1. Follow the jungle trail and climb the top of the Kasikasima, Suriname
Without a visit to the jungle, or ‘forest’ as the locals call it, you haven’t really been to Suriname. The most beautiful Amazon tour leads to the Kasikasima, a granite mountain range that lies some 270 kilometers south of Paramaribo. You’ll fly to the ecolodge in the Indian village of Palumeu and get into a canoe, a canoe that has been hollowed out of a tree trunk. In two days time and after several rapids you reach the foot of the 718 meter high mountain range. A jungle path to one of the peaks (seven hours round trip) requires an intensive climbing and walking tour accompanied by parrots and howler monkeys. At the top awaits an amazing view of the other peaks of the mountains and the surrounding jungle. You talk at night by the campfire. More information can be found on the METS Travel & Tours website.
Parrot in Suriname
The jungle trail to the top of Kasikasima Mountain is one of the highlights of the Surinamese Amazon.
2. Go on kayaking expedition, Suriname
Armed with 100-year-old maps, Dutch expedition leader Michel Boeijen discovers the world’s most impassable jungles from his kayak. He cleans up a special place in his heart for the pristine interior of Suriname. And you can go with him. The great advantage of a kayak is that you are mobile and can glide silently through the water. This increases the chances of spotting animals – occasionally you’ll see deer swimming over or monkeys swerving past. More information can be found on the website of Suriname Kayak Adventures
Discover suriname’s most impassable jungle with a kayak
3. Meet the native Yaguas, Peru
The Yaguas, an Indian people from the Colombian and Peruvian part of the Amazon, are with about six thousand members. The name ‘Yagua’ is believed to come from the Inca term yawar, which means ‘blood’ and refers to their red-faced faces. As far as is known, the Yaguas live in 30 villages on the Amazon, Napo, Putumayo and Yavari river basins. Some Yaguas villages near Iquitos — the largest city in the world that is not accessible by road — can be visited as part of a two-day excursion. However, keep in mind a show: the villagers cloak themselves in skirts of palm fiber or cotton, get photographed with capuchin sloths and sample their blowpipe talent. Special and interesting, but not very authentic. For an unadulterated Yaguas experience, enlist Peru North, and go on an expedition to a further village. Price on request.
4. Admire ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization in El Petén, Guatemala
In the far north of Guatemala lies an ancient metropolis considered the cradle of the Mayan civilization: El Mirador. Currently, only twenty percent of the city is excavated, including ceremonial temples, administrative buildings, a centrally located Acropolis and part of the old city wall. However, the vast majority of Mayaresten is still covered under a thick layer of earth and vegetation in the jungle of El Petén (officially: the ‘Mayan Biosphere Reserve’). There are two ways to get to the ruins: on foot or by helicopter. If you choose the first option it is two days walk and two back. The standard expedition lasts five days (1 day on site) and costs € 232 p.p. including pickup from Flores, luggage (max. 11 kg), sleeping gear, meals and drinks. You can book up to two days in advance via Turismo Cooperativa Carmelita in Flores. Helicopter tours can be booked via TAG Airlines in Flores. Save costs by walking with an expedition group on the way or back.
A trip through the jungle from Guatemala to El Mirador, the birthplace of the Mayan civilization, is a unique experience.
5. Spend the night in an instagrammable eco-lodge in the middle of the Balinese jungle
As soon as you step through the egg-shaped door (pictured behind the two sunbeds) of Aura House you feel your aura change. Stress slips away from you and total relaxation comes into its way. Finally, open that novel or sink into fine thoughts as you lean back into your private pool or hammock overlooking the Ayung River and the tree crowns behind it. Everything about this eco-house is made of bamboo: the furniture, the kitchen cabinets, the lamp fittings. Aura House is part of Green Village. The initiators of this project try to show that sustainability and aesthetics can also go hand in hand. Mission accomplished! This holiday home can be booked through BoutiqueHomes, an online platform with modern accommodations around the world.
In Bali you can spend the night in Aura House, an ecological retreat made entirely of bamboo.
6. Climb Mount Cerro Morroco and enjoy a magical sunset, Colombia
One of the most adventurous and beautiful places in Colombia is the Vaupés department. Here lies a giant piece of Amazon rainforest that is still pristine. The indigenous cultures have not seen many travellers, but will welcome you with open arms. A must-do is the climb to the Cerro Morroco rock plateau that rises 300 meters above the Vaupés jungle. The climb to the rock plateau takes a few hours, along the way you can immerse yourself in a refreshing waterfall. The most beautiful view is at sunset, after which you hang your hammock under an overhanging rock face and spend the evening by the campfire.
From the Cerro Morroco rock plateau you have a beautiful view of the jungle of Vaupés in Colombia
7. Sleep in a treehouse and wake up among the singing birds, Costa Rica
Surrounded by tropical gardens and waterfalls and overlooking the shimmering Gulf of Nicoya, the Hidden Canopy Treehouses are pure indulgence. The six tree houses are built in the jungle-covered mountains in western Costa Rica. In the most beautiful you can blow out in a hot tub and on a spacious terrace. With the sunsets over the Pacific coast and mornings when you’re woken up by birds, you’d hardly want to come down, but try it anyway. You can meditate at the pond, take a look at the local coffee shop or get massaged (minimum stay of two nights).
