Forests and wild woodlands are big news right now. Forest bathing is taking the world by storm, scientists are extolling the virtues of spending time in nature, and if you haven’t been wild-camping yet you must have been living under a rock for the last few years. Which in itself would be pretty wild – congratulations! Prepare to explore the world’s wildest and primeval woodlands with our favourite forest walks.
Romania: The Secular Forest of Sinca
Romania – where AlkaWonder comes from – is pretty much the Forest Capital of Europe. Its tree-cloaked hills and valleys contain some of the planet’s most impressive woodlands, many of which are now UNESCO World Heritage protected. You can easily get lost among the monumental specimens of the Secular Forest of Sinca. Some of Sinca’s ancient trees are over 500 years old and it’s also home to Romania’s tallest fir tree at 62.5m. With a girth of over 3m, you’ll have a tough time hugging this tree!
England: Wistman’s Wood, Dartmoor
As a nation, England is small but densely populated. Finding true wilderness can be tough, but Dartmoor National Park is the antidote. It’s accessible yet wild and it’s super easy to find yourself in the middle of moss-covered nowhere. Take Wistman’s Wood. Walks in and around this area wind their way past historic moorland villages, old stone bridges and narrow tree-packed glens, dingles and dells. Immerse yourself in ancient sights and smells then reemerge to find yourself reassuringly close to some excellent thatched country pubs.
Canada: Wild Pacific Trail, Vancouver Island
When you think of Canada, ‘temperate rainforest’ doesn’t spring to mind. Yet that’s exactly what you’ll find on the country’s dramatic West Coast. Hop on a ferry to Vancouver Island to lose yourself in the verdant forests of the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet. The juxtaposition of dense, canopied forest next to roaring waters and rugged coastlines make this experience all the more memorable. Follow the forest’s way-marked loops or throw caution to the wind and forge your own trail through this mystical wood, map and compass at the ready.
Hawaii: Rainbow Eucalyptus, Maui Island
If on the Hawaiian island of Maui and in need of an escape from the raging seas and roaring surf, jump on the road to Hana. Dive into the peaceful wilderness of this route and you’ll discover some of the most magical mini forests you’ve ever seen – mystical groves of stunning rainbow eucalyptus trees. Their trunks are covered with amazing multi-coloured bark, like a troupe of paint-splattered elves just climbed all over them then disappeared. They give off a lovely scent, too. Just when you thought trees couldn’t get any more beautiful or awesome, they did!
Chile/ Argentina: The Valdivian Rainforest
The Valdivian Rainforest is a narrow ribbon of wildlife-packed woods towards the bottom of South America. It flourishes across Chile and Argentina with the Andes on one side and the Pacific on the other. The quirky Monkey Puzzle tree began its life in this magical environment and endemic species still thrive, such as the world’s smallest cat. Leave the Amazon in peace and instead escape on foot and with love into the heart of this delicate wooded wilderness.
Australia: Tarkine Rainforest, Tasmania
The island-state of Tasmania is the jewel in Australia’s nature crown. It’s covered with national parks, isolated wilderness and remote woodlands. Tree-seekers should head to the Tarkine Rainforest. It’s the most extensive temperate rainforest in the Southern Hemisphere with roots that go back millions of years. Its fragile ecosystem is home to the rare and elusive Tasmanian Devil, and the calls of hundreds of bird species will accompany your mystical wanderings. A wonderful natural retreat in which to recharge and truly relax.
Poland: Crooked Forest
Let’s be honest. Sometimes when you’re in a forest, you almost feel like you could be in any forest. Straight trunks, leaves overhead, dappled light on the leafy floor ahead, déja-vu, right? That is absolutely not the case with Poland’s Crooked Forest. It’s totally unique and unlike any other woodland you’ve visited before, as it’s filled with over 400 bizarrely bent trees. The unusual curve in their lower trunks is perfectly positioned for the backsides of tired trekkers!
Northern Finland: Taiga Forest
Forest-covered Finland is an absolute must-visit for anyone with a passion for tree-lined wilderness. The country’s taiga refers to the region just below the Arctic Circle, near the Russian border. This is a genuinely remote wilderness that is perfect for the self-sufficient and well-prepared adventurer. Look out for wild animals such as lynx, wolverines (yes they are actually a thing), pine martens, reindeer and of course the biggie: bears. Soak up the wonders of the woods then finish off your natural retreat with a dip in a refreshing forest lake.
New Zealand: Hump Ridge Track, Fjordland National Park
South New Zealand is home to the Waitutu forest AKA ‘probably the most important forest in the world’ according to some nature experts. As with much of New Zealand, it’s also got quite a Middle Earth (Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) feel to it so, if you’re a fan, get your walking boots on and prepare to dive on in. Hump Ridge itself is the highlight of a visit to these mainly beech woods. Its summit offers unparalleled views across a flight of uplifted terraces, each unfathomably older than the next.
Papua New Guinea: Kokoda Trail
OK you want wild woodlands? You don’t get much wilder than Papua New Guinea! The country’s forested Kokoda Trail is nothing short of legendary the world over. It takes game adventurers through the forest-cloaked hills of the Owen Stanley Mountains on a real-life roller-coaster through the jungle. The trekking here is tough, the local legends fearful, the recent history fascinating and the trees themselves simply awe-inspiring. Give this forest your all.