01 Guyana: Top of the falls
Hike through virgin rainforest, cross mountain streams and navigate jungle bridges to the isolated Kaieteur Falls, the world’s highest, single-drop waterfall. Located within the protected national park, it’s a monolith amid the lush green Amazon and a superb place for birding, jaguar, monkeys and more. World Expeditions offers this as an eight-day trip from £1,790 per person, excluding international flights.
02 Manu, Peru: Jaguars and woolly monkeys
Become a Field Learner, assisting the conservation team at Peru’s Manu Biosphere Reserve. Help assess the impact of human behaviour on the jaguar population and collect data on forest regeneration in the habitat of the woolly monkey. Wildlife Worldwide offers a 17-day tour from £2,995 per person, excluding flights.
03 The Guianas & Suriname: Lesser-known Amazon
Explore Guyana and Suriname with an optional extension to French Guiana, on a tour that takes in Amerindian communities, with the chance to spot jaguar, giant anteater, giant river otter and tapir. Plus, get involved with a black caiman research project. Wilderness Explorers offers 14 days from $4,250 (£2,722) per person, excluding international flights.
04 Bolivia: Madidi National Park
New to the Sunvil programme: Bolivia’s Madidi National Park. Explore one of the most biodiverse places on the planet as part of an epic 20-day tour of the country, including a three-night visit to this wild area of the Amazon, staying at Chalalan Ecolodge. Go on night safaris, spot monkeys, tapirs, deer, capybaras and maybe even a jaguar. Canoe, hike and learn about local Uchupiamonas culture via your tribal hosts at this lakeside lodge. From £4,094 per person all-inclusive.
05 The Pantanal, Brazil: Alternative to the Amazon
Try the 17-day South America’s Big Five tour with Naturetrek, which seeks out tapir, giant anteater, giant river otter and jaguar, the stars of Brazil’s vast Pantanal wetlands, largely seen as an easier-accessed, wildlife-rich alternative to the Amazon. Prices from £6,195 per person, including accommodation, most meals, flights, transport and expert guiding.
Read more in the December 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)