Whether you are more interested in taking a summer’s walk in the woods or embarking on an epic trek through some of the darkest and most mysterious forests on earth, here is a look at the best woodland wonders in the world. These arboretums, copses, jungles and more are bound to unleash the primeval in all of us.
(Image by beeron2003 on Flickr)
A forest that has long captured the imagination of the world is the Redwood National Forest in Northern California. This huge woodland park is home to the mighty redwood Sequoias, mammoth trees that can grow as tall as 30 feet and as wide as 26 feet in diameter. These evergreens are also amongst the oldest trees on earth, with many living samples dating back to before the time of Christ. Many of the most spectacular groves in this cinematic forest, such as the Grove of Titans, have undisclosed locations, kept secret for fear that mass tourism will damage the delicate ecosystem. While arborists jealously guard the directions to these prized spots, a drive through Route 199 to Crescent City lets you take in some of the most dramatic areas of the forest. Park your vehicle and stand at the base of one of these natural giants for a truly humbling experience.
(Image by penreyes on Flickr)
Yoshinoyama in the Nara prefecture of Japan is famed for another special variety of tree, the sakura, known in English as the cherry blossom. Each year in spring the 30,000 or so sakura trees on the side of this jagged mountain produce light pink blossoms that attract Japanese people from around the country, who come to picnic in their shade. In Japanese culture the cherry blossom is said to signify the ephemeral yet intense beauty of life, and the flower is often held up as a symbol of the nation. If you visit Yoshinoyama in April you will experience the sakura blossoms at their most intense, the landscape seemingly painted in pink.
(Image by esclarabunda on Flickr)
Forests can be populated by far more than mere trees, of course, and one area of highland wood in southern Germany is known the world over for the grotesque fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood that were set in the dark depths of this National Park. The Black Forest, a 4,600 square mile wilderness of pines and firs, inspired many of the Brothers Grimm folk tales, originally written for children as early as 1812. Yet the forest has also influenced German food culture, with delicacies such as Black Forest ham, Black Forest Gateau, and the bracing cherry-infused spirit Kirsch, all hailing this from sylvan corner of Germany. Despite centuries of logging, and a devastating storm that, in 1999, felled tens of thousands of trees, the Black Forest remains one of Germany’s most bewitching natural wonders. Though there are some 14,000 miles of maintained footpaths and bike trails criss-crossing the forest, it is easy to get lost if you veer into the dense thickets of foliage that seem to perpetually block out all sunlight. Once you reach into the furthest reaches of this gloomy forest it is easy to imagine that you are being stalked by the most frightening witches and werewolves.
(Image from Wikipedia Commons)
The inhabitants of the Kayan Mentarang National Park in Indonesia are much more real, but no less fascinating, than the mythical characters of the Black Forest. Living amongst a tropical rainforest of palm and rengas trees, lithe kayu ulin and colourful orchids are animals unique to this small wetland corner of Borneo. Visitors can see clouded leopards, pig-tailed macques, white-fronted leaf monkeys and the hose’s palm civet, amongst many other odd-looking arboreal creatures. This forest is a menagerie of the wild and wonderful, and is the ideal place to visit to experience a slice of untouched arcadia.
(Image by spalti on Flickr)
Just as exotic but perhaps a touch more user-friendly, the Daintree National Park in Queensland, Australia is arguably the oldest continuous rainforest on the planet. With over 110 million years of history this bio-diverse forest is a UNESCO world heritage site with stunning gorges, rivers and valleys. This forest also grows right up to the Pacific Ocean, with fan palms, strangler figs and dinosaur trees overlooking some of the most marvellous beaches in the hemisphere. Visitors to Daintree can also enjoy tours given by local Kuku Yalanji residents, whose ancestors have lived in the region for tens of thousands of years. Guides will show you where to find the best food, what plants are poisonous, and how to fashion medicines from the indigenous flora.
With many of the world’s greatest forests, such as the Amazon, currently under threat in one way or another, make sure you don’t delay before visiting these immense natural wonders.Write a Comment
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