Recently I was fortunate enough to marvel at some of the world’s most remote and beautiful places and look rare, wild creatures in the eye. All without so much as a carbon toeprint.
I was traveling virtually, of course. I went to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London, about half an hour on the Tube (London’s public subway system) from my home.
The exhibition is on at this location until April 26. After that point it travels around the world. I urge you to see it if it comes to a city near you but in the mean time you can take a sneak peak online.
There are some extraordinary photographs – from this striking image of a polar bear silhouetted by the rising sun to this cool dude sunning himself on a beach in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the humans of the Middle East – and indeed the world – could learn a lot about peaceful coexistence and cooperation from these fish living off the coast of Israel. (Not that nature is always kind – witness this depiction of the life and death struggle between a tree frog and a snake).
It was a lovely reminder of how beautiful and diverse our planet is and what’s at stake in our current battle to clean up our act. So much environmental news simply feeds people’s sense of hopelessness – an exhibition like this is a shot of inspiration and the perfect antidote to despair.
Virtual travel might be green but in my opinion it’s no substitute for the real thing – travel is about being open-minded and open-hearted to new experiences and it’s hard to practice that when you’re sitting on your couch. Yet in some cases virtual travel can offer more. It’s probably your only chance to go to ancient Rome, for example. Wildlife photography and films are another great example. They take you close to a world that most of us will never see since even the most avid nature lover typically doesn’t have the resources to go to such exotic places nor the patience to spend hours waiting for the perfect shot.