Beyond the towns, cities and roads there are still some pockets of paradise left in this world, places that have been left largely untouched, allowing evolution to forge ahead undisturbed. Such places are known for their huge diversity of amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and plants. Are you dying to discover your inner Darwin and seek out these destinations for yourself? Read on for a roundup of the most biodiverse places in the world...
The Amazon Rainforest
Containing a third of all known plant and animal species in the world, the Amazon deserves the top spot when it comes to the most biodiverse places in the world. This sprawling stretch of wilderness spans the width of South America, dominating countries including Brazil, Colombia and Peru. This garden of Eden is home to an estimated 55,000 species of plants, as well as having the highest counts of both vertebrates and invertebrates on the planet. The best way to see it for yourself is by cruising into the heart of the jungle by boat, before continuing on by foot and canoe, spotting howler monkeys in the canopy and piranhas, giant manatees and pink river dolphins in the water.
Ecuador and the Galapagos Archipelago
Another destination that deserves a spot on the list of the most biodiverse places in the world is Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. With over 576 species of flora and fauna, that are completely exclusive to the country, it’s easy to see why Charles Darwin dedicated years of his study to this captivating corner of the world. On land, there is a huge array of ecosystems including clouds forests, mangrove forests and tropical rainforests that are all home to an incredible diversity of species, particularly birds. If you venture out to sea, hop on an expedition vessel to sail around the Galapagos Islands, described by Darwin as ‘a little world within itself’ and see everything from tortoises and sea lions to endemic species such as Galapagos penguins.
The Coral Triangle
Spanning across six countries, the Coral Triangle is the epicentre for marine biodiversity. Within this ‘nursery of the seas’, live 76% of the world’s coral species, six of the world’s seven marine turtle species, and over 6,000 species of fish. Take to the water for a diving or snorkelling adventure and discover an awe-inspiring array of wildlife as you gaze down on this colourful underwater world. Continue the wildlife watching in neighbouring Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 10,000 islands, which is home to the most mammal species of any country.
Alaska, United States
Alaska is a go-to destination for adventurous travellers, with its rugged landscapes and epic wilderness activities. The country is also home to the largest expanse of temperate rainforest on the planet, making it a worthy contender in a roundup of the most biodiverse places in the world. Here, you’ll find everything from brown bears and moose to river otters and beavers, as well as a huge variety of unique plant life. The remoteness of the region is the key to the pristine condition of the ecosystems and with the help of an expert tracker and guide, you can discover it for yourself.
Monteverde Park, Costa Rica
Costa Rica's natural landscapes are wonderfully varied, which has led to an incredible level of biodiversity. There’s the wetlands of Tortuguero and the Caribbean Coast, the volcanoes and cloud forests of the interior, and the tropical rainforest reserves and surf beaches of the Nicoya and Osa Peninsulas. If you are looking for one of the most biodiverse area in the country, head to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve which is home to over 100 mammal species, 400 bird species, tens of thousands of different insects and 2,500 different plants (including a whopping 400 different kinds of orchid).
Manu National Park, Peru
Covering 1.5 million hectors in southeastern Peru, Manu National Park is huge. This sprawling Biosphere Reserve, which is protected by the Peruvian government, is renowned for its incredible biodiversity. The park is home to hundreds of bird species and a number of rare and threatened wildlife species, from top predators like jaguars and pumas, to creatures new to science that are only just being discovered. The best way to experience the park is to stay at the Manu Learning Centre, where you can enjoy everything from privately guided day and night walks to research trips and rafting adventures.