8 Otherworldly Forests from Around the World

  • Let’s go on a trip to some of the most magical places on the planet.

There’s just something magical about being in a forest. Far from civilization, surrounded by endless trees, is a perfect place for your imagination to start running wild.

But some forests are more magical than others. Whether that’s due to the plants that grow there, the area’s unique geography, or something stemming from human activity, certain woods are truly unique in comparison.

Here are X forests form around the world that that will make you think you’ve stepped into a fairy tale — or left planet Earth altogether.

1) Lake Kaindy Sunken Forest, Kazakhstan

Photo: Jonas Satkauskas, Wikimedia Commons

You’ve probably heard of underwater kelp forests and such. But the sunken forest at Lake Kaindy is a forest of actual trees.

Granted, the trees aren’t exactly alive. In 1911, a large earthquake caused a landslide that blocked a gorge in southern Kazakhstan.

As a result, the gorge flooded. The spruce trees that grew there were left underwater and slowly died.

However, Lake Kaindy’s cold water has helped preserve the tree trunks and even their needles. Underwater, the algae-covered spruces look like something out of a sci-fi movie.

2) Crooked Forest, Poland

Photo: Rzuwig, Wikimedia Commons

Located in western Poland, the Crooked Forest is famous for its around 400 pines. They all grow with a strange northward curve to their trunks, just above the ground level.

Local folklore states that the forest is cursed. Nobody knows what magic caused the trees to bend in such a way, but clearly supernatural means were used to create the forest.

Or not. The trees were planted around 1930, and the most common theory is that someone used some kind of a tool to get the trees to grow up crooked.

Nobody knows who did it, though, or why.

3) Dancing Forest, Russia

Photo: Man77, Wikimedia Commons

While the crooked trees in Poland might be man-made, the ones in the Dancing Forest in Kaliningrad region of Russia in eastern Europe are not. These pines twist and turn apparently on their own volition.

The trees have grown into a variety of patters. Some loop around in circles, others for heart-like shapes, while still others grow into spirals.

The cause for the bending trees is currently unknown. Some scientists speculate that a certain caterpillar that feeds on pine trees could damage the trees and make they go nuts.

According to local folk stories, however, the trees are simply following the movement of sand on the forest floor.

4) Puzzlewood, England

Photo: Reiner Tegtmeyer, Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve ever wanted to visit the Fangorn Forest from The Lord of the Rings or the Forbidden Forest from Harry Potter, Puzzlewood is your best chance. Located within the Forest of Dean in southwest England, this ancient woodland site is supposedly the inspiration for both of those fictional locations.

Puzzlewood really does seem like it sprung straight out of a fantasy novel. The woodland is filled with twisty paths, old gnarled trees, and moss-ocvered rocks.

There are even hidden, secret caves in the woods, hiding who knows what ghosts and goblins. Be careful if you visit, though — it’s easy to get lost in Puzzlewood’s confusing maze of narrow paths.

5) Deadvlei, Namibia

Photo: Ikiwaner, Wikimedia Commons

Deadvlei, meaning “dead marsh” in Afrikaans, is aptly named. Ancient, dead trunks of trees dot this flat white clay pan.

You might not think a dead forest is particularly interesting, but there’s a certain mystique to the skeletal trees jutting out of the desert. The camel thorn trees most likely died around 700 years ago.

At that time, the area was much more hospitable. However, the local climate changed around 1340 and the once abundant water dried up.

The scorching sun has turned the tree trunks almost pitch black. They’re not petrified, but Deadvlei is so dry that the trees can’t decompose.

6) Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

Photo: Gavinevans, Wikimedia Commons

Avenue of the Baobabs is the place to go if you want to feel like you’re on a foreign planet. Located in western Madagascar, the forest consists of a group of bizarre-looking baobab trees.

The place is easy to visit — it’s one of Madagascar’s most popular tourism spots. The grove of the strange trees lines a flat stretch of road.

The regular baobabs are already weird enough, but there’s an even stranger tree growing nearby. Some four miles from the Avenue is the Baobab Amoreux — two baobab trees that have, for some reason, curled around each other.

7) Aokigahara, Japan

Photo: Guilhem Vellut, Wikimedia Commons

The forests we’ve listed so far have been pretty much your usual fairy tale stuff. Aokigahara, however, rushes straight into nightmare territory.

The forest is foreboding enough as it is. It’s dense enough to block nearly all external sound, there are very few animals, and it’s extremely easy to get lost in the gnarled trees.

But it’s not the flora and fauna that give Aokigahara its sinister reputation. After all, it has the morbind nickname of the Suicide Forest.

Every year, dozens of people wander off into Aokigahara to end their own lives. The forest is littered with corpses to the point that hikers regularly to come across human remains by the paths.

It’s not exactly clear why people go to Aokigahara to die. One reason might be forest’s thickness — it’s easy to simply walk into the woods and disappear off the face of the Earth.

8) Pando, USA

Pando isn’t a forest in itself. It’s a group of quaking aspen trees, located in the Fishlake National Forest in Utah, but it’s big enough to be a wood of its own.

What makes Pando unusual, though, is that it’s not made up of multiple trees. Every single one of the 40,000 trunks is connected to the same root system, making all of them technically the same tree.

Pando is regularly cited as the single largest living organism on Earth. It’s also one of the oldest — conservative estimates say Pando’s root system has existed for thousands of years.

However, Pando could be up to 14,000 years old.

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