Nature is a powerful healer. The majority of people like to spend time in nature and even those that don’t, often feel better after being immersed in the tranquility and beauty of the natural world. During the coronavirus, many of us have been asked to stay at home, or within a 2km limit of our house, or under some other restriction. This means that a lot of the beauty of the world is closed off to us at present. Yet many places are now providing an alternative way to experience everything the natural world has to offer.
The world is an incredible place. By leaving our homes and going somewhere new we can experience breathtaking mountains, stunning forests, crystal clear lakes, awe-inspiring vistas, and special moments that nothing in a book or on TV can come close to. Yet at present, it is just not possible to visit these places.
International travel is now basically impossible and even if it was possible, most of the most popular tourist attractions around the world are closed to visitors. The incredible hikes of Patagonia are shut, the Great Barrier Reef is no longer running tours and the beaches of Brasil are largely deserted.
Even in America where the restrictions placed by the government have been far more relaxed than in other countries, the National parks are closing. Initially when the pandemic struck the parks remained open but when the numbers of visitors actually started to increase they became dangerous. This shows that even if the parks are open it is not safe to visit them. If there are popular places near you make sure you go at a time when there are no crowds there or not at all.
Yet nature is something that we all yearn for. It has incredible healing powers. It has been shown in numerous studies that spending time in nature can do wonders for both your mental and physical health. It has the power to combat depression and reduces anxiety, it can give us a new perspective on problems as it can show how small they are in comparison to the grandeur of the world. It is no surprise then that many countries are worried about the mental health of their people as they are being forced to stay indoors.
Even in the most strict countries where severe lockdowns are being enforced, allowances are being made for exercise where possible. It is important that you do get outside during quiet times and exercise where you can. However, your local park is not exactly the coral reef of the Tortugas. There is an additional option.
While you should still try to get outside when you can many national parks have introduced numerous virtual tour options. Many of these were available before the pandemic but right now they are providing an important element to the world. They are showing the unlimited beauty of the world. While it is no replacement for the real thing it can be used as a reminder of the beauty that awaits us once we make it through this time, it can be used as an educational tool for children, as a planning tool for future trips, or as a meditative tool for the soul.
The best resource we have found is “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” by Google Arts & Culture. It provides completely immersive tours to some of the most beautiful places in the world. If you want to experience the reefs of the Tortugas, the glaciers of the Kenai Fjords, or the lava caves of Hawaii then you have it all at your fingertips. These incredible tours will satisfy your appetite for the awe-inspiring while you wait for the chance to experience it in the outdoors.