Gaia Walk

flickr photo shared by PRMF under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license


How long had the earth existed and life unraveled before the appearance of human civilization? In this activity, the planet’s history of life is represented as a walk with milestones that represent the turning points in the evolution. Starting from the first bacteria, we go through all the milestones of life’s history: plants and dinosaurs, revolutions and extinctions, and we finish at human civilization.

Walking the path through nature is the body experience that allows us to feel the distance and in doing so, comprehend the time between the milestones. After 4,5 km of the whole life story we meet  the first hominids, which are only 13 mm before the finish line. Only 2 mm before the present time first human civilization appear! This helps us realize how tiny share of the planet’s history humankind takes and puts in perspective what role we as humans play and what is the scale of change we have caused on the planet since then.

Activity Type

Group / Experiential


3 hours of the walk

5 hours of preparation

Learning Outcomes

  • To understand the time scale of human civilization on the earth

  • To get somatic experience of time

  • To reconnect with nature


Required Materials and Tools:

Map, GPS optionally, something to calculate the distance, good walking shoes.

Materials for the milestones: cards, pens, threads or whatever that you invent. Get creative!

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Choose and prepare the path which will become the Gaia walk. The provided calculations are for 4,5 km but you can recalculate for another distance as you wish. Be aware that the path should be quite long.

  2. Make milestones for each period of the earth’s evolution, stated in the attached spreadsheet (see below). They can be made as cards, signs or anything you come up with. Use the attached spreadsheet of the milestones for further guidance.

  3. Walk the path yourself first to check everything and place the milestones in the according distance next to the path so that participants will see them as they walk by. The milestones should preferably be placed on the road in advance (refer to the attached spreadsheet below to see where to place them according to the kilometres stated -4.5km or if you are doing a longer/shorter walk, calculate where you place the milestones according to the percentages given in the spreadsheet). If not possible to place them in advance, place the milestones as you walk on the road. Make sure that you know the way and will not be lost with the group.   

  4. Prepare yourself to speak about the milestones and what they mean. The information is in the attached file below.

  5. Prepare the group, give clear instructions about shoes and clothing if needed, check the weather forecast. You can even organize a picnic in the middle of the walk!

Support Files

Spreadsheet with the milestones



  • What were participants thinking during the exercise?

  • What time  period do humans take in the earth’s evolution compared to other periods?

  • What is the ratio between our time on the planet and the changes we bring?

Instructions for Submission

Upload 1 image from the Walk and submit a short summary about the most memorable discussions through the walk with the feedback on what was seen as the most interesting part of the exercise. Instructions on how to upload photos and how to submit things in Moodle can be found here: Instructions on Submission&Uploading

Instructions for Assessment

Provide feedback to at least one participant that has done this activity. Instructions on providing feedback can be found here: Instructions on Feedback

Related Topics

  • Outdoor Experiential Learning

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