Google Sightseeing Safari

Friday, 9th November 2007 by

There have been many creatures found on Google Earth, but the most impressive ones are mostly there as part of the National Geographic African Megaflyover Project, which brought us thousands of super-high-resolution aerial photographs of Africa. So to highlight the best, today we’re going on Google Sightseeing Safari!

Let’s start with the basics: many of the animals we can see in Africa are of course working animals, like this large flock of sheep, these forlorn looking donkeys, and an absolute plethora of cows, goats, camels, and people filling up at a well.

We can do much better than this though – out in the wild, things start to get a lot more exciting.

Firstly we can see a small group of Gazelles caught mid-leap in the desert of Chad, and there’s obviously been a few passing this way – look how many hoof-prints they’ve left in the sand! Also caught leaping (but through a river), are a large group of Red Lechewe in Zambia.

Again in Chad, but out on the savannah this time, we find this wonderful image of a small family of Elephants huddling together to protect their young. Presumably from the terrifying machine flying overhead…

Out on the plain in Mozambique we can see a portion of what must have been a fairly enormous herd of Buffalo, again presumably fleeing from the plane above them.

Thanks to the exceptional resolution of these images, the animals don’t have to be as big as the 1.7 metre high African Buffalo to be spotted. In a swamp in Mali, there’s a great image of a Giant Stork flapping lazily around. Just to the south there’s actually one perched in a mangrove, and lots of other birds have been caught on the wing elsewhere in Mali.

Not all the birds found are own their own though – on the coast of Mozambique there’s a stunning image of a huge flock of Pink Flamingos taking off (perhaps they were startled by this small boat to the north?).

To Zambia now, where we can see some lovely chubby little baby hippos and even better, in Tanzania we can see a pod of hundreds of hippos wallowing in the mud, which is a truly incredible sight.

Here’s another shot of the same hippos in the mud1, but this time we can more clearly see that’s there’s actually a dead hippo lying on the bank, being feasted on by vultures.

Hippos tend to share their pools and rivers with other creatures – particularly crocodiles, and nearby to yet another pod of hippos we can see the unmistakable silhouette of a crocodile just under the water. Next to the first hippos we found, there’s another crocodile, just chilling out on the bank.

Finally, although not being the kind of animals you’d traditionally expect to see while on safari, these images of seals on the coast of Namibia are too good not to include!

And here ends the great Google Sightseeing Safari. Of course this is only the beginning as there are more than 500 Megaflyover images to explore in Google Earth! Reggie98 at the Keyhole foums has been categorizing all of the animals to be found in them.

To see all the Megaflyover images, open “Gallery” in the Layers sub-panel (bottom-left) and enable the National Geographic Layer. You’ll see little red aircraft symbols appearing all over Africa, and each of these will take you to a hi-res shot of the area. Also, here’s a link to download a kml file which details many of the hundreds of undocumented images that form part of this enormous and stunning collection.

Thanks to all of the people at the Keyhole forums who helped me find these fascinating images! For more background on the project, visit the official Megaflyover and National Geographic pages.

  1. It would seem that this same image has been rotated and placed in a different area by mistake.