The Arctic is a special place. The frozen roof of our planet has attracted and fascinated people for centuries. First it was a craving for exploration and discovery and then, later on, the race to be the first to reach the North Pole. Today, the Arctic still casts its icy spell, although those of us wishing to visit can explore in a lot more comfort and warmth than endured by those explorers of old! The region’s hardy wildlife is especially fascinating, but if you want to see Polar Bears and Walrus, Arctic Fox and Ivory Gulls where should you go, when should you visit and how should you get there?

After a brief and, shall we say, self-indulgent vacation to New England last autumn, the “Watches” were back on home ground last week, in sizzling form and once again celebrating our own wildlife. “Winterwatch” came from the Cairngorms, in north-central Scotland, in a snowscape “fit for a fairytale” as Chris Packham aptly described it. It certainly didn’t disappoint.

I was lucky enough to first visit Borneo as a guidebook researcher in the 1990s. Back then there were few, if any, guided tours and conditions were pretty rudimentary: getting into national parks involved learning enough Malay to catch minibuses – or river boats – to the nearest village and asking around there for guides to take you on foot into the forest...

You don't have to be a wildlife enthusiast to be enthused by primates! Humans are one of around 300 species that consititute the primate order. Primates are characterised primarily by having large brains relative to body weight, allowing for complex social interaction, use of tools, spatial reasoning and conscious thought. Viewing primates in the wild is special for this reason; it is easy to be captivated by the anthropomorphic stare of a Mountain Gorilla, wondering if it's pondering the same questions that you are, or to marvel at the intelligence displayed even by small primates, such as the Bearded Capuchin as it cracks tough Brazil nuts using an improvised hammer and anvil.

The two islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, 150 miles or so off the north-west coast of Gabon, comprise a rarely visited island paradise! Click here for details on our new birdwatching tour.