he term “jungle” may have devolved over the years into more categorically correct definitions, but the ideas and images it conjures remain: lush, primeval gardens shrouded in exotic mystery, swallowing civilizations whole and locking out the rest with walls of tangled vines and perils both real and imagined. Indeed, the tales of lost cities, hidden wealth and untold secrets combine fantastically with the colorful flora, fauna and cultures that call the jungle home, creating the perfect mix of ingredients to inspire a classic adventure. Luckily, though they were once impenetrable to all but imaginative novelists and the most intrepid of explorers, a number of fine lodges and camps now let you cross into these evocative landscapes free of the risks and challenges that they traditionally carried, and tour partners across the world offer thrilling treks that lead you into the natural habitats of the planet’s rarest and most elusive species. Enjoy a glimpse into these unfamiliar worlds with insight from our on-the-ground destination specialists, or delve into the mysteries of the jungle yourself with a selection of sample itineraries designed to provide memorable experiences of the unique culture, ecology and recreation found in these wondrous biomes.
Though the world’s jungles are equally fascinating, it may be those of Africa that most command the imagination. From the grand adventures popularized by Victorian writers to the vibrant and boisterous world of The Lion King, the allure is varied and farreaching. As Mr. Harper notes, the wild regions of Africa provide many occasions for wonder, but it is the jungle that contains the most profoundly intimate encounter: an up-close meeting with a mountain gorilla. “[It] is quite simply the most intense wildlife experience that Africa has to offer,” Mr. Harper says. In Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, guests have the opportunity for these close encounters with the world’s largest population of wild mountain gorillas. The densely vegetated slopes are also home to golden monkeys, and the chance to observe these animals in their natural, undisturbed setting is a remarkable experience. A private safari in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a World Heritage site, allows guests to be guided through the dense network of vines, shrubs, steep ridges and bamboo forests to witness the complex social structure of the mountain gorillas who reside there, far away from the rest of the world. Letting an experiential travel partner such as &Beyond organize your journey allows you to focus on the extraordinary sightings and benefit from knowledgeable experts. “&Beyond’s lodges, tours and safaris are renowned for their natural luxury and are underpinned by the knowledge and expertise of their highly skilled rangers, trackers, guides and naturalists,” says &Beyond CEO Joss Kent. “Our expert guides and naturalists passionately impart an incomparable wealth of knowledge — personally researched and experienced — about habitats, ecology, birds, trees, plants, animals and insects, providing our guests with enough memorable wildlife experiences to last a lifetime.”
Sunlight peeks through the canopy of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. ANDAMANSE/ISTOCK/THINKSTOCK
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