8 Incredible Rainforest Destinations Around the World

Arthur River surrounded by temperate forest in Tasmania
The Arthur River in Tasmania, Australia, is surrounded by lush, temperate forests.

Steve Daggar Photography / Getty Images

Dense rainforests filled with tropical plants and unusual creatures are usually associated with the vast Brazilian Amazon. But rainforest habitats can be found around the globe, and rainforest tourism comes in many forms. Some destinations are more like nature-oriented theme parks with zip lines and treetop bridges. Others are no more than dense jungle backwaters visited only by biologists and a few tourists in search of real adventure and truly untouched wilderness.

No matter what category they fit into, the best of these rainforest destinations have created a balance between championing conservation and building the infrastructure needed to support their eco-tourism industry. From the undeveloped interiors of Caribbean islands to the virgin jungles of southwestern Africa to the temperate rainforests of Oceania and the Pacific Northwest, it is possible to trek through a huge variety of rainforest landscapes. 

Here are eight incredible rainforest destinations around the world.

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Darién National Park (Panama)

Darien jungle near the border of Columbia and Panama

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Panama's Darién National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the largest stretches of protected area in Central America. A vast land of dense jungle and low mountains, it contains hundreds of mammals and birds, including five endemic avian species and several unique mammal species that are not seen anywhere else on Earth. Lowland and highland rainforests dominate Darien, but it also includes rocky coastal areas and beaches.

Stretching along 90% of the border between Panama and Colombia, Darien is, undeniably, a very wild place. It is not a destination suitable for zip-line-riding and boardwalk-trekking eco-tourists. Nonetheless, guided tours, from daylong jaunts to multiday expeditions, are available through tour companies and led by local guides.

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Dominica (Lesser Antilles)

aerial view of the green hills of Dominica

Reinhard Dirscherl / Getty Images

The small island of Dominica is noticeably less developed than its tourism-happy Caribbean peers. That's a good thing for eco-tourists who flock to the island's low-key, Earth-friendly resorts to dive, visit sea turtle nesting areas, soak in hot springs, and trek across the undeveloped interior forests and highlands. Jungle trails, many leading to scenic sights like waterfalls or geothermal springs, crisscross the island's lowlands.

Dominica is built (or unbuilt) with eco-tourism in mind, so it is ideal for people who want to avoid the Caribbean beach scene altogether and focus on jungle and nature treks.

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Manu National Park (Peru)

Oxbow Lake in Manu National Park Peru

Kevin Schafer / Getty Images

Most of the Amazon rainforest sits in Brazil, but Manu National Park in Peru is home to more plants and animals than almost any other natural area on Earth. Hundreds of mammal species and 850 species of birds call these dense forests home, and thousands of unique types of plants have been cataloged inside Manu's borders. The forests are pristine, and the wildlife, including jaguars, giant otters, giant armadillos, and primates, thrive in this isolated and diverse ecosystem. A UNESCO World Heritage site, over 6,600 square miles of this vast, biodiverse region is protected.

Programs for eco-tourists—including guided tours (a must in this wilderness)—make Manu a remote yet accessible option for those who want to introduce themselves to the flora and fauna of the Amazon.

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Danum Valley (Malaysia)

aerial view of forest in Danum Valley, Borneo.

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Located in a pristine area of lowland forest, Malaysian Borneo's Danum Valley is a protected conservation area. The Danum Valley also serves as a research site for scientists studying rainforests. A number of unusual plants and animals thrive in this vast depression of native forests. Carnivorous pitcher plants and gigantic rafflesia flowers give this valley a truly exotic, almost primeval, feel. Pygmy elephants, orangutans, and gibbons are among the endangered animals that thrive in the valley.

Eco-resorts offer guests a place to stay in between jungle treks, canopy tours, and river adventures in the valley.

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Tasmania, Australia

LIffey Falls, a three-tiered waterfall in Tasmania

Czardases / Getty Images

Temperate rainforest constitutes 14% of all native vegetation on Tasmania, an island south of the Australian mainland. These forests receive a high amount of moisture but are, as their label suggests, much cooler than their tropical peers. The wet landscapes, mostly found on the western side of the island, are incredibly scenic. The leafy trees and climbing vegetation of the tropics are rare in Tasmania, but evergreen trees and landscapes teeming with smaller mammals mean that this is a very unusual rainforest environment. Over 3,800 square miles of Tasmanian Wilderness is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage area.

Tasmania is a sparsely populated place (with only 541,100 residents in 2020), so enjoying the forests in relative solitude is possible. Some parks that contain rainforest landscapes maintain their isolated appeal by allowing only a certain number of guests to be inside the park at any one time.

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Olympic National Park (United States)

Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park, Washington

Naphat Photography / Getty Images

Located in the Pacific Northwest near Seattle, Olympic National Park features a vast temperate rainforest characterized by coniferous trees, fast-growing mosses, and ever-damp weather. With 12 to 14 feet of rainfall annually, rainforest covers the western regions of the park. In addition to lush trees and plants, the park is home to important wildlife, including river otters, black bears, bobcats, and mountain lions.

Easily accessible for U.S.-based rainforest-seekers, long looping trails make multiday treks possible, and the vast remoteness of the park's inner recesses provides a true rainforest adventure.

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Gabon

Tropical rainforest surrounding river in Gabon, Africa

Martin Harvey / Getty Images

Gabon, a country in southwestern Africa, has nearly 83,000 square miles of tropical rainforests. Though commercial logging is a big industry in Gabon, efforts toward conservation and sustainability led to the creation of 13 national parks in 2002.

Loango National Park is the country's showcase attraction. This park was once dubbed the “Last Eden” because it contained some of the most pristine virgin forest remaining on the continent. The lands inside Loango host gorillas, forest elephants, water buffalos, and hundreds of other species of birds, reptiles, and mammals.

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Suriname

Aerial view of Suriname rainforest and lake

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Located in northern South America, the population centers of Suriname are concentrated along the coast, leaving the inland areas nearly uninhabited. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, comprises over 6,000 square miles of tropical forest. In addition to animals common in the region, such as jaguars, giant armadillos, giant river otters, primates, and sloths, the reserve is home to 400 bird species and 5,000 vascular plant species.

Suriname has made an effort to expand its eco-tourism offerings, and these areas, though remote in feel, are quite convenient to access. Travel companies offer tours into the backcountry of the northern Amazonian rainforests. These expeditions rely on basic jungle lodges or simple tents (or even hammocks) that give any Suriname trip the feel of an adventure-infused expedition into unknown lands.