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VoiceMap in Cape Town
Explore the Mother City (and the globe) with this immersive GPS audio walking tour app
“When you join a walking tour, you normally join a group. That group assembles at specific times, sometimes only once or twice a month”, reads the VoiceMap website. “[The tour] moves slowly too, because everybody has to gather up around a guide when he/she has something to say. If you stop — to take a photo, buy a bottle of water, or tie your shoelaces — you fall behind. If somebody else stops, you have to wait.”
This is not an uncommon experience when participating in a public walking tour. While at times it may be bearable, other times it can all be a bit too much. More often than not you lose sight of the tour’s true narrative focusing too much on either trying to keep up with the group or waiting for others to catch up.
Introducing VoiceMap; a GPS audio walking tour app. Eliminating all the above, VoiceMap gives you the freedom to explore your surroundings at your own pace while listening to a location-aware soundtrack. What’s more, you can start the walking tour at any time and pause whenever, wherever you want for as long as you like without even needing to hit the pause button. All you need is a smartphone/device, VoiceMap’s mobile app (available for iPhone and Android devices) and a pair of headphones. And you’re ready to go!
Originally founded by Iain Manley and Lauren Edwards, VoiceMap aims to take stories beyond the screen, connecting its listeners to a constellation of narrators ranging from tour guides, journalists, bestselling authors, locals and podcasters (and so many others!) Built by storytellers for storytellers, VoiceMap focuses on passionate people who have tales to tell, striving to emphasise personal perspectives through its tours, changing how people look at familiar places as well as altering perceptions of somewhere new.
“I spent a lot of time travelling”, Iain explains, “and what I found was that the best way to get a sense of a place in a hurry was when somebody from that area took you under their wing and said that they were going to show you their city. Not the city or a city that exists in an encyclopaedia, but their city.”
Recognising that more traditional tours don’t truly reflect the wide range of voices available to that specific area, Iain and Lauren wished to create a platform where that became possible: “We all have a Cape Town that exists in our eyes”, Iain continues, “and when I returned home I wanted to connect with the idea of multiple Cape Towns and the medium – smartphones readily available with GPS receivers and audio players – offered such a great [and easy] way of seeing a place through somebody else’s eyes.”
Using your smartphone’s GPS to play audio automatically (as well as offline maps) at exactly the right time and place, VoiceMap truly gives you the opportunity to explore an area at your own pace. Once you have downloaded your tour and hit the green start button, you can put your phone away (the audio track will give all the necessary directions) and relax – the track will play right on cue every time without you having to do a thing. Furthermore, should you turn astray; VoiceMap’s interactive offline map (which can be seen on the screen) will help you get back on track quickly and effortlessly.
With walks in over almost 70 cities worldwide – there are approximately 30 tours in the Mother City alone – and with more and more tours created each and every day, VoiceMap is a great way to explore a new area or your own hometown. Offering a wide range of journeys featuring different genres – think historical, comical and even sci-fi, in addition to many others – VoiceMap is ideal for the tourist and the local.
“VoiceMap is not just for tourists”, Iain emphasises. “It’s for everyone. Locals are given a whole new depth of understanding of a specific area that they didn’t have access to before. It’s kind of an invitation to somebody else’s neighbourhood with somebody else’s connection to it. I would say VoiceMap is like meeting up with a local from that specific area while you are travelling or exploring your city – it feels like you get to know the area personally.”
How The Walking Tour App Works:
- Download the VoiceMap app for iPhone or Android from your respective App or Play Store.
- Sign up with your email or your Facebook account.
- Select a city and then a tour of your choice. All tour scripts can be read online prior to purchasing the audio tour and a preview of the first three audio tracks is available as well.
- Tap on the red download button. Allow ALL the files to finish downloading before you close the app. Audio tours range between FREE and R199.99. You can pay using your iTunes and Google Wallet accounts.
- When the download is finished, the download button will change from red to green, and instead of seeing the price, you'll see the word "Start". Once at the tour’s starting point, put your headphones on, hit the green button and put your cell phone away – you’re ready to start exploring.
NOTE: Although VoiceMap uses your smartphone’s GPS system to pinpoint your exact location (location services and GPS must be active), the app works offline and doesn’t require any mobile data. Once the VoiceMap tour has been downloaded, you can revisit any of your tours at any time via voicemap.me as well as find full transcripts, satellite photography and interactive maps.
Create Your Own Audio Tour
What’s more, anyone anywhere can tell their story and create their own audio (walking, cycling, riverboat cruise or driving) tour using VoiceMap’s easy-to-use and free publishing tool. All authors are assigned a VoiceMap editor to help with the creating process and technology logistics. Audio tours can be created in three easy steps – map, write and record:
- Map: Map out your route in the choosen city/neighbourhood as well as give your map a title and price (this can be changed at any time). A VoiceMap editor will be assigned to the project.
