Explore Gombe National Park through the eyes of Dr. Jane Goodall

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 7:00 AM


In July 1960, Dr. Jane Goodall stepped off the boat in what is now Gombe National Park, Tanzania with a pair of second-hand binoculars and a notepad. She was 26 years old, and was there to observe and record the behavior of chimpanzees in the wild. This summer, after four planes and a boat ride, I took my first (wobbly) steps onto the shores of Lake Tanganyika. I was about to walk the same paths that Dr. Goodall took to do her groundbreaking research into the lives of chimpanzees. And now—thanks to a Google Maps partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute and Tanzania National Parks—so can you.



We were invited to Gombe National Park to capture a record of this historic place, where today the Jane Goodall Institute manages the longest-running chimpanzee research study in the world. It was here that Dr. Goodall first witnessed chimpanzees fishing for termites using a blade of grass as a tool to dig them out of their mounds. Using tools was an act previously believed to be unique to humans. Her observations revolutionized our understanding of chimpanzees—animals that share 98 percent of our DNA—and redefined the very notion of “human.” More than 50 years later, protecting chimpanzees and their habitat is central to the mission of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI).


Pushing through the brush, carrying the Street View Trekker, we collected thousands of 360 degree images along the narrow paths of the park to share with the world. We first stopped at a location Jane calls “The Peak”—her favorite vantage point. I could imagine her looking out over the canopies, peering tirelessly through her binoculars, writing in her notebook, and observing these beautiful animals as they swung through the trees.


In the spirit of preservation, the Institute plans to use Gombe Street View as a unique archive of this special place, available to future generations of researchers. This imagery complements JGI’s current monitoring efforts using satellite imagery and mapping to protect 85 percent of the remaining chimpanzees in Africa. Young people will also be inspired to explore the wild through the 360 degree imagery as part of JGI’s educational program, Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots.

This Street View collection is our small contribution to the already rich legacy of science and discovery at Gombe. Wherever you are, take a moment to experience what it’s like to be Jane for a day: peek into her house, take a dip in Lake Tanganyika, spot the chimp named Google and try to keep up with Glitter and Gossamer.

We hope you enjoy exploring this living laboratory for yourself!


Special thank you to Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Lilian PinteaBill WallauerDr. Anthony Collins and many more members of the Jane Goodall Institute in the United States and Tanzania, as well as TANAPA, for all of the knowledge and time they contributed to this project.

Roam the Arabian desert with Street View

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 11:00 PM


Imagine sitting atop a camel looking across a vast expanse of desert dunes. A glimmer of green flashes in the distance. It could be a mirage or a bountiful oasis just awaiting your discovery. Now with Google Maps, you can see for yourself and journey across the sands of the Liwa Desert, one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world.



On your virtual trip through the desert, you’ll find sand dunes that reach an astounding height of 25-40 meters. These rolling sandy hills were home to early settlers back in the Late Stone Age, making Liwa one of the oldest sites in the United Arab Emirates.


Some of the richest history in this desert lies in the Liwa Oasis—the largest oasis in the Arabian peninsula. Many people across the UAE can trace their origins to the first tribes that settled there and established the region as a trade center. The oasis is also home to date farms, whose trees and fruit are important cultural symbols—the trunks of the palms were used to weave the walls of Bedouin tents, baskets and more, while the fruit was a treasured treat for the locals. Now, the oasis is a sought out location for tourists around the world and those who live in the area.


To bring this stunning desert to Street View, we fashioned the Trekker to rest on a camel, which gathered imagery as it walked. Using camels for the collection allowed us to collect authentic imagery and minimize our disruption of this fragile environment.

Street View Trekker mounted on a camel

We hope this collection gives you a glimpse of what it may be like to travel the desert as caravan merchants have for the past 3000 years. Should you make the journey here in person, who knows—you may meet some new friends. To see more, visit our Street View gallery.

Make your own way with the new My Maps

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 8:30 AM


As temperatures cool down, you might be searching for your next warm vacation spot. Starting today, you can get a little inspiration by going to Google Maps Gallery and browsing publicly shared custom maps of all types. Just look up sunny “Los Angeles” to find the best hiking trails, street art, breweries and more to do in La-La Land. And, for those of you who are actually looking forward to the winter, see what ski options others have recommended, with the maps they created of their favorite slopes and resorts.


An insider’s take on the best views and paths of Cahuenga Peak, Los Angeles—including a walk to the Hollywood sign!

Once you’re done daydreaming, plan out your own trip with the new My Maps (previously Google Maps Engine Lite), adding images, descriptions, custom icons, and place details along the way. Make sure to download the My Maps Android app so you can also view your map or make a change on the go, or check out others’ maps while you’re on your way. Did you plot out the perfect vacation? Share it publicly so others can get inspired, too—or if you prefer, keep your secret spots safe by setting your map to private or by sharing with a lucky few.

