200 Volunteers Help Put SA’s National Parks on Google Street View

A team – including 200 South African volunteers – has mapped the best of the country’s wild landscapes – including its most prolific parks and the botanical wonders it offers – as part of an exciting launch with Google Street View called South Africa 360. (See awesome videos below.)

Google Street View screenshot of Lanner Gorge, in the far north of South Africa’s Kruger Park. The image was captured in August 2016 by a volunteer wearing the Google Trekker, a backpack camera that goes where Google Street View cars cannot. The region is known for it’s prolific birdlife, and it’s big game like Elephants and Buffalo. Walking in the region is only permissible with qualified rangers.

The team of passionate South Africans in partnership with Google Maps have trekked the length and breadth of South Africa to map over 160 trails, six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and all 19 National Parks, in what is touted to be the largest 360-imagery collection of this country’s wildest regions.

The team took over 250,000 photographs and trekked more than 59,000 km of terrain… which is sure to attract local and international tourists to explore the country’s incredible trails and natural heritage.

Google Street View screenshot of the infamous chainladders, a daunting part of the Tugela Falls Hiking trail in South Africa’s Drakensberg Mountains. The image was captured in September 2016 by a volunteer wearing the Google Trekker, a backpack camera that goes where Google Street View cars cannot. The Drakensberg Mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage Site of both cultural and natural significance.

Even though just missing the famous Namaqualand wild flower show, the team’s 8-month journey through the country’s wild landscapes saw them encountering incredible botanical scenes that would make any enthusiast envious. Some highlights of excellent destinations trekked, include:

  • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
  • iSimangaliso Wetland Park
  • Richtersveld National Park
  • West Coast National Park
  • Garden Route National Park
  • And many more…

The incredible imagery has now been made available in a highly interactive microsite called, South Africa in 360 and uses VR-technology to showcase the 360-imagery from the Google Trekker camera in what can be described as a virtual tour of South Africa.

The project and microsite was envisioned by Andre van Kets, co-founder of local travel company Drive South Africa who saw the potential in the VR-technology to showcase South Africa to global travellers, as it’s never been seen before.

Google Street View screenshot of the Penguins at Boulders Beach, in Simon’s Town, South Africa. The image was captured in June 2016 by a volunteer wearing the Google Trekker, a backpack camera that goes where Google Street View cars cannot.

It forms part of Google’s Trekker Loan Program which encourages anyone to apply to borrow the 360-degree camera technology and help map the planet. The core team were assisted by more than 200 South African volunteers from all walks of life, during the eight-month exploration.

Google Street View screenshot of the Wodehouse trail in Golden Gate Highlands National Park in South Africa’s Free State province. The image was capture in September 2016 by volunteers wearing the Google Trekker backpack camera.

“The 360-images that were captured by the 22kg Google Trekker camera, was supported by amazing drone footage, photographs and videos painstakingly taken by our team. South Africa in 360 aims to create a new window into our country and our interactive microsite not only uses Google’s technology to promote tourism, but also highlights the pride that South Africans have in their land,” said van Kets.

Watch Discover South Africa with Google Street View Videos