Coronavirus: 7 virtual journeys to connect with nature from the comfort of your sofa

Stuck at home during the circuit breaker? Go sightseeing online. Travel companies and tourist sites are offering virtual trips via livestream and Google Maps.
Marvel at Sweden’s Northern Lights.
Marvel at Sweden’s Northern Lights.PHOTO: LIGHTS OVER LAPLAND

The idea of escaping into the great outdoors has fresh appeal for travel lovers now, after weeks of staying home to ride out the pandemic. Aditi Bharade suggests seven virtual journeys for families to connect with nature, from the comfort of their sofa

Marvel at Sweden’s Northern Lights

Scandinavian temperatures to watch the Northern Lights online.

Lights Over Lapland, a travel company that guides tourists through Abisko National Park in Sweden, has posted time lapses of the aurora borealis on its website. Stunning streaks of bright green light dance in the video, a mesmerising sight from afar.

Go to: Virtual aurora tours

Climb the Great Wall of China


PHOTO: THE CHINA GUIDE

You will not clock your daily 10,000 steps by virtually visiting the Great Wall of China, but it is still a fun experience. Beijing-based travel agency The China Guide has posted 360-degree snapshots of several sections of the Great Wall, specially for online tourists to appreciate the timeless monument during the Covid-19 period. The photos show the man-made wonder in different seasons.

Go to: Great Wall of China guide

Experience dizzying heights at America’s Yosemite


Renowned rock climber Tommy Caldwell scaling El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in the 2017 documentary, The Dawn Wall. PHOTO: NETFLIX

You may have wanted to visit El Capitan, the 914m-tall rock formation in Yosemite National Park that is the wallpaper on your MacBook.

For now, get an adrenaline high by watching the 360-degree video of rock climber Alex Honnold taking on the daunting summit.

The sweeping views of the American national park and its towering heights make it a heart-thumping experience, even from a screen.

Admire cherry blossoms in Japan


PHOTO: CHIBA PREFECTURE

You thought you would see the pretty pink blossoms in Japan, or at least at Gardens by the Bay.

Well, try watching videos of Japan’s Chiba prefecture instead on YouTube. The videos give a sweet introduction to the prefecture, which encompasses the eastern outskirts of Tokyo and the Boso Peninsula. The flower-laden trees, clear blue skies and peaceful Japanese streets are a breath of fresh air for the homebound.

Get up close with South African wildlife


PHOTO: ANDBEYOND

The lion-hearted can venture far inside the African savannah by catching livestreams of wildlife.

Luxury travel company andBeyond, which customises safaris and tours, has started uploading daily three-hour livestreams of Ngala Private Game Reserve and Djuma Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

The guides take their on-screen audience through the sights and sounds of the wilderness and also answer questions remotely.

While some may find this a watered-down alternative to the real experience of a game drive, it is still thrilling to observe a majestic wild elephant from your armchair.

Go to: WildWatch Live

Dive into the Great Barrier Reef of Australia


PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

Getting 360-degree snapshots of the Great Barrier Reef was Google Street View’s first underwater project and it feels immersive.

Drop the “little man” on Google Maps into the Great Barrier Reef and you will be surrounded by clear blue waters and multi-coloured corals. You might even spot a turtle swimming serenely by.

Of course, watching Finding Nemo (2003) is an equally good alternative.

Go to: Great Barrier Reef on Google Maps

Bungee jump in New Zealand

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9m4cW2yxy0

Watch the fearless or foolhardy take a leap of faith off Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, the world’s first commercial bungee jumping site .

In gorgeous surroundings, these adventure junkies plunge into a narrow valley, sometimes even getting their heads dunked in the river below.

The adrenaline rush will shake anyone out of an afternoon daze while confined at home.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 03, 2020, with the headline 'Sit back and get out there'. Print Edition | Subscribe