Unlike my sample trips, which are fairly detailed documents and provide a great deal of information regarding specific destinations within each country, these trip reports are a basic summary of the tours that I have personally participated in since December 2008. Some are much longer than others, but the size of each report is no indication regarding the success of a tour, as I generally prefer to concentrate on a few of the more memorable incidents that really interest me, as opposed to simply recording everything that I see.
Each report includes a number of general wildlife photographs, as well as a list of the major mammals encountered, as I am regularly asked which animals are likely to be seen on each trip. I therefore incorporate a list of the mammals that I have been able to observe on every tour, the vast majority of which I would expect future visitors to also see if they took a similar trip and spent as much time in the field.
Unless I have arranged to participate in a significant conservation project administrated by dedicated researchers, all wildlife has been observed in totally wild conditions, as trapping an animal simply to say that you have seen it is unethical in my view and is completely contrary to the natural experience that I want my guests to be able to reflect upon for years to come. Although some tour guides now offer specialised trips purely to trap and identify various bats, rodents and other small mammals, trapping an animal is highly invasive and extremely stressful to the creature involved. It can result in injury or death and, even if this is not the case, seeing an animal in these traumatic conditions can hardly classify as the wild encounter that people will often travel thousands of miles in the hope of experiencing.
Whilst I do occasionally find myself using lodges that feed small animals, in general I also discourage the feeding of wild animals, as the creatures quickly begin to associate humans with food and this results in numerous animals being killed each year, particularly in some areas of North America, where a zero tolerance approach is taken regarding habituated predators. I have no real objection to lodges hanging out insignificant amounts of food to attract a few of the smaller mammals, in the same way that bird feeders are common across the world, but people actively feeding bears, wolves and other major predators is not acceptable in any circumstances and I specifically instruct all of my guides to ensure that this does not occur.
My trip reports only include mammals that I have been able to positively identify, either in the field or from my own photographs, and do not usually feature the many small rodents or bats that I commonly encounter, as there are literally thousands of these species and I find it far too time consuming to attempt to distinguish between them all. Similarly, although I am enthralled by all wildlife and spend a great deal of time watching birds, reptiles and amphibians, I am certainly not a birder and do not have sufficient knowledge or patience to produce lengthy lists of every bird observed. I prefer to spend my time in the field exploring and while my main personal interest has always been mammals, many of my tours are specifically designed to introduce guests to a wide variety of general wildlife.
In terms of my photographs, you will see from both my sample tours and these trip reports that I am not a professional photographer, although I do like to try and record much of what I see while on tour. Over the years I have amassed a huge collection of photographs, but I only switched permanently to digital photography towards the end of 2008, which is why my trip reports begin with a short visit to Yellowstone in December 2008. I did use a few older scanned pictures for my India sample trips, but I very much doubt that I will ever get time to review and catalogue the majority of my 120,000 or so negatives, or to add them to this website.
All of the maps for this website were created by the wildlife artist Duncan Butchart and I have added his details on the contact page. The maps were produced to my specific instructions, so any errors are my own, and they have been included purely as a rough guide to various destinations within each country.
I intend to produce additional trip reports within a couple of weeks of my return from all future tours and these will ultimately build to provide potential travellers with some idea of the remarkable wildlife that can be encountered, totally naturally, in the regions that I like to visit.
52) Italy and Switzerland – August 2020
53) Slovakia – September 2020
54) Netherlands – September 2020