With the most recent announcement of lockdown updates, came for some, a huge blow. Normal holidays this summer were ‘never going to be the case’ said justice secretary Robert Buckland. So if you were dying to get away this summer and your metaphorical tail has drooped at this news – don’t despair. Will anything ever be able to replace that feeling of going away for a holiday? Maybe not. But we are living in a time where we have more options than ever before, and some of them are pretty exciting. Whilst UK travel bosses and government continue to negotiate future holidays, we wanted to highlight some other ways to travel. Have you heard of virtual travel and virtual tourism?
There are so many places that we can explore online. People from all over the world now have the opportunity to travel more than ever before, thanks to virtual reality.
What is Virtual Tourism?
Virtual tourism can be a video of a tourist destination. The tourist watches the video, using the senses of hearing and sight. And for most of us, that’s not going to scratch the itch. However, Virtual Reality tourism is far more sophisticated. 360 videography and photography capture the real environment (let’s say a luxury beach resort in the Maldives), then by using a VR headset, the tourist is transported into that reality. If you were using VR to attend a museum by using a headset and a pair of gloves, as well as walking around the museum, you could also interact with interactive exhibits. By using VR, the tourist is immersed into whichever environment they want to explore. People are also using VR to enhance their real life experiences. At theme parks, there may be a mixture of actual and virtual rides. Museums and galleries are enhancing their exhibitions with virtual activities and presentations.
The Taj Mahal. We all know about it, but how many of us have actually been there? The Google Arts and Culture platform is one of the platforms helping people discover new places from the comfort of our own homes. One of their latest additions is a virtual tour of the Taj Mahal. If you’re planning on going in real life, you need to get yourself to Agra in India and then you need to try and pick the perfect time of day to arrive. Thanks to the Arts and Culture platform however, you can begin your visit whenever you fancy!
There are two virtual travel tours you can take; “The Wonder that is Taj” and “Taj Mahal: A Tour from the Top”. Both of these tours will virtually take you to this incredible monument. 360 photography and videography capture angles of the Taj that we wouldn’t be able to experience in real life and show the monument off in all its glory. In the ‘Tour from the Top’, you experience the Taj from above, so even if you have visited in person, this will be a very different affair! The ‘Wonder that is Taj’ is jam packed with facts and early images of the Taj Mahal.
If the Taj Mahal doesn’t do it for you, there are plenty of other exciting options. You can also explore the Pyramids, Portugese monasteries and Indonesian temples. Speaking of Indonesia…!
If you’re in the market for a big hit of Mother Nature, you are in luck. Indonesia has been high on the destination list for travellers and tourists, and now you can explore some of Indonesia’s natural wonders via virtual tourism. The country boasts some seriously lush landscapes.
You can tour Mount Bromo, an active volcano that forms part of the Tengger mountains in East Java. Standing at a whopping 2,329 meters, it is situated in the middle of a protected nature reserve called the ‘Sea of Sand’. It’s sheer scale can really put things into perspective.
Love sea swimming, but worried about what might be in the water with you?! You can virtually tour Jellyfish Bay in Raja Ampat. Jellyfish Bay is home to thousands of giant golden medusa jellyfish. If you’ve had the misfortune to be stung by a jellyfish, you’re probably thinking ‘why on earth would anyone want to do that?’ but these jellyfish are unarmed. It’s bizarrely beautiful to see how many jellyfish are underneath the surface of the beautiful blue water. Swimmers report that whilst bobbing around in the lake, you can feel the soft tentacles of the jellyfish gently wrapping around your body in a way that feels oddly therapeutic. Try out the virtual version first, and see if you can contemplate the real thing when the world opens back up!
More World Heritage Sites
The Grand Site of Chichen Itza is located on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It’s a many layered mythical Mayan ruin. A large portion of the ruins have not yet been excavated and over the years, a dense forest has naturally grown up and hidden the rest of this mysterious world. A nearby sinkhole, named the Sacred Cenote, was once used to offer up sacrifices.
Ever fancied exploring 5,700 square miles and wondering at thousands of animal species? Could Serengeti National Park do the job?! This national park in Tanzania is one of the most diverse and beautiful places on earth. Each year, the park sees over 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra migrate. It’s the largest animal migration in the world.
The Chauvet Caves in Southern France is estimated to be 36,000 years old and contains more than 1000 drawings and engravings. It was placed on Unesco’s World Heritage List, and gives testimony to a vanished human culture and the creative genius of humans. Or perhaps Yosemite National Park appeals to you more?
Whatever takes your fancy, with so much opportunity to explore online, staying closer to home this year need not feel like a drag. So grab your VR headset, turn the heating up and put your flip flops on. We’re going away!
Find out more about Virtual Tourism in our blog series.