Top 10 Beautiful Rainforests

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Roffey
Walk among giants in these stunning rainforests. Welcome to MojoTravels, and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 beautiful rainforests. For this list, we're looking at rainforests around the world that dazzle and amaze us with their biodiversity and natural beauty.
Top 10 Beautiful Rainforests

Walk among giants in these stunning rainforests. Welcome to MojoTravels, and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 beautiful rainforests. For this list, we're looking at rainforests around the world that dazzle and amaze us with their biodiversity and natural beauty.

10: Appalachian Rainforest, USA

Draped over the southern Appalachian Mountains, this temperate rainforest is a natural wonderland of mist-shrouded valleys, dense coniferous woodland, and picturesque waterfalls. Fraser fir and red spruce trees predominate, with fragrant honeysuckle, raspberry, and blackberry bushes filling out the understory. It’s home to endemic salamander and turtle species, as well as American black bears, northern flying squirrels, and white-tailed deer. You may even spy river otters and elk. Wander the Great Smoky Mountains, or take on the demanding Appalachian Trail, extending all the way down from Maine to Georgia.

9: El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico

Few associate the US with tropical rainforests. But technically there is one, despite the abuse it suffered from Hurricane Maria, courtesy of unincorporated territory Puerto Rico. As the trade winds blow in from the Atlantic, the Luquillo mountains catch the rain, feeding 28,000 acres of lush, verdant forest on Puerto Rico’s northeast edge. Winding through bamboo groves and Sierra palms, trails pass melodic streams and dramatic falls, before climbing up the mountainsides into cloud-wreathed peaks. Keep an eye out for the noisy coqui tree frog, and the cute little Puerto Rican tody.

8: Rainforests of the Atsinanana, Madagascar

For exotic wildlife, it’s hard to beat Madagascar. Spread throughout six national parks on the island nation’s eastern flank, the rainforests of the Atsinanana boast a diverse habitat with unique flora and fauna. In fact, 97% of species here live only in Madagascar! That includes 25 species of lemur, among them the rare and endangered “flying angels” of the forest, the silky sifaka. The parks offer a range of camping options, especially in Masoala and Marojejy. As you stroll the orchid-lined trails, keep your eyes peeled for chameleons, the slinky, cat-like fossa, and the timid and nocturnal aye-aye.

7: New Guinea Rainforests

It’s home to the nimble-footed tree-kangaroo, the solitary cassowary, and a huge variety of birds-of-paradise. New Guinea’s tropical rainforest region is the third largest in the world, with some stretches so dense and mountainous they have yet to be fully explored. Spread out across both the Indonesian province West Papua, and Papua New Guinea in the east, the forests blanket the rugged New Guinea Highlands and tumble down into lowland and coastal areas. Papua New Guinea has suffered massive deforestation from illegal logging, but it isn’t too late to appreciate the rainforests’ rare natural beauty, with some travel companies offering ecotours into the island’s untamed interior.

6: Valdivian Rainforest, Chile and Argentina

Wedged between the Pacific and the Andes, the Valdivian temperate rainforest is a legacy of lost times. Its diverse flora harks back to an age when South America, New Zealand, and Australia were part of one ancient supercontinent; and one of its most unique animals, the monito del monte, is actually related to Australian marsupials. The primordial forest’s native trees are some of the oldest, tallest, and most long-lived in the world; whereas its wildlife is some of the smallest - including the world’s smallest deer, the pudú, and the adorable but secretive kodkod.

5: Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka

Its name means “lion kingdom”, and entering Sinharaja really is like walking into another place and time. A UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and Heritage Site, the tropical lowland forest is a small but dense biodiversity hotspot, with numerous endemic species of both plants and animals. As you walk the winding, hilly trails, wildlife can be tough to spot, making guides invaluable; but with a little luck, visitors can spot giant squirrels, golden palm civets, purple-faced langur monkeys, and even, if you’re extremely fortunate, a Sri Lankan leopard.

4: Danum Valley Conservation Area, Malaysia

Let’s cut straight to the chase: orangutans. Big, beautiful, and eerily human orangutans . . . Or maybe we’re eerily orangutan. Of course, there’s a lot more where that came from in northern Borneo’s pristine lowland tropical rainforest, a treasure trove of dizzying diversity. Clouded leopards, mouse-deer, tarsiers, gibbons, rhinos, sun bears and pygmy elephants all call the Danum Valley home - as too do thousands of plant species (with more being discovered all the time). Gaze up in awe at the towering trunks from below, or watch the forest from above on a dizzying treetop canopy walk.

3: Tongass National Forest, Alaska, US

Alaska might seem an improbable place for a rainforest. In the winter months, the interior is pretty much frozen over. But down on Alaska’s southeast coastline sits the remote Tongass National Forest, a temperate rainforest warmed by winds that blow in from the Pacific. The forest’s most iconic animals are perhaps the brown bear and the bald eagle, but it’s also the abode of wolves, sitka deer, and Arctic tern. With glaciers and fjords all thrown into the mix, it’s one of the most diverse national forests in the world, and is the largest in the US.

2: Daintree Rainforest, Australia

Australia is the driest continent in the world. But it’s also a country of diverse climates and landscapes - including the world’s oldest tropical rainforest on the humid northeast coastline. The Daintree is one of the few places in the world where rainforest meets the beach, with gorgeous coral reefs offshore to boot. Walking trails meander through ancient ferns and conifers, around rugged granite outcrops, and past rivers where saltwater crocodiles sun themselves on the banks. Other denizens include cassowaries, tree-kangaroos, and a third of the country’s frog and reptile species. Also look out for platypuses, tiger quolls, and the spectacular Ulysses butterfly.

1: Amazon Rainforest, South America

The legendary Amazon is a place of superlatives: it is the largest and most diverse rainforest on Earth, sweeping out from the world’s largest river through nine different nations. It boasts at least 40,000 plant species, 2,500 kinds of fish, and additional thousands of bird, mammal, amphibian, and reptile species. The forest is also the last refuge for many vulnerable and endangered species, such as the giant otter, South American tapir, and bald uakari. The Amazon is so big it’s hard to know where to start; but no matter the route or jungle lodge, there’s always something new to explore.