Those of us with itchy feet and a yearning for faraway places are in purgatory. With the most exciting (or scary) trip on offer being the one to the local supermarket, thoughts of exotic foreign beaches, glamorous boulevards, exciting African bush adventures and soothing Karoo sunsets are mere pipedreams.
But if you have time on your hands, an Internet connection and a screen, the big wide world can still be your oyster. At least in a virtual way.
Heedful of a brighter tomorrow when visitors will hopefully come flocking back, the travel and tourism industry is scrambling to provide online travel experiences that will keep their country, region, resort or venue top of mind.
Enjoy what South Africa has to offer the virtual traveller
Here in South Africa there are numerous virtual travel experiences to be enjoyed in the comfort of your home.
Robben Island is on many people’s bucket list. Courtesy of the Department of Arts and Culture, enjoy a virtual tour of the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela was held for so many years. Your guide is Vusumsi Mcongo, who was a political prisoner there from 1978-1990. Go here to join him.
Still in the Cape Town area, you can experience the remarkable views to be had from Table Mountain’s aerial cableway via a 360-degree YouTube video posted by VR Safari. Check out the views of the mountain and the Mother City below by going here.
Go on a live video safari with experienced rangers
With the country’s game reserves and private game parks now closed, a number of enterprising operators are doing virtual game drives, some of them daily and in real time.
WildEarth, for example, brings you live ranger-hosted sunrise and sunset safaris from Djuma Private Game Reserve in The Sabi Sands, and Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve close to the Kruger National Park. You can even send in questions which the guides will answer live. Go on safari here.
Similarly, Shamwari Private Game Reserve has regular safari and wildlife video updates during lockdown. Head Ranger Andrew Kearney aims to enlighten, entertain and educate. Visit Andrew here.
Why not use the time to become a culture vulture
If you feel you’re a little short of knowledge in the arts and culture field, galleries and museums around the world are offering virtual tours that will enable you to become a culture vulture of note.
The ABSA Gallery in downtown Johannesburg is one such example. Using Google Street View technology you can walk through the gallery and view the artworks on display. You can even call up information on each display, find out the artist, and be wide-eyed at just how much some of these pieces cost. Start your new life as a culture vulture here.
Go virtual travelling right around the world
Through the wonders of modern technology, your mission to drop in on some of the world’s greatest attractions is just a mouse-click away.
Continue your cultural quest by visiting Amsterdam’s famous Van Gogh Museum. It boasts the world’s largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s works, including over 200 paintings, 500 drawings and more than 750 personal letters. Start the floor-by-floor virtual tour here.
Similarly, the British Museum in London has a wondrous collection of about eight-million objects. Find out about the best of them by going on a tour here.
The globe’s greatest man-made attractions brought to life
If museums and galleries aren’t your thing, you can use Google Street View technology to walk through some of the world’s greatest man-made wonders.
View the remarkable Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, which were built around 2560BC. Start your journey here.
Or travel to Agra in India to see the wondrous Taj Mahal, built in 1643 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Maha. See the mausoleum in all its glory here.
Last, but not least, is Machu Picchu in Peru. Investigate the Inca-built citadel set high in the Andes Mountains, which was abandoned in the 15th-century. Check it out here.
Right now this is all the travel-hungry have got
Certainly, you’ll feel like you’re there but not quite there. Even the most realistic of online experiences can’t capture the pulse, smells and sounds of actually being on the spot. But right now it’s all we’ve got.
And when the world returns to some form of normality, as it will, you’ve researched your next epic real-life travel adventure.
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