Ecotourism has exploded in recent years, and for good reason. It’s defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” Essentially, ecotourism offers people a chance to explore exotic natural areas around our world without doing harm. This is especially important since our forests convert CO2 into oxygen and play a substantial role in controlling climate change. (A vacation geared towards supporting these critical areas on earth while giving people an unforgettable experience? Win-win.)
While many people automatically turn their attention towards popular rainforest destinations (like the Brazilian Amazon) there are actually a ton other places around the globe that offer unexpected ecotourism. From Canada to Malaysia, West Africa and back, here are four amazing and unexpected rainforest ecotourism trips that’ll make any traveler (and tree) happy.
One of Canada’s treasures (besides maple syrup, of course) is its heaps of wildlife. The Great Bear Rainforest takes over a vast area of British Columbia, where there are essentially no roads and a small human population. This has allowed the rainforest to become home to a unique population of animals, like coastal gray wolves and the Spirit Bear. The ecotourism team is focused on ending the trophy killing of Grizzly Bears, and even offers tours to see the bears up close and personal (under the supervision of professional guides, of course!), before taking visitors on a boat trip towards inlets that were once carved by glaciers. Talk about a different kind of forest experience.
While the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, often comes to mind when thinking of Malaysia, don’t forget that Malaysia is located in the tropics. In fact, it’s one the 17 Megadiverse Countries on earth—meaning it’s super biodiverse. See it to believe it with one of their most popular ecotourism tours, the Kinabatangan Wildlife Safari. Explore the sakau rainforest by river boat and foot, and see incredible creatures like the proboscis monkey, bornean pygmy elephant, and orangutan.
When it comes to wildlife and natural beauty, East and South African safaris tend to take the cake. Yet maybe it’s time to think that assumption over. Kakum National Park in Ghana is a vast, evergreen forest in West Africa that holds towering trees over 200 feet tall, elephants, red river hogs, and African grey parrots. Make sure to try and spot all 400 species of butterflies (doesn’t hurt to try) before walking along the tree-top walkway, which stretches over 1,000 feet long. The easiest way to get there is a flight to Accra, Ghana’s capital, followed by an adventurous 3-5 hour tro-tro drive north. Or, rent a private car!
Okay: It wouldn’t be fair to completely ignore South America when talking about incredible rainforest ecotourism trips. While Machu Picchu (rightfully) attracts many people to Peru, skip the train to the Inca citadel and hike instead, through what else—but the Peruvian rainforest. The diverse flora and fauna (more than 1,000 different kinds of birds, and 20 kinds of monkeys!) will ensure anyone that trekking through one of the richest bio-diverse forests in the world is worth it. Various packages and tours takes people through the forest, which is also the least densely populated place in all of Peru. The easiest way to get there is a flight to Cusco, a city that stands 11,152 feet above sea level.