Rainforests cover around 6% of the world’s surface but contain a remarkable 50% of all Earth’s life. Rainforest destinations are one of the best places to visit to see an astounding level of animals and plants. With a hot climate year round, enjoy incredible scenery and animal sightings only otherwise seen in films and documentaries. Here we provide our selection of the top 16 rainforest travel destinations, in no particular order, and link to some travel bloggers who have experienced these areas to give you their own opinion.
Puerto Maldonado (Peru)
Gateway to Peru’s southern Amazon, there is no place in the Amazon Rainforest with as many clay clicks as the rainforest surrounding Puerto Maldonado. Giving access to the incredibly diverse Manu region and Tambopata Reserve – Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, there are some incredible rainforest tours. The Tambopata Reserve forms part of one of the largest tracts of tropical rainforest on Earth at over 3 million hectares.
Enjoy some of the largest macaw clay licks to see hundreds of these brightly colored birds flocking to the medicinal colpas. The clay licks at not just attractive to parrots and are visited by monkeys, capybara, peccary, and tapir. Because of this, the area surrounding them are patrolled by jaguar, which increases your chances of seeing these incredible animals sunning themselves by the river. Reports from the Tambopata Research Center, the premier Amazon lodge for the Tambopata rainforest, indicate that guests enjoy a 20% chance of seeing these incredible animals.
The rainforest surrounding Puerto Maldonado is not just home to fantastic clay licks, but is also fortunate to contain beautiful oxbow lakes. These are areas where the Amazon’s tributaries once flowed but have since changed direction, which have left behind a body of water very attractive to Amazon wildlife, such as the impressive Lago Sandoval. Many different monkeys, sloths, giant river otters, macaw parrots, and toucans are attracted to the lakes, which make for fantastic wildlife experiences.
You can have a look at our select experiences to browse Amazon Rainforest tours from Puerto Maldonado.
To read more about Puerto Maldonado, you can have a look our travel guide about the Amazon Rainforest.
Iquitos is the largest city in the world unreachable by road. A port city of the great Amazon River, Iquitos is the gateway to Peru’s incredibly diverse northern Amazon Rainforest where you can enjoy fantastic Amazon River cruises and Amazon Rainforest lodges. Enjoy different protected areas to see an amazing amount of wildlife. Head into the rainforest with your skilled guide to find several different monkeys, including capuchins, howler monkeys, sakis, squirrel monkeys, tamarins, pygmy marmosets, and others.
Aside from the monkeys, other wildlife you’re likely to see from Iquitos include the mysterious pink river dolphins, large macaw parrots, duelling toucans, vividly colored tanagers, trogans, other colorful birds, sloths hanging high in the trees, and brightly patterned poison dart frogs. This being the rainforest, the many plants you’re likely to see include many different flowers, fragrant orchids, bromeliads, and other epiphytes. The trees can grow very large with the giants of wimba, ficus and lupuna waiting to be found on forest walks.
The city of Iquitos itself is worth a couple of days to see some fascinating sites, such as the Iron House designed by Gustave Eiffel, which was seen by a wealthy rubber baron while he was in Paris and sent all the way to the Amazon River. Other places of note are the manatee rescue center to feed and see some adorably giant manatees waiting for release and the boulevard to enjoy a quiet drink or a meal while overlooking this magnificent river and rainforest.
You can have a look at our select experiences to browse Amazon Rainforest tours from Iquitos.
To read more about Iquitos, you can have a look our Iquitos travel guide.
Alta Floresta (Brazil)
Alta Floresta is a lesser known Brazilian city situated just above the Pantanal Wetlands. Because of this fantastic location, at the crossing of two very diverse ecosystems, the wildlife here contains a number of endemic species. There are monkeys, birds and other species found here, which don’t live anywhere else on Earth.
The wildlife along the Cristalino River is very diverse with different monkeys making their way through the rainforest and many colorful birds. To enjoy life in the canopy and wildlife, the Cristalino Lodge has built two giant canopy towers for fantastic wildlife viewing.
