Israel National Trail now Online on Google Street View
SPNI is thrilled to announce that as of 24.1.16 the Israel National Trail is available on Google Street View so that nature lovers and hikers can virtually explore every foot of the trail through panoramic images.
The Israel National Trail is the longest trail (1,100 km) to be photographed in its entirety for Street View on Google Maps, and the first that stretches across the length of an entire country. The trail was mapped by young volunteers from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and Google Israel who spent more than 10 weeks hiking the trail while carrying the Google Street View ‘Trekker’ cameras.
The project was launched in April 2015 marking SPNI’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Israel National Trail and Google its 10th year in Israel. These two events resulted in this intriguing joint endeavor. The advantages of both parties were brought together: SPNI contributed the professional know-how, Google – the unique photographic capability and advanced technology.
For three months last summer, four volunteers from SPNI ("Shinshinim" - young men and women before their military service) and Google Israel hiked the trail to capture panoramic imagery, to make it accessible to anyone, anywhere and from any device. The 1,100 km trail (683 miles), selected by National Geographic as one of the world’s 20 most epic trails, was documented by two Google Street View Trekker cameras carried on the hikers’ backs.
An ordinary mapping day began at 5:30 in the morning, before first light, and ended not later than 11:00 AM, before the heat of the day. Over the course of the endeavor volunteers consumed 50 kilos of food, 1,200 liters of water and hiked in temperatures never dipping below 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). They trekked from 1,208 meters (3,963feet) above sea level at Mount Meron down to 195 meters (640 feet) below sea level at the Sea of Galilee - and met 48 camels along the way.
The volunteers used SPNI’s professional tools – hiking and trail marking maps. At the end of each day they arrived in one of SPNI’s many field schools, closely located near the Trail, from Dan to Eilat, in the heart of Israeli nature. Every day, they received useful assistance from the field schools’ guides, who in their own home court, helped the volunteers in planning their next steps.
The Israel National Trail was inaugurated by SPNI in 1995, a hiking trail blazed across the entire country. The trail begins in Kibbutz Dan in northern Israel and ends at SPNI’s Eilat Field School on the Red Sea. It passes through the Galilee, the Carmel region, along the Mediterranean coastline, Tel Aviv, Rosh Ha’ayin, , the Modi’in area, the Judean lowlands, archaeological sites at Bet Guvrin, the Negev wildernesses, the limestone and sandstone of the Ramon Crater, and through the Eilat Mountains. The Israel National Trail embodies the nature, landscape, heritage, tradition, religions and cultures that make up the kaleidoscope of modern Israeli society, making atrail hike an unforgettable experience.
Google’s Street View project was launched in May 2007 and is currently available in 66 countries on all seven continents. It allows users to virtually explore and navigate neighborhoods, historical areas and cultural sites through panoramic street-level images. Since this project began, photographs have been taken of over 9 million km of roads. The project began with pick-up trucks loaded with cameras, laser devices and GPS travelling throughout the world and has since expanded to include a large number of specially designed devices that can capture 360 degree views under diverse conditions. Besides the designated Street View Car, the Street View team has used snowmobiles, tricycles, trolleys and backpacks. More about the photography and technology behind Google Street View can be found here.
The Israel National Trail joins a long list of treks, nature and heritage sites that can be explored in Google Maps, including Khumbu Valleys at the foot of Mount Everest, the Colorado River, the Amazon, the Taj Mahal, and the Ancient Pyramids at Giza.
Google Israel Managing Director, Meir Brand: “We are proud that after much hard work, the Israel National Trail is joining some of the world’s greatest heritage and nature sites on Google Maps, like Petra, Machu Picchu,
the Taj Mahal and Loch Ness. This project brings the trail to anyone who wishes to explore it, from anywhere and on any device. In making this unique trail available to anyone to explore virtually, we hope many more people will discover the trail’s beauty and story.”
SPNI’s CEO, Kosha (Moshe) Pakman: “as of today, the Israel National Trail will be available to every citizen of Israel and the world. Everyone will be able to enjoy and appreciate Israel’s landscape and nature. There is no doubt that Google Street View will encourage hikers, both local and from overseas, to experience the trail not only through the screen but on foot as well. This will provide a firsthand impression of the natural vistas and cultural diversity the INT offers to those who walk along it, and as a result fall in love with it and take an active role in protecting it.”