By virtue of simply stepping foot in some tropical woods, you’re sure to find a rainforest adventure. From the smallest poisonous dart frog to the enormous elephant, tiger, and mountain gorilla, almost half of the world’s animal species live in the world’s rainforests. And, you’ll probably meet a few of them face to face. For the serious adventure traveler, embarking on rainforest adventures not only provides built-in adventure, it will also provide the chance to see, understand, and respect one of the world’s most precious resources. Get an international dose of adrenaline and expect the unexpected during a rainforest vacation.
Clearly, for rainforest adventures, you must go to places that are draped in lush greenery and weaved with thick roots. This means that desert-filled countries are pretty much out. But, luckily, there is no shortage of amazing locations full of acres upon acres of gorgeous rainforest to explore.
Rainforest travel in Latin America. The largest tropical rainforest in the world, the Amazon, spans several countries in South America, including Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador. Rivers zig zag through the forest, making it ideal for a water adventure. And, as one of the most biodiverse places on earth, you won’t run out of new plants and animals to discover. The two-toed sloth and tiny pocket monkey are but two of the thousands of animals that live in the Amazon. Beyond the Amazon, Central America is also well-known for its rainforest adventure opportunities. Zip-line through Costa Rica and see what pura vida is all about, or hike through rugged and dense southern Belize to the “forgotten land.” You have to see it to Belize it.
Rainforest trips in Africa. Although the phrase African Safari probably comes to mind before African rainforest adventure, Africa boasts the second-largest area of rainforest in the world. Don’t settle for the movie version of Madagascar. The real island sits off the coast of Southeast Africa, and because it’s isolated, features numerous plants and animals that are found nowhere else on earth. Rainforests also cover large parts of Central Africa, including Uganda. Don’t be in denile (er, denial)! See the Nile River first-hand, which flows through the country to the huge Lake Victoria. Coastal Ghana also has rainforests where you can catch a glimpse of the world’s largest monkey, the patas monkey.
Rainforest vacations in Asia. Leopards, tigers, and buffaloes can all be spotted in India’s rainforests, where a variety of herbs and medicinal plants also live. No wonder Indian cooking features so many delicious herbs and spices. Or, in Thailand, the “land of smiles,” take a bird-watching tour through a bamboo forest to view some 1,000 bird species. But, watch out for the Asiatic Black Bear! In Indonesia’s rainforests on the island of Sumatra, hope to encounter a giant butterfly rather than a flying snake! Rainforest travel can mean you plane-hop to Bali before you leave to witness some of the world’s best beaches. Hey, you deserve a little rest and relaxation after all that crazy adventuring.
If you’re the kind of traveler who prefers to just show up and wing it, consider preparing a little more for a rainforest adventure program. The good news is that rainforest adventure programs take care of most of the details for you, so you can still mostly show up and wing it. But, researching the location ahead of time to know what you’re getting into certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Expect to join a group on most rainforest vacations. In fact, in many rainforests, a local guide must accompany any visitor or group, meaning you can’t just show up and go searching solo for pumas. This is for your own safety, but also helps protect the natural environment. Plus, local guides know a whole heck of a lot about the flora, fauna, and cultural norms within the particular location.
Most groups are small, but if the size of the group matters, be sure to ask ahead of time. Typically, smaller groups allow for more wildlife spotting, since loud noise tends to scare off the little buggers. But, for the social butterflies, larger group rainforest trips certainly exist as well. Regardless, you’ll have an instant community to nudge you along on your trek.
Eco-tourism is a natural fit for the rainforest. Stretch your mind as well by adding a study or educational component to learn about rainforest degradation, biodiversity, or wildlife. Because water abounds in the rainforest, water adventures are popular as well. Whatever type of program you choose, it’s sure to push you to new levels of excitement and confidence.
Tips & Advice for Rainforest Adventures
The key to ensuring your program throws your expectations out of the water and knocks your neoprene socks off is to make sure you choose a program that is the right fit for you. Before you start researching, consider what is most important. Is it location? Type of adventure? Cost? Consider your priorities as you make your decision, plus a few other factors.
Adventure travel does not come in one shape or size. Some programs are super hardcore, while others might be better suited to the more casual adventurer. Therefore, make sure you are honest with yourself about the level of intensity you are seeking and match that to the program in order to have the best rainforest vacations.
Although most of the risk with rainforest travel is perceived risk, meaning it seems scary but it’s not all that dangerous, it’s important to make sure you choose a reputable company with a strong safety record. Although safety cannot be guaranteed, risk can be minimized. Insurance, appropriate equipment, and knowledgeable and trained guides go a long way in ensuring a safer experience.
Your rainforest adventure will be taking place in a fragile and essential ecosystem. Therefore, it’s even more important to embark on this type of travel with sustainability and respect in mind. Consider the practices and ethos of the tour group organization you choose.
Benefits & Challenges
It’s safe to say that the benefits of embarking on a rainforest adventure program way outnumber the challenges. Nonetheless, you should know what you’re getting into, and make sure you really are looking for adventure before you sign the dotted line.
Not for the faint of heart. If you are totally, utterly afraid of heights, ziplining on rainforest trips may put you over the edge. Or, if really what you want to do is sip fruity drinks on a beach, again, an adventure travel program may not be for you. This time. But, if you need to shake up your routine a little, adventure travel can be just the ticket.
You’ll meet other like-minded adventurers. Thrill-seekers unite on jungle adventure programs. There’s nothing like having a group of instant friends to support you (or laugh with you) as you figure out how to use that canoe oar. You may even meet future travel buddies because, most likely, one rainforest adventure will not be enough.
Experience something you’ve only read about. Ok, well maybe you’ve seen a documentary or two, but it’s not the same than being there. In the rainforest, you can actually taste the slimy coconut grubs, see the dense tree canopy, and hear the howler monkeys. And seeing something like a rainforest first-hand helps you to understand it in a way beyond just reading about it.
Feed your travel hunger and your need for speed by heading to the jungle for a rainforest tour. If you have a serious case of the Mondays, perhaps it’s time to escape the mundane and seek some adventure in the rainforest. A wild escape is calling. Be sure to answer!