Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Scientists and explorers alike are drawn to Monteverde’s virgin forests, where the lingering clouds ensure a mysterious haze and the verdant trees teem with life.
Covering more than 26,000 acres along the Cordillera de Tilaran’s remarkable range, this is a place that is home to over 2,500 plant species, with tall trees that reach to the skies, delicate orchids that dot the valleys, and ferns, vines and mosses that cover the green forest floor.
This unspoilt Costa Rican cloud forest is renowned for its biodiversity, and countless mammal, reptile, avian and insect species call Monteverde home. Listen for rare bird calls and look out for big cats, with six species — jaguars, ocelots, oncillas, margays and jaguarundis — all known to prowl here. Founded in 1972, the reserve here draws 70,000 visitors a year, yet careful management and preservation ensures that all remains wild and the experience is as authentic as ever.
Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
Covering 739 square kilometres, Khao Sok is enormous. It’s also ancient — the oldest evergreen rainforest on Earth, a place that is much visited, yet one that possesses secrets that are still to be uncovered.
Located on the southern Thai mainland, the National Park beckons those seeking adventure, with dense jungles to be explored, immense limestone mountains to be climbed and spectacular waterfalls and lakes to be discovered.
There are various ways to reach the interior, with innumerable trails to be trekked, whilst those who prefer a seat in a canoe can travel Khao Sok’s shimmering waterways.
The climate here is warm and wet — it is a rainforest, after all — and for those who do head into the lush jungle, creature comforts and modern luxuries must be left behind. If it sounds like a challenge, it is — but the sacrifices are more than worthwhile, with Khao Sok an enchanting wild location that can never be forgotten.
Great Bear Rainforest, Canada
Feeling brave? With wild wolves, giant grizzlies and fearsome cougars all prowling Great Bear’s forest floor, you’ll require immense courage indeed to venture into this vast Canadian wilderness.
Covering 21 million acres in remote British Columbia, getting lost is a constant danger, but this is no place to lose your bearings. Take precautions, however, and this is a wild wonderland, a place of great beauty, with spectacular sights that are guaranteed to take the breath away. Like to leave the modern world behind? This is the perfect place.
Stretching over 250 miles along Canada’s stunning Pacific Coast, Great Bear is sometimes called ‘The Amazon of the North’ and for those hardy enough to tread its winding trails, the rewards are plentiful. See 1,000-year-old cedars, great waterfalls, moss-covered mountains and more — just be sure to keep a constant look out for Great Bear’s hulking predators.
Manu National Park, Peru
Comprising imposing mountainous ranges and vast Amazon Basin plains, Manu has got it all. It’s a huge place — covering almost two million wild acres — and so entering the dense jungle here should not be taken lightly. For those keen to step far off the beaten track, however, it doesn’t get much wilder than this.
Located in Peru’s remotest regions, this is an awe-inspiring place, with its unique blend of lowland rainforests, cloud forests and great Andean grasslands. It’s a land renowned for its diverse ecosystems, a place where 250 different tree species can be discovered in a single hectare, and a lush location that has long enjoyed UNESCO recognition and protection.
Trek twisting trails, climb rugged cliffs or set sail along winding waterways, the choice is yours. For those keen to experience the world at its wildest, Manu ticks all the boxes.
Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Just getting to Tortuguero is an achievement, this a remote location that requires a significant boat or plane journey. There’s no question that it’s worth the effort, however. For those keen to get away from it all, it doesn’t get much wilder than this.
Located on Costa Rica’s protected northern Caribbean coast, Tortuguero’s tropical climate provides a stiff challenge for visitors, this a land that is always hot and humid. It can be uncomfortable at times, making this no place for the inexperienced. For seasoned trekkers, however, this is what it is all about.
Renowned for its remarkable biological diversity, Tortuguero can boast 11 different habitats — including rainforests, swamps, mangrove forests, beaches and lagoons. The lush green jungle is thick and dense, and the trails often difficult to follow. It’s a difficult place to get to — and a difficult place to leave. Not to be underestimated.
Tambopata National Reserve, Peru
Tropical Tambopata is an Amazonian jewel, a place rich in biodiversity, where wonders await those brave enough to enter its mysterious lands. Located in remote Madre de Dios and reaching down to Peru’s border with Bolivia, Tambopata’s twisting trails are not often trod.
