Manú National Park
OSTILL/istockphoto
Manú National Park
OSTILL/istockphoto

Eco-Logical Destinations

As the most biologically diverse and oldest ecosystems on the planet, rainforests are also some of the most beautiful and incredible natural landscapes to explore. The ecotourism ranges from nature-oriented theme parks where thrill-seekers can book zip lining and canopy tours to dense, untouched wilderness frequented only by serious adventurers. 


Trekking through some of the world's coolest rainforests — whether it's the tropical jungles of Africa or the cool, temperate forests in the United States' Pacific Northwest — you can pack your trip with unforgettable wildlife encounters and magical walks through lush forests, and even support conservation efforts on once-in-a-lifetime adventures.


Related: Bucket-List Spots Around the World Every Traveler Should See at Least Once

Daintree Rainforest
simonbradfield/istockphoto

Daintree Rainforest

Australia

In northern Queensland, Australia's largest rainforest, Daintree Rainforest, is also the world's oldest tropical rainforest at an estimated 180 million years old. On the stunning stretch of coast at Cape Tribulation, two rich ecosystems and UNESCO World Heritage Sites converge: the Wet Tropics of Queensland, including the national park-protected Daintree Rainforest, and the Great Barrier Reef. This ancient, lush rainforest — rimmed with pristine, white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters with coral reefs — is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including cassowary birds, Ulysses butterflies, pythons, crocodiles, and even the rare Bennett’s tree kangaroo. You'll also find some of the earliest plants on Earth, most of which can't be found anywhere else. Plenty of rainforest tours offer ways to explore the flora and fauna on foot via marked hiking paths, on a river cruise, or by zip lining through the canopy. 


Related: 21 Epic Hiking Trails Around the World

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
miroslav_1/istockphoto

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve

Costa Rica

Walk on top of the clouds and witness rare wildlife at one of the world's most famous cloud forests, Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Perched high atop Costa Rica's continental divide, hovering clouds continuously provide moisture to this 26,000-acre preserve, giving life to an incredibly diverse ecosystem. Trail hikes and zip-line or canopy tours through the gorgeous cloud forest will give you a chance to spot howler and capuchin monkeys as well as Central America's best-known bird — the regal, resplendent quetzal — plus hundreds of other wildlife and plant species. 


Related: 15 Bucket-List Destinations Below the Equator

Dominica
PaulZizka/istockphoto

Dominica

Lesser Antilles

Nicknamed the "Nature Isle of the Caribbean" for its unspoiled natural beauty, two-thirds of the small island of Dominica is covered by tropical rainforest, with much of it part of the national park system. Still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity, the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles is an ideal destination for travelers desiring a low-key, nature-focused trip. The island's sustainability efforts, eco-friendly resort options, and lack of crowds make it a haven for exploring the jungle and mountain paths leading to waterfalls and hot springs, picture-perfect beaches with azure waters, and special bird reserves and sea turtle nesting areas.


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Manú National Park
OSTILL/istockphoto

Manú National Park

Peru

While most of the Amazon rainforest sits in Brazil, Manú National Park is considered one of the most pristine areas of the Peruvian Amazon due to its remote location and longstanding conservation efforts. Part of an even larger biosphere reserve, the UNESCO World Heritage Site's diverse landscape features high grasslands, mountain cloud forests, and lush lowland rainforests. Spared from most human impacts, researchers and adventurers alike are drawn to the region's extraordinary and unrivaled biodiversity. Rare species like the giant otter and giant armadillo as well as the elusive, endangered Andean mountain cat find refuge here, and jaguars and primates are often sighted. Programs for eco-tourists make the park an accessible option for those interested in experiencing the Amazon. Visitors must be accompanied by a registered guide, so trips to the park must be booked in advance. 


Related: 10 Rainforest Adventures for Frugal Travelers

Olympic National Park
RomanKhomlyak/istockphoto

Hoh Rainforest

Washington

A few hours west of Seattle, Olympic National Park contains four temperate rainforests, which were part of a huge Pacific Northwest rainforest that once spanned from the central coast of California to southeastern Alaska. On the park's west side, the popular Hoh Rainforest is one of the best and most accessible places in the country to see a temperate rainforest ecosystem. Its annual average of almost 12 feet of rainfall contributes to an enchanting, dense canopy dominated by old-growth cedar and spruce trees, hanging mosses, and ferns carpeting the forest floor. Venture out on the rainforest's various trails to take in the scenery — from waterfalls to wildlife, including river otters, black bears, elk, bobcats, mountain lions, and the northern spotted owl.


