Mountain gorilla Uganda

Where to hang with cheeky primates in the wild

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Did you know there are more than 300 species of primate on earth? Ranging from the cheeky monkey all the way through to giant gorillas, and even us humans!

So, if you’re potty about primates and would love to encounter them ethically in the wild, here are 5 spots we recommend to do just that. 

1. Borneo

Where to see primates_borneo

Kinabatangan River

The Kinabatangan River is one of Asia’s most important waterways and is a brilliant spot to see two rare primates in the wild – that can only be found in Borneo! As you take a boat trip down the river, keep your eyes on the canopy above. You’ll almost certainly be treated to the sight of playful (and nosey!) Proboscis monkeys hanging from the trees – they’re everywhere! They are odd-looking creatures, with their bulbous noses, you can’t miss them!

If you’re lucky you might just see a flash of orange and catch a glimpse of the endangered Borneo orangutan swinging through the trees. As a result of forest clearing for oil palm plantations, the Borneo orangutan is one of the 25 most endangered primate species on earth.

Find out more

Where to stay on the Kinabatangan River 

We love the Sukau Rainforest Lodge (and apparently, so does Sir David Attenborough!). Perched on the banks of the river, this luxurious lodge is the perfect place to stay to immerse yourself in the wildlife that Borneo is known for. Not only that though, with strong commitments to conservation, community development, sustainable tourism and green policies, you’ll stay safe in the knowledge that protection of this special area is always priority one. You might just spot elephants swimming in the river directly in front of the lodge, or orangutans swinging through the trees above whilst you tuck into breakfast. And did we mention the stunning swimming pool?

orangutans Borneo  

Danum Valley

The Danum Valley Conservation Area is recognised as the world’s most complex of ecosystems. New species of birds and plants are being discovered all the time and this dense forest is home to many endangered species such as Pgymy elephant, clouded leopard, banteng and the rare Wallace flying frog.

The trees reach up to heights of more than 70 metres in some places, so it’s a fantastic spot to see orangutan playing through the trees. There are estimated to be more than 500 wild orangutan here, all protected and monitored closely by a conservation team.

You’ll also have a chance of spotting the Maroon langurs (otherwise known as Red Leaf monkeys) and the endangered Borneo gibbon in the Danum Valley. Did you know, gibbons aren’t monkeys – they’re apes! They might not be as sizable as their gorilla cousins (far from it in fact), but with their lack of tail, apes they are!

Find out more on this Orangutans and Tropical Islands Borneo holiday idea

Where to stay in Danum Valley, Borneo

If you’re visiting this magical area of Borneo, you won’t go wrong with a stay at Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Nestled deep in the heart of the rainforest of Sabah, this lodge really is the epitome of jungle indulgence. This boutique rainforest escape boasts one of the most stunning vistas you can imagine, private dipping pools and truly exceptional service. For an extra special experience, opt for one of the luxurious riverside villas where you’ll have your very own butler and a huge terrace – perfect for wildlife spotting! 


2. Costa Rica

Black howler monkey Costa Rica

Corcovado National Park, the Osa Peninsula

Corcovado National Park is a true oasis for wildlife lovers. Found on the remote Osa Peninsula the park boasts a huge population of Costa Rica’s four species of monkeys. You can see (and hear) Howler monkeys swinging through the trees (they’re as loud as they look!) as you eat your breakfast, Squirrel monkeys playing in the canopy, white-faced Capuchin monkeys and if you’re lucky you might catch sight of the endangered Geoffroy’s spider monkey, too.

Explore the Osa Peninsula in depth on this 12-day adventure

Where to stay on the Osa Peninsula

El Remanso is, without a doubt, one of our favourite lodges in the whole of Costa Rica. The service is impeccable, it’s great value and the wildlife experiences in the vicinity are second to none. Set amidst countless pristine jungle trails where you’ll spot monkeys, sloths, a myriad of birdlife and more – you’re guaranteed a superb experience here. What’s more, after you’ve returned from a wildlife walk, cruise or kayaking adventure, you can relax by the gorgeous swimming pool and soak up the sunshine, all to nature’s glorious backing track of the rainforest.


