Forests are a lifeline. Super fertile and vital to our eco-system, they flourish under the watchful eye of Mother Nature and reward us in so many ways when they’re managed sustainably.
They purify the air we breathe, provide safe habitats for all manner of wildlife and animals, are part of the livelihoods of millions of people around the world, cushion climate change and connect us to the wondrous beauty of the great outdoors.
Looking for some forest inspiration? Whether for a visit in person, or simply to admire from afar, to mark International Day of Forests (March 21), here are five fab forests…
1. The New Forest, England
You only have to head to the south coast of England to immerse yourself in The New Forest – voted the number one national park in Europe in the 2022 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for Destinations. Located conveniently close to the coast dotted with sandy beaches, you can explore the woods, heathlands, rivers and wildflower meadows by foot or bike, with more than 100 miles of cycle paths.
Teeming with ponies roaming freely among the forest, getting into the saddle and horse riding is one of the biggest attractions – but with a variety of water sports, golfing, fishing and nature based activities too, there’s something for everyone.
2. Tahoe National Forest, California, USA
A wilderness made up of Sugar pines, Douglas firs and Ponderosa pines to name but a few, the Tahoe National Forest is northwest of Lake Tahoe and soars above the lake’s west shore, Emerald Bay. Mind-blowingly beautiful and a National Natural Landmark, this freshwater lake borders California and Nevada and the best way to admire the vista is from Inspiration Point, which sits 183-metres above the water.
Options include explore the hiking trails, and there’s even the opportunity to camp among the tall pines (there are designated campgrounds). Or you can always take to the road and journey through the forest through one of the highways.
3. Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Situated between the majestic Tilarán and Guanacaste mountain ranges, the Arenal Volcano is active – so here’s your chance to explore the Costa Rican rainforest as well as trekking through volcanic trails and lava beds.
Cited as an ecological paradise, Arenal Volcano National Park offers waterfalls, fascinating wildlife including white-faced monkeys and keel-billed toucans, hot springs and the chance to hike the Cerro Chato, an extinct volcano with the promise of a topaz coloured lake when you’ve conquered its peak.
Not sure where to start? Adventure travel company Flash Pack specialise in tailored trips to Costa Rica and do all the hard work for you.
4. El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico
Tropical rainforests can be a real challenge, but with family-friendly trails at a little under 1km long, or action-packed adventure if you’re after greater rewards, the El Yunque National Forest is a goldmine for anyone who wants to get to the heart of a diverse ecosystem.
Home to hundreds of rare plant and animal species, including Puerto Rico’s coqui frog – with special toe pads instead of webbed feet to climb and cling to trees and leaves – ziplining through the green canopies is ranked as one of the highlights, not to mention cooling off in the countless waterfalls.
5. Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan
A stunning retreat on the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan’s Sagano Bamboo Forest is a haven for appreciating the beauty of bamboo – a place that takes you to another world where bamboo stalks tower above you, and sunlight streams through with the soothing sound of swaying stalks whispering in the wind.
A densely packed grove with paths and trails, you can also explore the surrounding tree-covered hills and mountains, shrines, historic temples, zen gardens and photogenic tea fields.
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