Where in the World to See Wild Monkeys? (Toronto, Islamabad)
Who doesn’t love monkeys? We’re descended from them, they can take selfies, make Pot Noodles and talk to us in sign language – they’re basically our annoying, adorable little brothers. They’re closer to us than any other animal, and perhaps this is why we find them so innately watchable – simultaneously humanlike, yet so very different, monkeys have to power to endlessly fascinate. But there’s something rather sad about seeing these amazing apes confined to cages – after all, their society is so closely related to our own. So don’t go to the zoo, use your next holiday to observe these incredible creatures in their natural habitats – playful, cunning, and, of course, extremely naughty, monkeys are sure to give you a few great anecdotes to take home to your friends! Here are the best destinations to observe these fascinating creatures – while enjoying some pretty awesome surroundings yourself!
Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan
Everything about this park is simply amazing – the thick winter snowfall (of up to a meter), the hot springs, the stunning cliffs, the Valley of Yokoyu River location – and, most importantly, the chance to observe wild monkeys in their natural habitat. Japanese Macaques (or Snow Monkeys) flourish in these difficult climates, and you won’t find any fences or observatories in the Jigokudani Monkey Park – it’s all about the authentic experience and not interfering with the monkey’s environment in any way. Witness the monkeys frolicking in the springs (a protective measure to keep them warm during the extreme cold of the winter season) or grooming each other in the mountains – these charming macaques will make your trip worth your while.
Margalla Hills, Islamabad
Despite Islamabad’s rapid urbanization, it has managed to protect its local wildlife and keep its population intact – and towards to Margalla Hills, which are at the foothills of the Himalayas, you’ll find all kinds of exotic creatures. Birds, jungle cats, porcupines, spotted doves, deer, Asiatic jackals, and, of course, monkeys roam freely here – and even better, the monkeys are Rhesus Macaques, some of the cutest, friendliest monkeys around. If you’ve booked your flights from Abu Dhabi to Islamabad Airport, the Hills are just a short drive away – just don’t carry any fruit in your pocket or it might get pinched!
If you’re after a bigger thrill, why not check out some bigger monkeys? I’m talking, of course, about gorillas – the endangered apes can be visited in the Virunga Mountains – a gorilla trekking safari will provide you with a guide to see them in the wild. The vast apes are critically endangered so it’s a rare chance to see them in their natural habitat, and what’s more, tourism actually helps fund their conservation effort, giving a double incentive!
If you’re heading off to see the monkeys this summer, make sure you follow the advice of the locals, stay in groups, don’t get too close to any little ones, and don’t carry food, or else you may be relieved of it! But you can, of course, try dropping your camera on the floor and see if you can nudge a monkey into giving you some valuable selfie action – no guarantees you’ll get the camera back though!