Make no mistake about it, nobody should be traveling at this stage of the quarantine. Heck, most folks are leery about a necessary trip to the grocery store. That said, you can still do a few travel related things while you’re on lockdown. You can always research your next trip, or even visit some accessible travel blogs and enjoy a little armchair travel. Many museums and cultural attractions are also offering virtual tours during the quarantine. If however, you want to go in a totally different direction, and try something that you can’t generally access in real life, then check out these virtual tours of places that present substantial access obstacles to wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
Winchester Mystery House
Located in San Jose, California, this historic home was once the residence of Sarah and William Winchester, of firearms fame. Sadly, Sara lost her infant daughter to a childhood illness, and just two years later she became a widow. Although nobody knows the real story (hence the mystery), one thought is that Sarah was advised by a psychic to continue with what can only be described as a 36-year renovation project on the 160-room mansion. And although the regular tour is not wheelchair-accessible, this virtual tour is available during the quarantine.
Anne Frank House
On one hand it might seem a little ironic to suggest a virtual tour of a place where a family was sequestered, during the period of our own sequestration. On the other hand, once you see the space they lived in for more than two years, you may come away with the realization that your own self quarantine really isn’t that bad. The house and the secret annex where the Frank family hid out during World War II is not wheelchair-accessible, so if you can’t manage the steep stairs, you can tour the secret annex with virtual reality glasses when you visit the museum. This virtual tour also takes you behind the bookcase to the secret entrance to the annex, and offers a good overview of the compact living space.
Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail
Filmed by Tall Sky Walker, this 25-minute video offers everyone the chance to explore this scenic lakeshore trail in Banff National Park. The hike begins near Moraine Lake Lodge and winds through the forest, and offers some pristine views of the mountain lake. Although the trail is fairly level there are steps, rocks and roots along the way, that make it a no-go for most wheelchair-users. This video was meant to be played while walking on a treadmill, but it’s also a great choice for a wheelchair-accessible virtual hike.
Summit Mount Everest
Filmmaker Elia Saikaly created this excellent video of the final dangerous climb to the summit of Mount Everest. There’s no courageous music or fancy film effects, but instead just the raw sound of oxygen flowing through the climbers’ masks and their gasps for air as they struggle with the harsh environment. It’s a real white knuckle video for sure, and it feels like you are actually there. The views are absolutely gorgeous, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
Visit a Remote Chinese Teahouse
ZhiHeng Yang, who is a supply porter on Mount Hua, captured the essence of the journey up to the remote Huashan Teahouse, which sits atop the Chinese mountain. Although it’s not in any way, shape or form wheelchair-accessible, the journey up the mountain is almost as exhilarating as the view from the top. The adventure begins with a steep cable car ride, after which visitors trek up the narrow paths to a Buddhist and Daoist temple; and then pause for a cup of tea at the famous teahouse.
Scale Half Dome
Last but not least, this is one of my favorite videos as it totally captures the reality of the hike up Yosemite’s Half Dome. It begins with a little scramble over the rocks and ends with the famous cable section near the top. It also illustrates that it’s much easier to go up the cables, then it is to come back down. And the view from the top is second-to-none. It’s the perfect virtual tour to help you tough out the quarantine.