The world’s jungles are some of the most beautiful, complex ecosystems in the world. Between global warming and commercial logging, it’s possible that the rainforests that provide fresh oxygen and medicinal ingredients may not be around for much longer. Fortunately for nature-lovers, travellers and probably everyone in the world, there is a blossoming rainforest tourism industry that is dedicated to sharing the beauty of these forests with visitors and preserving these fragile ecosystems through responsible economic development.
Large sections of Central and South America are covered in rainforest and several initiatives have been undertaken to protect them. The Argentinean Rainforest is home to Iguazu National Park, 1400 acres of nature reserve where you can explore jungle paths and experience wild animal and plant life. Check out the super eco-responsible accommodations at Yacutinga Lodge, recognized for exemplary ecotourism development and offering twenty suites, three restaurants and a pool for weary jungle travellers. There are tours available from the Lodge for everything from hiking to canoeing to bird watching, all with knowledgeable local guides.
If you are looking for a little island paradise to go with your lush jungle adventure, you’re headed to the South Pacific. Turtle Island in Fiji is a natural wonder with an unusual history. When the island was purchased in 1972 by Richard Evanson, the island’s tropical rainforest was overrun by wild goats. In order to repair the damage caused by the goats, Evanson and some local villagers planted hundreds of trees, restoring the island to its former (pre-goat) beauty. Wanting to share the beauty of the island with others, Evanson decided to open the island to visitors in 1980, providing traditional thatched cottages and guest services. In order to preserve the beauty of the island, the number of guests is limited and Evanson engages in several sustainable tourism projects that employ local Fijians, maintains the forest, mangroves and coconut groves, and introduce freshwater ponds to foster bird and animal life.
Australia’s New South Wales is home to Tweed Valley. Mount Warning National Park provides a quiet setting for exploration of this stunning 400 year old rainforest. Make your home base at Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat, where you can occupy one of only ten luxury bungalows (couples and individuals only – large groups and children cannot be accommodated). Enjoy the natural surroundings from a hammock suspended over a mountain estuary, take a walk around the property or head to the National park. Your meals will be quietly delivered to your bungalow.