Imagine standing atop a Mayan pyramid in the Guatemala rainforest. The jungle surrounding you is a jumble of trees, plants and vines in a dozen shades of green and brown. As sunset settles over the jungle canopy, you become aware of a sound rolling through the trees. What in the world? Then, someone nearby whispers, “howler monkeys.” This stunning sound comes from the depth of the forest and rolls through the trees in waves. You can even feel the rumble in your body and the spirit of the jungle in your soul.
Now imagine… your grandchildren may never be able to have this experience.
The world’s tropical and temperate rainforests are quickly disappearing. Biologists have estimated that species are being driven to extinction by the tens of thousands. A quarter or more of all species on Earth could be exterminated within 50 years due to the destruction of the rainforests.
There are no easy answers but there is hope. People and groups around the world are working to save what rainforests remain as well as other endangered environments. Once you experience rainforests in adventures like those below, you may well want to add your voice to the chorus of those looking for solutions.
Orangutans in Tanjung Putting National Park, Indonesia
Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orangutans are currently found in only the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Among the most intelligent primates, orangutan are endangered, with the Sumatran orangutan being critically endangered. They are the most arboreal of the great apes, spending most of their time in trees. They use a variety of sophisticated tools and construct elaborate sleeping nests each night from branches and foliage. Human activities have caused severe declines in the populations and ranges, including poaching, habitat destruction, and the illegal pet trade. Several conservation and rehabilitation organizations are dedicated to the survival of orangutans in the wild. Explore the world of orangutans – Indonesia in Depth.
Australia’s Ancient Daintree Rainforest
The greater Daintree Rainforest has existed continuously for more than 110 million years, making it possibly the oldest existing rainforest on the planet. It is the closest living counterpart to the forests that once covered the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland. The park is a vast area of tropical rainforest wilderness in the far northern region of Queensland, and is of immense biological value due to its incredible biodiversity and high levels of endemism, with its concentration of plant and animal species found nowhere else on the planet. The rainforest contains 30% of the frog, reptile and marsupial species in Australia; 430 (18%) bird species; 65% of Australia’s bat and butterfly species; and more than 12,000 species of insects. Daintree National Park is part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Incorporate this fascinating ancient rainforest into your ideal Australia adventure.
Mashpi Rainforest of Ecuador
Ecuador has the first constitution to recognize the rights of nature! Ecuador has 1,600 bird species (15% of the world’s known bird species) in the continental area and 38 more endemic in the Galápagos. In addition to over 16,000 species of plants, the country has 106 endemic reptiles, 138 endemic amphibians, and 6,000 species of butterfly. The Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve is surrounded by lower montane rainforest and cloud forest that host a profusion of plant species, from ferns and bromeliads to hundreds of orchid species, many newly-discovered. Some 500 species of bird – including some 36 endemics – are estimated to inhabit this forest. Monkeys, peccaries and even puma make their homes inside the reserve that is crisscrossed with waterfalls. Ecuador is one of seventeen megadiverse countries in the world according to Conservation International, and it has the most biodiversity per square kilometer of any nation. Discover the magical world of Mashpi in our Private Sanctuaries of Ecuador.
Gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
Uganda shares the last remaining population of mountain gorillas with Rwanda. With about 700 gorillas left in the wilderness, only a handful of people will ever have the chance to encounter these incredible animals in their natural habitat. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of three parks that are home to these families of gorillas. The trekking can take from one to six hours, and the mountain trails can climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and, at times, muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make it worthwhile; and once trekkers have found the gorillas, all thoughts of fatigue vanish. Those who have spent time in the company of these gentle animals describe the encounter as the most profound natural history experience in the world. Others speak in terms of a spiritual experience. Whatever your reaction, you will be profoundly moved by the experience. Go in search of gorillas on our 11-day Uganda journey.
Peru’s Fabled Amazon Rainforest
Peru shares the mythical Amazon River basin with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia. It encompasses 60% of the country and is marked by a high degree of biodiversity. Peru has the second-largest portion of the Amazon rainforest after the Brazilian Amazon. Illegal logging has become a serious threat. In 2012, the World Bank estimated that 80% of Peru’s timber exports were taken illegally. This uncontrolled deforestation will negatively affect the habitats of indigenous tribes as well as Peru’s biodiversity. Discover this amazing ecosystem during our 7-day Peru’s Amazing Amazon.