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Jaguar - Tambopata Research Center

Rainforests cover just 6% of the world’s surface. But they contain a remarkable 50% of all land living 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, you can 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. They are in no particular order. And we link to some travel bloggers who have experienced these areas to give you their own opinion.

  1. Puerto Maldonado (Peru)

    Blue & Yellow Macaws, Tambopata Research Center, Peru

    The gateway to Peru’s southern Amazon Rainforest. There is no place in the Amazon Rainforest with as many clay clicks as the rainforest surrounding Puerto Maldonado.

    Giving access to the incredible wildlife of the Manu region and Tambopata Reserve – Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, there are some fantastic rainforest tours.

    The Tambopata Reserve forms part of one of the largest tracts of tropical rainforest on Earth. This covers an incredible 3 million hectares.

    This region is home to some of the best Amazon tours for the Amazon Rainforest. As a demonstration of this, just take a look at our video summary of Peru Amazon tours.

    A favorite tour for the best wildlife experience is the Tambopata Research Center. Click the video below to learn more.

    Tambopata Research Center

    In Puerto Maldonado, you can enjoy some of the largest macaw clay licks. See hundreds of these brightly colored birds flocking to the medicinal colpas. These clay licks at not just attractive to parrots. They are also frequently visited by monkeys, capybara, peccary, and tapir.

    Because of this, the area surrounding the licks are patrolled by jaguar. This increases your chances of seeing these elusive animals sunning themselves by the river.

    To give you an example, reports from the Tambopata Research Center, the premier Amazon lodge for the Tambopata rainforest, show that guests have a 20% chance of seeing these incredible animals.

    Includes: all meals, accommodation, selection of guided tours, transfers from and to Puerto Maldonado airport. | 4, 5, 6 days+

    The rainforest surrounding Puerto Maldonado is not just home to fantastic clay licks. Another attraction are the beautiful and wildlife-rich oxbow lakes. These are areas where the Amazon’s tributaries once flowed but have since changed direction.

    This has left behind a body of water very attractive to Amazon wildlife. Many different monkeys, sloths, giant river otters, macaw parrots, and toucans are attracted to the lakes, which make for fantastic wildlife experiences.

    A favorite Amazon experience is from the Posada Amazonas Lodge. This is a community-owned lodge nestled by a beautiful lake, which is home to the giant otters. This increasing your chances of seeing these fantastic animals.

    For a balanced experience of culture and fantastic wildlife, click the tour bubble below to learn more about this popular lodge.

    Includes: all meals, accommodation, selection of guided tours, transfers from and to Puerto Maldonado airport. | 3, 4, 5 days+

    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 also have a look our Amazon travel guide.

  2. Iquitos (Peru)

    Delfin II, Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, Iquitos, Peru

    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 diverse northern Amazon.

    From Iquitos, you can enjoy fantastic Amazon River cruises and Amazon Rainforest lodges. Enjoy different protected areas to see an amazing amount of wildlife.

    See the Delfin II video below as an example.

    Delfin II

    The Iquitos rainforest is also home to some of the top tours in the Amazon Rainforest. These feature as the other half of experiences in our video summary of Peru Amazon tours.

    Includes: all meals, accommodation, all excursions, select alcoholic beverages, juices, house wines with meals, luxury transfers from & to Iquitos airport | 4, 5 days

    Head into the rainforest with your skilled guide to find several different monkeys. These include capuchins, howler monkeys, sakis, squirrel monkeys, tamarins, pygmy marmosets and others.

    Howler Monkey - Iquitos Amazon River

    Aside from the monkeys, there are many other animals you’re likely to see from Iquitos. These include the mysterious pink river dolphins, large macaw parrots, duelling toucans, vividly colored tanagers, trogans and other colorful birds.

    You will also see sloths hanging high in the trees and brightly patterned poison dart frogs.

    Tahuayo Lodge

    This being the rainforest, the plants you’re likely to see include the many different flowers. The favorites are the fragrant orchids, monkey brush, hot lips, and the epiphytes clinging to the trees. The trees can grow very large with the giants of wimba, ficus and lupuna waiting to be found on forest walks.

