Not many industries have sprung up as quickly or as emphatically as virtual travel. From live feeds of exotic wildlife to drone shots of the Taj Mahal, conventional travel companies have shifted sharply into online experiences in an attempt to breach the barriers of lockdown.
Now, travel firm Virtually Visiting is pushing the envelope even further with a full-fledged, four-day virtual holiday, exploring the wastes and wonders of the Swedish Arctic. Specialists in remote travel, the company has come into its own since the start of the pandemic and claims that this new project marks a world first.
Each day will be streamed on the Virtually Visiting website in immersive, 360-degree high definition and, though VR goggles are optimal, can be viewed via laptop, tablet, or phone. Best of all? This normally wallet-busting experience is absolutely free.
The tour begins 144km inside the Arctic Circle at Lapland’s famous Icehotel, a wintry residence rebuilt each year with blocks of snow and ice from the nearby Torne River, before melting away come spring. There are benefits to being on the other side of the screen as a local guide shows you around the rooms – which are kept at a cool -5°C – and the elaborate ice sculptures that stand by every bedside.
The following days feature a snowmobile safari across a pair of frozen lakes and a visit to Treehotel, a network of bizarre-looking luxury cabins suspended in the canopy of a Lapland pine forest. Between a mirrored cube rightfully called ‘Mirrorcube’, a branch-covered cabin called ‘Bird’s Nest’, and the outer space-inspired ‘UFO’, the rooms themselves are nearly as enticing as the polar panoramas beyond the windows. The fourth and final day will take guests deep into the wilderness on an off-track dog-sledding adventure to learn about harnessing huskies while speeding through the snow.
The tour is prerecorded and will run from April 18 to April 21. You can join here.