Umair Ali looks at some heart-warming locales of Bewitching Woodlands
There is nothing like a walk through the trees to soothe the soul. The world is full of wonderful Bewitching Woodlands from light-dappled deciduous groves to thickets of towering evergreens and fern-filled tropical jungles. They are exceptional treats provide to the human race by nature and retain abiding fascination. These intensely attractive repositories of beauty and colour are greatly valued and need to be looked at.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
As the Bewitching Woodlands inspiration for the movie Avatar, the subtropical forests, deep ravines and towering sandstone buttes of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park definitely resemble a lost world. This ethereal place is part of the vast UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area in central China’s Hunan Province, and is home to rare species such as the ginkgo tree as well as unusual primates and birds. The park offers some thrilling ways to explore the landscape, including glass walkways and cable cars that offer a bird’s-eye view of the lush forest.
Oulanka National Park, Finland
With nearly 75% of it covered in boreal forest, Finland is a top spot for tree-lovers. One of the most stunning Finnish forest-and-lake-studded wildernesses is Oulanka National Park, just near the Arctic Circle and on the border with Russia. Autumn is a lovely time here when the Scotch pines, spruces and silver birches are painted with mellow colours and an assortment of fungi spring up on the forest floor. Although when snow falls, the scenery is pure magic too. Reindeer live in this remote place, as do wolves, lynx, bears, wolverines, pine martens and elk.
Black Forest, Germany
The vast Schwarzwald (Black Forest) drapes across the mountainous Baden-Württemberg region in southwest Germany. With its pretty lakes, shady valleys, mountain villages and, of course, thick evergreen forests filled with gorgeously green fir and pine trees, it is a gorgeous scene. Although with such dense foliage, the area can be a little dark and spooky at times explaining why the Brothers Grimm set so many of their fairy tales in this bewitching forest.
Cathedral Grove, Canada
There is nothing like nature to make one feel insignificant. Standing under the old giants in Vancouver Island’s Cathedral Grove, part of MacMillan Provincial Park, certainly put things in perspective. In this last vestige of the giant Douglas fir trees that once commanded the isle, there are trees more than 800 years-old. The south side of this coastal forest has the largest specimens, with one measuring more than 29.5 feet in circumference. The northern side has groves of ancient Western red cedar trees. Trails loop around this old-growth forest, where deer, elk, black bear and cougar are known to prowl.
The ancient Belgian forest of Hallerbos, or the Blue Forest, is beautiful all year-round but it really springs to life in April when countless bluebells burst through the earth and bloom on its dappled forest floor. As the seasonal display sweeps across the forest like a gorgeous natural purple carpet, the park usually becomes even more popular with walkers. A Bluebell Trail goes right through the heart of the forest, which is just 12.5 miles south of Brussels, so the delicate flowers do not get trampled. As well as elegant beech trees, the magical woodland also has giant sequoia trees.
Occupying a staggering 500 million acres, the Congo Basin is the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest. It is so sizeable that it spans six countries in central-west Africa, including Cameroon and Gabon. The Congo’s bio-diverse swamps, savannahs and forests are home to precious species such as forest elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos, lowland and mountain gorillas, and chimpanzees. TW
Umair Ali is a trainee lawyer