Add these to your bucket list of things to see - or just dream of seeing.
From dense jungles to seemingly mile-high trees to airy bamboo, forests around the world are as diverse as the flora and fauna that inhabit them. Some of these gorgeous forests offer things like hiking, fishing and camping, others are just a pleasant walk through mossy groves, but either way they're almost otherworldly.
Please enjoy this visual walk through of some of the world's fantastic forests.
Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Germany's famous forest inspired the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales and it's said hiking was "invented" here (if it needed to be invented, really). The region has many types of hikes, from quick day trips that end at snack bars offering Black Forest cake and German beer (of course), to the long-distance Middleweg (Middle Route) where you can explore miles of magical woodlands and medieval castles. Wild camping is technically illegal, but if you're discreet about it and only stay one night, people generally turn a blind eye.
Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Only 1 percent of the world's forests are classified as cloud forests, which are high-elevation forests on tropical regions that seem to literally rest within banks of clouds. Monteverde is the best-known cloud forest in Costa Rica, unique in that it straddles the Pacific and Atlantic slopes of the Continental Divide. Here you can trek the many elevated walkways while keeping an eye out for the rare Quetzal bird, as well as more than 400 species of birds, and innumerable plants, reptiles and mammals. Adventurers can try ziplining through the foggy treetops.
Otzarreta Forest, Basque Country, Spain
This forest of old beech trees is like something out of a Lord of the Rings movie, and it's no wonder an old Spanish legend claims a benevolent creature called the Basajaun lives among them. Beech branches normally grow horizontally, but here, the mossy limbs attached to oddly thick trunks grow straight up through the fog to the sky. The forest is located within the Gorbeia Natural Park, home of the popular hiking spot Mount Gorbeia, which has plenty of opportunities for camping, climbing and caving.
Dragon's Blood Forest, Socotra
Called the "Galapagos of the Indian Ocean," the island of Socotra in Yemen is home to the planet's most unique trees: the dragon blood tree, named for the red sap it produces. The trees' umbrella shape is a survival adaptation for arid conditions, allowing the tree to grab as much moisture from the air as possible and protecting the seedlings it drops. If you want to see this amazing forest, do it soon as the trees are threatened.
Cathedral Grove, British Columbia, Canada
Tourists from all over the world travel to this forest in MacMillan Provincial Park, nominated by Canadians as one of the Seven Wonders of Canada. It's a 390-acre stand of ancient Western red cedar and Douglas fir trees, some of which are 800 years old - one even measures 30 feet in circumference! Visitors can explore miles of hiking trails where deer, elk, cougars and black bears prowl.
One of Europe's last remaining parts of a primeval forest that covered most of the continent, this UNESCO-protected forest on the border of Poland and Belarus is like something out of a dream. It surrounds the village of Bialowieza, named for a hunting manor used there by the king of Poland in the 1300s. Sadly, the manor was demolished in World War II, but the ancient oaks and herd of 800 wild bison still exist. Check it out in the winter, when the magnificent animals quietly roam the snow-covered wilderness.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Hop off the Sagano Scenic Railway just outside of historic Kyoto and you'll be able to walk through a massive, majestic grove of bamboo that lines the Katsura River. Get there early in the morning before crowds come to hear the eerie creaking and rustling of the giant bamboo in the wind. It's near an incredible Zen garden and one of Kyoto's five major temples - a symbol of strength in Japan, bamboo is considered a way of warding off evil.
This forest in southwest England's Dartmoor National Park has inspired artists and writers for centuries - it's a relic of an old oak forest that once covered the entire region before it was cleared in 5,000 B.C. Some of the oaks here are 500 years old and it's said the Druids used Wistman's Wood as a sacred grove. If wild camping among ancient historical relics is your thing, the park has the most Bronze Age ruins in the country - you'll find mysterious, millennia-old stone circles, remnants of stone houses, and burial crosses dotting the peat bogs and rolling hills.
Wild ponies and livestock freely roam the area and it's an excellent place for birders to spot the rare ring ouzel and the cuckoo. In winter months, whitewater rafting and canoeing are popular and some areas permit fishing for brown trout, sea trout and salmon. If you can carry everything you need in a backpack, you can stay overnight in some areas for several nights and watch the moon rise over the primeval granite tors that tower over the horizon.
Daintree Rainforest, Australia
Around 135 million years old and home to some of the first plants that grew on land (ferns and conifers), Daintree is the oldest rainforest in the world. To get really off the beaten path, visit Cape Tribulation (pictured), where the rainforest extends right up to the beach - with only about 200 residents and a handful of visitors, it's remote even by Queensland standards and the last stop north before the roads turn unpaved. Here is where you can hike the rugged Mt. Sorrow, if you dare (look out for cassowaries) and camping is allowed (look out for crocodiles).
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