On a jungle tour, you will experience incredible wildlife and learn about ancient native cultures. You might encounter enormous silverback gorillas in Rwanda or hike through the dense intriguing Cloud Forest of Peru on your way to Machu Picchu. However you choose to traverse the jungle, Stride has the trip for you!
While scientifically the term “jungle” is not technically synonymous with ‘rainforest’ the two are still often used interchangeably. Tropical Rainforests cover only about 2% of the total earth surface (7% of dry land) they are home to over 50% of the world’s species. That’s quite a species to space ratio!
To be called a jungle or rainforest, these areas occupy typically tropical lands, are lush and dense, and most of all have a thick, heavy canopy which keeps much of the moisture from rainy seasons “trapped” underneath, between floor and sky. This creates incredibly unique microclimates at all stages of the journey from jungle floor to the canopy, and lends to the diversity of wildlife. It’s also why these beautiful and mysterious places are called Rainforests - because they remain damp and humid throughout the year.
Tours to the world’s top rainforests (and those more off the beaten path) usually focus on wildlife, photography, eco travel, and cultural immersion. Jungles are often visited via river cruise, such in the Amazon in South America, or the Mekong in Southeast Asia. Despite their similar atmospheres, these jungles around the world maintain their own unique personalities, and all are well worth visiting.
Entering the jungle harkens back to the age of exploration, when European explorers embarked on voyages of discovery. Howler monkeys hoot in the distance, the buzz of literally millions of species from the smallest centipede to the most vocal bird. Thousands of jungle dwellers expertly camouflaged by dense foliage wait just out of sight.
Classic Jungles of the World
There are some jungles that just seem to leap off the page of a collective traveler imagination. These are the mysterious and exciting lands of Kipling, Stevenson, and Burroughs. Of course there is a complicated colonial history to this, with anthropomorphised animals, and an undeniably simple colonialist view of the native human inhabitants of these beautiful and haunting landscapes.
However, putting all that aside, a journey into any one of these classic jungles is sure to awaken your inner explorer as you seek the truth beyond the stories and create your own adventure.
1. The Amazon Rainforest: To this day, scientists and researchers are still discovering new species in The Amazon. The region is a great reminder that there are still untouched and unexplored parts of the world. Home to over 10,000 species, and spanning through 9 countries, it is one of the world’s longest rivers as well as one of the most ecologically diverse.
The Amazon has only recently become a more accessible travel destination. Though this is a double edged sword. With more traffic comes greater recognition and awareness of the plight facing these jungles, but it also somewhat contributes to the problem. Tours to the Amazon will help highlight the threat they face, and provide you with the context to how you can help.
One way you can start is to try and travel as sustainably as possible when visiting these fragile areas. The Amazon is best experienced via river cruise, of which many options are available, from budget to luxury.
2. India: India is home to the jungles of Rudyard Kipling. The explorer and writer of The Jungle Book, clearly was much affected by the dense, mysterious and humid Indian jungle. His main character, Mowgli, meets some of the areas most elusive and quintessential wildlife, from tigers to orangutan.
You too can see these amazing creatures on a safari or guided tour. If you want to see Mowgli’s friends for yourself, the best way is to visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, where you can observe wildlife in their natural habitat.
3. Africa: You may think of Africa more as a dry and dusty flatland, yet a large portion of the country is actually jungle; namely throughout the Congo River Basin which touches Rwanda, Uganda, and the Republic of Congo.
These areas all offer one of the most unique travel experiences: Gorilla trekking. This activity has become more accessible to tourists, and it’s definitely something to write home about! You need a permit in advance, and it’s advisable to go with a reputable small group or private tour company to increase your chances of seeing these magnificent creatures in their home.
4. Cloud Forest in Peru: When Hiram Bingham entered the cloud forest on his quest for the Lost City of the Inca, he entered a world of shifting fog, filtering sunlight intermittently, hiding and revealing various settlements along his route. This route has become the most famous access road for tourists heading to Machu Picchu, eager to follow his footsteps, as well as those for whom the road is named, the near-mythical Incas themselves.
Cloud Forests are common in Central and South America, so named for a near constant bank of fog hovering at the canopy level. Another famous location for experiencing the Cloud Forest is Costa Rica, where you can walk (or zipline) right among the canopy, getting a unique view of how special these jungles are.
Jungle & Rainforest Photography Tips
The jungle is fascinating and begs to be photographed. Whether you’re an amateur or professional, you will certainly find many different subjects along your tour through the jungle. The weather and water can sometimes create issues, so be sure you exercise proper camera care as you explore the many wonderful parts of the jungle.
1. Bring a lens cloth - And have it readily accessible before you begin shooting. Jungle environments are often 100% humid, and this can cause extreme fogging on your lens. While this can create interesting effects, it’s most likely not the effect you’re looking for.
2. Use a strap that’s made of soft, durable, water-resistant material. This is a bit a personal preference. However, as you’ll be hiking through dense rainforest, in very warm, humid weather, getting sweatier and not drying off, the generic strap to your DSLR may get irritating and itchy quickly. You can fashion your own strap fairly easily (check out some tutorials around the web), using a softer cloth material which will be much more comfortable throughout the long days of trekking.
3. Get to know the animals. Familiarizing yourself with various species patterns and habits will reveal certain facets of their personalities you may want to capture on film, as well as where the best spots to find them are, and what time of day or night. Also try to determine in advance any animals you’re looking forward to photographing and ask your tour guide if they have any special tips.
4. Bring a macro lens. If you’re not as comfortable with different lenses, using the automatic macro setting on your DSLR will suffice, but using the official lens will transform your photographs even more. Particularly for shooting the unbelievable plant life, being able to add creative focal points and composition with a macro lens is a wonderful asset.
5. Be respectful and patient. It can be frustrating for a wild animal to not sit in the perfect spot long enough for you to get the best shot possible. But patience is a virtue when it comes to wildlife photography. Try and book a tour that will return to various spots at different times of day, as this will increase your chances of capturing a truly wonderful image of that elusive species.
6. Don’t eliminate people from all your photos. While the wildlife is certainly the focal point of a journey through the jungle, a human presence can create a powerful and interesting dynamic. Your entire comment and composition will change, and also you’ll be able to look back and remember the people on your jungle tour (hopefully with fondness!). Additionally, you may meet native tribes and explore villages deep within the jungle, where you’ll definitely want to take some meaningful portraits.