Four of the best rainforest destinations

Ancient and deeply rich ecosystems, the world’s rainforests are home to some of the most incredible creatures on the planet. Here is our pick of the best.

BBC Wildlife Magazine travel supplement, March 2014.

Yasuni National Park, Ecuador

Sometimes described as the most biodiverse area on Earth, Yasuní National Park is truly a treasure trove of total delight.

There are said to be as many species of insect in a single hectare of Yasuní as in the whole of North America, and they include huge blue morpho butterflies and extraordinary outsized stick insects.

But if it’s larger thrills you’re after, you won’t be disappointed.

Bird life in the shape of colourful toucans and macaws and mammals such as tapirs, capybaras, river dolphins and many species of monkey all live here and can be seen even by casual visitors.

This national park is easily accessible from the capital city of Quito, and you won’t have to trek through leech-infested swamps to get away from it all.


Danum Valley Conservation Area, Borneo

Possibly Malaysian Borneo’s most important rainforest site, Danum Valley was virtually untouched until the late 1960s.

It is now one of the last refuges in Sabah for the Asian two-horned (or Sumatran) rhino, as well as orangutans, elephants and the rare Wallace’s flying frog, named after British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.

Seeing and hearing all this incredible wildlife is aided by the existence of the Danum Valley Field Centre, a scientific research station that has established canopy observation platforms and towers as well as a nature discovery centre.

Stay here to wake up to the full forest chorus.


Ivindo National Park, Gabon

Renowned for its populations of western lowland gorillas and forest elephants (said by some experts to be a different species to the savannah elephants most people see on safari), Ivindo NP is almost completely unknown – even within Gabon.

What makes Ivindo and other areas of the Congo Basin so good for watching wildlife are the bais.

These are huge natural clearings where gorillas, elephants, sitatunga antelopes and red river hogs gather to feed.


Daintree Rainforest, Queensland, Australia

Described as the world’s oldest surviving tropical rainforest (a relict of old Gondwana), Daintree is full of strange beasts seemingly straight out of Jorge Luis Borges’ The Book of Imaginary Beings.

These include the living dinosaur, the jalbil, otherwise known as Boyd’s forest dragon, extraordinary velvet worms that catch their prey using mucus, and the almost pure-white snail Noctepuna cerea.

And top of the food-chain in this upside-down world? A bird – the flightless cassowary.

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