The most beautiful forests in the world
From Australia to Uganda, the world is filled with wonderful forests.
Ethereal green bamboo, dense jungle and rows of evergreen pines - forests come in all shapes and sizes, and they are some of the best places on earth to escape the stresses of modern day life.
Get closer to nature with our round up of the most beautiful forests in the world.
1) Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s central highlands are always shrouded in mist, making any traveller feel as though they have been transported to another world entirely. Dotted with exquisite cloud forests, this biodiverse region is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Costa Rica’s forests are known for their elevated and verdant nature, and the country is lucky enough to be home to six different cloud forest zones.
Monteverde is the country’s most renowned destination for cloud forests, surrounded by beautiful nature and incredible wildlife. This small town is hemmed in on either side by the Santa Elena and Monteverde Reserves, so the opportunity to get up close to nature is endless. Amongst these mystical cloud forests, travellers can rappel down majestic waterfalls, zip line through misty canopies or stroll along lofty suspension bridges. These wonderful cloud forests are also a stone’s throw from the Arenal volcano, where intrepid explorers can hike along trails populated by ocelots, butterflies, umbrella birds and endangered Quetzal birds.
Temperatures in Costa Rica’s cloud forests tend to stay the same throughout the year, at around 29°c (84°f). While it’s a year-round destination, December to May are the dry months and so they’re the best time to make the most of this picturesque destination.
2) Daintree Rainforest, Australia
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, Northern Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest is one of the most significant ecosystems in the world. This dense green jungle is so beautiful that it was used as inspiration for the landscapes of blockbuster movie Avatar. For nature lovers and adventure seekers alike, the Daintree Rainforest is Australia’s best kept secret. Visitors can trek through dense jungle, soar through the forest canopy on a zip line or go crocodile spotting along the Daintree River. Home to an incredible 122 rare and endangered species, the Daintree Rainforest is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.
Like many vulnerable rainforests across the world, the Daintree Rainforest is under threat. Since its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, approximately half of the rainforest lowlands have been cleared. At an astonishing 135 million years old, the Daintree is widely recognised as the oldest tropical rainforest in the world, and it’s a forest worth saving. Rainforest rescue organisations are buying back land under threat and profits from rainforest tours contribute to the effective management of the land. With tourism helping the rainforest to survive, you can be confident that you’re experiencing the Daintree’s incredible beauty in a responsible and sustainable way.
Northern Queensland is sunny year round, with warm waters and cool coastal breezes. The best time to venture into the Daintree Rainforest is from May to October. This is Australia’s winter, as well as the region’s dry season, so it’s perfect for avoiding tropical downpours.
3) Amazon Rainforest, Latin America
Verdant rainforest, isolated tribes and exotic wildlife; there are few people who haven’t heard of the world famous Amazon rainforest. This vast natural phenomenon spans across an incredible nine countries, so travellers are spoilt for choice. In Brazil, the river is at its widest, often several kilometers across. The region’s dry land means the forest trees are older and taller than that of the forest elsewhere in the Amazon.
In Ecuador, visiting the Amazon offers an unrivalled cultural experience. Native guides are on hand to show you around the land they know so well, and the Huaorani tribe that lives here have preserved their way of life for centuries. At the remote Huaorani Ecolodge, a member of the tribal community welcomes travellers to their journey through the Amazon. Here, guests can learn about the fascinating history of the Huaorani people and the area’s pristine wilderness.
In Peru, luxury expedition cruises along the northern Amazon take passengers deep into the rainforest. The flooded forest of Pacaya Samiria Reserve is an entirely different experience to the terra firma of Brazil. Outstanding guides are on hand for each excursion, which makes exploring the flooded forest and visiting indigenous villages all the more rewarding. A wonderfully untouched region, Peru’s Amazon is often thought of as the place where mankind forgot to leave their mark.
4) Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
World-renowned for its gorilla tracking opportunities, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda is one of our favourite forests. Home to the highest concentration of primates on earth, this forest is famed for its lush jungle and tropical wildlife. Around 10 habituated gorilla families live in Bwindi National Park, and the journey you take to track them is nothing short of adventurous. Suited to more daring travellers, Bwindi’s terrain is such that you start your trek on high ground before descending into a valley and then tackling an arduous climb. Slopes can often be steep and there are no trails, giving Bwindi its impenetrable reputation.
