What to do when the urge to travel is great, but the possibility is small? Go virtual!
During this time of Covid-19 restrictions, travel has become a rare commodity. The inability to travel long distances does not stop one’s desire to see the sights or contribute to valued ecological initiatives though.
Inspired minds have come up with a way to give travellers a virtual experience through nature cams and virtual tours. These webcams and virtual tours can be viewed from destinations around the world. Keep reading below to find your virtual destination!
Live nature webcams vary according to the desired programme. Some nature cams are designated for a specific event, such as a virtual safari or tour. Many nature cams can be found online which are a constantly running 24/7 view of a certain area.
Live streaming nature cams
Online networks such as the Explore network, have a variety of 24/7 live nature cams running, with a featured live nature webcam at the top of the page. These nature cams are from all over the world and range in topic from bird research centres to elephant sanctuaries and the possibility of viewing live Aurora Borealis in Canada. One can even watch the live feed of a honey bee hive! The Explore cams have been shared across sites like the Audubon, Lonely Planet and the like for being widely used with an ideal viewing experience.
The Wildlife Trusts has a constantly updating arrangement of live nature cams covering a variety of avian species and badgers.
For bird watchers, Urdaibai Bird Center located in the heart of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve in Spain, has two estuary live streaming nature cams available. One live streams from the marshes, and the other from nature areas for viewing garden birds.
The Wild Center in US has a virtual tour called the ‘Wild Walk’ where virtual visitors are able to walk through the centres nature area, including across wood bridges and climbing tree-house like wooden structures.
Kakadu National Park in Australia offers virtual tours with 8 different virtual tours in 8 areas of the National Park available. Available virtual tours from inside Kakadu National Park include: Ubirr, Burrungkuy, Nawurlandja, Bardedjilidji, Gunlom, Maguk and the falls areas of Jim Jim falls and Twin falls.
Cocobolo Nature Reserve in Panama offers a selection of 6 area virtual tours within the privately owned nature reserve. The virtual traveller is able to transport themselves virtually to crystal clear waters and lush vegetation in the local ecosystem. One has the possibility to even view the sleeping huts and camping areas for visitors.
What’s the difference?
Live streaming nature cams are usually a stationary webcam in a nature preserve area, or area which has many of the animals in the location. These webcams stream 24/7 so anyone can watch at any time for an anticipatory safari-like atmosphere of ‘what do we see today?’.
Virtual Tours are more focused on the destination views, such as cave drawings, waterfalls, nature scenery. Virtual tours offer the possibility of a 360 degree viewing, as well as moving throughout the destination wherever the virtual traveller would like to go. The virtual traveller can walk through, take turns and look all around the areas.
Tips for enjoying virtual tours to the fullest
Virtual tours are something that should be optimised. The viewer has an option of being the person sitting on a sofa enjoying a interactive measure on the computer, or of being so mentally present in the tour that they are able to see themselves in the destination. Experiencing the destination as if you are there is always preferable for a thoroughly enjoyable virtual tour.
Prepare the environment
The keyword here is “immersion”. Prepare the environment of your immediate surroundings so that you can effectively be drawn into the screen. Meaning that as the viewer, you have the possibility to involve yourself so much with the virtual tour that you leave your own immediate surroundings and find yourself mentally, at the destination.
・ A solo experience
Taking a virtual tour with two or more people is ok, but it limits the places your imagination can take you if for instance, others are having a discussion with you. It is easier to let your mind whisk you away to the destination when travelling solo with a virtual tour.
・ Set the phone to airplane mode
Setting your phone to silent, or airplane mode will temporarily pause the constant influx of notifications and will help to prevent you from being pulled back into the real world.
・ Project the virtual tour on a TV screen
It’s difficult to enjoy the full experience of a virtual tour by viewing on a small mobile screen such as a mobile phone. Larger screens are preferable, as they are more able to give a full spectrum view of the destination. Many gadgets have the possibility of television screen viewing, so the larger screen is suggested.
・ Adjust the room temperature to suit the destination
Changing the temperature setting to warm if the tour is in the tropics or cold if the tour is in a northern location like the Arctic Circle. This will enable the viewer to feel the destination as well.
Prepare your mind
・ Make the time for yourself
If the virtual tourist is a person with a hurried schedule, checking the time is a common habit. Remove your watch, or cover the clock in order to avoid constantly checking of the time.
・ See with your consciousness, get into a world perspective
The virtual tourist is no longer at their home, they are in the destination. Maintain an open mind and a good attitude. Open-mindedness will enable your imagination to take you anywhere you just want to go!
When wanderlust gets the best of you, take a virtual tour and enjoy some scenery. Virtual tours and live streaming nature cams are free of charge and have the ability to whisk the virtual traveller away to far flung nature destination areas at the mere click of a button. There’s nothing stopping you from enjoying the breathtaking views!
Virtual touring is also good because when travelling is possible again, it would be great to go visit those places in person! Especially as the national parks and ecotour operators who are contributing to the conservation of these areas, depend on the income from entrance fees and the like. So if the virtual traveller discovers a destination virtually which sparks a joy in the virtual traveller, it is advised to keep that destination in mind and visit when restrictions are lifted.
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