Related: 35 Surprising Facts About America's National Parks

Khao Yai National Park
geax2007/istockphoto

Khao Yai National Park

Thailand

Established in 1962 as Thailand's first national park, Khao Yai National Park is the country's third-largest national park. Set in the Dong Phaya Yen Mountains, the park is part of the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located near Bangkok, this rainforest is the ultimate wildlife-spotting escape. While tourists can traverse a handful of trails to popular waterfalls and viewing points near the visitor center on their own, a guided wildlife tour (booked in advance) is needed to traverse much of the dense jungle trails and see scores of wildlife, including wild Asian elephants, bears, gibbons (apes), porcupines, jackals, and other more elusive animals. 


Related: Beautiful Destinations Threatened By Overtourism — and Where to Go Instead

Loango National Park
KeithDodd/istockphoto

Loango National Park

Gabon

Gabon's showcase attraction, Loango National Park, protects a diverse coastal habitat along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa that's been dubbed "The Last Eden." The tropical rainforest features some of the most pristine virgin forest remaining on the continent and harbors a diverse array of wildlife — from gorillas to hippos to whales. In recent years, Gabon's conservation efforts led to the creation of 13 national parks in 2002 to help protect vital forest and marine ecosystems as well as Central Africa's threatened and endangered species, including forest elephants and populations of western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. The push for eco-tourism is also making travel to this region more accessible and affordable.


Related: 21 Places to Safely See Wild Animals Up Close

El Yunque National Rainforest
Boogich/istockphoto

El Yunque National Rainforest

Puerto Rico

As the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, Puerto Rico's El Yunque National Rainforest is a worthwhile day trip from the nearby city of San Juan. Covering 28,000 acres on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains, it's one of the world's smallest tropical rainforests, but it's impressively packed with an array of plant and animal species that can't be seen anywhere else on the planet, including endangered, emerald-green Puerto Rican parrots, canopy-dwelling mountain lizard like the pygmy anole, and the island's famous serenading coquí tree frogs. Hiking trails range from short and easy to expert level, often leading to sweeping views of the surrounding landscape from the forest's highest peaks or cascading waterfalls that are perfect for a refreshing dip. 


Related: 31 Things You Didn't Know About Puerto Rico

Yasuní National Park and Biosphere Reserve
SL_Photography/istockphoto

Yasuní National Park and Biosphere Reserve

Ecuador

Located in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, Yasuní National Park and Biosphere Reserve is reputed to be one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. The thriving tropical rainforest shelters a wide variety of trees, amphibians, birds, bats, and more than 130 globally threatened species, including the golden-mantled tamarin bird and the white-bellied spider monkey. It's also home to some of the last indigenous communities still living in isolation in the Amazon. Visiting the park isn't easy, but lodges throughout the park can help organize your rainforest experience — from hikes to wildlife safaris to meeting local indigenous tribes.


Related: 14 Countries Where You Can Travel if You’ve Been Vaccinated

Harapan Rainforest
mazzzur/istockphoto

Harapan Rainforest

Indonesia

The incredibly biodiverse stretch of the Harapan Rainforest, deemed the "Forest of Hope," resides in the province of Jambi on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The tropical forest reserve provides a habitat for more than 300 bird species and endangered species like the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran elephant, Sumatran orangutan, Malayan sun bear, Storm’s stork, and even the rafflesia arnoldii (or corpse flower), the world's largest flower, which also known for its rotting-meat stench. Conservationists are working to restore the lowland forest and protect this vulnerable region from logging, mining, palm oil plantation development, and poaching. Visitors can embark on many eco-adventures like hikes, guided river safaris, and overnight camping. 

Tongass National Forest
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Tongass National Forest

Alaska

At nearly 17 million acres, Alaska's Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States. Despite decades of clear-cutting, the area still boasts some of the most intact stretches of temperate rainforest on the globe. The remote and beautiful coastal stretch is a refuge for five salmon species, humpback whales, orcas, otters, beavers, eagles, and some of America's largest populations of brown bears. It's also home to three Native American nations that depend on the region's resources to support their communities. On scenic trails, visitors can expect to see a vast landscape of ancient forests with old-growth trees, towering mountains, crisp glaciers, and roaring rivers — in addition to impressive wildlife viewing.