This is a wild place indeed, where those who choose to enter must be sure to know what they’re doing. The rewards are innumerable. Tambopata is home to more than 1,700 known plant species and over 1,000 different kinds of butterfly.
It’s a place where jaguars and pumas prowl, whilst spider monkeys and sloths share the trees and snuffling capybaras can often be spotted in the dense jungle. There are hills and plains to trek here and great swamps to negotiate. But with Tambopata crisscrossed by rivers and home to countless lakes, this is a land that is often best explored by boat.
Yasuni National Park, Ecuador
Seeking a remote spot to explore? Yasuni ticks all the boxes for those keen to leave the beaten track far behind. Located in Amazonian Ecuador, the National Park here is home to two uncontacted indigenous tribes — the Tagaeri and the Taromenane. This is a place far from the modern world and all its creature comforts. This is a backwater indeed.
The indigenous people here tend to use Yasuni’s winding waterways — many of which serve as tributaries to the Amazon River — to get around, and those heading to these parts might be advised to follow their lead and go by boat. Those leaving the river behind and heading deep into the dense jungle will discover one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.
You’ll be sure to chance upon countless creatures as you head into the wild, but with jaguars, eagles and anacondas amongst the species at home here, do be on your guard in case of unexpected encounters.
Ulu Temburong National Park, Brunei
Think Brunei and rainforests don’t often spring to mind. Yet the country’s so-called Green Jewel is a wild wonder, a place of state-sponsored conservation at its best, where the adventurous head to get back to nature and discover unimaginable secrets beneath the thick jungle canopy.
Brunei’s first National Park is a protected place, with just one square kilometre open to tourists. Beyond this oft-visited zone, the rainforest is a mysterious place indeed.
There are mountains and valleys here, the great Temburong and Belalong Rivers never far away, whilst all around, exotic creatures lurk, not used to seeing humans, with just a handful of people permitted to enter the forest. Reaching this remote spot is a serious undertaking that requires a long river voyage.
There’s no question, however, that it’s worth all the hardships and for those fortunate enough to see Ulu Temburong, there can be no complaints.
Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica
Located on the spectacular Osa Peninsula in coastal Costa Rica, Corcovado must be seen to be believed. Home to 13 major ecosystems, this is considered to be amongst the most biodiverse places on the planet. It’s a land where wild wonders abound and anything is possible. Planning a visit? It’s guaranteed to be the trip of a lifetime.
There are countless trails to trek, whilst the wonderful waterfalls and beautiful beaches here demand to be discovered. For all that it’s a gorgeous place to visit, danger always lurks and caution is advised. Thinking about taking a dip? Do be warned that fearsome sharks and crocodiles prowl the waters here.
Wet, rugged and remote, Corcovado is home to endangered creatures galore and continues to beckon conservationists and explorers alike. For those seeking a walk on the wild side, this isolated corner of Central America is just the ticket.
Daintree Rainforest, Queensland, Australia
Not keen on insects? You might want to give Daintree a miss — with more than 12,000 species at home in a complex ecosystem that teems with life from morning until night. For those who are able to put up with the creepie crawlies, this remarkable rainforest demands to be explored. Located in a sun-kissed corner of North-East Queensland, this is wild Australia at its finest.
Look out for bats and butterflies — 90% of all Australian species can be found beneath the lush forest canopy — as you trek the twisting trails here, some paths leading right to the reef-fringed ocean’s edge, whilst others head up the vast granite outcrops that dot the landscape.
For those seeking a challenge, Thornton’s Peak calls out to be climbed, but the true wonders lie hidden in the dense jungle, with its thick leaves and exotic foliage. Time to trek? There’s always another track that demands to be explored.
Danum Valley, Borneo, Malaysia
Humans have never inhabited Danum’s virgin forestlands, making Malaysia the perfect place for those seeking a walk on the wild side. Located in remote Sabah, on the country’s picturesque northern coast, this is an isolated spot, where rare creatures can be glimpsed through the trees, and all in the jungle is at peace.
Look out for rhinoceros, orangutans, gibbons and leopards, whilst travelling twitchers will be in their element, with abundant bird life to be seen here, and another avian species always crying out to be spotted.
