I am always in the process of researching and planning wildlife tours, either to assess new regions or to update myself regarding existing destinations. I have listed below a selection of the tours that I hope to make in the foreseeable future, although no doubt other adventures will occasionally intervene and some of these will inevitably be delayed.
As I do not update this page regularly, you can check which of these trips have already taken place by referring to my Trip Reports page, which I do attempt to update as often as possible. Alternatively, please contact me if you are interested in these or any other wildlife tours.
I have been hoping to return to what has always been one of the planet’s most alluring and productive wildlife destinations since my previous visit in July 2014, as I believe that Deramakot Forest Reserve is likely to become the most reliable site for a number of elusive species, including clouded leopard, sun bear, marbled cat and perhaps even the almost mythical Borneo bay cat. Other areas also remain of great interest and I will try to ensure that a future tour incorporates time on the Kinabatangan River and at Danum Valley, Mount Kinabalu and Tawau Hills National Park, which I am yet to explore, but where bay cats have recently been recorded on camera traps. Whether I am successful with that particular species or not, Borneo is home to a bewildering variety of rare animals and, among many others, I will have the opportunity to search for flat-headed cat, Sunda pangolin, binturong, banded linsang, banded civet, hose’s civet, otter civet, Bornean ferret badger, Sunda stink badger, hairy-nosed otter and western tarsier, not to mention the iconic orangutans and gibbons that can be found across much of this captivating island.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
This tour will be a follow up to my 2019 bonobo adventure and will focus on the astonishing Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest national park and the most diverse on the continent, both in terms of species and almost certainly habitat. Featuring the Rwenzori Mountains, the Semliki River and two of Africa’s great lakes, as well as the same number of active volcanoes and vast tracts of forest, savannah and swamp, Virunga is also the only reserve in which three taxa of great apes occur, eastern lowland gorilla, mountain gorilla and chimpanzee. As part of the research for my African great apes tour, I will arrange time with all three and other major targets will include the equally distinctive bongo and okapi, both of which can be found in the northern section of this phenomenal reserve. Although I doubt that I will be able to include more than one or two on this particular expedition, other future DRC destinations will include the Garamba, Maiko and Kahuzi-Biega national parks and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
Having spent relatively little time in Africa in recent years, several of my pending tours involve a return to the fertile and diverse tropical rainforests of Central Africa, a region that I have neglected for far too long. Excluding brief exploratory sorties to Akanda and Pongara, I intend to concentrate my efforts on four major national parks, Lope, Loango, Ivindo and Lekedi, which are likely to produce a wealth of sightings, from western lowland gorilla, chimpanzee, potto and the highly exotic mandrill, to red river hog, water chevrotain and a wide variety of distinct duiker species. Golden cat and giant pangolin are both eminently feasible and I hope to establish a reliable site for bongo, although in truth there are better chances of this rare and striking antelope in both the Republic of Congo and DRC. In addition to guaranteed humpback whale encounters at the right time of year, Loango is famous for the elephants and buffalo that can be photographed strolling along vast stretches of uninhabited sandy beach, as well as the legendary ‘surfing hippos’ that the American conservationist Mike Fay discovered apparently playing in the warm equatorial waters of the Atlantic Ocean back in 2000. Both Loango and Akanda support populations of African manatee and if time permits I will also include Lake Oguemoue, which would give me a third opportunity to observe this rare marine mammal.
A haunting and uniquely beautiful land, I have been trying to schedule a late winter or early spring return to Iceland for a while now, principally to photograph Arctic fox at Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, where they are protected and consequently fairly easy to see. Whilst these delicate foxes are the country’s only native land mammals, reindeer were introduced from Norway in the 18th century and were never domesticated. Most perished, but the population of Austurland endured and will almost certainly be observed on a tour that will be scheduled between January and March in order to include more or less guaranteed killer whale sightings and some of the most vivid displays of the Northern Lights anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere.
There are a number of superb wildlife destinations in India that I plan to return to, but initially I intend to concentrate on Dachigam National Park, which I was scheduled to visit in 2016 before the reserve was closed following severe civil unrest in the often volatile state of Jammu and Kashmir. One of the most reliable sites for Asiatic black bears, particularly in the late summer and early autumn when the bears can often be observed gorging fruit prior to hibernation, Dachigam also protects brown bear, leopard, yellow-throated marten, markhor, Himalayan goral and the Kashmir stag or hangul, which has recently been classified as the distinct Tarim red deer.
As may be the case with several of the tours that I am actively planning, it will be necessary to devote more than one trip to Japan’s appealing wildlife, partly as a result of the travelling involved between the country’s major islands, but more specifically due to the fact that certain species, including brown and Asiatic black bears, are hibernating when most people want to visit to photograph the famous Japanese macaques or ‘snow monkeys’, immortalised by David Attenborough in the BBC ‘Life’ documentary series. The thermal springs that at least a few of these pampered primates like to luxuriate in are on the largest island of Honshu, which is also home to black bear, as well as the majority of Japan’s diverse collection of fascinating and exquisite mustelids. Brown bear only occur on Hokkaido, but once again this is a destination that should also be visited during the winter, when it is fairly easy to observe sable, a typically delightful member of the marten family, graceful, dancing red-crowned cranes and literally hundreds of sea eagles, both steller’s and white-tailed, hunting between the drift ice of Nemuro Strait. It is quite a spectacle and as winter gives way to spring and the snow begins to melt, the first bears start to emerge from their winter dens and the sea ice is replaced by glistening pods of killer whales, which of course means another tour.
