Planning a vacation in the forest destinations is one of the most thrilling and enduring experiences of a lifetime. Dense rain forests filled with exotic plants and unusual creatures have always been alluring to adventure-seekers. The rise of the modern eco-tourism industry has made it easier for casual nature-lovers to experience jungle landscapes without a pit helmet and machete. In fact, many people ignore other biomes and define “eco-tourism” as travel to a rain forest. A wider range of natural landscapes is, of course, included in the industry’s destination options , but the exotic and teeming jungle is surely the most appealing of all.
Enough preaching! Here are just few great ideas for a truly fascinating journey
Most of the Amazon rain forest sits in Brazil, but one of the most exciting eco-tourism destinations in the forest is the lowlands of Peru. The Manu Wilderness is home to more plants and animals than almost any other natural area on Earth. Hundreds of mammal species and 1,000 species of birds call these dense forests home, while 15,000 types of plants have been cataloged inside Manu’s borders. The forests here are as pristine as any other rain forest vacation destination, but the wildlife is the real reason to come to Manu. Jaguar, tapir and primate sightings are commonplace. Colourful parrots and macaws, as well as unique species like giant otters, provide easy shots for camera-toting visitors. The Manu Wildlife Center offers programs to eco-tourists, while guided tours (a guide is an absolute must in this wilderness) make Manu a remote-yet-accessible option for those who want to introduce themselves to the flora and fauna of the Amazon.
La Mauricie National Park
No trip to Canada will be complete without a ride exploring the La Mauricie National Park. Located midway (180 km) between Quebec’s two largest cities, Quebec City and Montreal, La Mauricie National Park encompasses 544 square kilometres in the hearth of the Quebec Laurentians. Its landscape is a vast rolling plateau broken by numerous lakes and rounded hills and etched by waterfalls, streams and narrow valleys. Its dense coniferous and deciduous mixed forest was, for 8000 years, home to a sub-group of the native Algonquin people known as Attikameks. Wildlife typical of the boreal forests is abundant here. Established in 1970, the park protects a representative sample of the Canadian Shield – the central portion of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Precambrian region – one that exhibits a continuous transition with many species meeting either a northern or southern limit here.
Malaysian Borneo’s Danum Valley has some unusual plant and animal residents. Carnivorous pitcher plants and gigantic rafflesia flowers (some weighing more than 15 pounds) give this valley a truly exotic, almost primeval, feel. Flying squirrels, gibbons, Asian elephants and rare jungle rhinos all call the conservation area home. One of Southeast Asia’s first true eco-resorts, the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, still operates in the valley, offering guests an upscale place to stay in between jungle treks, canopy tours and river adventures.
One of the most overlooked destinations in Australia. Temperate rain forest covers 10 percent of this island, which sits south of the mainland. These forests receive a high amount of moisture, but are, as their label suggests, much cooler than their tropical peers. The wet landscapes, mostly found on the western side of the island, are surprisingly scenic. The leafy trees and climbing vegetation of the tropics are rare in Tasmania, but evergreen trees and landscapes teeming with smaller mammals mean that this is a very unusual rain forest environment. Tasmania is a sparsely populated place (it has only 500,000 residents), so enjoying the forests in relative solitude is possible. Some parks that contain rain forest landscapes maintain their isolated appeal by allowing only a certain number of guests to be inside the part at any time.
Olympic National Park is home to another attractive temperate rain forest. Located On the Pacific Northwest, relatively close to Seattle in Washington state, this national park features a vast rain forest characterized by coniferous trees, fast growing mosses and ever-damp weather. The obvious advantage of Olympic is that it is easily accessible for U.S.-based rain forest-seekers. However, just because it is close to home does not mean that it is merely a minor league eco-tourism destination for those who don’t have the time or money to fly abroad. Rain forest covers the western regions of the park. Long looping trails make multi-day treks possible, and the park’s inner recesses are remote enough that people will feel like they are truly on a rain forest adventure.