There's perhaps no place on earth as wild, mysterious and soul-stirring as its rainforests – the world's oldest living ecosystem. Even though they take up just 6% of the planet's surface, these habitats house over half the world's flora and fauna, from technicolour toucans that swoop at altitude to jaguars that skulk the forest floor. 

A rainforest earns its title by being a location where the heavens weep in excess of 80 inches of rainfall per year – which means these lush ecosystems thrive on every continent except the icy reaches of Antarctica. While the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest, might be the first to come to mind, there are plenty of others dotted across the globe – from the steamy undergrowth of Tasmania's Tarkine Rainforest to the cool evergreen Hoh Rainforest in Washington. 

We've picked out ten hauntingly beautiful rainforest destinations that warrant a visit, including where to stay. Spoiler alert: photogenic waterfalls, exotic blooms, and lush plumage are all on the cards.

10 rainforest destination to visit and where to stay in them

Langkawi Rainforest

Malaysia

The compact Malaysian archipelago stippled across the Andaman Sea was awarded Unesco global geopark status over a decade ago – so the Langkawi Rainforest serves up biodiversity by the bucketload, with more butterfly species than the whole of Europe. As the sun sets and slackens its grip on the 10-million-year-old rainforest, it transforms into a nocturnal ecosystem. Colugos, or flying lemurs, catapult 150 metres from sky-high trees, moths the size of human heads flutter through the humid air, and clouded leopards skulk along the forest floor. Spend your days bobbing on a kayak down the tidal Kubang Badak River or head to the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park to tour the ancient mangrove forests.

Where to stay?

The Datai Langkawi

From £543; thedatai.com

Amazon

Peru

Although Brazil might come to mind when thinking about the Amazon, the second-largest expanse of this vast rainforest blankets the eastern lowlands of Peru, encompassing dense jungles, winding rivers, and towering canopy trees. Seemingly a country within a country, Peru’s Amazon Basin is so vast and impenetrable that it’s long protected its indigenous communities and diverse wildlife from the outside world. Head to the Tambopata National Reserve, and you’re in prime birdwatching territory where you can venture into the jungle for five days and feast your eyes on the rare shansho or one of the 14 species of herons that feed on the shore of its rivers. Rise early, and you’ll catch a glimpse of vivid macaws, parrots and parakeets hanging out by the clay licks. Sounds like a hoot.

Where to stay?

Posada Amazonas

From £617; rainforestexpeditions.com

Maya Forest

Belize

As a nation of just over 400,000 citizens with 36% of its land and 28% of its water protected, Belize’s rainforests are some of the most pristine and secluded in the world. The Belize Maya Forest is part of a 38-million-acre tropical forest network called the Selva Maya that spans Belize, northern Guatemala and southeastern Mexico. It is one of the world’s largest surviving tropical rainforests outside the Amazon, home to all five Central American wild cats and some of the region’s largest remaining populations of jaguar and puma. Meow.

Where to stay?

Belize Conservation Travel trip through Journeys with Purpose 

From £10,109; journeyswithpurpose.org

El Yunque

Puerto Rico

El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, tucked away in the rugged heart of Puerto Rico. This mysterious and misty emerald expanse on the island’s northeastern corner is home to 240 plant species, incredible biodiversity, and tree-covered mountains. In fact, its name translates as ‘the anvil’ because its flat peak resembles a steel-faced iron hammer. It’s a hiker’s paradise with some 24 miles of trails, including La Coca Trail and Juan Diego Trail, which lead to mystical natural pools. Head to the southern part of the forest, and you’ll discover Taíno petroglyphs etched into the rocks – a symbol of the forest’s sacred status to the island’s original inhabitants many moons ago.

Where to stay?

