Five jungles you must visit and experience
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Five jungles you must experience -

and help conserve




The jungle holds an irresistible allure for the intrepid traveller as a primal place untouched by man. Unfortunately the sad reality is that even the most impenetrable jungles are under threat from the activities of humans and our very act of visiting them can be contributing to their decline.


With the rise in opportunities for 'voluntourism' - getting to really know places by volunteering on projects based in them - there is a way to explore sensitive areas while helping to preserve them and contributing to the communities who live nearby.


Perhaps, then, the best way to see a jungle, and to really get to know it, is to volunteer on what are sometimes called gap year volunteer programs, but are usually open to volunteers of all ages and backgrounds.


Here are five must-see jungles with compelling volunteer programs on offer to those who want to go beyond the well-trodden paths.


1 Chitwan National Park, Nepal


There are numerous opportunities to help teach local Nepalis English so that they can develop eco-tourist services that will ensure Chitwan remains a special place for future generations to enjoy.

Lying at the foot of the imposing Himalayas, Chitwan is one of the very few remaining undisturbed vestiges of the Terai region, which formerly covered vast expanses of the foothills of India and Nepal.


Chitwan is not only blessed with particularly rich flora and fauna it is also unique in providing homes to one of the world's last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros and the extremely rare Bengal tiger. Elephant tours can take you through this wildlife paradise, or you can leave a smaller footprint by heading out with a guide into the jungle.

2 The Amazon, Brazil


Volunteers in the Amazon can help conserve this vast but threatened area by engaging in activities such as planting vital botanical species in the flatlands. The Amazon is one of the most spectacular places on Earth. It covers an incredible 6 million square kilometres that is blessed with an astounding natural diversity.


There are a staggering 2,500 species of tree, 40,000 plant species, 2.5 million insects and 7,500 types of butterflies in the Amazon. In fact, more than 30% of the world's flora and fauna are contained in the Amazon rainforest and one fifth of all known birds can be found here.


The cougar, jaguar and anaconda roam free and the Amazon River's waters contain friendly pink dolphins that will happily swim by your side.


3 Sinharaja, Sri Lanka


Volunteers in Sinharaja can help conserve this mighty rain forest while exploring it further by foot or kayak. This biodiversity hotspot is dense, dark, damp and mysterious. It is a bird lover's paradise and an accessible but tranquil area to explore.


4 Chiang Mai, Thailand


Equally accessible is Thailand's Chiang Mai. For any would-be volunteer Thailand offers many opportunities to help on conservation projects. Chiang Mai jungle treks are as famous for their anthropological aspects as their ecological exploration, with hill tribe villages often included on the itineraries.


5 Iguazu National Park, Argentina


The jungles of Argentina are justly famous for the beauty of their waterfalls but local communities nearby live in the direst poverty, which volunteers can help to alleviate. The Iguazu Falls are taller than the Niagara Falls and twice as wide. They are actually the combined result of 275 cascades joined in a horseshoe shape spanning nearly two miles of river.


The falls were formed by a volcanic eruption and the water actually still appears to be erupting over them. During the rainy season water flows over the falls at a rate of 12,750 cubic metres per second. The falls are part of a practically virgin jungle ecosystem that is protected on one side by Argentina and on the other by Brazil.




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