    Includes: all meals, accommodation at 2 rainforest lodges, private guide, custom activities, transfers from and to Iquitos airport. | 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 days+

    The city of Iquitos itself is worth a couple of days to see some fascinating places. A famous building here is the Iron House said to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel. This was seen by a wealthy rubber baron while he was in Paris and sent all the way to the Amazon River. Another place of note is the manatee rescue center. You can feed and see some adorably giant manatees waiting for release. You can also walk 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 take a look at our Iquitos travel guide.

  3. Coca (Ecuador)

    Manatee Explorer Canoeing, Ecuador

    Ecuador’s gateway to the Amazon Rainforest and the famous Yasuni National Park. From Coca, you can enjoy fantastic Amazon Rainforest lodges.

    Along with Peru, Ecuador is another region home to some of the Amazon’s top lodges. It’s also a fantastic place for Amazon River cruises.

    To see an example of what’s on offer, have a look at our summary video guide to Ecuador Amazon tours. You can choose from either lodges and cruises for incredible wildlife opportunities.

    Includes: all meals, accommodation, guided tours, transfers from and to Coca airport, private assistance at Quito airport. | 4, 5, 8 days

    Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest has won world records for its diversity of animals and plants. On walks from fantastic rainforest lodges, enjoy guided treks through the Amazon. 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. The lick is frequently visited by different colorful parrots. This makes a great stopping point to see and photograph the colorful parrots feeding from their medicinal and salt-rich clay.

    Includes: all meals, accommodation, guided tours, transfers from and to Coca airport. | 4, 5 days+

    There are a few different lodges to choose in Ecuador’s rainforest. For the best experience, choose the premium lodges of La Selva Lodge and the Sacha Lodge. The Sacha Lodge particularly impresses us with its incredible canopy walkway.

    Each of the tours 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.

  4. Alta Floresta (Brazil)

    White Nosed Saki - Amazon Rainforest

    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 includes a number of endemic species. There are monkeys, birds and other animals found nowhere else on Earth.

    Tayra - Amazon Rainforest

    The wildlife along the Cristalino River is very diverse. You can see many different monkeys making their way through the rainforest and different colorful birds. To observe life in the canopy, the Cristalino Lodge has built two giant canopy towers for fantastic wildlife viewing.

    Dendrobates - Amazon Rainforest

    This is the most well studied area for biodiversity in the southern Brazilian Amazon. 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.

    Placeholder Image

    The Cristalino Lodge

    Alta Floresta, Brazil

    Currently, TourTheTropics.com cannot help you book this experience. However, you can visit the tour operator's website for more information.

  5. Rurrenabaque (Bolivia)

    Bolivia’s gateway to the Amazon, Rurrenabaque gives access to the Madidi National Park and surrounding 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.

    Placeholder Image

    The Chalalan Lodge

    Rurrenabaque, Bolivia

    Currently, TourTheTropics.com cannot help you book this experience. However, you can visit the tour operator's website for more information.

    There are rainforest lodges here with a pure conservation and social focus. The premier Amazon lodge from Rurrenabaque is the community owned Chalalan Lodge. After its foundation, the lodge witnessed some rare wildlife returning to the region. Examples include the giant otters and even jaguar, which now living in the forest.

    On tours from the lodges, you can enjoy different jungle trails, which wind their way through the forest. The trails were designed to maximize your wildlife experiences. In addition to forest walks, enjoy canoeing the rainforest, night hikes to see night-active animals and cultural activities.

  6. Manaus (Brazil)

    Tucano Cruise - Amazon Rrainforest

    Manaus is Brazil’s gateway to the rainforest near the Amazon River. Enjoy fantastic cruises into the protected areas and along the Amazon’s largest tributary, the Rio Negro. Explore the forest on skiff expeditions from your main cruise vessel. On these tours, your guide will help you find different rainforest monkeys, a diversity of birds and hopefully some rarer forest life.

    Explore deep in the rainforest to scout the waterways for forest life. Monkeys to see include the squirrel monkeys and capuchins. The protected area you will visit 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 Amazon seeing a diversity of interesting areas.

    In addition to skiff expeditions down the Amazon’s waterways, enjoy fantastic rainforest walks. Your guide will help you spot many rainforest animals. And you can also head out on kayaking tours on expedition cruises.

