Pick of the World's Primate Watching Lodges
Updated: Feb 24
In Belize, the Community Baboon Sanctuary is a model ecotourism project in which some 200 landowners (having volunteered to manage their land to safeguard howler monkey habitat) boost their income through accommodation, guided tours and other visitor services. You can camp at the sanctuary or stay with a community member in a local B&B. There’s also the Howler Monkey Resort in the sanctuary. Guided walks are the best way to get close to habituated troops.
Accommodation near Costa Rica’s Tortuguero National Park includes Pachira Lodge and Mawamba Lodge, both offering excellent access to the region’s forest-fringed lagoons and canals where you should see spider, howler and capuchin monkeys.
The floating Uakari Lodge in Brazil has rainwater collection, solar power and other eco-friendly touches and makes an excellent base for exploring the seasonally flooded forests of the Amazon (May-July). Paddle canoes will get you quietly in range of red howlers, uakaris and spider monkeys. Located in a private reserve in the southern Amazon, Cristalino Jungle Lodge is another low-impact option. Home to the endemic white-whiskered spider monkey and several other primate species, the lodge has a 50m canopy tower.
Primate-watching accommodation in the Republic of Congo is limited to Mbeli Bai Camp, a remote outpost with long-drop toilets and bush showers – but just a 40-minute walk from Mbeli Bai and the chance to spot lowland gorillas.
Closed in September 2010 due to an aviation dispute, Loango Lodge in Gabon’s Loango National Park was renowned as a prime location for seeing western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees and a wealth of other wildlife, including the famous ‘surfing’ hippos along the park’s wild coast. Check the lodge’s website for the latest news.
In Rwanda there’s an excellent choice of places to stay near Volcanoes National Park, including the upmarket Sabinyo Silverback Lodge and comfortable Virunga Lodge – both with breathtaking views of the volcanoes.
With just eight, beautifully furnished stone cottages, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge provides easy access to gorilla tracking trails in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. Other intimate options (all with views over the forest) include Buhoma Lodge and Bwindi Lodge. For Kibale Forest, try Primate Lodge where you can stay in a cottage or bring your own tent. A sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees, Ngama Island in Lake Victoria has an eco-friendly tented camp sleeping up to eight.
In Tanzania, the exotic Greystoke Camp perches on the shores of Lake Tanganyika like a miniature thatched version of Sydney Opera House. Fashioned from old dhow timber, it offers a stylish base from which to track chimpanzees in Mahale National Park.
Madagascar boasts a range of lodges wellplaced for ventures into lemur land. In Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Vakona Forest Lodge has comfortable bungalows overlooking a lake, while Berenty Lodge offers chalet accommodation with the added bonus of ring-tailed lemurs and Verreaux’s sifakas dropping by on a daily basis.
In Borneo, Sepilok Nature Resort has stunning lakeside gardens and is within easy walking distance of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve and its orang-utan sanctuary. Kinabatanagan Riverside Lodge makes a great base for encounters with proboscis monkeys, while the rustic Borneo Rainforest Lodge lies in the heart of primary rainforest in the Danum Valley and offers treetop safaris and night walks. For orang-utans in Sumatra, Bukit Lawang Cottages is close to a rehabilitation centre for the endangered Sumatran species of the great ape and is well located for hikes in Gunung Leuser National Park.