World’s Quietest Places

Central Park, New York City

Really? No, of course it’s not quiet—but it is amazingly quieter. You start hearing birds instead of brakes, wind in the trees instead of gusts coming up subway grates. Consider the sensory shift it brings as an opportunity, in a hugely crowded city, to remember the pleasures of listening. Marie Javins, author of Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik, says, “When I went to Shakespeare in the Park, I couldn’t help but marvel that the actors spoke against a backdrop of crickets, not buses. We were just a few blocks in from the surrounding city but somehow the buses, horns, and voices of Manhattan can’t reach into the park, as if the stage were surrounded by wilderness.”

Asolo, Italy

An hour outside Venice (another carless place that could have made this list), Asolo is a perfect medieval hill town of walls and cobbled streets and afternoons of nothing to do but sip a drink in an open-air café. Once home to Robert and Elizabeth Browning, in Asolo, the only alarm clock you’ll ever need here are the songbirds. According to Dr. Cheryl Fraser, “On a circular hike through the hillside farms and vineyards, over the top of the old castle and down the ancient winding stone path, the predominant sounds are the buzz of various insects (I wonder, do they buzz in dialect?) and the beating of my own heart.”

The Troll Ladder, Norway

Roads tend to be noisy places. Engines and wheels are not at all kind to the soundscape. But the Troll Ladder has something very few roads do: a soundtrack. Famed Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg wrote his piece “Hall of the Mountain King” with exactly this place in mind: Hairpin turns so close to a towering waterfall that it’s a good idea to check your brakes and windshield wipers before starting the drive. Norway’s mountains block the horizons in scenery that looks like you thought The Lord of the Rings should have looked like, if the producers hadn’t been from New Zealand.

Yap

Once you get past the fun of just saying the place’s name—YAP—this Pacific island (take a left at Guam), might just be paradise. It’s a jungle island, with endless coastline, mangrove swamps where giant fruit bats play, and under water, manta rays with ten-foot wingspans glide without a sound. Yap’s entire culture is built on adherence to social peace, so that, according to resident Richard Flow, even playing your car radio too loud when you drive simply isn’t done. “Do it,” he says, “and you’ll come back the next day to find your windshield broken.” So the loudest sound in Yap? Waves hitting the reef, more than a mile from shore. And occasional broken glass.

The Hoh Valley, Washington state

Deep in the rainforests of Olympic National Park, the largest roadless area in the contiguous United States, the Hoh is home of the “One Square Inch Project”, a fight to preserve just a single inch of landscape from human sound. Keep that one inch quiet, says founder Gordon Hempton, and the silence will radiate out for thousands of acres. And he’s right: the Inch offers few sounds louder than water dripping from leaves and the occasional clack of a grouse.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Some of the box canyons off the main river have been measured to be half as loud as human breath. But nobody can take that for long, so head back out to the Canyon proper, where the signature sound, says Mike Buchheit, director of the Grand Canyon Field Institute, “as it grows from the graveyard silence of any hike, is the roar of the Colorado River.” Of course, some people come just because they think all the red rocks are pretty.

Anzo-Borrego State park, California

So big it makes up roughly half of the entire California state park system, Anzo-Borrego is “only four hours from 20 million people,” says park interpreter Michael Rodriques. Yet “there’s no place where you’ll find solitude like this. This is a place where you can experience quiet—real quiet.” Anzo-Borrego is desert with a palm oasis where click of hooves from endangered Borrego sheep—a subspecies of bighorn—make the loudest sound.

Big Bend National park, Texas

Big Bend is a kind of acoustic greatest hits record. Because the park, located in southwest Texas, has such a diverse landscape—mountains, deserts, river, with more species of birds, bats, and cactus than any other park in the country—only a few minute’s change in location can dramatically change what you hear. And one of the best things about Big Bend? It’s not on very many airplane flight routes. In fact, the sound of planes is still very rare here. And that makes it one of the most unusual, noise-free environments anywhere in the world.

The Kalahari desert

Simple math: the greater the distance from people, the quieter a place is going to be. the Kalahari—which lies mostly in Botswana, but also spreads into five other African nations—may be one of the emptiest landscapes on the planet, over 350,000 square miles of low scrub and acacia trees, nibbled on by giraffes. But then, giraffes aren’t noted for being noisy. Photographer Jad Davenport says of the Kalahari, “No sound out there at all. Nothing.”

Victoria Falls, Zambia

The rumble of the falls—water dropping 350 feet—is audible more than a mile away. So why put it on a list of the world’s quietest places? Because the falls may be the most natural sound the world still contains; up close, you simply can’t hear anything else. “The Kololo tribe called these cataracts ‘The Smoke that Thunders,’” says Patricia Schultz, author of 1000 Places to See Before You Die. “But it should be called the Silence that Thunders—an oxymoron that makes sense to anyone enveloped by its mist.”

credited to forbestraveler.com

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