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See the Big Five on a virtual Safari with Google

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Nov. 15, 2017 - TelAve -- WATCH THE OFFICIAL VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki7mhJjpAI8&t=11s&list=PLbdQVuOQHFG47vyrKiF-P2CM5GMqrK_yZ&index=1

A team of nature-loving South Africans in partnership with Google Street View and and South African Tourism have released a large collection of 360-degree imagery of the country's wildest areas. The announcement showcases prominent tourist attractions such as Kruger National Park and Table Mountain, amongst others.

The new trails, extend the existing Street View imagery to include all 19 national parks, 17 previously 'un-trekked' nature reserves and many sites of natural and cultural significance.

More than 200 South African volunteers from across the country were involved in the 12-month project, mapping out the parts of South Africa that they call home. Many were SANParks, CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife rangers and guides. Others were avid hikers, nature-lovers and tech enthusiasts.

"The volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa," says Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google.

The team of volunteers was coordinated by loan program partner Drive South Africa. Andre Van Kets, founder of the Cape Town-based travel company, saw the potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to global tourists.

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"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," says Van Kets.

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.

Street View users can now walk in the footsteps of struggle icon Nelson Mandela, climb seven new trails to the top of Table Mountain, hike the famous five-day Otter Trail, or track cheetah on foot.

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Additionally, six of South Africa's UNESCO World Heritage Sites are now waiting to be experienced. Users can see Mapungubwe Hill, home to an ancient African civilisation and the Richtersveld with its arid moonscapes, for example.

"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.

To showcase the new Street View imagery, Drive South Africa has launched a microsite that gives would-be travellers a virtual experience of South Africa.

The microsite South Africa in 360 - inspired by a similar project showcasing the US National Parks - is an immersive VR-adventure through South Africa's top tourist destinations and a collection of its lesser-known gems. The site is a culmination of Street View imagery, video, photos and stories from the trail, offering viewers unique perspectives.

Melanie Esterhuizen: +27 76 091 8221
Andre Van Kets: +27 83 643 8833

Source: Drive South Africa

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