- Write: Once your route has been mapped and all your locations plotted, it’s time to turn your map into an immersive story. Your editor can help you as little, or as much, as you’d like here as well as offer some handy advice and helpful tips. Submit your script to your editor.
- Record: Find a quiet room and record. Authors can record and edit the content themselves or can choose to send it to VoiceMap who will edit it for them.
Once published, the tour is available for purchase on the VoiceMap website as well as through the VoiceMap Android and iPhone app. Authors retain the copyright as well as choose the price of their tour. VoiceMap pays royalties of 50% when a tour is sold.
CAPE TOWN VOICEMAP TOURS YOU MUST EXPLORE
Bo-Kaap: The Village in the City
Led by Shereen Habib (whose family has lived in the Bo-Kaap for almost a century), this audio walking tour takes listeners on a deeply personal tour through the historical heart of the area. Look out for the Bo-Kaap Museum, Auwel Mosque and Tana Baru Cemetery along the way.
Duration: 20 – 40 min | 1.33km
Starting Point: 71 Wale Street (Bo-Kaap Museum)
NOTE: If you’re a woman, please bring a headscarf and be sure to dress appropriately (make sure your chest, shoulders and legs are covered) if you’d like to enter holy spaces.
Woodstock Street Art Walk
Passionate local artist, Rashied guides listeners through the busy streets telling the story of Woodstock art for the last time, just days before tragically passing away in a fire. Look out for the Woodstock Exchange building, Red Hand artwork, Rhino artwork, Zebra artwork and Woodstock Train Station.
Duration: 20min | 1.28km
Starting Point: Woodstock Exchange Building on Albert Street, Woodstock
NOTE: Be aware of your surroundings at all times and don’t carry any unnecessary valuables.
Mouille Point Promenade: A Maritime Meander
Author Justin Fox has lived in Mouille Point for over 15 years and has a deep passion for the seafront and surrounding area. The walking tour delves into the evocative history of shipwrecks, gun batteries, the early lighthouse and a tragic suicide. Look out for Fort Wynyard, Cape Town Stadium, Green Point Lighthouse, Serendipity Maze and Urban Park.
Duration: 51min | 3.33km
Starting Point: Corner of Haul and Beach roads – opposite Fort Wynyard and at the back of the Cape Town Stadium.
NOTE: Remember to carry a hat and sunscreen, especially during the hot Cape Town summer months.
An Exploration of Observatory
Storyteller Chris Parsons takes listeners on a personal journey through the bohemian suburb explaining what it was like to grow up in a space that actively encouraged alternative lifestyles and diversity. Look out for Heidelberg Tavern, Observatory World War II Memorial and the Observatory Recreation Centre.
Duration: 37min | 1.75km
Starting Point: In the parking lot outside Observatory Train Station, on the mountain side (at the bottom of Trill Road in Observatory).
NOTE: Stay aware at all times, don’t walk with unnecessary valuables and don’t start this route after 5pm.
Deon Meyer Mystery Day Tour
Take a tour through Cape Town's City Centre on the Deon Meyer Mystery Bus which is a 12 seater minivan to relive the thriller experiences of Deon Meyer's epic novels set in locations around Cape Town. The tour is guided by knowledgeable guides who will tell you the ins and outs o the novels and how Meyer came to write it that way. You will see beautiful views and are most likely to discover some new places to visit for the future.
Duration: 3 hours
Starting Point: Parking lot of the Grand Africa - near the V&A Waterfront.
Note: You will be in and out the minivan so we suggest you wear comfortable clothing
The Elfin Trail
The Elfin Trail is an immersive, fantasy-themed audio walking experience through the most beautiful and least-known forests and glades in Cape Town. Listeners will hear timeless stories, original music and natural sound effects while meeting elves, dragons, goblins, gnomes, fairies, centaurs, dryads and more along the way.
Duration: 77min | 5km
Starting Point: Parking lot of Cecilia Forest
NOTE: There are two picnic stops along the way – pack some snacks and water for the journey. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. The trail is child-friendly.
NOTE: VoiceMap has provided CapeTownMagazine.com readers with one FREE audio tour of their choice. Click the link: voicemap.me/share/capetownmagazine, fill in your details and once signed in claim your tour and explore!
Downloading Tip: Use Wi-fi to download your tour before you start. Although while listening to the audio track your location services and GPS must be active, VoiceMap works offline and no mobile data is used.
The Bill: VoiceMap audio tours range between FREE and R199.99 depending on the tour. You can pay using your iTunes and Google Wallet accounts.
Here is our experience of The Elfin Trail – VoiceMap’s first high-fantasy themed walking tour through the greenbelts of Constantia in Cape Town. Or if you’re looking for other cool apps in Cape Town, then check out our overview of Cool Cape Town Apps.
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