Like most South Africans we absolutely love a road trip… you know, the family that hardly ever has a working car!!! And like most South Africans we would love to visit a real live Game Park… I know – so close and yet so very far. That doesn’t mean that we don’t know all about them and a couple of times a year my kids are quite used to me hauling out the maps and declaring a road trip. Winter is the best time for this, we arm ourselves with mugs of cocoa and plan a visit to a fabulous historical site, or an adventure in the great outdoors under African skies… We haul out the guidebooks and declaring a Safari Day…
Maps are spread all over the table and elaborate plans are made…
It is a great way to discover more about where we live: We plot and plan the route – the highways or byways; Where we will stay – camping or trailing; What we plan to pack, we firmly believe in packing ultra-light, and what we will eat… important details!!! But the most important reason for grabbing the guidebooks is to find out the local history and what we are going to see… because the whole point of exploring and setting out on such a wild adventure is to see what we can see… to discover things, wild and wonderful, beyond our own back yard.
Well last week I was invited by South Africa’s leading map creators, the Map Studio to show us their new ParkSpotter Africa App. Firstly they showed us all their fabulous map products, lots of amazing guide books… not to mention heaps of free downloads (look in the right hand column on their website). Really there is a guide for anything and anywhere… they are fabulous and full of detail… for real travellers and “curious cocoa loving round the table” travellers like us.
Adventures for every type of traveler…
But we were there to see the new app…
- A Guide Book on your iPhone or iPad: Specific to the park that you want to visit. You can download maps and loads of really detailed park information. The information can be updated often and easily. So, no out of date email addresses or phone numbers. The maps are reliable and updated to include new and additional information… the guidebook that just cannot go out of date.
- Not Internet Dependent: Because the information is downloaded to your device you need not worry about the common problem when you are way out in the countryside – of no internet. You can still read the map to find your way, you can access all the important information you need, even when there is no available internet access.
- Packed with Information:
- Visitor Information: Opening times, websites, phone numbers, email, who to contact.
- Accommodation Information: Luxury to well not-luxury!!! Bungalows, self-catering, camping… All the options and photographs to help you make a decision.
- Places of Interest: Famous historical and landmarks within the Game Park. Waterholes and viewing sites… along with information about the site and a map showing you where these features are in the park.
- Flora: Detailed photographs and interesting facts about trees and shrubs in the park.
- Fauna: A list of the most likely to be spotted reptiles, mammals and birds. Each animal has a photograph and paw-prints for identification purposes, a couple of interesting facts.
- Easy to Use: So easy… the central panel is the controls, where you will find what you are looking forward… click on accommodation you are after, a particular bird you would like to see, a picnic spot or a wild animal… Scroll to the left: to find additional information of any kind… packed with interesting facts and snippets of useful information… Scroll to the Right: There is always a map – showing you where to find what you are after… be that animals or spots to visit or rest parks…
- Create Your Own Spotters List: This is such a cool feature… you can photograph the animals/plants/birds and so on that you have spotted yourself. You can include a description and any information regarding your sightings, and geotag your sightings with the map. You can edit, and organise your list of sightings… and you can share them!!! Yes, share your sightings using social media… so tweet to your friends back home all that you spotted around the water hole at dawn!!! Not to mention creating your own life-list as you add to your sightings. Other folk in the park can make use of your sightings as well and can use the information to discover where to find and compare sightings.
- You Can Not Share Rhino Sightings: You know how badly we want to see a rhino!!! The plight of the rhino is just too precarious to share information… so when you try and share a rhino sighting you are gently invited to make a donation towards rhino conversation!!!
- You Get What You Pay For: You can download a demo app from the iTunes store, which allows you to upload up to ten sightings and get a good feel for the app. At present there is information available for five Southern African Game Parks: Kruger National Park (north); Kruger National Park (south); Etosha National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Addo Elephant National Park. The detailed information for each park is available for an in-app purchase at a reasonable fee.
- It is Fun: I thought we would be busy for about a morning, exploring the ins and outs of the app… turns out it is one of my kids’ favourite apps to visit and play around with… there is so much to look at and explore. The photographs are excellent, the information is interesting… and reading through the list of birds and animals is a quick and easy to way to learn more. The park details are accurate and allow the user to create a good idea of what the park really looks like.
And the se7en + 1th feature…
So we picked one of the game parks, loaded on the app, to “virtually visit” on a very rainy morning this past week. It was quite unanimous, everyone wanted to take a visit to the Game Park that is a sanctuary for a number of wild animals and especially elephants. Addo Elephant Park is in the Eastern Cape, close to Port Elizabeth and was established to protect the dwindling elephant community. Now it is the third largest Game Park in South Africa filled with a vast number of different wildlife and one of South Africa’s premier spots to visit. You can watch a video about the park at this link… it looks like an amazing place to visit.
And these are the animals my kids would most like to see if they ever visit the Addo Elephant Park: ranging from small mammal to birds, insects to the big five and an array of reptiles… lots of animals to visit and tons of places to explore and learn about.
So we may never get to use the wildlife ParkSpotter Africa App in the wild, but it really was useful and a fun way to help us to explore the game park from our kitchen table… And if we were going adventuring into one of the game parks on the app then it would be an essential tool to take with us.