Whilst most people will not instantly recognise Jordan as a wildlife destination, this stunning and timeless land is actually home to a large variety of exotic animals, many of which can be found in several reserves managed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, of which I am a member. Arabian oryx, goitered gazelle and Asiatic wild ass have all been reintroduced at Shaumari Wildlife Reserve and other major reserves include Azraq, Ajloun, Dana and Mujib. Situated on the shore of the Dead Sea, several hundred metres below sea level, Mujib protects the magnificent Nubian ibex and Jordan’s evocative deserts provide shelter for a surprisingly high number of carnivores, including wolf, striped hyena, caracal, sand cat and three types of fox, blanford’s, ruppell’s and red. For those interested in exploring beyond the reserves, the ancient wonder of Petra is justifiably the most celebrated of the country’s many significant and impressive cultural sites and the desert of Wadi Rum is quite simply one of the most spectacularly beautiful regions on earth.
A much anticipated return to a superb wildlife destination for which I have a special affinity, principally to search for and promote the plight of the Gobi bear, an exceptionally rare brown bear subspecies that I am helping to support. There are believed to be only 30 or so remaining in this vast desert region and I hope to be able to put a tour in place that will allow respectful travellers to view this magnificent animal without disturbing its fragile existence. I will also devote part of the tour to snow leopards, as Mongolia is quickly becoming one of the premier locations to view these sublime creatures, as well as pallas’s cat and Siberian ibex, which I am going to assess new areas for. If time permits, I will also take the opportunity to spend some time riding the small but powerful horses upon which Genghis Khan’s great empire was built, as the immense steppe and desert landscapes combine to provide a thrilling and enchanting backdrop for what would be a superlative riding tour.
One of southern Africa’s classic safari destinations, I have not visited Namibia for far too long and this extended tour will incorporate a host of majestic species and some of the most dramatic scenery imaginable, from the breathtaking vistas of Fish River Canyon and the Waterberg Plateau to the magnificent wildlife and desert scapes of Etosha National Park, simply one of the finest game reserves on the continent. The Namib-Naukluft, Skeleton Coast and Khaudum national parks will all feature on an utterly unique tour that will also include a number of private game reserves, principally in the absorbing Damaraland and Kaokoland regions, where we will explore a remote, silent wilderness in search of desert lions, elephants and black rhinoceros. Depending on how long I have available and the exact route that I decide upon, this compelling journey may also feature one or more of the protected areas along the Caprivi Strip, the famous panhandle that provides an important migration route for elephants and other wildlife crossing between Angola and the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
Peru is one of South America’s most evocative destinations and this tour will include the very best of Amazonia with extended stays at several outstanding wildlife lodges within the Iquitos and Manu sections of the Amazon. Emperor tamarins and red uakaris are just two of a dozen primate species that we will spend time searching for, but we could see almost anything in these largely pristine habitats, including two incredibly elusive canids, short-eared dog and bush dog, both of which have been viewed in the areas that we will be visiting. Another canid, the sechuran fox, will be one of our main targets at a fabulous reserve in the Andean foothills, where we might also encounter spectacled bear, and I hope to include a nostalgic return to the magnificent fifteenth century Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
For several years I have been trying to fit a Svalbard cruise into my European summer schedule, as I have colleagues with entire ships available to me for small group private tours. The cruise itself will include a full circumnavigation of the Svalbard archipelago and will take place under the midnight sun between May and August, when the sun does not set at all in what is an extraordinarily scenic region. Wildlife highlights will of course include a number of opportunities to observe the majestic polar bear, as well as Arctic fox, walrus, reindeer and an impressive variety of whales, seals and dolphins.
Whilst most people visit Ladakh in northern India to search for snow leopards, this expedition will take us to the Tibetan Plateau, which is actually home to more than 60% of the world’s snow leopard population, as well as a number of other iconic carnivores. Pallas’s cat, Eurasian lynx, grey wolf, Tibetan fox and brown bear all inhabit this remote region, where we are unlikely to meet another person during the entire wilderness section of our adventure. We have a realistic chance of encountering these and many other species, amid some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. The majority of our hikes will take place at around 4,500 metres and we will spend the first few days of the tour acclimatising at lower altitudes.
Uganda and Rwanda
This will probably be the final research trip regarding the African great apes tour that I am planning and will include the three main eastern gorilla destinations in these neighbouring countries, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and the contiguous Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, where we will also search for golden monkey. Primates will feature heavily on a tour that will include chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park and I also plan to include a traditional plains safari in Akagera National Park, which continues to stage a remarkable recovery following the devastation of the Rwandan Civil War and subsequent unchecked poaching. Lion and black rhinoceros can both be observed at Akagera for the first time in more than a decade and the human cost of this dark episode in Africa’s tumultuous history will be remembered with visits to the moving genocide memorials at Nyamata and Kigali.
Another classic African journey that will feature some of the continent’s most renowned safari destinations, from the wild dogs on the floodplains of the Zambezi at Mana Pools to the white rhinoceros and granite kopjes of Matobo Hills and the vast elephant herds on the edge of the Kalahari at Hwange. Additional options will include Matusadona National Park on the fertile banks of Lake Kariba, as well as the remote less well trodden wilderness of Chizarira National Park and of course Victoria Falls, for anyone who would like to finish their unforgettable adventure at this iconic natural wonder.