small-group experiences that are great for both adults and kids. For every day out booked a percentage of the funds is donated to local environmental, wildlife and animal charities.
Alpacas great and small
Based in Monmouthshire, Amazing Alpacas is one of the top Alpaca breeders in Wales. They offer small-group or private Alpaca farm experiences during which visitors see the herd, learn about them and meet some of the more sociable characters.
Aside from the excellent pun in the name, we love the range of experiences offered by Alpaca My Boots. Their mainstay is small group hikes in the beautiful Brecon Beacons accompanied by friendly alpacas and a guide.
On Wednesdays, the alpacas have a rest day and visitors, guided by Brecon Mindfulness, can meditate alongside them in the great outdoors. This is a great option for those with limited mobility.
Set in the undulating coastal countryside of southwest Wales, Pembrokeshire Alpaca Trekking welcome guests to meet their woolly crew. In a small group, you’ll make friends with your alpaca before setting off on a stroll with them. Those with limited mobility are welcome to meet and interact with the animals.
Along the trails of North Wales’ luscious South Alwen Forest, you’ll find Wales’ first and only sled-dog outfit, Mynydd Sleddog Adventures. Joe and her pack of huskies will whisk you along the shady forest trails at a pace. This is a seasonal winter experience as the dogs can only run during the cooler weather. In spring and summer, there are occasional dawn runs available, or the option to go on a husky hike.
Bird of prey experiences
Based in Mid Wales, Falconry Experience Wales regularly wins awards for its raptor and owl days out. Fans can join wildlife presenter Iolo Williams for a full day of learning about the centre’s magnificent birds of prey. Just remember to dress for the outdoors and avoid wearing bright colours.
Set within the beautiful National Botanic Garden of Wales near Carmarthen, the British Bird of Prey Centre focuses on native bird species only. Three observation flights a day are included with your ticket to the gardens. If you’d like to learn how to fly a kite (or an owl) yourself, then private and small group experiences are bookable.
Wings of Wales offer award-winning falconry experiences in the Brecon Beacons. Passionate about conservation and education, they offer full-day and half-day immersive falconry experiences.
Read more: Discover birds of prey experiences in Wales
Red Kite feeding centres
If you’ve spent time in Wales’ countryside, you will almost certainly have spotted a red kite soaring above you with its distinctive forked tail. Seeing them swoop and spin up close is another experience entirely.
Read more: Return of the red kite
Sheep and spring lambing
Aberhyddnant organic farm in the Brecon Beacons is home to Jacob Sheep Trekking & Farm Experience and is the perfect place for a springtime farm visit in Wales. The wildflowers are brightening up the hedgerows and the brand-new lambs are at their most cute and cuddly.
The farm offers a range of experiences, including countryside wanders with a friendly sheep companion, sheep agility and lambing days when you can feed and cuddle the new arrivals. These days out are all seasonal and available in the spring or summer.
St Fagans National Museum of History near Cardiff also run lambing day courses in March, providing a chance to experience a full day in the Museum's lambing shed at Llwyn-yr-eos Farm. You'll learn how to care for pregnant sheep and if births happen during the day, under supervision you can even get really hands-on (if you want to!). There’ll also be time in the nursery with some of the new mums and their babies.
Just outside Machynlleth, Dyfi Donkey Wood you can take a unique walking experience in the company of a donkey. The staff do great work with both the local community and visitors. Working with a team of volunteers, the organisation promotes the therapeutic value of interacting with these characterful equines. They regularly welcome groups of adults and children with learning difficulties or mental health issues for experiential learning days.
Cardigan Bay is renowned for its playful population of bottlenose dolphins. Although they do visit year-round, greater numbers tend to swim in for their summer holidays between June and September.
New Quay is the hot spot with several boat trip providers operating daily from the harbour. Some also run evening cruises where you’ll have the magic of the sunset to swoon over as well as leaping dolphins.
Dolphin Survey Boat Trips is run by the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, so you’ll be supporting their research if you book with them.
Finally, SeaMor offers boat trips with marine biologist guides. They add an interesting twist with their ‘lobster pots’, which catch all sorts of sea life for you to take a closer look at before releasing them back into the ocean unharmed.
Read more: Welsh sightseeing tours by boat
Things to know before you go
What should I wear?
No matter the time of year, the weather can be changeable. If you’re out and about in the countryside, come prepared with sturdy shoes and layer up with warm clothing and waterproofs.
Trousers and long-sleeved tops help protect you from the sun and insect bites. Wearing neutral tones is advised, especially if you are visiting birds of prey. Taking along water, sunscreen and snacks is always a good idea.
Should I bring my dog?
For the majority of these wildlife and animal encounters dogs are not allowed. This is simply because their presence can worry the animals and disrupt everyone’s experience.
How do I get there?
Many of these animal encounters are based in the countryside in remote rural areas. This means that having your own transport is often necessary.