3. Uganda

Mountain gorilla Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the place on our wonderful earth to get a glimpse of the magnificent mountain gorilla in the wild. The largest of primates, the majesty of these giant apes is hard to exaggerate. Their shiny black coats, impressive stature and piercing eyes that appear to hold several lifetimes’ worth of wisdom. A trek through the park with a ranger is the only way to experience this. They will make sure you stay at a safe distance from the gorillas (both for your safety, and theirs!)

Experience it for yourself on this Classic Uganda holiday

Where to stay in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park 

Mahogany Springs is found close to the entrance to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, in the farmland that stretches down towards Munyanga River. With a range of accommodation on offer, (including superior suites, a luxurious honeymoon suite and a space perfect for families), all with staggering panoramic terraces, this is a fantastic place to base yourself for your Bwindi adventures.


4. Zanzibar

Red Colobuse Monkey, Zanzibar

When you think of Zanzibar, it quite rightly conjures up images of a lush archipelago fringed by bright white sand and bright turquoise ocean. However, did you know it’s also home to its own breed of primate? The Zanzibar red colobus monkey is actually one of the world’s most endangered primates with there said to be less than 2,000 of them left on earth. Endemic to Zanzibar’s main island of Unguja, the country are working hard to protect their habitat and remaining population.

Pair Zanzibar with a wildlife adventure in Tanzania on this Perfect Safari and Beach holiday

Where to stay in Zanzibar

Sat on what Conde Nast Traveller magazine has named as one of the top 30 beaches in the world, Baraza is easily the best 5-star hotel in Zanzibar. With just 30 villas, all varying in size (but not varying in opulence!), stunning pool, a world-class spa, dive centre, exquisite all-inclusive restaurant – this is luxury and excellence at its finest. It’s one of our top choices for a Zanzibar holiday, always.


5. South Africa

baboon South Africa

Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope is just an easy drive from Cape Town and is a great place to come face to face with Chacma baboons. However, take our word for it, they are mischievous! Make sure you have absolutely no food visible (or anything that looks like food for that matter). Gabby from Team HA had a very near miss when a baboon mistook a packet of tissues for a snack and made a beeline for it – and her! Don’t be surprised to return to your car and find a baboon sitting on your roof either, it’s commonplace here!

Explore all that the Cape region has to offer on this 10-night Cape Escape holiday

Where to stay near Cape of Good Hope, South Africa 

The Cape of Good Hope is on Cape Town’s doorstep, so easily reachable within a short drive. We hugely recommend you drive via Chapman’s Peak Drive to be wowed the entire way!

We love Abbey Manor Guest House in Cape Town, perched on the slopes of Table Mountain in the leafy suburb of Oranjezicht it has a lovely French Boudoir, small boutique hotel feel to it. With its large solar-heated swimming pool is the perfect place to lounge in the sunshine whilst lapping up the stunning views of Table Mountain. Plus, it’s only a short walk from a lively sidewalk of lovely cafes and restaurants.

 Vervet monkey South Africa Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

There are few wildlife havens on earth that come close to the wonder that is Kruger National Park. Sure to be a highlight of any South African holiday, the majesty of this place far exceeds any superlatives! As well as the enviable population of Big 5 game, Kruger is also home to countless Vervet monkeys. As cheeky as they are cute, they can be spotted throughout Kruger moving in groups of 15-30. They also do a great job of warning other animals of potential threats and dangers in the vicinity. There are also an estimated 300 troops of naughty baboons living in Kruger – so it’s not just the lions you need to watch out for!

Kruger is a must on any South African Grand Tour. Find out more here.

Where to stay in Kruger National Park

­Bataleur Safari Camp is one of our favourite lodges in Kruger National Park. Found in the Timbavati Game Reserve, it’s a lovely comfortable camp with a focus on minimising its ecological footprint. A stay here is so authentic, with the camp seeming to merge effortlessly into its surroundings. It’s also sat overlooking a riverbed and seasonal waterhole which draws a wide range of game that you can spot right from the lodge, in between game drives! There are also guided bushwalks on offer if you want to experience getting even closer to the wildlife that call this incredible park home.



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