This is the most well studied area for biodiversity in the southern Brazilian Amazon. The research has shown no other area in the eastern Amazon has such a high diversity of bird life as the rainforest surrounding the Cristalino River. The Cristalino Lodge itself was built with conservation objectives to protect this incredible area of the Amazon.
Ecuador’s gateway to the Amazon Rainforest and the famous Yasuni National Park. From Coca you can enjoy fantastic Amazon Rainforest lodges, which offer a little more luxury than other Amazon areas, and excellent Amazon River cruises.
The Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest has won world records for its diversity of animals and plants. On walks from great rainforest lodges, enjoy trekking through the Amazon Rainforest to spot many different monkeys, colorful birds like the macaws and toucans, fascinating reptiles, attractive plants, and brightly patterned butterflies.
In addition to rainforest walks with your skilled guide, you can head out on guided canoe tours, enjoy canopy towers, and visit the Yasuni clay lick. This lick is frequently visited by different colorful parrots and makes a great stopping point to see and photograph the birds feeding from their medicinal and salt-rich clays.
There are many different lodges to choose in Ecuador’s rainforest, such as the higher end options of La Selva Lodge and Napo Wildlife Center or Sacha Lodge with its incredible canopy walkway and the community owned Sani Lodge. Each of these provides an excellent Amazon experience to maximise your time in Earth’s most wildlife rich area. As you’re now in Ecuador and very close to the world famous Galapagos Islands, you can also consider a luxurious combination tour of the Galapagos and Amazon.
You can have a look at our select experiences to browse Amazon Rainforest tours in Ecuador.
Bolivia’s gateway to the Amazon, this destination provides access to the Madidi National Park and the surrounding Madidi Mosaic rainforest. This section of the Amazon has been named as having equal level of animals and plants to some of the Amazon’s most diverse areas. Enjoy seeing many different rainforest monkeys, giant river otters in the waterways, different macaw parrots, and much more.
There are a lot of lodges here with a pure conservation and social focus. The premier Amazon lodge from Rurrenabaque is the community owned Chalalan Lodge, which after its foundation has seen some rarer wildlife, such as giant river otters and even jaguar returning to the area.
Enjoy different well thought out trails, which wind their way through the forest to maximise your wildlife experiences. In addition to forest walks, enjoy canoeing the rainforest, night hikes to see a completely different assemblage of forest life, and some cultural activities.
You can have a look at our select experiences to browse Amazon Rainforest tours in Bolivia.
Manaus is the Brazilian gateway to the rainforest on the Amazon River. Enjoy fantastic cruises into the protected areas and up the Amazon’s largest tributary, the Rio Negro. Explore the forest on skiff expeditions from your main cruise vessel to find different rainforest monkeys, a diversity of birds, and hopefully some rarer forest life.
Explore deep in the rainforest to scout the many waterways for forest life, such as squirrel monkeys and capuchins. The protected area you will cross includes the diverse Anavilhanas National Park, but the beauty of a cruise is the continued exploration of many diverse areas spread far through the rainforest. This allows you to get a better idea of the rainforest and to see a diversity of interesting areas.
In addition to skiff expeditions down the Amazon’s waterways, enjoy walking in the rainforest to see some different rainforest wildlife and kayaking tours on expedition cruises.
Manaus itself, being the Amazon’s largest city, is worth a couple of days to see the Amazon opera house and extravagant houses of rubber barons. These stand in memory of a very prosperous past when the Amazon’s rubber trees were tapped and the rubber shipped to Europe and America for the rise of the automobile. The barons decorated their houses with the finests materials the world could offer, from French glass to Italian marble.
You can have a look at our select experiences to browse Amazon Rainforest tours from Manaus.
There’s no better place for an Indian Jones style adventure vacation than Belize. With its Mayan temples hidden by tropical Central American rainforest, you will emerge from the trees to face incredible archaeological sites. With the incredible scenery, such as the enigmatic Maya Mountains, fantastic wildlife, and ancient history, you’re sure to have a fascinating experience.
