Step into a world of wonder and spend your next holiday exploring Central and South America’s luscious cloud forests and rainforests.
Ever get the feeling you’ve seen it all? Do monuments and museums blend together in your memory?
We can help you shake things up. Visits to rainforests and cloud forests—some of the most biodiverse places on the planet—are guaranteed to make a lasting impression. Cloud forests are humid, high-altitude forests, and they’re even rarer than rainforests. You can help support these delicate environments by staying in ecolodges that give back to the environment as well as indigenous communities.
You don’t have to be a machete-wielding action hero to make your way through these forests (although you’ll probably feel like one by the end of your trip). Our expert guides are here to help you navigate and make the most of your time in the wild.
The Cloud Forests and Rainforests of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is home to the most biodiverse rainforest in the world, Corcovado National Park. The best way to see this enormous park is on a multi-day trek. During your trip, you’ll see a greater variety of plants and animals than you’ve ever seen in your life. Start your trip in the small town of Puerto Jiménez, which is just outside of the park on the Osa Peninsula coast. From here you can arrange for breathtaking tours of the coastline.
Río Celeste looks like it must be the victim of too much photoshop. But that color is real, we promise! You won’t be let down by the sky-blue water. Walk down the steep, man-made steps to admire the waterfall near the trailhead. Bright blue morpho butterflies dance around around the cascade. Scientists are reasonably confident that the river’s color comes from light reflecting off the algae that grow on the rocks in the riverbed. Mind the signs as you hike—you might find the water inviting, but swimming isn’t allowed in this national park. A delicate ecological balance keeps the algae flourishing, and we don’t want to ruin everything with our dirty feet.
Ecuador’s Amazonian Experiences
Cotundo is way off the beaten path, deep in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Go here for a true escape the modern world. Take hikes to see ancient petroglyphs among profusions of tropical plants. The Tena courses through this part of the rainforest, and you can arrange for adrenaline-pumping rafting expeditions.
Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve exists in a state of peril. It has reserves of oil within its boundaries where gas companies want to drill. Ecotourism will hopefully convince the government that Cuyabeno is worth protecting. Thatched-roof huts offer rustic accommodation. As well as colourful plants and animals, this reserve also protects the homeland of some of Ecuador’s indigenous people.
Chasing Waterfalls in Belize
Stay in San Ignacio (maybe in the luxurious Chaa Creek Lodge) for easy access to trails through the rainforest. Excitingly, many of these paths end at ancient Maya ruins. It’s a short trip to either Cahal Pech or Xunantunich. Xunantunich’s El Castillo pyramid towers over the rainforest. You can climb to the top to survey the expanse of the Belize jungle. Walk a mere 25 minutes from San Ignacio to the ruins of Cahal Pech, where you can see pyramids, ball courts, and stelae—all with elaborate reliefs.
Panama’s Parks & Rainforests
Rich rainforest blooms on the slopes of Barú Volcano. You can get here from the bustling town of Boquete. Hike all the way to the volcano’s crater, or take a shorter hike to one of the many impressive vistas along the way. The Barú Volcano National Park is also home to the Sendero Los Quetzales (Quetzal Path), where you have the chance to see the impressive plumage of one of the world’s most elusive birds.
Floating through Guatemala’s Cloud Forest
The cloud forest of Alta Verapaz is studded with caves and swimming holes. Alta Verapaz also has one of Guatemala’s most impressive sights — the turquoise pools and limestone bridge called Semuc Champey. As you hike, keep an eye out for white orchids, the national flower. You can explore this forest via inner tube on the Candelaria River, which will take you through the Candelaria Caves.
Biotopo del Quetzal‘s misty environs are a must-see while you’re in Cobán. As you can probably guess, the bird watching here is out of this world. Orchids and mushrooms peak out from the undergrowth. Guides can help you examine the mini-universes contained in these complex plants. Take a break during your trek for a dip in an idyllic swimming hole.
The Peruvian Amazon and Beyond
Go on an unforgettable trip to Pacaya Samiria Reserve, the largest nature reserve in Peru. Tired of hiking? You can take an environmentally friendly cruise on board one of the Delfin cruise ships. These luxury boats stop for kayaking and hiking excursions along the way. You’ll have the chance to meet native tribes and paddle alongside the Amazon River’s pink dolphins.
Manu Reserve has a little something for everyone. Besides the incredible swaths of rainforest, the reserve also protects cloud forest and high-altitude grasslands. Bird-watching here is hard to beat — over 1,000 avian species call Manu Reserve home.