Locals and tourists alike can now experience South Africa like never before thanks to Google Street View.
South Africa is the first country in Africa to receive Street View from Google, following in the footsteps of more than 50 US cities as well as large areas of Australia, Japan and Europe that are currently visible in Street View
Street View adds richness to the useful Google Maps, with its seamless 360? panorama of street-level images taken by the Google cars and trikes around the country.
The local version of Google Street View also provides users with opportunities to view and navigate panoramic images of celebrated attractions including the Kruger National Park and Blyde River Canyon. Google Street View has also captured all the 2010 soccer stadiums.
While privacy advocates have long complained about infringements by Street View, Google says it has gone to great lengths to safeguard privacy, and the tool only contains imagery that is already visible from public roads, and automatically blurs faces and licence plates. In addition, any user can easily flag images for removal that he or she considers inappropriate by clicking on the icon 'report a problem'.
Julie Taylor, Communications Manager for Google South Africa said: "This is a really exciting development for South Africans, who can now explore the country in new ways, whether a local neighbourhood or a coastal route they've never travelled along. But it's also going to be a massive bonus for the tourism industry, especially with all the international visitors on their way to South Africa in June for the 2010 FIFA World Cup TM."
Juliet Cullinan, one of South Africa's leading wine critics, agreed that the inclusion of the winelands in Street View was fitting: "The Cape winelands are internationally renowned and deemed an iconic part of South Africa's heritage. As the first winelands ever to be included in Google's cutting edge Street View initiative, wine-lovers all over the world can explore the beautiful estates of some of our leading producers."
Street View cars and trikes covered over 60 000 kilometres of roads across South Africa, including the following Cape wineries: Bouchard Finlayson, De Rust Estate, De Wetshof, Fairview, Jordan, Hamilton Russell, Klein Constantia, Meerlust, Morgenster, Rustenberg, Vilafonte and Warwick.
To access Street View in South Africa, visit http://maps.google.co.za.