You can now ‘hike’ SA’s most scenic routes without leaving your couch
- There is an increasing number of virtual travel options popping up online.
- Museums are offering tours of virtual exhibits, Broadway shows are streaming online and webcams are broadcasting a wide range of scenic views that we are not yet allowed to see in real life.
- If you have a propensity of more physical outdoor activities, you can also go on walks along some of South Africa's most scenic routes.
- For mores stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
With most of the world currently indoors under coronavirus-induced lockdowns, travel, and in some countries like South Africa, even outdoor walks and hikes, remain a distant dream.
But there are an increasing number of virtual travel options popping up online. Although they may not replace the real thing, they may at least satiate some of the urge to travel for the time being.
Museums are offering tours of virtual exhibits, Broadway shows are streaming online, and webcams are broadcasting a wide range of scenic views that we are not yet allowed to see in real life.
If you have a propensity for more physical outdoor activities, though, you can also go on virtual walks along some of South Africa's most scenic routes. Although they will not exercise more than your index finger, they might help you relive memories of the outside world, or dream up a post-lockdown adventure.
Many of the virtual hikes are courtesy of a partnership between Google and South African Tourism - and they allow you to summit Lion's Head, walk the famous Otter Trail, and even embark on a walking safari through the Kruger National Park.
More than 200 volunteers participated in this 12-month collaboration. They walked the country's most famous and a handful of previously-documented routes with custom backpacks fitted with Street View technology.
The cameras, which anyone can apply to loan, weigh 22kg and have 15 lenses. They take one 360 degree photograph every two seconds, and pinpoint the exact location of the shot.
These are some of the best virtual walks you can take in South Africa without leaving the comfort of your couch. To take advantage of all the features, it is best to use Google's Chrome browser.
If you are missing your regular walks up Table Mountain, there is a full virtual tour of the arduous hike up Platteklip Gorge - although getting to the summit of Table Mountain by clicking alone may actually be more frustrating than the real thing.
Instead, you can skip right to the views at the summit of Table Mountain.
Or hop aboard the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway - courtesy of a 360 degree video of the journey up.
Otherwise, take it all in from a distance, atop Lion's Head. There is a Street View route mapped out of the whole hike.
And a stunning 360 degree view from the summit.
There is also the option to amble many a Capetonian's favourite weekend route, the Pipe Track.
Or even to head on a hike up Chapman's Peak.
There are also several scenic walks mapped out at Cape Point.
And a long, isolated beach walk at Noordhoek.
Kirstenbosch is also included - and you can take in the incredible views from the Boomslang Tree Canopy Walkway.
Parts of South Africa's Garden Route, a favourite among international travellers, are also available to tour virtually.
There is a magnificent view of Knysna from the famous Knysna Heads - including the ability to pan across the tranquil Knysna Lagoon and Leisure Island.
Further along the Garden Route, you can walk across the famous bridge at Storm's River.
And even follow every jarring step of the world famous Otter Trail, including the notorious Bloukrans River crossing.
Volunteers also mapped several popular hikes in the Drakensberg. Among them, you can explore Tugela Gorge, famous for its waterfalls and spectacular views.
And even take in the famous view of Giant's Castle.
As well as Cathedral Peak.
Kruger National Park
There is also a comprehensive collection of virtual tours spanning the Kruger National Park.
Volunteers walked several of the park's famous wilderness trails, including Mathikithi, with a trip up Mpondo Hill for unspoilt views of central Kruger.
The Pafuri Walking Trail in the far north.
A walk around an elephant's graveyard close to Letaba Rest Camp.
And the scenic Sweni Walking Trail, which traverses the flat lands and river beds near Satara Rest Camp.
There is also a virtual tour of a private walk led by Rhino Walking Safaris.
If the walking seems like too much effort, most of the main roads within the Kruger National Park are also immortalised in virtual tours.
You can take a drive up north to Crook's Corner, where Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa meet.
Or, just cruise along the wildlife-rich Lower Sabie Road, where you can stop in for a coffee break at the Nkhuhlu picnic spot.
And then continue on your way, as you scour the bushes for signs of animals, pretending like everything is as it should be.
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