    Manaus itself, being the Amazon’s largest city, is worth a couple of days on your itinerary. Attractions to see include 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 for rubber. The rubber was shipped to Europe and America for the rise of the automobile. Because of demand, the barons became very wealthy. And they decorated their houses with the finest materials the world could offer from French glass to Italian marble.

  7. Belize

    Caracol, Belize Rainforest, Central America

    There’s no better place for an Indian Jones style adventure than Belize. The Mayan temples lay hidden by tropical Central American rainforest. You will emerge from the trees to face incredible archaeological sights. With the beautiful scenery of the Maya Mountains, fantastic wildlife, and ancient history, you’re sure to have a fascinating experience.

    You can enjoy fantastic rainforest tours in Belize. The experience is best enjoyed on the package options from different lodges. This means the transfers, meals, accommodation, tours and activities are all taken care of.

    Choose rainforest lodges to focus on adventure, nature, Mayan ruins or relaxation. 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 climb the beaches to lay their eggs which makes for a favorite wildlife spectacle. Three different turtles can be found on Belize beaches. These are the loggerhead turtles, hawksbill turtles and green turtles.

    Explore the forest to see different animals and plants. Animals to see include iguanas, howler monkeys, caiman crocodilians and tropical birds. This being the tropical rainforest, birding here is fantastic. Birding visitors on five day tours can see 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.

  8. Costa Rica

    Uvita, Costa Rica, Rancho Pacifico Luxury Boutique Accommodation

    A famous tropical rainforest destination, Costa Rica has become the symbol of eco-tourism. And the country continues to offer fantastic rainforest tours. Explore the Costa Rica’s beautiful protected areas to see a colorful assortment of tropical life. See the iconic macaw parrots, tree frogs, a diversity of inquisitive monkeys and many different birds.

    Being on the coast, you can make the most of a diversity of habitats. See where rich and diverse rainforest meets the wildlife filled sea. There are some fantastic Costa Rica tours to enjoy. The best way to make the most of this is to choose a coastal rainforest lodge. These make a great base for exploring what Costa Rica has to offer.

    Costa Rica provides some fantastic natural sights and activities. You can enjoy guided rainforest hikes to spot wildlife, kayaking in the rivers or the sea, and horse riding through the rainforest or along the beaches. Enjoy fantastic wildlife watching opportunities and snorkeling and diving experiences.

    Costa Rica offers the highest quality of living in Central America. The country draws thousands of tourists each year to enjoy this tropical rainforest paradise. See 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.

  9. New Guinea

    New Guinea contains the world’s third largest intact rainforest. This is only outsized by the Amazon and Africa’s Congo. With around 70% of New Guinea covered in rainforest, it is one of the of the world’s most diverse places. This is 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 the different 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 rainforest walks to spot the iconic birds of paradise as they dance and parade their fascinating colorful plumage.

    As well as famous birds of paradise, enjoy seeing hundreds of other species as you tour the rainforest. The island contains one of the world’s richest diversities of wildlife. Of the mammals in New Guinea, the favorites to see are the adorable tree kangaroos.

    In addition to rainforest, you can enjoy boat tours on the waterways and visit the vast plains of Papua New Guinea. Here, you can enjoy a new variety of wildlife, such as wallabies, deer, migratory birds, and monitor lizards.

    Explore New Guinea to see diverse wildlife in the third largest rainforest on Earth. Enjoy one of the most culturally rich destinations. And you can explore different habitats including some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling sites.

    A travel blogger who visited Papua New Guinea is Ed from Rexyedventures.com.

  10. Mexico

    Maya Ruins, Mexico

    Mexico is one of the world’s top five most bio-diverse countries. And it’s fortunate to house a wildlife-rich rainforest. With such incredible levels of animals and plants, the country is a fantastic destination for a rainforest getaway. A high number of species can only be found here in Mexico.

    Mexico’s rainforests are found along the southeastern Atlantic coast. Starting at the same level as Mexico City, they run southwards and contain fantastic diversity. The animals to find include the iconic Latin American rainforest wildlife, such as jaguar, macaws and toucans. The most famous region is the Lacandon Jungle in southern Mexico, which stretches down to Guatemala.