Related: Where to See Bald Eagles in (Almost) Every State

Amazon Rainforest
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Amazon Rainforest

Brazil

A majority of the world's largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon rainforest, is in Brazil and it branches into Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and many other South American countries. Covering most of the Amazon Basin, it spans more than 1.4 billion acres of dense forests (half of the planet's remaining tropical forests) and is crisscrossed by 4,100 miles of winding rivers, including the mighty Amazon River. The rainforest contains 10% of the world's known species with nearly 40,000 plant species and millions of wildlife species — from anacondas to sloths to multiple species of monkeys — through a mosaic of forest and savanna ecosystems. Unfortunately, the Amazon rainforest is under threat due to fires and relentless deforestation, which could have catastrophic consequences to Brazil's indigenous communities and the overall health of our planet.

Perućica primeval forest

Perućica Rainforest

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dubbed "Europe's last jungle" and the "lungs of Europe," Perućica Rainforest is located in the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina's oldest and largest national park, Sutjeska National Park. Situated almost on the border with Montenegro, it's one of Europe's two remaining primaeval forests — some of the trees are more than 300 years old and a number of rare and endemic species live here. Surrounded by imposing mountain peaks, few visitors have explored this dense, untouched forest, which was declared a strictly protected nature reserve and inscribed in the tentative list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The rainforest and its impressive, plunging Skakavac Waterfall can only be accessed by visiting with a licensed tour guide for hiking, river rafting, canyoning, or off-road safari experiences.

Pictures taken at sunrise and in the early morning in Tikal by Rodrigo Escalante.
Rod Esca/istockphoto

Maya Biosphere Reserve

Guatemala

In tandem with the Maya Forest, which stretches across Belize, north­ern Guatemala, and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the UNESCO-recognized Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala's Petén region is one of the largest tropical forests north of the Amazon and the northernmost tropical forest in the Western Hemisphere. The reserve encompasses four national parks and three wildlife reserves, and the 525,000-acre region is rich in both natural and archaeological wonders. In addition to serving as a habitat for jaguars, crocodiles, and howler monkeys, it's also home to the ancient Tikal ruins, where you'll discover some of the oldest and largest Mayan pyramids.


Related: 30 Incredible Photos of Ancient Ruins Across North America

Primorsky Krai Region
chesterf/istockphoto

Primorsky Krai Region

Russia

In the remote, southernmost corner of the Russian Far East, temperate rainforests in Primorsky Krai (translated as “Maritime Territory”) have impressively retained almost all of their historical biodiversity and range. This picturesque region, interestingly known for its temperate climate in an otherwise brutally cold province, is home to numerous endangered species. The mixed broadleaf coniferous forests are notable for being the last remaining habitat for the critically endangered Amur tiger and Amur leopard. Numerous nature reserves, including a massive marine biosphere reserve and safari park, with varied landscapes and rich wildlife and flora attract travelers to the Russian coastline of the Sea of Japan.

Volcanoes National Park
Dennis Stogsdill/istockphoto

Volcanoes National Park

Rwanda

Situated in the far northwest corner of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park protects the tropical rainforest on the steep slopes of the Virunga Mountains. In the volcano conservation region, which also stretches to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, the park is best known as a premier spot for trekking rare mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Roughly half of the world’s wild population of mountain gorillas reside on Rwanda's lush volcano slopes, and 10 habituated gorilla families are visited by tourists everyday. While the required permits — which guarantee travelers gorilla viewing time and can take up to a year to acquire as visitor numbers are strictly controlled at just 80 people a day — are more expensive than other parks, it's arguably the world's most accessible gorilla national park due to its proximity to the airport and range of nearby accommodations.

Hanumana Gundi Falls in Kudremukh national park, Karnataka.
Wikimedia Commons

North Western Ghats Montane Rainforests

India

India's Western Ghats, considered one of the world's richest biodiversity hotspots, belongs to a mountain chain that’s older than the Himalayas. The tropical rainforests — renowned for its large population of Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, lion-tailed macaques, and thousands of other species, including hundreds endemic to the region — is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rich in flora and fauna, the northern stretch of high montane rainforest ecosystems actually influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. While it faces a number of conservation challenges, this rainforest area near the west coast of India has numerous adventure possibilities, including many national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and forest reserves.