Tackling Bwindi’s challenging conditions is worth it though; the park is home to an incredible 79 mammal species, 160 species of trees and 100 species of ferns. As well as gorillas, travellers will be able to spot giant forest hogs, elephants and several small cat varieties. As it’s hard to know where the gorillas will be at any given time, you might be spending anywhere between half an hour and nine hours searching for these majestic creatures. Visiting Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is an experience in and of itself though, as it’s one of the most fascinating places on earth. Located at the southernmost point of Uganda, the forest covers an incredible 32,000 hectares and is a region of unrivalled biodiversity.
September is deemed the ‘best time’ to visit, but Bwindi is generally good for sightings year round. June to August are also particularly good months to visit, with the reduced rainfall making for more accessible sightings. Wet seasons make for arduous trekking conditions so are best avoided, and run between March to May and October to early December.
5) Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Japan
Located in Kyoto, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Japan’s top sights for good reason. As you venture along the path that cuts through the middle of the forest, you’ll feel as though you’re walking into another universe. Soaring stalks of bamboo surround either side of the path, and this forest is filled with many photo opportunities. These thick bamboo stalks seem to continue endlessly in every direction, and a soft light fills the gaps between the trees beautifully. The grove runs from outside the north gate of the charming Tenryū-ji temple to the Ōkōchi Sansō villa, and is at its most atmospheric on the approach to this villa.
Kyoto’s rainy season lasts from the middle of June to the end of July, with the city prone to typhoons during September and early October. The weather clears up for October and November and is also lovely during April and May. It’s not recommended to travel to Kyoto between Christmas and New Year’s, so these shoulder months are the best time to take in the ethereal Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
6) Trossachs National Park, Scotland
One of the United Kingdom’s largest National Nature Reserves, Scotland’s Great Trossachs Forest is a huge woodland restoration project. Over the first 10 years of the 200 year project, more than 2.5 million trees have been planted – the Great Trossachs Forest is one of the youngest forests in the world and is set to be one of the largest in a couple of centuries. Covering 160 square kilometres, this newly planted forest is set to restore habitats of invertebrates, mammals, birds and other wildlife.
Bordering the stunning Loch Lomond, the Great Trossachs Forest is one of the most beautiful in Scotland. It’s already filled with rows upon rows of verdant woodland, and is only getting bigger. This slice of Scottish heaven is already recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty, but this ambitious landscaping project is set to expand its reaches for the better.
The best time to visit Scotland for its national parks is between May to June and September to October. During the spring and autumn, the wildflowers and heather are at their best and Scotland’s green spaces really come into their own. The Highlands can be unpredictable and rain can make an appearance at any time of year though, so it’s still worth packing your waterproofs.
7) Batang Ai National Park, Borneo
Borneo is an island covered in rainforest, and there are few better places to explore the natural habitat than in one of the country’s many national parks. The Batang Ai National Park sits close to the border of Indonesia and is tucked deep into the Borneo jungle. The area was flooded in the 1980s to create a reservoir, and you can still see treetops sticking out of the water here. This dense jungle is great for travellers wanting to get off the beaten track, offering longhouse visits, trail hiking and longboat river cruises.
This area’s charm owes as much to its people as it does to its environment. Along the river, the Iban people – once notoriously famous for decapitating their enemies and preserving their heads – live in their traditional longhouses. These remote villages are reachable via longboat, and you can meet the Ibans to learn about their fascinating, ancient culture. Alongside the incredible people here, there’s also an astonishing array of wildlife – hornbills, orangutans and gibbons can all be spotted amongst the dense jungle. The best time to visit is between March and October, when it’s dry season.
8) Gir Forest National Park, India
One for the animal lovers, Gir Forest National Park in India is the last remaining stronghold of the Asiatic lion. Located in the western state of Gujarat, this national park consists of vitally important protected forest. The iconic Asiatic lion once ranged across India, the Middle East and Turkey but was hunted down to just 20 animals in the early 20th century. Since then, conservation efforts in Gir National Park and the wider sanctuary saw numbers return to 650 in 2017. The Asiatic lion is the state animal of Gujarat and many locals live in astonishingly close proximity to their feline neighbours. This forest caters well to wildlife lovers; Gir’s hilly terrain makes it a preferred habitat for jackals, leopards, antelopes, and deer amongst other species.
The most popular time to visit Gir Forest is from December to March, but it can become overcrowded during peak season. You’re more likely to see lions and other wildlife from March to May, but temperatures can become pretty hot during this time of year.
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