Enjoy fantastic award-winning rainforest and coastal lodges to focus on adventure, nature, Mayan ruins, or simply choose to relax. As Belize also sits on the coastline, you can enjoy fantastic tropical beaches and cruises to see whales and dolphins. At certain times of year, turtles then climb the beaches to lay their eggs which makes for a favorite wildlife spectacle. Three different turtles can be found on Belize beaches, including loggerhead turtles, hawksbill turtles, and green turtles.
Explore the forest to see different animals and plants, such as iguanas, howler monkeys and other primates, caiman crocodilians, and tropical birds. This being the tropical rainforest, birding here is fantastic with birding visitors on five day tours seeing around 200 different varieties from the rainforest lodges.
For some recommended lodges in Belize, you can see our suggestions here.
Some travel bloggers who have written about their experiences in Belize are Michelle and Adam from Theluckypennyblog.com.
A famous tropical rainforest getaway, Costa Rica has become the symbol of eco tourism and continues to offer fantastic rainforest lodges. Explore some of the country’s incredible protected areas to see a colorful assortment of tropical life, from the iconic macaw parrots and tree frogs, to a diversity of inquisitive monkeys and birds.
Being on the coast, you can make the most of a diversity of habitats where incredibly rich and diverse rainforest meets the wildlife filled sea. The best way to make the most of this is to choose a coastal rainforest lodge, which makes a great base for exploring what Costa Rica has to offer.
Costa Rica offers some fantastic natural sights and activities. You can enjoy guided rainforest hikes to spot wildlife, kayaking in the rivers or the sea, horse riding through the rainforest or along the beaches, fantastic wildlife watching, and very enjoyable snorkeling and diving experiences.
Costa Rica offers the highest quality of living in Central America and draws thousands of tourists each year to enjoy this tropical rainforested paradise. See fantastically colorful tropical birds, such as toucans and macaws, a diversity of wildlife, and enjoy a relaxing or adventurous vacation.
You can see here for some recommended rainforest lodges in Costa Rica.
Some travel bloggers who explored Costa Rica are Samantha and Yeison from Mytanfeet.com.
New Guinea contains the world’s third largest intact rainforest after the Amazon Rainforest and Africa’s Congo. With around 70% of New Guinea covered in rainforest this is one of the of the world’s most diverse places, both in terms of wildlife and culture. There are over 700 different languages spoken in just the Papua New Guinea side of the island and the area is still home to a fascinating number of tribal groups. You can enjoy cultural visits to learn more about these groups as part of fantastic tours.
Explore the rainforest from award-winning lodges to visit the villages and learn about life in New Guinea. After cultural tours, head out on guided walks through the rainforest to spot the iconic birds of paradise as they dance and parade their incredible behaviours and colorful plumage.
As well as famous birds of paradise, enjoy seeing hundreds of others as you tour the rainforest. The island contains one of the world’s richest diversities of wildlife with the most famous of the mammals being the tree kangaroos.
In addition to rainforest, you can enjoy boat tours on the waterways and visit the vast plains of Papua New Guinea to enjoy a new variety of wildlife, such as wallabies, deer, migratory birds, and monitor lizards.
Explore New Guinea to see incredible wildlife in the third largest rainforest on Earth, enjoy one of the most culturally rich destinations, and explore different habitats including some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling areas.
A travel blogger who visited Papua New Guinea is Ed from Rexyedventures.com.
Considered as one of the world’s five most biodiverse countries, Mexico is fortunate to house a wildlife rich rainforest. With such incredible levels of animals and plants, with a high percentage only found in Mexico, the country is a fantastic destination for a rainforest getaway.
Mexico’s rainforests are found mainly along the southeastern Atlantic coast. Starting at the same level as Mexico City, they run southwards and contain fantastic diversity, including the iconic Latin America rainforest wildlife, such as jaguar, macaws, and toucans. The most famous is the Lacandon Jungle in southern Mexico which reaches down into Guatemala.
