At a time of the year when peace and quiet aren’t really in abundance I thought some might welcome a little insight into where you can possibly go to for some real sound down time.
From some of the remotest corners of the world to technological soundproof solutions, here is a rundown of the top 10 quietest places to visit on Earth.
10. Tak Be Ha Cenote, Mexico
Last but by no means least, the cathedral-like underwater caves of the Yucatan Peninsula are among the last unspoiled places in the world. Among its nearly 7,000 caves, the Tak Be Ha Cenote is said to be one of the quietest, with only the occasional sound of dripping water.
This frozen continent has never been permanently occupied by man with no towns or villages, and a landscape only broken up by the odd research station or expedition hut.
8. Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana
Spanning 3,900 square kilometres, the Makgadikgadi Pan – one of the world’s largest salt flats – sits in the middle of a dry desert in north-east Botswana. It is all that remains of the defunct Makgadikgadi Lake and the only plant life is a thin layer of blue/green algae. Very little wildlife exists in the area during the dry season but that all changes following the rains, so this should only be on the list for certain months of the year strictly speaking.
7. Zurich, Switzerland
Silent sanctuaries are hard to come by in urban cityscapes, but Zurich might be your best bet, according to the World Hearing Index.
A survey done earlier this year identified the Swiss city and the least noise polluted in the world, based on people’s hearing ability assessed from 200,000 hearing tests worldwide and research from the World Health Organization on noise pollution across 50 locations.
At the other end of the scale, the city with the most noise pollution was found to be Guangzhou in China, followed by Delhi, Cairo, Mumbai and Istanbul. Beijing, Barcelona, Mexico City, Paris and Buenos Aires completed the top 10.
Extra Trivia: The Top 10 Quietest Cities
- Zurich, Switzerland
- Vienna, Austria
- Oslo, Norway
- Munich, Germany
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Dusseldorf, Germany
- Hamburg, Germany
- Portland, US
- Cologne, Germany
- Amsterdam, Netherland
6. Landmannalaugar, Iceland
Looking for quiet open roads? Travellers says the Landmannalaugar in Iceland is hard to beat. Not only can you go miles without seeing anyone there are some incredibly silent volcanic patches all throughout Iceland,”
5. Kielder Mires, England
At last a UK entry! – Northumberland’s Kielder Mires (England’s largest area of blanket bog) was found to be the quietest place in Britain a few years ago, based on factors such as the distance from the nearest road or flight path.
4. Kelso Dunes, Mojave Desert, US
The Mojave Desert is famed for its vistas and harsh living environment which accounts for its lack of wildlife, planes or cars. The scorching summer heat keeps run-of-the-mill visitors away leaving any intrepid travellers to enjoy the sound of silence.
3. Olympic National Park, Washington, US
At last a more natural entry to the charts; the One Square Inch of Silence in Washington’s Olympic National Park, located within the Hoh Rainforest area of the park. This scrap of wilderness offers a “diverse natural soundscape combined with substantial periods of natural quiet.”
Apparently, the park contains the largest intact coniferous forest across the Lower 48 US states and has one of the most pristine, untouched and ecologically diverse environments in the country. It is frequently monitored for possible noise intrusions.
2. Orfield Laboratories, Minnesota, US
This anechoic chamber can be found at the Orfield Laboratories in Minneapolis, which held the Guinness record before our number one entry came along to steal its thunder.
Tours of the facility can be booked through its website, but it warns that visitors cannot be in the chamber alone for any significant amount of time without supervision. Journalists, however, have been left alone there, in the dark. Most lasted for less than 20 minutes, tortured by the absence of noise – apart from the sound of their own bodies.
If you fancy a sound-free session a little closer to home, there is an anechoic chamber at the University of Salford which is open to the public on a few dates each year; definitely worth a Google search I think!
1. Building 87, Washington, US
Top of our list of quietest places on Earth is the place described as “where sound goes to die”. This Microsoft research lab in the city of Redmond, Washington, is officially the quietest place on Earth, according to Guinness World Records.
The silent space, created by the tech company for optimal audio and device testing, is an anechoic chamber – a room insulated from exterior sounds and designed to absorb all reflections of sound and electromagnetic waves inside, making it completely echo-free.
So there you have it. And a random, yet fitting, finish to this blog devoted to Silence. Do yourself a favour and listen to this cover version of Paul Simon’s “Sound of Silence” by The Disturbed – simply haunting.
Here’s looking forward to 2018!