1. Sagano Bamboo Forest , Kyoto
If you’ve ever clicked on a rundown of “places to see before you die” or a compilation of the most beautiful forests in the world, chances are you’ve seen a photo of Sagano.
Only 30 minutes or so from the bustling Kyoto city center
The sun filters through the densely packed grove, projecting thin slashes of light onto the dozens of camera-clutching tourists shuffling down the wide trail that cuts through the middle of the forest as they awkwardly angle their shots, attempting to crop human forms out of their frames.
The meditative natural noise is so lovely in fact that Japan’s Ministry of the Environment voted the locations aural pleasures as one of the country’s “100 Soundscapes of Japan”
For the best experience, head out early in the morning or late evening and avoid weekends completely, when Japanese day-trippers descend on the area — especially in the fall and spring.
2. Gourgue d Asque , France
With giant centipedes scurrying around and rocks and trees covered with moss and lichens, visitors to the Gourgue d’Asque might think they have wandered out of Europe and into a rainforest somewhere south of the equator. They are still in France, though, down near the Spanish border.
the gorge was formed through thousands of years of erosion by the Arros River. Intense humidity in the valley carved out of limestone resulted in the lushness of the forest that grew there, which earned it its nickname, the “small Amazonia of the Pyrenees.”
In addition to covering rocks and trees, lichens hang down from branches like tentacles, adding to the otherworldly feel of the place. Otters play in the river and spotted salamanders can be found among the ferns. St. John’s wort, showy toothwort, and mother-of-the-evening are among the more colorful plant life. Resident trees include maples, chestnuts, and birches. There are also caves that, like the gorge itself, were created by the force of the river water.
3. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica
Monteverde or “Green Mountain” as it is directly translated is aptly named for its extensive reserve of lush, verdant cloud forests. National Geographic has described it as “the jewel in the crown of cloud forests.” In 2007, Costa Ricans voted the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve one of the country’s seven wonders.
The endangered three-wattled bellbird and quetzal bird are another member of the 400 species of birds found here, including close to 30 species of hummingbirds. More than 100 species of mammals live in the park, including howler and capuchin monkeys, all five species of cats, deer, tapir and sloths. The fabled Golden toad was discovered here but hasn’t been seen since 1988.
The unbelievable biodiversity found in Monteverde has given it international acclaim as one of the most exceptional refuges in the entire world.
When you visit the Monteverde Reserve, you’ll probably stay in the bustling town of Santa Elena. With cloud cover that hangs at the canopy, the cloud forest is fascinatingly different from the tropical rainforests that are spread across so much of Costa Rica. A day trip to Monteverde Cloud Forest is a chance to cool down and explore the unique beauty and diversity of the Cloud Forest.
4. Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine, Yakushima Island
Shiratani Unsui-kyo Gorge with the fantastical view resembling a movie scene. It is said that the forest in the anime film “Princess Mononoke” by Hayao Miyazaki, one of the top directors in Japan, was inspired from this place, which addresses the tension between humans and nature spirits in the forest setting
A lush, green nature park containing a number of the island’s ancient cedars such as the Nidaiosugi, Kugurisugi and Yayoisugi, the park’s most accessible yakusugi which can be reached in a 15 minute walk. Shiratani Unsuikyo is a popular destination to see the forests without much strenuous hiking.
5. Hallerbos The Blue Forest, Halle , Belgium
The reason this forest looks like it’s been lifted right out of a fairytale is its dense carpet of bluebell flowers. These flowers thrive and bloom in spring and early summer, and it is their characteristic explosion of blue and violet that gives bluebell forests like this one their name.
The early spring blooms attract visitors (and photographers) to Hallerbos and to other forests like it in droves. Foggy conditions are especially good for photographers, giving the woods a mysterious and ghostly atmosphere.
Photographing the Hallerbos is challenging. First, you must get your timing right. If you visit too early in the season, the bluebells will be sparse. If you visit too late, the flowers will be spent and the forest returns to a typical woodland. As the peak season for the bluebells changes every year, depending on the weather, it can take several visits to the Hallerbos before you see the blue carpet it all its glory.