Mexico is a popular rainforested country to visit for US citizens and provides some excellent rainforest lodges and tours. Enjoy visiting important sites of the Maya and Aztecs as you explore the country’s rich culture and fascinating history. One of the favorite sites is the UNESCO listed Chichén Itzá.
Mexico provides a fantastic place to explore the Central American rainforest, but also offers fantastic ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, including the famous Cancún, stunning scenery, and attractive colonial style cities and towns, such as the UNESCO listed Guanajuato or Mexico City’s historic center.
Some travel bloggers who visited Mexico are the Bender family from Travelwithbender.com.
Gabon offers a secure, safe and stable country to visit the western African rainforest of the Congo Basin. The country has the potential to be Africa’s answer to Costa Rica. Although there is not much infrastructure, Gabon is home to a few excellent wildlife focussed lodges to see fantastic rainforest animals. In western Africa, this includes forest elephants, hippos, many colorful birds, reptiles, forest buffalo and monkeys.
Offering a different experience to east Africa with much fewer tourists, Gabon offers a completely different environment to the usual African safari. This is Africa’s most diverse areas of rainforest with 80% of the country covered with forest. Gabon is one of Earth’s few places where primary tropical rainforest reaches all the way to beach. Of the high amount of forest cover, a little under half is considered primary.
Gabon offers a great place to explore west African rainforest to enjoy lodges for spotting a range of wildlife, such as different monkeys, elephants and a range of birdlife. From some great wildlife lodges, head out to explore the country on forest walks, game drives, cultural walks, and even enjoy some coastal cruises. In addition to the incredible rainforest, explore the coastal waters to spot whales and dolphins.
A travel blogger who visited Gabon is Caitlin from Caitwilliamson.com.
Long since emerging from its troubled past, Rwanda is visited by thousands of tourists each year. Enjoy some of the world’s best rainforest lodges to enjoy an incredible diversity of wildlife, including both the endangered mountain gorillas of the Volcanoes National Park and the chimpanzees of Nyungwe Forest.
Covering a little under 1000 km2 and representing the best preserved montane rainforest in central Africa, Nyungwe Forest provides an fantastic experience to enjoy a diversity of birds and animals. The star players in this area are of course the chimpanzees, but there is a plethora of other animals and plants to find, such as 300 different birds (including the famous hornbills), clawless otters, chameleons, deer, and a variety of monkeys. Aside from chimpanzees, the other primates present in the park include vervet monkeys, diademed monkeys, colobus monkeys, baboons, and l’Hoest’s monkeys making for an incredible wildlife experience. You will also enjoy beautiful waterfalls and scenery on guided forest walks.
The Volcanoes National Park in the north then provides access to see the endangered mountain gorillas in the enigmatically named Virunga Mountains. In addition to lush rainforest, the park protects savanna grasslands, swampland, and bamboo forests. The park is shared with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda with Rwanda home to 160 km2 of the protected area.
Enjoy very comfortable rainforest lodges to visit the gorillas, with tourism being hailed as saving our close cousins from extinction. In addition to seeing the main draw to the area, enjoy finding a high diversity of interesting birds and the rare golden monkey.
Rwanda provides some great rainforest to experience many different primates, including the gorillas and chimpanzees in two of Rwanda’s fantastically diverse protected areas.
For some ideas on lodges for both gorillas and chimpanzees, you can see our recommended tours in Rwanda.
A travel blogger who visited Rwanda is Helen from Heleninwonderlust.co.uk.
A famous country for fascinating wildlife, Madagascar is where you can find one of the world’s richest rainforests. This diverse and lush tropical forest is found along the island’s east coast.
The world’s fourth largest island, the main fascination of this incredible country is the abundance of endemic animals and plants. Research shows around 75% of the animals are found nowhere else on Earth. From the great lodges, you can enjoy fantastic tours to see some of these strange and unusual species.