Would you rather have a night back to basics? Then stay overnight in the simple yet spectacular tree-raisings of Finca Bellavista. Here there can be bugs in your ‘room’, you have limited power and there is a lot of movement in the trees. Basic, yes. But you can also take care of luxury yourself. For example, bring wax candles, a mosquito net, nice pillowcases and an LED mood lamp in your suitcase. Bottle of booze and ready!
In Costa Rica you can spend the night in treehouses in the middle of the jungle and wake up with singing birds
8. Come face to face with bull sharks and hunt for cougars, Costa Rica
Parrots, monkeys, tapirs, dolphins – Peninsula de Osa, a peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica, is the world’s largest biodiversity, according to the experts. Notable absentee: man, thanks to the remote location of the rainforest. With guide Felix Menocal, you’ll walk along the park’s west side in a few days to the San Pedrillo ranger station to the north. Among the many highlights: the bull sharks that swim up the mouth of the River Sirena at high tide and the nocturnal hunt for cougars. Book your adventure through Osa Green Travel.
In the jungle of Peninsula de Osa, a peninsula of Costa Rica, you will find the largest biodiversity in the world.
9. Admire wild gorillas, Gabon
In National Park Loango you can use trackers and a biologist to search for a group of wild gorillas in the jungle. This group has been ‘habitated’ for years, getting used to humans, in this case a small group of scientists who study the animals. Because the gorillas are very mobile, there is no guarantee that you will see them, but the spot probability is high — 90% in the rainy season (November-April). The permit you need for this excursion is therefore more expensive (€ 450) in these months than during the dry season (June-September, € 300). Arrange your permit through Africa’s Eden, the Dutch travel company that is one of the initiators to unlock Loango as a sustainable travel destination.
In the jungle of Gabon you can go together with a biologist in search of wild gorillas
10. Meet the Mentawai residents on a unique jungle island, Indonesia
On the west coast of Sumatra lies a small part of Indonesia that has not yet been discovered by the masses: the Mentawai archipelago. Siberut is the largest island and is considered a main destination. In fact, the whole island is jungle, with the biggest attraction being the traditional Mentawai inhabitants. They live in large wooden houses that they call an umma. They sleep on the wooden shelves, cooking on large wood fires. Under the house live the boars. The Indigenous Education Foundation was set up by Australian Rob Henri after he came into contact with the Mentawai. Through his eco-company you book a responsible visit to the jungle and the Mentawai that live there. For a five-day trip for two people, you pay around €400. Truly an experience that few will have had.
On the island of Siberut you can get to know the traditional Mentawai admirers.
11. Get lost in the primeval forests of El Yunque, Puerto Rico
The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico may only cover a fifth of the surface of the Netherlands, but you will find lovely beaches, balmy colonial towns and above all: green, lots of greenery. To hiccup, relax and completely disappear. The primeval forests of El Yunque, the only piece of tropical rainforest on American soil, is a fantastic area to hike through and make you learn the strange sounds of the rainforest.
12. Seek silence on the banks of the Nam Ou, Laos
Take a boat ride from Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua, visit the riverside villages along the way, and sample the isolated atmosphere among the high mountains. If you want to make treks through the jungle to mountain peoples like the Akha and Lanten, travel to Phongsali or nam ha national park. The tribes that live here have little to no material happiness. They make their luck themselves and are satisfied with the smallest things. This is how the children dam the skin of nuts they find in the field
13. Take a night walk through the Waipoua Forest, New Zealand
The kauri are the oldest and largest trees in New Zealand. 96% of this native species has fallen prey to logging, and since then the last pieces of forest have been jealously preserved. The most beautiful specimens can be found at the Hokianga. A night walk through the Waipoua Forest – the name means ‘the rain’ in Maori – is an enchanting experience. Especially with Bill Matiu, a clan elder with a full singing voice and a strong dose of humor. For him, Waipoua has many meanings. It reminds him of the ways in which the Maori used the forest in a sustainable way as a medicine cabinet, food bank and DIY business. And it’s a place rich in ancestral myths. Ask for guide Bill Matiu at Footprints Waipoua.
Discover New Zealand’s Waipoua Forest on a night-time walk
14. Spot jaguars on an adventurous jungle trek, Belize
Wildlife lovers will remember their jungle trek in the Cockscomb Basin game reserve for a long time to come. On your way to Victoria, one of the Caribbean island’s highest peaks, cross a river and follow a narrow path also used by jaguars. And if you’re not lucky enough to spot the predator, the jungle and its other inhabitants, including monkeys and about three hundred species of birds, are also more than worth it. Learn more via Travel Belize.
Jaguars can be spotted on an adventurous jungle tour in Belize.