170 New Trails in South Africa Mapped On Google Street View
Discover South Africa’s ‘Un-Trekked’ Nature Reserves
The first question any active traveler will ask upon arrival to their destination is: “Are there any trails around here?”
Whether off the beaten track or on a manicured path, avid runners, cyclists, hikers and adventure-seekers will take to Google to discover parks nearby.
Countries like South Africa intrigue nature lovers because of the variety of wildlife, warm climate, oceans and mountains within it.
In 2017, a group of over 200 volunteers in partnership with Google Street View and South African Tourism unveiled a collection of 360-degree images of the country’s wildest areas, and 170 new trails in South Africa’s national parks and reserves. The project was an extension from The Mzansi Experience that launched in March, 2016.
The project forms part of Google’s Street View Camera Loan Program, which encourages anyone to apply to borrow the 360-degree camera technology and help map the planet.
The team of volunteers was coordinated by loan program partner, Drive South Africa. Andre Van Kets, outdoor enthusiast and founder of the Cape Town-based travel company, saw the potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to travelers across the globe.
“The Trekker camera is a 22kg custom-made backpack fitted with 15 cameras pointing in all directions. The on-board technology plots the camera’s exact location on the trail. While recording, the camera takes a 360-degree photo every two-seconds. It’s basically the off-road equivalent of Google’s Street View cars,” says Van Kets.
Many of the South African volunteers involved in the 12-month project were SANParks, CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife rangers and guides. Others were avid hikers, nature-lovers and tech enthusiasts.
“The hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa through their participation in the loan program,” says Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google.
The new trails extend the existing Street View imagery of South Africa’s wilderness to include all 19 national parks, 17 previously ‘un-trekked’ nature reserves and many sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in all nine provinces of South Africa.
“For the first time, travellers and wildlife lovers from across the globe, can explore the full spectrum of South Africa’s diverse wilderness areas on Google Maps and Street View,” said Sisa Ntshona, CEO of South African Tourism.
“Technology is profoundly influencing how travellers interact with the tourism and hospitality ecosystem, from booking online, sharing experiences on social media.
In the technology sphere, insights and research-based knowledge will help drive innovation,” he added.
Street View users can now walk in Nelson Mandela’s footsteps, climb seven new trails to the top of Table Mountain, hike the five-day Otter Trail, track cheetah on foot and walk with elephant and other wildlife.
Watch the YouTube video that summarizes the Street View South Africa project here.
For more information on the trails, visit Discover South Africa.