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.

What makes the perfect wildlife holiday? There’s a question to ponder as we begin 2019. Some people simply want to see as many species as they can - of birds, or mammals or butterflies. Some only seek that special icon, such as a Tiger or an Orca. There are those that revel in spine-tingling experiences, however they may happen, coming back with memories rather than lists. Still others thirst for the thrill of the new, visiting a part of the world far from their own experience. Many clients crave a mixture of wildlife and comfort. Adventure might be the key, where the animals come with a white-knuckle ride. Others want to dip into culture and history, as well as natural history.

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.

We’ve been nominated ‘Best Safari, Wildlife & Nature Holiday Company’ in the prestigious 2019 British Travel Awards. Click here to vote. All voters will be entered into an official prize draw with holidays, cruises and more to be won!