There’s a beautiful new way to explore the best that Cape Point has to offer.
Launched right on the cusp of Tourism Month, there is now a free audio tour for intrepid explorers of the furtherest south.
It is simple, easy to use, and works its own charm into the already iconic surrounds.
The idea has taken roughly 18 months to germinate, from the idea form, to the free – and speedily downloadable VoiceMap app.
This works by tracking your path on GPS and – punctuated by perfect silences for you to breath in the fresh air and take in the sights – offers you a range of stories about the area, the fauna and flora, the history and the people who have a hand in maintaining the integrity of this landscape.
It is a light way of adding a new dimension to your exploration; either as a lone soul on a leisurely stroll to the lighthouse at the top, or as a family or group of travellers.
Best yet? It doesn’t replace the long-established guides who have been sharing secrets of the site for years. The stories that the audio tour shares are different to those that the guides tell, the two are actually perfect accompaniments; the silences between the audio tour stories provide time for conversation along the way, or contemplative silence.
It is easy too: simply download the tour before you leave home or your hotel, and, once there, plug in your earphones and push play.
For those of you who, are put off by advertisement-like prattle and overly sparkly upbeat voices, you are hereby invited to heave a sigh of relief. In the long list of voices and stories, only one was a little overzealous, even if well intentioned. The rest were perfectly natural, well modulated and pleasant speaking voices.
Audio stories have been gathered from locals, either residents or professionals, whose words can add to the visual experience.
There are stories about the Cape of Horns – how the Bontebok were nurtured from almost extinction to a healthy number on the reserve. There are stories about the lighthouses, and, of course, the tour would not be complete without a Cape of Storms story… but there are also stories about early migrants and about the funicular and ghostships.
The Cape Point has two tours on the app: riding the Flying Dutchman Funicular up, the Quick Tour leads you around the various top lookout points and up the steps to the old lighthouse, before heading back down the funicular; while the Full Tour meanders along the path to the top viewing points, up to the old lighthouse, down the lighthouse keeper’s walk and returns to the parking lot by the funicular.
On Wednesday, August 31, I was captivated by the synchronistic arrival at certain points with the voice, and a new story. It added a real depth to the experience, and between these points, I could either wander in silence or exchange some words along the way.
Also good to know, that by hitting the “Play Anyway” option you can listen to the tour even when you are not on the site.
“We are delighted at how the new audio tour enhances our visitors’ experience at Cape Point,” says Judiet Barnes, marketing manager of Cape Point Partnership. “The audio tour is mainly targeted at our self-drive visitors who aren’t accompanied by a tour guide. However it has been crafted to enhance all visits, even for those traveling in large tour groups.”
Ian Manley, CEO and co-founder of VoiceMap, says that free tours are sponsored by VoiceMap’s partners and that Table Mountain Cableway has a tour on top of one of the world’s seven natural wonders.
“Our other tours are published by independent storytellers who decide on a price themselves. This allows us to release a new walk with a new perspective every few days – in more than 60 cities across the world,” he says.
“Some stories are fictional with immersive soundscapes, others are by bestselling authors or conservational activists – and all of them are by storytellers who are passionate about their craft and the tour’s setting.”
He describes the tours as being like “podcasts that move with you to automatically tell stories about what you’re seeing in front of you”.
He says VoiceMap is also an open publishing platform that anybody can use to create a tour.
If the walk to the lighthouse seems a bit steep, access to the historical lighthouse, completed in 1859 and standing at 238m above sea-level, is gained by the Flying Dutchman funicular.
Its name is in memory of the Flying Dutchman ghost ship, rumoured to haunt the Cape Point waters. Oh – that’s a great story too. Don’t scoff until you’ve heard it.
Download the app for free from either Apple or Google Play App stores.
For more information visit www.capepoint.co.za or call the information centre on 021 789010/11.
* Because the signal in the park fluctuates, it is best to complete all downloads before arriving at Cape Point. South African citizens have free access to Cape Point during South African National Parks Week, from Monday September 12 to Saturday September 17; a perfect chance to try out the VoiceMap app.