Danum is a beautiful place indeed — an ancient tropical forest in a lowland location, where all is unspoilt and the pristine jungle is still as nature intended. It’s wild, for sure, but that’s a huge part of its obvious appeal. Like to leave modern life and all its hustle and bustle behind? This is the place to do it.
Tikal National Park, Guatemala
Captivating Tikal is a place like nowhere else on Earth — a fantastical land of dense jungle and long-abandoned ancient monuments. Travel here and you’ll feel like a real-life Indiana Jones, exploring ruined cities that the forest has reclaimed, with great stone monuments and crumbling pyramids amongst the archaeological treasures to be discovered.
The Mayans first settled here in 900BC — but their fabled kingdom having been abandoned more than 1000 years ago, nature has long since taken over. Once under threat from loggers, the dense forests of the Peten are protected these days and thousands of ruined structures can be found beneath the thick foliage.
Toucans, parrots and monkeys are at home in the treetops, whilst down on the forest floor there’s always another trail to follow and another ancient wonder to be found. It’s a magical place, albeit a little eerie, and for those drawn to the world’s wildest corners, Tikal beckons time and time again.
Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Explorers are drawn to the sub-tropical Terai lowlands to experience Chitwan’s dense jungles and wide grassy plains. Nepal’s first National Park is a fascinating place, home to rare one-horned rhino and beautiful Bengal tigers, with twisting trails to tread and the vast Rapti River to explore in traditional dugout canoes. Thinking about taking to the water here? Take our advice and be sure to look out for crocodiles.
Chitwan is known for its rich biodiversity, with creatures large and small making their homes here. Some 68 mammal species have been recorded in the National Park — as well as 126 different fish types and 544 birds, making this the perfect place for nature lovers. But the main draw is the thick rainforest, its leaves vibrant and lush thanks to the monsoon conditions, and its secrets crying out to be discovered. Like to get back to the wild? There are few places better than ever-charming Chitwan.
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Home to Rwanda’s endangered mountain gorillas, Volcanoes National Park is a special place indeed. Located in the country’s northwestern corner, visitors are drawn to Musanze to catch a glimpse of the jungle’s most famous inhabitants. It’s a remarkable place, but there’s rather more to the rainforest than the gorillas alone.
For one thing, as the name suggests, there are the volcanoes, with five imposing peaks to be found in a National Park that is the largest on the entire African continent. Then there’s the thick forest itself, covering 160 square kilometres, and home to countless creatures and twisting trails that demand to be explored. The gorillas mean that Volcanoes National Park is a much-visited place, with tour groups and expeditions aplenty. But take a step off the beaten track and you’ll find that the jungle’s wildest corners remain, making this the perfect place to explore and leave the modern world behind.
El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico
Lush, green and always inviting, El Yunque beckons explorers with its twisting trails and vibrant colours. Located in northeastern Puerto Rico, the jungle here is dense and teeming with life. Keen to take a walk on the wild side? With hundreds of animal and plant species here, many of them unique to El Yunque, this is the perfect spot for those seeking an adventure.
El Yunque’s tropical rainforest covers 29,000 acres, making it comparatively compact, but for a small place, an awful lot has been crammed in. Take the trail to La Mina waterfall, tackle Mount Britton or head for the high-altitude dwarf forest, the choice is yours. Like to follow in the footsteps of the forest’s indigenous Taino people? Be sure to seek out El Yunque’s ancient petroglyphs before returning to the trails to discover another of the thick jungle’s hidden secrets.
Kakum National Park, Ghana
Tourists head to Kakum to experience the National Park’s famous treetop walkway, but for those seeking a more authentic adventure, the forest floor is the place to be, far from the crowds and beneath the popular canopy.
Down here the jungle teems with life, with the creatures at home in Kakum including rare forest elephants, bongo antelopes, and birds and butterflies galore. It makes for a special experience indeed, with the forest’s paths and trails always encouraging the adventurous to go deeper.
Located on Ghana’s beautiful southern coast, Kakum’s tropical forests demand to be explored and, with 145 square miles to discover, the country’s wildest places beckon. The jungle here is thick and lush, the trees tall and the vegetation exotic. This might be Ghana’s most-visited tourist site, but finding a wild corner isn’t difficult, making it the ideal place for those keen to get back to nature.