LONDON (Reuters) - We live in a beautiful world. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, online travel adviser Cheapflights.com (www.cheapflights.com) has picked its top 10 favorite forests from across the planet.
From lush rainforests, watery wonders, ancient woodlands and more in-between; reconnect with nature at one of these stunning spots. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
1. Crooked Forest, Poland
Looking like it fell out of a surreal Salvador Dali painting, the Crooked Forest (Krzywy Las) outside Nowe Czarnowo, Poland, has intrigued the public for more than 80 years.
The grove of about 400 pines was planted around 1930 in the former German province of Pomerania. The accepted cause of the forest’s distinctive curve is some form of man-made tool or technique, but the method and motive remain unknown.
2. Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan
On the outskirts of Kyoto, Arashiyama has been a tourist hot-spot since the 8th century. The park is particularly popular when the spring cherry blossoms bloom and in the autumn when the forest takes on a hue of fiery oranges and reds.
Within this nationally designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty lies the impressive bamboo forest of Sagano. A path cuts through the towering bamboo grove and when the sun is shining and a gentle breeze is blowing, the setting is truly picturesque.
3. Black Forest, Germany
No list of enchanting forests would be complete without the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) in Germany. This wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg was named by the Romans because dense conifers blocked out most of the light inside the forest.
The forest is ripe with peaks, rivers, lakes, towns, waterfalls, footpaths, mountain biking and cross-country skiing trails and unique wildlife.
But it’s not just natural beauty on offer. The area has strong culture that includes a tradition of wood-carving (particularly Cuckoo Clocks) and food (Black Forest ham, gateau and gourmet cuisine).
4. Caddo Lake, United States
Despite the name, this is one fantastic forest. Located on the border between Texas and Louisiana, Caddo Lake is a 25,400-acre maze of waterways, bayous, sloughs, channels, islands and cypress thickets dripping with Spanish moss.
Named after the South Eastern Native Americans who lived in the area until their expulsion in the 19th century, the lake is home to the world’s largest cypress forest.
This internationally protected wetland hosts a variety of wildlife, including beavers, woodpeckers, owls and even alligators.
5. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
In 1982, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park was recognized as China’s first national forest park.
Located in Zhangjiajie City in northern China, this unique national forest was named a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2004. The most notable features of the forest are the giant pillar-like formations that are seen throughout the park. The year-round wet weather is the reason for the park’s dense foliage.
6. Inyo National Forest, United States
Step back into prehistoric times high in the White Mountains in Inyo County, Calif., to Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. The forest protects the oldest trees in the world, including the Methuselah tree - one of the world’s oldest living organisms.
Named after Methuselah, the oldest Biblical figure, the Great Basin bristlecone pine is about 4,845 years old. The tree’s exact location is a closely guarded secret to protect the living legend from vandalism.
7. Białowieża Forest, Poland and Belarus
Białowieża Forest is an ancient woodland that runs along the border between Belarus and Poland. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the last, and largest, remaining parts of the primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain.
Due to the lack of facilities, tourists rarely visit the Belarusian side. However, approximately 200,000 travelers head to the Polish section annually, taking guided tours of the park on foot or by horse-drawn carriage.
The forest is home to a number of large, ancient oaks, some with their own names, including the King of Nieznanowo, Emperor of the South and the Guardian of Zwierzyniec.
8. Daintree Rainforest, Australia
The Daintree Rainforest is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest in Australia, growing right down to the Queensland coast.
Blessed with stunning natural beauty and impressive natural diversity, at more than 160 million years old the Daintree is the world’s oldest surviving rainforest.
The forest is home to 30 per cent of Australia’s frog, reptile and marsupial species, 65 per cent of its bat and butterfly species, and many ancient plants.
Much of the Daintree is part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Site and extends to white sandy beaches, coral reefs, rugged mountains, gorges, flowing rivers and spectacular waterfalls.
9. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde) is a Costa Rican reserve located along the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range.
The reserve is visited by roughly 70,000 travelers every year. The forest consists of six ecological zones and more than 2,500 plant species, 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species and thousands of insects. It also has the largest number of orchid species in the world (more than 500).
Some of the most famous animal inhabitants include the jaguar, ocelot, Baird’s tapir, three-wattled bellbird, bare-necked umbrella bird and the elusive quetzal.
10. Waipoua Forest, New Zealand
Waipoua Forest is notable for having two of the world’s largest living kauri trees, Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere, and preserving some of the best examples of kauri forest remaining in New Zealand.
Te Matua Ngahere is the largest kauri in New Zealand by girth and the second largest by volume, and is estimated to be from 2,000 to 3,000 years old. The iconic Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest in Maori) is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old and is the largest known kauri.
The forest also has the largest population of North Island brown kiwi in Northland and populations of the endangered North Island kokako.
Reporting by Paul Casciato