With these tools for exploration in hand, you can find and create maps for anything you’re interested in—like a collection of Sherlock Holmes’ famous haunts, or global tributes to Nelson Mandela. The possibilities are pretty much endless—students have photographed and mapped a city’s public art installments, authors have laid out their stories’ locations on the map, and activists have plotted out shelters and distribution centers during emergency situations.

Find Nelson Mandela tributes, speeches and more in Maps Gallery

If you’ve already been creating custom maps with classic My Maps, today you can upgrade all your content to the new My Maps, and enjoy these new options. You can import spreadsheets, easily include images and YouTube videos, and organize your locations and routes however you want.

By the end of this year, all maps created in classic Google Maps will automatically upgrade to the new My Maps, but to get started right away, open up the new My Maps and “Upgrade now,” then check out the tour—found in the settings menu—for tips on creating your own custom content.

Where will your map take you?

Posted by Heather Folsom, Product Manager, My Maps

Take your dream trip to Mexico with Google Maps

Monday, September 15, 2014 at 4:00 AM


The famed author Gabriel García Márquez once said: "In Mexico, surrealism runs through the streets. Surrealism comes from the reality of Latin America.” So today, we invite you to embark on a dreamlike journey of more than 60 new sites that take you through Mexico’s culture and geography with Street View. These are places where ancient civilizations merge with modern-day structures and lush jungles, and where remote deserts and beaches stretch neverending towards the horizon.

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you; the magic is real in places like Holbox, where big resorts and tourist traps seem to be a world away. You can leave your worries behind and make new friends while snorkeling the clear, blue waters.


Mexico has a rich heritage of religion and tradition. Explore the country’s sacred sites, like the Catedral de Merida, one of the oldest cathedrals in North America, and the remains of the Museo Ex Convento de Tepoztlán, which was first built for the Dominican friars in 1555.


As we approach the end of our virtual tour, it’s a good time to take a look at the iconic monumental clock in Pachuca, Hidalgo. Close to Mexico City, this former mining town witnessed the country’s history from the pre-Hispanic empire to today’s modern republic.


This imagery from across Mexico is the latest of our Street View Collections, in which we capture the world’s natural, cultural and historic legacy for you to explore. Now pack your virtual sandalias, grab your digital sunglasses, and discover Mexico’s history with Street View on Google Maps!

Walk like an Egyptian with Street View in Google Maps

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 2:00 AM


Candlelight flickering on a stone wall covered in hieroglyphs. A proud queen brought low by the bite of a snake. Reeds rustling along a river, waiting to be turned into papyrus, or maybe a basket. The civilization of ancient Egypt stood for thousands of years and left behind a rich legacy of architecture, art, medicine, politics, culture and more. Today, it looms large in our imagination as the home of Cleopatra, Ptolemy, Tutankhamun, people who worshipped cats as gods and buried their embalmed dead in tombs filled with treasures and sustenance for the afterlife.

Now the Egypt of your imagination can be brought to life with new Street View imagery in Google Maps, and you can take a virtual walk among the stunning monuments and rich history of this ancient civilization.

Start where most tourists do: at the Pyramids of Giza, which rise from the vast expanse of the Sahara like man-made mountains. Just kilometers from the bustling, modern city of Cairo, the Pyramids have stood for nearly 5,000 years, a testament to the ingenuity and ambition of the ancient Egyptian people.



The Giza Necropolis is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, and is home to the last standing wonder of the ancient world: the Great Pyramid. Built as a tomb and a symbol of eternity for the Pharoah Khufu, it stands 139 meters high (the height of the world’s highest roller coaster!) and was the tallest man-made structure on Earth for 3,800 years. Look beyond it to the west, and you’ll see the pyramids of Khafre and Menkaure, built by Khufu's son and grandson.


Now turn east to the Great Sphinx, the oldest and largest known monumental sculpture in the world. With the body of a lion and the head of a human, it measures a grand 73 meters long and 20 meters high. Literally translating to “Father of Dread,” this mythical creature is believed to resemble Pharaoh Khafre, who was the ruler at the time of construction.


In addition to the Giza Necropolis, you can explore The Pyramid of Djoser, the ancient site of the world’s very first Pyramid designed by the great Egyptian Architect Imhotep in the ancient burial ground of Saqqara.

Other sites you can check out on your virtual tour include: Abu Mena, one of the oldest sites of Christianity in Egypt—the church, baptistry, basilicas and monasteries; the Hanging Church, one of the oldest Coptic Churches in the world; the Cairo Citadel, a medieval Islamic fortification and historic site; and the Citadel of Qaitbay, a 15th-century defensive fortress on the Mediterranean coast.

If wandering through the imagery of these historical sites has piqued your interest in Egyptology, head over to the Google Cultural Institute, where you can explore the treasures of ancient Egypt through a series of drawings, historic photographs and artifacts from the famed sites.

The Pyramids of Giza have survived nearly five millennia and are the planet’s oldest man-made wonder. Now their legacy—and the legacy of many other sites of ancient Egyptian culture—are preserved in a new way with panoramic and immersive Street View imagery. We hope you’ll take a moment to step back in time and explore what was once known as the Gift of the Nile.