    Mexico is a popular rainforest country to visit for US citizens. And you can find 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 the country also offers fantastic ancient ruins, beautiful beaches and stunning scenery. There are also 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.

  11. Gabon

    Gabon offers a more secure 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 lodges to see many rainforest animals. The animals to see include forest elephants, hippos, colorful birds, reptiles, forest buffalo and monkeys.

    Offering fewer tourists and new habitats, Gabon provides a different experience to a usual African safari. This is Africa’s most diverse area 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 the beach.

    Gabon offers a great place to explore west African rainforest. Enjoy jungle lodges for spotting a range of wildlife, such as different monkeys, elephants and a range of birdlife. Head out to explore the country on forest walks, game drives, cultural walks, and even 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.

  12. Rwanda

    Nyungwe Forest chimpanzee, Rwanda

    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. You will experience the incredible diversity of wildlife. This includes the mountain gorillas of the Volcanoes National Park and the chimpanzees of Nyungwe Forest.

    The Nyungwe Forest covers a little under 1000 km2. This is one of the best preserved areas of montane rainforest in central Africa.

    Nyungwe Forest provides a 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. You can find 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 are the vervet monkeys, diademed monkeys, colobus monkeys, baboons, and l’Hoest’s monkeys. This makes for an incredible wildlife experience. You will also enjoy beautiful waterfalls and scenery on guided forest walks.

    Twin Lakes from Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Rwanda

    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. Rwanda has around 160 km2 of the protected area.

    Enjoy very comfortable rainforest lodges to visit the gorillas. Tourism is 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. See the gorillas and chimpanzees in two of Rwanda’s 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.

  13. Madagascar

    Madagascar is a famous country for fascinating wildlife. This is where you can find one of the world’s richest rainforests. The diverse and lush tropical forest is found along the island’s east coast.

    This is also the world’s fourth largest island. And 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. These are grouped into the bamboo lemurs, red-ruffled lemurs, indri lemurs, and the nocturnal aye-ayes. In addition to the fantastic lemurs, you can see a diversity birds, different chameleons, amphibians and more.

    Enjoy some very comfortable lodges and fantastic trekking tours through Madagascar’s rainforest. See a diversity of wildlife found nowhere else on Earth.

    Some travel bloggers who visited Madagascar are Laura & Christian from Bigbluebugblog.com.

  14. Uganda

    Gorillas in Nkuringo

    Uganda is home to fantastic rainforest. The rainforest once covered a large amount of the country. This connected the Virunga Mountains with the famous 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 sits near the African Great Lakes Region. This is where the continent is slowly splitting apart. And this 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 include the famed mountain gorillas. But you can also find 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.

    Walking Safari, Kisoro, Uganda

    The rainforest of the Kibale National Park is a great place to see our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. These 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. 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.

    For some idea on safaris and lodges from Kisoro, you can see our recommended tours in Uganda.

    Some travel bloggers who visited Uganda are Simon and Nina from Nina-travels.com.

  15. Borneo

    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. This 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 orangutans, the rainforest contains several different monkeys and over 600 different birds. The birds include the fantastic hornbills. Enjoy traveling down rivers, such as the Kinabatangan in Sabah, which wind their way through this tropical rainforest. The rivers help to reveal the wildlife, such as proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, 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.

    Click here for a guide to Borneo tours to enjoy the incredible rainforest and wildlife.

  16. Port Douglas (Australia)

    Cape Tribulation Resort & Spa, Daintree

    Port Douglas is a great tropical town in northern Queensland, Australia. This is your base to explore the Daintree National Park. Enjoy catching sight of platypus, various rainforest reptiles, giant cassowaries, and imposing saltwater crocodiles.

    Enjoy some of the world’s finest rainforest lodges and guided tours. Head out on 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.

    In addition to the world class rainforest, Port Douglas provides access to the UNESCO listed Great Barrier Reef. 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.

Ash - Author & Travel Advisor About the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Tropics and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical locations. Ash is a contributor to both TourTheTropics.com and ThinkJungle.com writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the tropics. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.
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2 Replies to “The Top 16 Rainforest Destinations”

Ed Rex
January 2, 2016
Thanks for the mention!
    Ash Card
    January 3, 2016
    No problem, Ed. Hope you keep having fantastic adventures.

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