Nature sure has quite the artistic talent, creating every unique being in existence. Sure, human-made structures are pretty impressive – from the Eiffel Tower to the Taj Mahal. But I feel an endless fascination and reverence towards something that naturally comes into being, without using any equipment, and becomes the most gripping sight we have ever laid eyes on. Forests are one such example. You will not believe the number of times I have prayed to be reborn in a cottage in the middle of a dense, beautiful forest, away from civilization. But the forests you’re about to see will exceed your wildest expectations not only with their appearance but with the stories behind their existence.
Crooked Forest, Poland
We appreciate curves in everything, and curves are all these trees are about. What we call the Crooked Forest is a grove of roughly 400 pine trees near the town of Gryfino, West Pomerania, believed to be planted around 1930. From the base, they all take a sharp 90-degree turn towards the north, but then grow back up toward the sky. Their odd, inverted-question-mark shape has invited many explanations for the mystery, from a unique gravitational pull to heavy snowfall that weighed them down. The most accepted theory, however, is that local farmers manipulated their growth when they were planted in 1930, for the purposes of shipbuilding and furniture-making. Which wouldn’t be surprising, because tree-shaping has been common practice in many communities and many commercial areas. But to have a healthy, vast forest made entirely of such beautiful trunks? Now that’s a sight to enjoy.
Moss Swamp, Romania
Umm, do I even need to elaborate on why this is one of the most gorgeous, breathtaking forests ever? Trees take a back seat on this island that is covered entirely with moss. Contrary to the gross image that may come up in your mind when you hear ‘moss swamp’, this forest instead seems like a soft, velvety fairytale destination. The all-encompassing green and the way it interacts with sunlight gives it a fantastical feel, like the Goblin Forest of New Zealand.
Romania is incredible not only for its castles and towns and folklore, but also for the natural beauty that presents itself in waterfalls, forests, lakes, and hills. The existence of this Moss Swamp forest gives you just another reason to visit Romania!
Tsingy Forest, Madagascar
You can expect some unique natural surprises from this African island country. Sharp, knife-like rock formations come together to form this ‘stone forest’, the largest example of which is the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve. Its formation is theorized to have occurred about 200 million years ago when layers of calcite at the bottom of a lagoon formed a thick limestone bed, which was later elevated by tectonic activity and sharpened by constant weathering.
One wouldn’t really expect any wildlife to be found here, what with the constant risk of, you know, dying. But this Grand Tsingy boasts of incredible endemism, housing endangered flora, and fauna, including lemurs. Because of its geological uniqueness and biological diversity, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful forests in the world! You can find a little brother of this forest in northern Madagascar, the Tsingy Rouge Park, a similar stone forest that looks straight out of Mars. Look it up, you’ll know why.
Funny story, ‘tsingy’ in the native language means “where one cannot walk barefoot”. In a place where one misstep will get you impaled, that seems like a good enough warning.
Otzarreta Forest, Spain
A place that has rightfully earned the name of The Enchanted Forest is this protected landscape of mighty beech and oak trees in the Gorbeia Natural Park in Bizkaia. The central attraction of the forest is, of course, the trees. These beeches grow in a peculiar way, quite different from others of their species. The branches of a typical beech tree grow horizontally, but the ones in Otzarreta have branches that extend straight towards the sky, as though dancing with each other.
Autumn is when every mystical puzzle piece in this forest falls together to become a picture out of a fantasy book. Red and orange leaves adorn the ground as far as the eyes can see, bright green moss hugs the strong tree trunks, and sunlight filters magically through the branches. Of course, no enchanted forest is complete without a river that snakes through the trees with its burbling sounds, and we have the elegant Zubizabala river to complete the look. Legend has it that this is also the territory of the nature giant, Basajun, who protects nature and guides lost wanderers. It is one of the top hiking spots in Spain, and we can clearly see why.
Drunken Forest, Alaska
This wonderful forest is tipsy!
“Even forests are not beyond partying hard and having some fun.” While that is what the drunken forest may sound like to you, it really has an innocent enough reason to be the way it is – global warming. Wow, that is depressing.
More specifically, it is the melting permafrost that makes the hordes of black spruce trees seem like they have lost their balance after a night of drinking. Permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, is extremely common on northern Alaska’s land. When it melts, it leaves soft, sagging soil behind and trees that have adapted to the hard nature of the ground start to bow towards the newly formed depressions. These tall, lanky trees then tilt or fall after losing their ground, literally. Sometimes they survive by growing back upright, toward the sky, but with shallow root systems, it is often unlikely.
Drunken forests are, more than picturesque attractions, evidence of serious climate change, something that we as humans influence and are influenced by.
While some of these natural beauties are off-limits, you can actually visit others! Which one’s on your list? Tell us below!
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