There’s nothing quite like waking up in a rain forest — the sounds, sensations, and sheer size of these biodiverse landscapes are a magical reminder of the magnificence of nature. But unless you’re travelling with your own camping gear (and some serious survival skills), the best option is to check into a well-appointed lodge for a worry-free wilderness retreat. Fortunately, many eco-hotels in rain forests also encourage responsible tourism, from preventing deforestation by buying huge swaths of forests to supporting wildlife conservation projects. As more travellers seek new ways to consciously connect with nature, here are some of the best rain forest hotels to stay in during your next vacation. By Julia Eskins
Explore an old-growth rainforest in Canada
Many people don’t associate Canada with rain forests, but that’s exactly why Clayoquot Sound — home to one of the last great tracts of the ancient temperate rain forest — remains one of British Columbia’s best-kept secrets. Nestled on the emerald banks of a pristine ocean inlet on Vancouver Island, Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is a true mecca for nature enthusiasts. The all-inclusive resort‘s off-the-grid location (accessible only by seaplane, helicopter, or boat) ensures that every part of the stay is a decadent adventure. With 25 luxuriously appointed guest tents set among towering conifer trees, even showering comes with verdant views. Meanwhile, action-packed daily excursions reveal the region’s impressive wildlife, including black bears, whales, and bald eagles. Those looking to marvel at thousand-year-old trees can join a guided hike through the old-growth forest, where giant mushrooms, berries, and blankets of moss create a masterpiece of colour and texture. After appreciating nature with your eyes, you can taste it at dinner, where executive chef Asher Blackford regularly turns foraged ingredients into edible art.
Stay in a tree house in the Peruvian Amazon
Located on a private ecological reserve in Peru’s Amazon rain forest, yet only a 25-minute flight from Cusco, Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica feels remote, but it’s actually very accessible for anyone on Peru’s popular “Gringo Trail.” The eco-luxury lodge sits on the edge of the Madre de Dios River, where caimans, Andean bears, and sloths can regularly be spotted. With 35 wooden cabanas inspired by the Ese’Eja culture and a canopy tree house perched 90 feet above the jungle floor, there is plenty of space to explore your wild side. Thanks to an a la carte menu of daily excursions, you’ll almost forget the lack of Wi-Fi. And after a few pisco sours, you’ll become addicted to falling asleep to the nocturnal sounds of the surrounding Tambopata National Reserve. This year, Inkaterra became the world’s first carbon-negative hotel brand, giving us another reason to sign up for glamping in the Amazon.
Maroon yourself on a private island in Panama
The Gulf of Chiriqui off Panama’s Pacific Coast is one of the last few places in Central America that is truly pristine. And if you’re seeking a private island escape that makes you feel like an intrepid adventurer, there’s no better place to stay than Isla Palenque. With just eight casitas that open up onto a golden-sand beach and a villa that sleeps 14, guests can experience true privacy while exploring 400 acres of primary rain forest teeming with howler monkeys and migratory birds. Trails here are also steeped in mystery, as the island once served as a refuge for Indigenous groups who escaped the slave trade during Central America’s colonial period. As part of the Cayuga Collection, the property has made a concerted effort to not only preserve the untouched wilderness, but also employ almost entirely local staff, making every guided experience even more special.
Visit the world’s oldest living rain forest Down Under
Set to debut its multimillion-dollar refurbishment in December, Silky Oaks Lodge is giving us one more reason to visit Australia in 2022. With its reopening, the enduring Tropical North Queensland retreat is offering even more immersion in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest. The property has long been famous for its 40 luxury tree houses styled with Baillie Lodges‘ signature contemporary and pared-back aesthetic, so as not to compete with the views of the Mossman River. But now, cultural and ecological sustainability are becoming even more central to the Silky Oaks experience. After all, the rain forest isn’t just home to 74 species of mammals, twice as many types of reptiles and amphibians, and 330 kinds of birds, but also First Nations Kuku Yalanji people. To honour the traditional owners of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, whose history dates back some 50,000 years, the property invites guests to connect with the Indigenous heritage through Aboriginal artwork and culinary creations infused with heritage flavours and ingredients.
Hide out at a Hollywood director’s Belizean abode
Teeming with natural swimming pools, waterslides, caves, and Mayan ruins, Belize’s Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is a playground for the rain forest-obsessed. And there’s no better place to soak it all in than Blancaneaux Lodge, Francis Ford Coppola’s 20-room luxury hideaway set among tropical pines. The property was Coppola’s private family retreat before he opened it to the public in 1993. Fortunately for us, it’s a perfect base for those wanting to explore the country’s pristine Cayo District, including the 13,000-acre Noj Kaax Meen Elijio Panti National Park, where a dense jungle and spectacular waterfalls await. With Blancaneaux Lodge recently joining the Preferred Hotel Group’s new Beyond Green travel portfolio, guests can feel good about the property’s sustainability measures: The majority of the local staff come from nearby Mayan villages, hydropower provides the lodge with a renewable energy source, and organic gardens supply the kitchen daily.
Sleep in a cloud forest in Ecuador
It’s hard to believe Mashpi Lodge, a sleek, 23-room hotel perched at the junction of a rain forest and cloud forest, is just 60 miles (96.5 kilometres) from bustling Quito, Ecuador. While gazing through the floor-to-ceiling panoramic glass windows overlooking a 2,500-acre private reserve, you feel completely cocooned in lush vegetation. Whether you’re bird-watching with your morning coffee from the terrace or admiring fluttering butterflies from the viewing platform that juts out over the forest, it’s not uncommon to spot rare and magnificent species. After all, it was only a couple of years ago that the Mashpi frog and a rare orchid species — both endemic to this very forest — were identified. Today, discovery remains integral to the Mashpi experience, which includes a working on-site laboratory and knowledgeable naturalists always ready to guide guests through a wonderland of flora and fauna.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com