A cloud forest is a forest in a region with consistent cloud cover, with clouds which actually dip into the forest itself, creating a very moist, misty, dim environment. The vast majority of cloud forests are tropical rain forests, although cloud forests can also be found in subtropical and temperate zones. Some of the most famous are in South America, where researchers gather to study the ecology of cloud forests and to promote the preservation of this unique type of forest. Southeast Asia and Africa also have large stretches of cloud forest.
You may also hear a cloud forest referred to as a fog forest, in a reference to the heavy layers of fog which swathe the forest, or as a moss forest, because cloud forests often host a great deal of moss and other water-loving plants and epiphytes like orchids. The environment of the cloud forest is definitely unique, hosting a diverse range of plant and animal species, some of which can be found nowhere else in the world.
In order for a cloud forest to form, it must be at an altitude high enough for clouds to appear, and in a region where clouds have reason to cling close to the ground. Many cloud forests are located in mountain valleys, where clouds are trapped by the surrounding geography. Others are in coastal regions, where whether conditions force a consistent layer of clouds and fog to remain present for much of the year.
Being in a cloud forest can feel slightly surreal. The clouds obscure visibility, especially high up in the forest, and the environment feels very damp. Constant sounds of dripping water can be heard, and the forest floor is usually boggy in nature. The trees, shrubs, and plants grow thick and lush, with a profusion of epiphytic plants growing on every available surface, taking advantage of the huge amounts of moisture in the air to grow and thrive. Sound is often muffled by the fog and dense plants, and it can be difficult to tell where sounds are coming from, due to the strange acoustics.
Some tropical cloud forests have become vacation destinations. Visitors can stroll along elevated walkways in the forest canopy to get a sight of the rolling fog which surrounds the forest, and they can also explore the forest along the ground level. Hotels and other facilities may look out over the forest, allowing people to see a sea of clouds which intermittently breaks up to allow the forest to peep through.