• William Gray

27 Places to See Primates in the Wild

Updated: Feb 24


Proboscis monkeys, Borneo

1. Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Lush tropical rainforest rucked up against a wild stretch of Pacific coast, this biodiverse hotspot is home to all four species of monkey found in Costa Rica: Central American squirrel monkey, Geoffroy’s spider monkey, mantled howler and white-headed capuchin. Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park is also prime territory for primates.

When to go: December to April


2. Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve, Brazil

Travel by boat from Manaus to reach Mamiraua where a floating lodge offers forays into the flooded forest of the Amazon in search of white uakari and other primates.

When to go: Year round


3. Manu National Park, Peru

Vast tract of pristine tropical rainforest with 13 species of primate, including capuchin, common squirrel monkey, red howler, two varieties of spider monkey, emperor tamarin, Goeldi’s monkey and pygmy marmoset.

When to go: Year round, but driest May to October


4. Poco das Antas Biological Reserve, Brazil

A two-hour drive from Rio de Janeiro, this rare piece of Atlantic coast rainforest provides a refuge for the equally vulnerable golden lion tamarin. Nearly a quarter of the 1,000 individuals remaining in the wild are found here.

When to go: May to September


5. Gibraltar

An introduced colony of Barbary macaques are Europe’s only non-human primates living

wild. They can also be found roaming the cedar forests of Morocco and Algeria.

When to go: Year round


6. Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

Large troops of Gelada baboon can be seen on the plateaux and escarpments of this rugged national park.

When to go: October to March


7. Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda

Home to no less than 13 primate species, including chimpanzee which can be tracked through the forest. Also try Kyambura Gorge, Ngamba Island Chimp Sanctuary and Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve.

When to go: Year round


8. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Mountain gorilla stronghold. Track one of three habituated troops in steep, often challenging terrain. Mgahinga National Park in southern Uganda has one habituated gorilla family.

When to go: Year round


9. Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Seven mountain gorilla families have been habituated in the mountains where Dian Fossey worked, along with two troops of the endemic golden monkey.

When to go: Year round


10. Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda

Located in southern Rwanda, Nyungwe is prime habitat for chimps (habituation is ongoing), as well as large troops of black and white colobus, blue monkey and grey-cheeked mangabey.

When to go: Year round


11. Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Congo

A natural jungle clearing, Mbeli Bai provides an opportunity to watch lowland gorilla and forest elephant. Dzanga-Ndoki National Park (Central African Republic) has the world’s only other group of habituated lowland gorillas.

When to go: Year round


12. Lopé National Park, Gabon

Western lowland gorilla and chimpanzee are found here, but none are habituated. The best chance of a sighting is at Langoue Bai. Lopé also has large troops of mandrill, plus a variety of other primates.

When to go: July to August for mandrill


13. Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream National Parks, Tanzania

With forested mountains rearing above sandy beaches on Lake Tanganyika, Mahale offers a beautiful setting for tracking chimpanzees. Alternatively, try picking up the trail of the Gombe Stream chimps of Jane Goodall fame.

When to go: May to November


14. Montagne D’Ambre National Park, Madagascar

Mountain rainforest and waterfalls provide a stunning backdrop for walks in search of crowned lemur.

When to go: April to November


15. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Madagascar

One of Madagascar’s most popular parks and the best place to see the indri.

When to go: April to November


16. Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar

Ranomafana has at least 12 species, including the rare golden bamboo lemur.

When to go: April to November


17. Berenty Private Reserve, Madagascar

Best known of the island’s reserves, Berenty offers relaxed walking in gallery forest where ring-tailed lemur and Verreaux’s sifaka are seen at close range.

When to go: April to November


18. Periyar National Park, Kerala, India

Periyar National Park is home to four species of primates – lion-tailed macaque, bonnet macaque, common langur and Nilgiri langur.

When to go: September to May


19. Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka

Montane cloud forest supports toque macaque, purple faced langur and an endemic slender loris.

When to go: December to March


20. Baima Snow Mountain Reserve, Yunnan, China

Snub-nosed monkeys in remote conifer forests.

When to go: June to September


21. Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia

Lowland rainforest with macaques, leaf monkeys and white-handed gibbons.

When to go: February to September


22. Bako National Park, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

Small rainforest reserve, with trails into proboscis monkey territory.

When to go: March to December


23. Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Boat trips to see proboscis monkey, orang-utan, gibbons and macaques.

When to go: March to October


24. Kabili-Sepilok Reserve, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Rehabilitation centre for orang-utans rescued from logging, hunting and the

pet trade.

When to go: March to October


25. Mentawai Islands, Sumatra, Indonesia

Seven endemic primates can be found here, including Kloss’s Gibbon and Mentawai macaque.

When to go: May to September


26. Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia

The Bohorok Orang-Utan Sanctuary is near Bukit Lawang, the main access point for treks in Gunung Leuser – home to wild orangs, tigers and rhinos.

When to go: April to September


27. Tanjung Puting National Park, Kalimantan, Indonesia

Orang-utan, proboscis monkey and macaques.

When to go: April to September

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Wildlife Wishlist was founded by zoologist, conservationist and award-winning travel writer and photographer William Gray. Sharing his passion for wildlife and recommendations for responsible travel, Will has spent around 30 years tracking down the world's best wildlife holiday experiences.

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