The most famous of the Madagascar animals are the lemurs, which are grouped into the bamboo lemurs, red-ruffled lemurs, indri lemurs, and the nocturnal aye-ayes. In addition to the fantastic lemurs, enjoy seeing a diversity birds, different chameleons, amphibians, and more.
Enjoy some very comfortable lodges and fantastic trekking tours through Madagascar’s rainforest to see a diversity of wildlife found nowhere else on Earth.
Some travel bloggers who visited Madagascar are Laura & Christian from Bigbluebugblog.com.
Home to the once connected Virunga Mountains protected area of the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda is a great place to explore Africa’s rainforests to see the mountain gorillas and a high diversity of other animals and plants.
The Bwindi National Park area sits near the African Great Lakes Region where the continent is slowly splitting apart, which has formed beautiful lakes and scenery. Enjoy tours of the surrounding region as part of your gorilla tour for breathtaking views.
Animals you can find in Uganda’s rainforest of the Bwindi area include the famed mountain gorillas, but also colobus monkeys, elephants, bushbucks, buffalo, civet cats, bushpigs, deer, and clawless otters. In addition to the diverse mammal life, you can also see a very high diversity of tropical birds, such as turacos and bee eaters.
The rainforest of the Kibale National Park is then a great place to see our closest relatives the chimpanzees, which are one of the area’s main wildlife attractions. In addition to the chimps, you can see a range of other primates and a high diversity of birdlife.
Uganda provides a great base to explore different areas of Africa’s rainforest to see mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, different monkeys, and a diversity of bird life. Home to Africa’s Great Lakes Region, explore the area from comfortable lodges in Uganda to enjoy spectacular scenery and views.
Some travel bloggers who visited Uganda are Simon and Nina from Nina-travels.com.
The island of Borneo is divided among Indonesia, Malaysia, and the independent state of Brunei. The best travel destination to experience the island’s rainforest are Sabah and Sarawak in the island’s Malaysian north. These states were previously British colonies, which means English is commonly spoken making it very traveler friendly.
The rainforests of Borneo have attracted filmmakers and explorers for years. Home to the other of the great apes, the fantastic orangutans, this is another of Earth’s most species rich areas.
In addition to the orangutans, the rainforest contains several different monkeys and over 600 different birds, including fantastic hornbills. Enjoy traveling down rivers, such as the Kinabatangan in Sabah, Malaysia, which wind their way through this tropical rainforest to reveal fantastic wildlife to see proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, great birdlife, and orangutans.
Other wildlife living in this rainforest include tarsiers, leopards, crocodiles, and pythons. With the plants you can see, you can enjoy finding the largest flower in the world, the famous Rafflesia.
Enjoy fantastic rainforest lodges to see the famous orangutans, travel down rainforest riverways, and enjoy guided tours to see several different monkeys, colorful birds, and other wildlife.
A travel blogger who visited Borneo is Leyla from Women-on-the-road.com.
Port Douglas (Australia)
Port Douglas is a great tropical town in northern Queensland, Australia, to explore the Daintree National Park. Enjoy catching sight of platypus, various rainforest reptiles, giant and colorful cassowaries, and imposing saltwater crocodiles.
Enjoy some of the world’s finest rainforest lodges and guided tours to explore the beautiful scenery and high diversity of animals and plants. This area is home to the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, which has been here for over 150 million years.
Port douglas itself presents a great place to enjoy a day or two before your rainforest adventure. Walk the streets for quaint gift shops, cafes, and world class restaurants. Some of the best rainforest lodges themselves then offer a fantastic spa to relax in the pristine surroundings with a range of treatments.
In addition to the world class rainforest, Port Douglas provides access to the UNESCO listed Great Barrier Reef to head out on cruises to explore incredible marine biodiversity. Enjoy some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling opportunities to see fantastic sea life.
Enjoy river cruises and canoeing on the Daintree River, rainforest walks, swamp boardwalks, exploring the Great Barrier Reef, and delicious cuisine at luxury lodges.
For some ideas on where to stay in the region, you can have a look at our recommended Port Douglas tours & lodges.