Can Google project help raise awareness of Amazon deforestation?
Google has taken its Street View technology to the Amazon to create virtual tour of the rainforest
Those heading off to see the Amazon rain forest on tours of South America can now whet their appetite ahead of their trip thanks to the new Google Street View Amazon project.
The web search giant has applied the same technology it uses to allow people to navigate towns and cities on Google Maps to virtually recreate a tour of the Amazon.
And while there is obviously no substitute for the real thing, the project could give people the opportunity to explore the Amazon's forests, waterways and even villages from the comfort of their own home.
Using camera-mounted three wheeled bicycles, a Google team took photos along the Rio Negro in Brazil last year which were then stitched together and uploaded onto Google Maps to create a virtual tour of the region.
Included are images from Tumbira, the largest community in the Rio Negro Reserve, and other communities along the river.
"Take a virtual boat ride down the main section of the Rio Negro, and float up into the smaller tributaries where the forest is flooded," Google Street View Amazon project leader Karin Tuxen-Bettman said in a blog post.
"Stroll along the paths of Tumbira, the largest community in the Reserve, or visit some of the other communities who invited us to share their lives and cultures.
Enjoy a hike along an Amazon forest trail and see where Brazil nuts are harvested. You can even see a forest critter if you look hard enough."
It is also hoped that the project, which was created in partnership with Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), will help to raise awareness of deforestation and sustainability issues in the Amazon region.
"It is very important to show the world not only the environment and the way of life of the traditional population, but to sensitise the world to the challenges of climate change, deforestation and combating poverty," FAS project leader Gabriel Ribenboim told AFP.