Sometimes all you need is a little bit of peace and quiet, an escape from the routine and a break from the norm. We’ve found the five quietest places on the planet to help heal those day to day woes.
Kronotsky Nature Reserve, Russia
This vast remote wilderness in Russia takes the term ‘nature reserve’ to the extreme. Most reserves protect the wildlife and fauna while still allowing explorers and tourists to roam and discover, but Russia recognises the fragility of this awesome space. 2.8 million acres of forests, mountains and rivers are home to a rich mix of wildlife – 700 bears are thought to call this place home. Tourism is limited to around 3,000 people a year, and National Geographic has questioned whether anyone at all should visit. But if you do manage to join an approved tour, it would be an explorer’s trip of a lifetime.
Anechoic Chamber, South Minneapolis, Minnesota – USA
How long could you bear to hear the sound of your lungs breathing, your stomach gurgling and your heartbeat? Hallucinations, balance problems and disorientation become a real problem when we’re deprived of noise. The chamber, with double walls of insulated steel and over 3ft thick fibreglass acoustic wedges, absorbs 99.9% of sound. Used for product testing, the chamber has tested a wide variety of things from the sound of a switch on the dashboard of a car to NASA’s astronaut’s ability to cope with anechoic space.
Haleakala Crater, Maui – Hawaii
The lab in Minneapolis may be the world’s quietest man-made structure, but the crater at the top of Maui’s highest peak has been described by soundtracker Gordon Hempton as one of the last ‘great quiet places’. To qualify, these places must be free of human noise for intervals of 15 minutes or more. Haleakala is one of the few places in the world he’s willing to reveal – silence, or at least avoiding man made noise, is becoming a rare commodity. At nearly 2 miles high, the crater’s stillness set in the stark volcanic landscape has inspired spiritual experiences for visitors and is the subject of the film, The Quietest Place on Earth.
The Barn Retreat, Totnes, Devon – UK
If you’re seeking peace and tranquility but don’t fancy a long haul flight, why not take a road trip to the Devon countryside and experience a silent retreat. The Barn Retreat Centre at The Sharpham Trust in Devon has a secluded ‘Kuti’ hut you can stow away in and enjoy the peace of the surrounding woodland. There’s a wood burning stove, meditation mat, bed and cooking equipment – though lunch, prepared by retreatants from The Barn, can be discreetly collected while they meditate. The retreat is quite literally the ideal escape from the hustle, bustle and white noise of city life.
Tak Be Ha Cenote, Tulum – Mexico
Mexico’s cenotes are simply stunning. The sinkholes and underground caves can stretch for miles underground, though their popularity as tourist destinations mean you may not encounter true silence when venturing around them. However, many offer the opportunity for you to explore by swimming with just a headlamp and, if you can avoid splashing too much, deep underground, far from civilisation above, all you should be able to hear is the dripping of water from the many fascinating stalactites formed in the caves.
Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan – Canada
The only sounds you’re likely to hear in this national park are the wind rustling the tall grasses, whistling birdsong and possibly the crackle of a late night campfire. Solitude is almost guaranteed if you trek out into the prairie and your only company could be the black-tailed prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets native to the grasslands. The plains look fairly bleak at first glance but the area is a treasure trove of relics from the past – ancient remnants from Native American encampments and even dinosaur fossils are sights not as rare as you may think. Pack up a traditional tipi and enjoy the quiet of Canada’s wilderness surrounded by the sounds of prairie silence.
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