Majestic, colossal, luxuriant forests delight nature lovers, adventure buffs and ecotourists alike. From lofty rainforest villas to boreal cabins, a vacation in knee-deep, forest foliage offers visitors the opportunity to commune with spectacular fauna and flora.
As soil conservers and habitats for a parade of biodiversity, the planet’s forests rank as one of our most precious resources. While obvious on the surface, regrettably, trees are a mere afterthought for many. Just witness the comprehensive deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil and throughout South America.
Fantastic forests then, is the topic at hand. In no particular order, here are ten gems around the world to discover.
The Sierra Nevada mountain range in California and Nevada features Lake Tahoe, grand Mount Whitney and gorgeous Yosemite Valley. Perhaps most awesome of all however, is Sequoia National Park. The western slope of the Sierras near the city of Visalia, California is the only place on the planet where Giant Sequoias, the largest trees in the world, naturally flourish. Some, including the famous General Sherman tree, are close to 2,500 years old.
Birthplace of fairy tale lore and a world famous dessert, Germany’s Black Forest evokes an unparalelled sense of romance and bygone era enchantment. The pine and fir forest is essentially a rectangular-shaped woodland mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, replete with spectacular hamlets like Freiburg, Baden Baden, Calw, Furtwangen and Staufen. For a typical Old Europe experience, you can’t do much better.
UNESCO World Heritage Daintree Rainforest is one of Australia’s most popular destinations. Home to unfathomable biodiversity in a relatively diminutive portion of the country’s landmass, Daintree is a haven of ecotourism. North of Cairns in tropical Far North Queensland, Daintree’s myriad endemic wildlife is the result of more than 150 million years of evolution.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei share a wild enclave of stunning biodiversity. Only Greenland and New Guinea have Borneo beat in terms of world island size but the South China Sea destination triumphs in the fauna and flora department. The island’s rainforest is home to seven distinct ecoregions and more than 3,000 species of trees, 15,000 species of flowers and plants and over 600 species of birds and mammals.
Mainz, with over 200,000 people, is the lovely capital city of the Rhineland-Palatinate federal state in Germany. With a beautiful old town and several fine museums, the principal allure of Mainz is the Palatinate Forest. Together with the Vosges range in France, the Palatinate forms a precious UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. For ancient ruins, castles, wine tours and outdoor recreation, the forest is one of the best in Europe.
Once cover for Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck and a famous band of Merry Men, Sherwood Forest is a worthwhile destination in England’s historic Nottinghamshire county.
Sri Lanka’s Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a rare gem. The rich, biodiverse national park is both a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. If you have to visit one place on the lush island nation of South Asia, consider Sinharaja Forest Reserve.
The lynchpin of Newfoundland’s world tourism campaign push, Gros Morne National Park is one of Canada’s unique landscape gems. A singular example of continental drift, and the phenomena’s brilliant, scenic aftermath, the UNESCO World Heritage Site contains pristine lakes and strange, exquisite topography.
The states of Paraná and São Paulo both encompass some of the most prolific and pristine examples of Atlantic forest in Brazil. Home to dramatic waterfalls, rivers and a vast array of mammal, reptile and bird life, Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves is a UNESCO World Heritage jewel. The National Park of Iguaçu is one of the most popular attractions in the vast subtropical forest zone.
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South America’s Guyanas, that is to say, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname, contain the highest percentage of forested land in the world. Relative to the rest of the continent however, these three biodiverse nations fly well under the radar. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve, with over 16,000 square km of tropical rainforest, is a notable UNESCO World Heritage Site that intrepid ecotourists flock to every year.