Rainforests represent some of the most breathtaking scenery the world has to offer. From the massive Amazon rainforest in South America to the jungles of central Africa and Australia, these dense landscapes are home to a startling variety of plant and animal wildlife. Yet visiting them can be dangerous if you do not know what to expect.
They may be tiny, but mosquitoes pose one of the biggest risks to people entering the jungle because they can carry malaria and yellow fever. Both of these can be vaccinated against, but MD Travel Health recommends consulting a doctor at least four weeks before heading for the rainforest. It is also essential that travellers drink only bottled water, as any water they find in the rainforest could contain other tropical diseases or at the very least cause diarrhoea and dehydration. Similarly, any food consumed must be cleaned and adequately cooked.
Rainforests provide a home to a plethora of different species, many of which are particularly dangerous to travellers. The scrub-itch mite is irritating as an infant, but the adult bug carries a toxin that can cause fatal paralysis in humans. Spiders, scorpions and other bugs carry similar dangers. Snakes are not as dangerous as their reputation suggests, but it is worth taking care when walking. Larger animals, such big cats that live in the jungle, will usually avoid humans but travellers should look out for them.
In Australia, the Stinging Tree is a plant to avoid. Its heart-shaped leaves carry fine hairs that will poison a human on touch, causing renewed pain for two months afterward. The Lawyer Vine is another Australian predator, as its long vines will attach themselves to anything that comes too close. Forest fruits are also dangerous. Although animals may eat them, this does not mean they are suitable for human consumption.
As the name suggests, rainforests receive a lot of rain. According to Goparoo, the Amazon rainforest can receive as much as 100 inches of rain a year. This poses dangers to the traveller as roads can be washed away, rivers can break their banks and flood and currents in rivers can be considerably stronger than would be expected. This can in turn damage boats, in many cases the only means to travel through the rainforest. The dangers of being isolated due to tropical rain are high, so it is worth double-checking the dates for a particular rainforest's monsoon season.