Tolerance scales for a restless and relentless city life may be sky high, but as far as science is concerned, frequent connection with the natural world is vital to our health and happiness. A venti Americano with an extra espresso shot will only take you so far, apparently.
And so commence the concept of forest bathing; as our stress levels keep on climbing, the practice has gained popularity across the western world in recent years to offer workaholics and inner city folk an opportunity to unwind and breathe in the pine needles, figuratively speaking. If wellness and fresh air are top of your list for 2019, our top 5 Forest Bathing destinations will have you dreaming of birdsong and woodland wanderings in no time.
Translated as Shinrin-yoku, the concept of Forest Bathing was created in 1982 by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to combat the seriously concerning rise of stress levels amongst Japanese citizens – the most densely populated country on the planet. Needless to say, the national health population caught on, and Japan has become a tree-hugging trendsetter ever since. From Koyoto, travel to Arashiyama for a stroll in Sagano – one of the most mesmerising bamboo forests in the world. Open 24 hours a day, miss the flux of tourists and visit at dawn for a quiet experience amongst the towering bamboo groves.
British Columbia, Canada
British Columbia takes wilderness to a new level, so if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, you’ll find it by the bucket-load amongst the deep forests and azure lakes of western Canada. Head to Yoho National Park located in the Rocky Mountains and get lost in the labyrinth off waterfalls and panoramic glacial views amongst the thick woodland trails…just watch out for the bears. Really.
The Highlands, Scotland
For a nature fuelled trip a little closer to home, the UK’s largest mountainscape can be found in the heart of Scotland. Cairngorms National Park is famous for its ancient Caledonian Pine forest, vast lochs and rich history – keep an eye out for eerie castle ruins hidden amongst the mountainous backdrops. With several mountain summits to boot, Cairngorms is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts looking to escape civilisation without travelling across the globe for the pleasure.
Sawarak, Malaysian Borneo
World-renowned for its rich biodiversity, Borneo is abundant with national parks teeming with wildlife. For an island experience like no other, catch a boat from Kuching to Bako; Sarawak’s oldest National Park which stretches along the Muara Tebas peninsular. Half a day’s walk through the island’s dense canopies give way to rugged natural beaches and sprawling ocean views. Watch out for the curious looking proboscis monkeys hidden in the trees and the wild boar milling about the place.
Home to the largest trees on the plant, Redwood National and State Park is the mother of all forest bathing destinations. These ancient giants sprawl over several protected locations across north west Californian coast. Growing as tall as 350 feet, the momentous scale of Redwood is awe-inspiring and life affirming; perfect for regaining that sense of perspective so easily lost in the bustle of modern life. Visit this vast web of natural skyscrapers to feel the true force of nature.