Fancy going to meet the relatives? Nick Trend selects some of the best wildlife holidays around the world.

1. Macaques in Staffordshire, UK

There are plenty of primates in zoos and sanctuaries across the UK, but most are kept behind protective glass or wire. An exception is Trentham Monkey Forest near Stoke-on-Trent where adults and children can walk more than a kilometre through leafy woodland inhabited by endangered Barbary macaques, which roam free. Guides are on hand to answer questions and hourly feeding talks take place each day.
Monkey Forest from £8.50 adult, £6.50 child for a day visit. Open March to October.

2. Howler monkeys in Costa Rica


Famously noisy, as their name suggests, howler monkeys have a warning cry that can be heard for kilometres in the South and Central American rainforests. You may also see the more agile capuchin monkeys, with their white faces, plus squirrel monkeys and endangered spider monkeys.

Mantled howler monkey in Costa Rica. Photo / 123RF
Mantled howler monkey in Costa Rica. Photo / 123RF

3. Lemurs in Madagascar

Evolved from early primates and found exclusively on the island of Madagascar, lemurs come in about 100 types, from the tiny mouse variety to the largest ruffed species.

Mother and infant ring-tailed lemur, Madagascar. Photo / 123RF
Mother and infant ring-tailed lemur, Madagascar. Photo / 123RF

4. Tarsiers in the Philippines

Primates come in all shapes and sizes but the odd-looking tarsiers of the Philippines are among the tiniest. Around 15cm long, these grey creatures are an ancient ancestor of modern-day monkeys, with huge eyes and long feet.

5. Orang-utans in Borneo

These shaggy, reddish primates are the largest tree-climbing mammals but their forest habitats are disappearing fast. Find an itinerary in Borneo that lets you observe them both in the wild and in the northern Sepilok reserve, where previously captive animals are rehabilitated. Morning and afternoon feeding times allow a close-up look, while excursions on foot or by boat in Bilit on the Kinabatangan River give the best chance of spotting them in the wild.

6. Snow monkeys in Japan


A visit to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park near Nagano will give the chance to observe macaques while they play, snooze and soak in the steaming hot springs.

7. Gorillas in Uganda

Conventional treks may include a brief encounter with wild mountain gorillas, but luxury adventure operator Steppes Travel offers an extended immersion of up to four hours in their company. Staying at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge in Bwindi, guests start the day early with a briefing and an escorted trek through the thick, tropical forest with rangers to locate the gorilla family.

8. Gibbons in Cambodia

Yellow-cheeked crested gibbons are the star attraction of the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in eastern Cambodia's Mondulkiri Province — and this region of lowland, tropical forest is also home to the black-shanked douc with its distinctive bluish-grey face.

9. Chimpanzees in Rwanda

Numbering barely 500 in all, Rwandan chimpanzees live in the Nyungwe National Park, one of the oldest rainforests in Africa, which is also home to colobus monkeys and 11 other species of primate. L'Hoest's monkeys are endemic to the Albertine Rift. The park has 15 trails and accommodation.

10. Baboons in Ethiopia

With their sharp teeth, long hair and red heart-shaped chest markings, gelada baboons graze the grasslands of Ethiopia's Simien Mountains. Observe the complex interactions of these primates on a tour of the country's scenic landscapes. Also expect sightings of the eastern black-and-white colobus monkeys and vervet monkeys in the acacia woodland near Lake Awasa.

Gelada baboon in the Simien Mountain range, Ethiopia. Photo / 123RF
Gelada baboon in the Simien Mountain range, Ethiopia. Photo / 123RF

Make sure any wildlife travel you book is through a reputable operator with a commitment to sustainable travel and ethical animal welfare practices.