Rainforests are more than just a fascinatingly biodiverse environment to explore – they play a crucial role in preserving the future of mankind, with a recent study showing that rainforests absorb more than half of the carbon emissions around the world. This means the preservation of rainforests goes beyond a mere conceit – it’s an imperative. So what better way to spend your travels than learning about these environmental powerhouses, and perhaps even pitching in with some conservation efforts? They’re an incredible place to explore flora and fauna, making a rainforest break an intensely rewarding experience – and if you’re interested in getting your hands dirty somewhere a little less busy than on your typical Amazon adventure, check out some of these little-known rainforests.
The Udzungwa Mountains, East Africa
These extraordinary mountain ranges were almost unexplored just 35 years ago – teaming with rare and beautiful wildlife, these lush ranges have now been designated one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots. Thousands of new species have been discovered here, and it’s been described as “a land where time stood still”, due to its pristine, almost completely untouched environment. Soaring up like a mirage in the desert, these mountains are surrounded by endless stretches of arid savannah – a true miracle of nature.
Koh Samui, Thailand
One of the largest islands in the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Samui is known for its beautiful white sand beaches, upmarket resorts and riotous nightlife – but did you know that it is also home to a lush and expansive rainforest? With a warm, humid climate, this tropical island is home to a number of rare and extraordinary creatures including King and Queen Cobra snakes, Box Jellyfish, giant monitor lizards and even whale sharks. The pristine rainforest can be explored via a three-hour hike or even a jungle safari and is overflowing with cascading waterfalls, lush tropical greenery, all manner of monkeys and even wild elephants.
Bukit Nanas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The smallest rainforest in the world at just 9.3 hectares, this incredible rainforest within a city is a landmark at the base of the enormous KL Tower. Bijoux as it may be, it still preserves many species and features of the expansive diverse rainforest it once was, including monkeys, pythons, lizards and squirrels. It’s probably the only rainforest which you can hike through, then eat in a revolving restaurant directly above! Bukit Nanas serves as an important reminder of the effects of human inhabitation on natural environments – jump on a flight from Dublin to Kuala Lumpar to check it out.
Southern Siberian Rainforest, Siberia
A rainforest in Siberia? It’s snow joke! A temperate, rather than a tropical rainforest, this humid and occasionally even snowy (!) rainforest can reach temperatures as low as -19 degrees Celsius. Home to brown bears, European adders, golden eagles, peregrine falcons and grey wolves (to name but a few), this rare wintery forest also houses a huge variety of trees, including silver birch and Siberian pine. A truly unusual rainforest!
So take a trip to one of these wild and beautiful natural rainforests, to learn about some of the most important eco-systems Earth offers. As educationally rich as they are rich in natural beauty, these rainforests are sure to inspire you.