Forests, the lungs of the Earth, are beautiful in so many ways. Not only do they play a crucial role in purifying the air we breathe, preventing erosion, and supporting the lives of local people who live there, they also filter water and act as a habitat for thousands of species across the world who depend on them for their survival - just as we do. Going to visit a forest can be a magical experience – whether it's to watch the leaves change color in fall, spot some wildlife, or going for a hike – there really is nowhere better to get back in touch with nature.
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto is one of the most visited sites in Japan. Indeed, tourists have been flocking to the grove since the 8th century to marvel in the lush bamboo and get lost amid the thick stalks. The impressive 3,950-acre forest runs from outside the Tenryū-ji temple to the Ōkōchi Sansō villa. Due to Kyoto’s rainy season, it's best to visit the bamboo forest between either October and November or April and May.
Since 1988, the Daintree Rainforest in Northern Australia has been a UNESCO world heritage site. The forest is an impressive 135 million years old, and it is believed to be the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. Home to 122 vulnerable and endangered species, visitors can feel safe in the knowledge that money from their rainforest tours gets put straight back into conservation efforts of the rainforest. Visitors to the forest can enjoy the dense greenery by speeding through it on a zip-line and even going crocodile spotting on the river.
Costa Rica is lucky enough to be home to six different cloud forest zones, and Monteverde is the most famous of the cloud forests in the country. The area is constantly shrouded in mist and clouds, giving any traveler the unparalleled experience of feeling like you have entered another world. Monteverde Cloud Forest is home to ocelots, butterflies, Quetzal birds, and umbrella birds, which travelers can try and sport from suspension bridges or zip lines throughout the forest. Nearby, trekkers can also hike near the Arenal volcano and explore one of the world’s most biodiverse environments.
Around mid-April, the Hallerbos forest erupts into bloom, and a carpet of blossoming bluebells turns it into “The Blue Forest.” The woodlands have been welcoming visitors for centuries, and the earliest mention of it is in the year 686. Perfect for hiking and biking, even if you miss the bluebells, the forest is home to impressive Sequoia trees and blankets of green moss, which make it worth a visit year-round.
Spanning across nine countries, the Amazon Rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world. Increasingly under threat, protecting this impressive biodiverse region is of the utmost importance to guard against climate change and save many endangered species. The forest is home to 40,000 plant species, 1,300 bird species, 3,000 types of fish, 2.5 million insect types – it is also estimated that 400-500 indigenous tribes live in the forest, with some never having contact with the outside world. Visitors to the Amazon can enjoy its many regions from Peru to Brazil and Ecuador. Be sure to book with registered guides who help to protect the forest on your trip.
Boasting lush jungle and tropical wildlife, Bwindi Forest is most famous for being home to gorillas. Indeed, the forest is home to the highest concentration of primates on Earth, and 10 habituated gorilla families live in the National Park. However, Bwindi is not for the faint-hearted as there are no trails and steep slopes, so be sure to only go with a guide. Wildlife spotters are spoilt for choice, though, as you can find giant forest hogs, elephants, and several small cat varieties living in the dense jungle.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park spans a whopping 53,000-acres, and there's nowhere better to take in the majesty of the famous Californian Redwoods. The forest is the largest swath of ancient Redwoods on Earth, and you can easily lose yourself taking in the ginormous trees and greenery. The Park is incredibly accessible, and travelers can also experience the Redwoods by car along the 32-mile Avenue of the Giants route. For more adventurous travelers, hikers can strap on their boots to explore the 100 miles of trails.
As one of Britain’s largest Nature Reserves, the Trossachs National Park is impressive today, but the park is at the beginning of a huge restoration project to make it even more magical. Scotland has recently taken some ground-breaking steps towards rewilding and beginning 10 years ago with the planting of more than 2.5 million trees. The project plans to stretch 200 years, so, in a couple of centuries, the forest will be one of the largest in the world and will restore wildlife habitats in the region. Even today, the forest is recognized as an area of outstanding natural beauty and borders Loch Lomond making it a real sight to behold for any visitor.
Located near the town of Gryfino in West Pomerania in Poland, the Crooked Forest is beautifully mysterious. The area is made up of trees that are bent at a 90-degree angle towards the north, and no one knows why. Planted between 1930 and 1945, the forest is a great place to visit for both explorers and mystery enthusiasts alike!
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. The lush forest is spread from south of Tulum to just north of the Belize border along Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Over 400 species of birds and 115 types of mammals have been found in the forest, and those with a keen eye can spot anything from manatees, howler monkeys, pumas, and tapirs in the dense jungle.