A new way to see national parks

Posted on November 4th, 2010 in General,New Content by Alta

One of the exciting new features of Google Earth 5.2 (the newest version of Google Earth released in May) is the ability to turn any GPS track into a quick tour.

This was great news for us! Over the last year, dozens of MAPA volunteers have crossed the African continent to map national parks and other protected areas, taking pictures and logging waypoints and tracks as they went along. Up until now we haven’t really had a good way to share these experiences with you, but thanks to the ability to turn tracks into tours almost with the click of a button, we can now fly you along our adventures through selected National parks.

To give you a feel for this, we’ve added the first of these quick tours to the layer – for Iona National Park in south-western Angola.  Iona is definitely not Africa’s most accessible or charismatic park – save for a few Gemsbok, Ostrich and – if you’re lucky – Springbok, you’re unlikely to find any big game here.  But with Olive Ridley turtles surfing the crocodile-infested Foz de Kunene, ancient Welwitchia mirabilis littering the lunar-like landscapes that make up the north of the Park and the rugged “striped” mountains and nomadic Himba villages of the east, it still has plenty of charm.

To play the tour, simply click on the “click here to see more” button at the top of the Google Earth bubble, and then click on the track icon in the side panel (as shown below). We’ve included photographs of our visits to the north-eastern stretch to Iona, so as you drive along the landscape, feel free to stop the tour and have a look for yourself. Want to create a tour with your own GPS-tracks? See here for more, or have a look at our step-by-step guidefor the the Iona track.

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We’d like to hear your feedback on this feature – do you find it helpful and interactive? And which parks would you like us to add next? Please let us know!

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