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LIST: WILDLIFE, NATURE & ECOLOGY TOUR OPERATORS

These are UK-based tour operators specialising in wildlife, nature and ecology tours worldwide, in particular birdwatching holidays.
Avian Adventures 01384 372013 Worldwide birdwatching, wildlife and photographic holidays
Biosphere Expeditions 01502 583085 The real thing. Non-profit conservation expeditions, often to truly remote places, to help scientists carry out conservation programmes and research, such as monitoring wolves in the Carpathian Mountains or counting macaws in Peru. It's usually hard work and there are few luxuries, but it can be enormously rewarding. Around two-thirds of the fee you pay to join an expedition goes directly to the project itself.
Birdfinders 01258 839066 Extensive programme of birding holidays all over the world.
Birdquest 01254 826317 Major bird tour specialist with expert-guided, small group tours all over the world
Birdwatching Breaks 01381 610495 Small group birdwatching trips all over the world since 1987.
Dolma Ecotourism 020 7449 9530 Cultural & spiritual tours to a remote part of Nepal close to the Tibetan border. An opportunity to live with locals, learn about their way of life, and put something back; each holiday reinvests in the community through the Dolma Development Fund which sponsors education, health care and cultural activity and crafts.
Dolphin Connection, The 01273 882 778 Brighton based company offering holidays swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores and Egypt. They have their own unique ethical code of conduct developed over the 14 years that they have been interacting with dolphins, plus their own guides & marine biologists with specialist knowledge of the dolphins and whales of The Azores.
Dolphinswim 01273 882 778 Five or seven-day holidays near Hurgada on the Red Sea watching and swimming with wild dolphins taking care not to negatively impact the dolphins' natural behaviour or habitat - IE no nets here! Formerly called 'Wild and Free'.
Eagle-Eye Tours 0800 328 1454 Worldwide bird-watching tours. US-based company with UK presence.
Exodus 020 8673 0859 Adventure, wildlife & wilderness tours
Explore! 0845 291 4541 Pound sign Explore! have a programme of 32 wildlife & adventure weekends (long weekends, some of them!) in 28 countries that include tiger tracking in India, gorilla watching in Uganda, brown bear & cheetah encounters, etc.
Footprint Adventures 01522 804929 Tours all over the world aimed at trekkers, walkers, naturalists, wildlife enthusiasts and birders. Conservation and community-friendly, their mission statement is to leave places cleaner & better than they found them.
Island Ventures 01227 770419 Bird-watching, botanical, and wildlife trips in the UK and Europe, particularly to island outposts such as the Orkneys, Hebrides etc.
Kudu Travel 01722 716167 Botanical and bird-watching tours
Limosa Holidays 01263 578143 A portfolio of around 70 inclusive, escorted, birdwatching (mainly) & wildlife holidays worldwide.
Naturetrek 01962 733051 One of the best known specialist operators in this field, with a spectacular range of wildlife, birdwatching, botany and natural history tours all over the world. There seems to be few places on the planet they don't cover, either in small group tours with expert guides, or as tailor-made tours for groups & individuals. (I count 91 countries in their 2007 brochure - ED)
New Horizons 01773 716550 Husband and wife team operating a programme of birdwatching tours and courses to destinations worldwide.
Papyrus Tours 01302 371 321 Natural history tours to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Southern & East Africa, Australia, India and Eastern Europe.
PlanetWildlife 020 3242 0533 Multinational brand offering wildlife and wildlife photography tours worldwide.
Responsible Travel 087000 52836 Pound sign Online portal/agency for conservational, environmental and community-friendly holidays of all types but with a leaning towards adventure and activity holidays.
Steppes Discovery 01285 643333 Was called 'Discovery Initiatives', now re-branded. Small group and tailormade nature travel specialists offering everything from whalewatching in California, through safaris in Rwanda, to visiting conservation projects in the wilds of Mongolia on horseback.
Sunbird Tours 01767 682969 One of the top specialist bird-watching operators with tours throughout the world.
Toucan Tours 01772 787 862 Bird-watching tours in Latin America
Travelling Naturalist, The 01305 267994 Guided wildlife tours (mainly birds) all over the world.
Ultimate Travel Company, The 020 7386 4646 Formerly known as 'Worldwide Journeys & Expeditions'. Now the wildlife and nature tours form a separate division within UTC, offering escorted small group tours worldwide.
Why Don't You... 0845 838 6262 Special interest holidays division of WEXAS, the longstanding and well-known holiday club. WDY has a number of nature & wildlife holidays in its programme each year...
Wildlife & Wilderness 01625 530035 As the name suggests, wildlife-watching tours worldwide, particularly in dramatic and remote landscapes. Wildlife & Wilderness were formerly known as Oksana Travel.
Wildlife Worldwide 020 8667 9158 One of the best-known operators in this field. Small groups tours and tailor-made journeys travelling worldwide to see animals in their natural environments, no matter how remote!
Wildwings 0117 9658 333 Wildlife holidays worldwide. Their speciality is bird-watching, hence the name, but they also go for the exotic such as puma watching in Chile or Giant pandas in China (they also offer dive trips to the bottom of the oceans... and space trips, but that's another story!).
Windows on the Wild 020 8742 1556 WOW operate adventure-wildlife tours to remote, mostly northern, regions where travellers can enjoy spectacular scenery & wildlife such as bears, caribou, seals, penguins, whales, etc. Travel can be by kayak, plane, dog-sled, snow-mobile, ship, etc.
World Bear Safaris 01273 691 642 starSpecialist wildlife Safari Company for avid bear fans, offering tailormade and set departure, eco-friendly safaris to see bears in the wild, from the polar bears in Svalbard and Churchill, to the Grizzlys of British Columbia and Alaska. Sister brand to the Cat & Primate specialists below.
World Big Cat Safaris 01273 691 642 Specialist operator creating tailor-made safaris to see big cats in the wild throughout the world. A donation from each safari sold goes towards the conservation of endangered big cats.
World Primate Safaris 01273 691 642 Tailor-made safaris designed to maximise your chances of seeing primates in the wild from mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Lemurs in Madagascar to Orangutans in Borneo. For every safari sold they donate a percentage of this to the conservation of endangered primates.

Notes

  • Birdtours.co.uk is an excellent portal for bird-watchers with trip reports from all over the world.
  • Typenet (not based in the UK) operates escorted bird-watching trips in Northern France.
  • Free-Living is a very useful specialist directory and research resource for planning birding holidays. Being more 'niche' than I am, I don't find it hard to acknowledge that they have better birding advice than I do. Take a look.
  • Ecotour is a well-thought-out, human-edited specialist directory launched in May 2004 by two enthusiasts in Bournemouth. It focuses on environmentally sensitive operators and eco-lodges, giving each listing a whole page. Its only weakness is that at this stage their listings are good quality but not very numerous.

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