You Can Now Tour Every South African National Park with Google Street View

south african national park
South African National Parks/Facebook
From cosmopolitan Cape Town to the wilds of Kruger National Park to the dramatic Drakensberg Range to  the world-class vineyards of Franschhoek, South Africa is amazing. However, for most Americans, the cost and logistics of a trip this stunning country aren’t realistic.

Thankfully, Google is doing what Google does best by “solving” that problem with technology. The company has just made every South African National Park — and scores of other points of interest throughout the country — viewable with Google Street View.

south africa Golden Gate Highlands National Park
South African National Parks/Facebook South African National Parks/Facebook

To pull this off, the tech giant partnered with over 200 volunteers, including some of South Africa’s most expert rangers and preeminent tour guides. Additional contributors included many tech-loving enthusiasts with a passion for the outdoors. (Side note: Google actively encourages anyone who’s interested to borrow their custom backpack and help map the world). Every member of the project was outfitted with a 50-pound backpack rigged with 15 integrated panoramic cameras. Gadgetry inside the high-tech pack used GPS tracking to follow the hiker’s precise location every step of the way. Every two seconds (about once every three feet), a 360-degree photo was snapped. Like Google’s car-driven Street View, the final batch of images was stitched together to create an immersive panoramic tour.

Seeds of the initiative date back to March 2016 when Google launched The Mzansi Experience. That project succeeded in mapping South Africa’s most popular tourist attractions, including Table Mountain, Cape Point, and Kruger National Park. This newly completed phase of the project adds all of South Africa’s 19 national parks, plus 17 uncharted nature reserves. In total, 170 new trails were photographed, totaling a walked distance of 560 miles (900 km). More than 230 points of interest were also added, so virtual hikers can now tackle multiple trails to the summit of Table Mountain, track African wildlife on foot, visit the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, and trek the popular Otter Trail.

All but one of South Africa’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites were mapped. The list includes trails on the Drakensberg Mountains, the rugged landscape of the Richtersveld, the civilizations of Mapungubwe Hill, and the country’s oldest UNESCO site at iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

This project joins a long and ever-growing list of already mapped world destinations. Courtesy of Google Street View, armchair travelers can already visit the U.S. National Parks, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, even the International Space Station.

Feature image courtesy of South African National Parks/Facebook.


BMW’s M850i xDrive Is Perfect for When the Road Is Long and the Pursuit Is Pleasure

BMW has been out of the grand touring game for some time but the rebirth of the 8 Series gives the brand an aspirational model it so desperately needs.

Witness the Bizarre Natural Beauty of Yosemite’s Annual ‘Firefall’ Event

Even frequent visitors to California's Yosemite National Park have likely never witnessed the annual “Firefall” event.

21 Best Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Adventure

Get out of town ... or just go to the library. Travel books simulate the sensations of sailing, sightseeing, and setting out to explore.

You Can ‘Find Yourself’ on these Ultra-Luxurious, Wellness-Inspired Tours

It's so much easier to "find yourself" amid Egyptian cotton sheets and daily spa treatments.

4 of the Most Dangerous Hikes in the World

You'll need a healthy dose of fear and a desire to push your self to the edge — just not over it.

‘App in the Air’ Could Help Travelers Survive the Next Government Shutdown

It's like an airport survival kit in your pocket. It will be handy long after the government shutdown ends (again).

10 Reasons to Visit Norway in 2019

The picturesque ruggedness of Norway is just part of the appeal of what may arguably be one of the most beautiful countries on the planet.

The Palms Casino’s Newest High-Roller Suites Have a Bowling Alley and Whiskey Room

The Hardwood Suite is a basketball-centric masterpiece, while the Kingpin suite is a bowling bro's paradise.

Celebrate Your Single-ness This Valentine’s Day with a Cheap Vacation

Contiki is looking to make solo celebrations even better with deeply discounted travel packages for Singles Awareness Day.

Win a Private Island Getaway for You and 7 of Your Closest Friends

Bring the entire squad on an ultra-luxe Belizean getaway worthy of a one-percenter.

The Jamaican Villa Where Ian Fleming Created James Bond is for Rent and It Is Amazing

You can vacation at the birthplace of secret agent 007, complete with butlers to make your martinis.

PlugVan Converts Most Vans Into Full-Fledged Campers in 5 Minutes

Your van can be backcountry-ready for the weekend and back to work Monday morning.

Enjoy a Different Kind of Island Life at this Private Scottish Escape

Eilean Shona is a self-described, lakefront “Neverland” where visitors are encouraged to appreciate the lost art of sitting still and doing nothing.

Travel Switzerland Like a Gentleman Aboard the Luxury Glacier Express

You can sip cognac like a sophisticate aboard Europe's most iconic and breathtaking rail journey.