Jungles are formidable. They are brimming with flora and fauna, unlike anything you have ever seen before. From the inspiring vistas to the historical monuments, jungles are some of the most diverse locations on earth.
Despite their daunting nature, many adventurous individuals dedicate an entire holiday to rainforest exploration or slot it in their itinerary whilst travelling. Whatever your plans, we highly suggest you check out the inspiring locations below before settling on your next venture.
The side of the mountain is damp and thick with the greenest vegetation you have ever seen. The heat of the day has yet to creep in and the mist is still clouding your vision. Further and further you trek into the Rwandan jungle, before your guide signals with his hand to halt. You allow your eyes to focus on the mass in the clearing. As your gaze settles and your heart rate slows, you set your eyes upon a site that few see; a female gorilla and her youngster.
Volcanoes National Park
Forming part of the Congo Basin, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is home to some of the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world. They call the dense tropical rainforest home and are safe from poachers and habitat destruction. The park was established in 1925 and encompasses a Congolese side too, known as Albert National Park.
The landscape is interrupted by five incredible volcanic peaks, carpeted in the rich green velvet of the jungle and crowned with a cloud halo. Although the gorillas are undoubtedly a highlight, the sight of the volcanoes is equally as mesmerising.
The Volcanoes National Park is home to other special attractions too. The mischievous golden monkeys can be located on a mountain trek and visitors can visit the grave of primatologist Dian Fossey. Dian dedicated 18 years of her life to nurturing and protecting Rwanda’s mountain gorillas and penned the book Gorillas in the Mist. Her story is incredible and better helps travellers understand the importance of Rwanda’s gorilla population.
Nyungwe National Park
Close to the southern border with Burundi and a five-hour drive from Volcanoes National Park is Nyungwe National Park. It was granted park status in 2004 in a bid to diversify Rwanda’s tourism away from the mountain gorillas in the north. Nyungwe Forest has the highest density of primates throughout Africa and over 400 species of birds and mammals.
The canopy walk at the park presents incredible views across the tree tops. The suspended walkway allows visitors to be in the thick of the action, high above the jungle floor, and experience the sights of colobus monkeys and chimpanzees.
You slap at the critter on your neck and ignore the trickle of sweat snaking its way down your brow. It is hot, but you barely notice. You are in a kaleidoscope of colour and looking above you can only assume that there is blue sky beyond the thick plant life. Your eyes dart the jungle landscape and you shield your vision from the chinks of light as you take in the swinging howler monkeys and relaxing sloths overhead.
Costa Rica’s Cloud Forests
Santa Elena and Montverde look like forests conjured up in books and films. Rope bridges span ravines and rocky paths lead to hidden monuments deep within the jungle. However, it is the thin veil of cloud that constantly lingers in the forests that adds another level of mystery.
Lurking in the rainforests of both locations are six cat species; jaguars, pumas, ocelots and the lesser known oncillas, jaguarundis and margays. Over 100 mammals and 400 bird species call the cloud forests home, as well as 1,200 reptile and amphibian species. Santa Elena also has a large spider monkey population and the symbol of Costa Rica, the otherworldly quetzal bird, can be spotted by keen eyes.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Located on Costa Rica’s central Pacific Coast, Manuel Antonio National Park boasts a diverse landscape. Coral reefs give way to untouched beaches, mangrove swamps and thick rainforest. Spider monkeys, howler monkey, and endangered squirrel monkeys all navigate the forest with ease, whilst sloths and iguanas prefer a slower pace of life.
There are countless species of flora and fauna calling the park home and visitors can also enjoy the views of dolphins and migrating whales from the shoreline or the water. Many visitors take the opportunity to snorkel or scuba dive, with the resident turtles coming out of the azure to join your swim.
Black and white fragments your vision. You plant your feet to the earth beneath, which is crawling with life. You want to see this creature for yourself, after all, Madagascar is famous for them. You take a second to steady yourself, realising the impact of the humidity and you hear the distant rush of a waterfall. Your eyes trace a lizard scaling a nearby tree and as your neck cranes to the heavens, you see a dozen golden eyes gazing down upon you. Ring-tailed lemurs.
Lemurs are endemic to Madagascar and there is no better place to see them than Andasibe Reserve. Located in eastern Madagascar, the protected rainforest is home to a variety of lemur species, including the famous ring-tail and very loud indri lemur. Visitors who trek the forest trail can expect to me met by some very bold characters, with some of the reserve’s cheekier lemurs hopping onto guest’s shoulders and even grooming their hair!
Although for many the countless lemurs are a jungle highlight of Andasibe, there are creatures great and small that call the reserve home. Many choose to stay Vakona Forest Lodge; a collection of eco-lodges with verandas looking out across the forest. This allows visitors to be enveloped in the heart of the jungle and take in the wildlife at leisure.
Ranomafana National Park
The mountainous terrain of Ranomafana stretches 415 km² and is championed as one of Madagascar’s most spectacular parks. In 1986 a doctor discovered that the critically endangered golden bamboo lemur was alive and well in the area, which prompted the national park status.
To enjoy the incredible rainforest, the park provides five different circular treks. The four-hour varibolomena circuit is the easiest, whereas the soarano hike will take two or three days and takes in the traditional tanala village located deep in the forest.