St. Regis Bahia Bay

From £1,094; marriott.com

Kaua’i

Hawaii

While Hawaii may usually be associated with miles-long beaches and world-class surf breaks, all of it looked over by towering volcanic mountains, it is also home to 2,600 square miles of rainforest. The most beautiful? Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park, found on Kaua’i. Nicknamed the Garden Island thanks to its bucolic swathes of greenery punctuated only by fairytale waterfalls and vertiginous hills, Kaua’i seems to rise out of the ocean like a mirage, sea cliffs all of a sudden meeting powdery sand and impossibly blue sea. Immerse yourself with an easy hike to Wailua Falls in the morning, when the sunlight reflecting off the spray creates a natural rainbow. Now that’s what we call a pot of gold.

Where to stay?

OUTRIGGER Kaua’i Beach Resort & Spa

From £291; outrigger.com

Tarkine Rainforest

Tasmania

Seemingly tiny in comparison to the behemoth that is the Australian mainland, Tasmania is an often overlooked and underrated destination down under. Benefiting from a temperate climate, it’s home to a range of habitats, from sweeping white sand beaches to rolling grasslands and, of course, the Tarkine Rainforest, an abundant stretch of greenery covering a stretch of land over 450,000 hectares. Take to the waters and paddle down its Huon pine-lined rivers, or opt for one of the many hikes that take you through glades of myrtle beech, celery top pine and blackwood trees.

Where to stay?

Corinna Wilderness Village

From £133; corinna.com.au

The Gola Rainforest

Sierra Leone

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Home to over 300 species of bird and a number of rare and endangered animals such as red colobus monkey, antelope and pygmy hippos, The Gola Rainforest is officially Sierra Leone’s first rainforest national park and a flagship conservation project for the country. It should come as no surprise, really, when you consider the abundance of unique flora and fauna found within its limits. Opt for a day hike or a multi-day overnight adventure where you can spend your evenings spotting nocturnal wildlife, such as the elusive pygmy hippo, by moonlight. The opening of a new airport in the country’s capital, Freetown, means this idyllic slice of West Africa is becoming more accessible than ever.

Where to stay?

Sierra Leone Natural History Explorer through Rainbow Tours

From £3,355 for 11 days; rainbowtours.co.uk

Hoh Rainforest

USA

Looking for a rainforest that’s cut from a different cloth? Set your compass to the far west of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, where the uber-spooky Hoh Rainforest is begging to be explored. Not far from Forks, the Twilight town which Stephanie Meyer chose because it receives more rainfall than anywhere else in the continental United States, the Hoh is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States and receives an annual deluge of 140 inches of rain on average. Among enormous redwoods, spruce, cedar and fir that often stand above 300 feet, you’ll find river otters, Roosevelt elk and black bears.

Where to stay?

Misty Valley Inn

From £154; mistyvalleyinn.com

Sinharaja Rainforest

Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka is an island nation boasting an entire spectrum of diverse environments and different ecosystems. Shaped by a wide range of altitudes, it boasts a fantastical array of flora and fauna, from crystalline watered beaches to thick, verdant jungle. Of the latter, we recommend exploring the lesser-known Sinharaja Rainforest, which is one of the final frontiers on the island. Largely undisturbed by humanity, it can feel like you’ve travelled back to another epoch entirely. Over its expansive grounds you’ll find over 150 species of birds alongside wild boars, purple-face langurs and sambar deer. In fact, the rainforest will allow you to encounter over 43% of all species on the island of Sri Lanka. Just make sure you pack a decent telephoto lens for your camera.

Where to stay?

Wild Sri Lanka through Exodus Travel

From £2,399 for 10 days; exodus.co.uk

Virunga National Park

Democratic Republic of Congo

Central Africa is one of the most magical places on the planet, no less for its thick jungles and mist-clad peaks than for its mountain gorillas. However, if you want to truly walk on the wild side, opt for the less-visited Democratic Republic of Congo. Alongside its beautiful savannahs and riparian ecosystems, it also boasts some stunning national parks. Whether you’re wandering the Garamba National Park in search of northern-white rhinoceros, Kahuzi Biega National Park for eastern lowland gorillas or Virunga National Park for mountain gorillas, you can be sure that adventure awaits. And, you’ll be supporting crucial conservation efforts while there.

Where to stay?

Gorillas in The Democratic Republic of Congo Trip through Journeys with Purpose

Price upon request; journeyswithpurpose.org