Sure, you can drive from Gauteng to Cairo without using Tracks4Africa, but why would you want to? This proven, homegrown GPS mapping solution tells overlanders exploring Africa everything they need to know. From routable, turn-by-turn directions, to advice on virtually every aspect of your journey, this community-based navigation platform has you covered. Here's why using Tracks4Africa's GPS Africa Map 16.10 makes sense, and why you should never travel far from home without it. Cruising down a scenic dirt track in a well kitted out 4x4, camping under the stars surrounded by wild critters and experiencing Africa's hard-to-reach natural wonders up close and personal – this is the stuff dedicated overland travellers dream of. However, fun travel fantasies evaporate fast when you're stuck with the harsh reality of a dry fuel tank in the middle of nowhere. Come to think of it, running out of precious drinking water won't help you much, either. The reality is negotiating the hurly-burly world of our northern neighbours (with their minimal infrastructure, poor roads and vast, wild open spaces between towns) can be a challenge – especially for those heading off on private adventures, inadequately prepared. It goes without saying, before waving goodbye to loved ones and roaring off towards the great dusty yonder, there are many aspects of overland travel for the smart traveller to consider. Which is the best route? Is this a safe spot to set up camp? Where's the next fuel stop? Do they have a mechanic? And, if the erm, the sh*&# seriously hits the fan, which emergency numbers should I call? The best way to find answers to pertinent questions like these is easy – simply ask others who've braved the route before you. After all, they know the lay of the land, which campsites suck and where you can always find a cold beer. And the best way to tap into this ever-growing pool of collective African travel wisdom? You guessed it, via Tracks4Africa. Information, the key to safe travel That Tracks4Africa (T4A) provides reliable, routable GPS map coverage of all the major overland routes through Africa is widely known. But there's much more to this popular mapping platform than just accurate turn-by-turn directions and an impressive list of POIs – it also provides a wealth of invaluable information to help keep you safe and on-track. One of T4A's founding members, Johann Groenewald, explains: “The way we see it, four dimensions go into creating an accurate navigational picture. GPS waypoints provide only one dimension. GPS waypoints and tracks offer two. Geo-features such as rivers, lakes, mountains and contour lines add the third. And information, the most critical aspect of this concept, is the fourth.” This makes sense; an accurate GPS map may get you to your destination, but only information can keep you, your travel companions and vehicle safe from harm along the way. And, as far as the environment goes, the last thing any of us want to do it expose it to unnecessary risk due to our own ignorance. Here's one example, found on Tracks4Africa's Website, were having some local knowledge can prevent a serious accident or injury: The Himba cattle in northern Namibia have adapted over the centuries to feed as far as 35km away from water – returning to drink only every second day when heat and dehydration all but overcome them. This return usually occurs at nightfall or after dark. During the last 5 km, when the scent of water is picked up by the herd, the thirsty animals often stampede towards the waterhole. As you can imagine, this local dynamic has potentially lethal implications for any unsuspecting overnight bush campers. Community mapping The latest map set from Tracks4Africa is available for all Garmin map capable devices. Mapping the remote parts of Africa accurately, reliably and in an ecologically correct manner is impossible to do using conventional mapping methods (think tracing from official maps and satellite imagery). It requires extensive GPS field mapping projects on the ground. And, given that rural Africa is a dynamic place – with roads constantly changing every rainy season – the same areas require re-mapping on a regular, ongoing basis. It's a prohibitively costly exercise and the reason why none of the big global mapping companies has got in on the action. But what was considered a headache for the big boys proved to be a boon for Tracks4Africa and their loyal band of voluntary contributors – allowing them to achieve “informally” what those with deep pockets never could. Says Groenewald: “Constructing an eco-map is a ground zero mission and, at best, the job can only be done by experienced eco-travellers – people with a passion for Africa and its conservation. There is only one way to map Africa accurately, reliably and environmentally correctly. That is to put the responsibility for the collection of data in the hands of experienced and responsible eco-travellers who understand the conditions at ground zero.” In fact, the T4A Data Community is the very foundation of Tracks4Africa – it's the source of all their GPS data, information and professional advice, guidance and inspiration. And, embedded in the T4A Community is an eco-consciousness and value system that practically rules everything they do. Participation is purely voluntary and anyone can get involved, all Tracks4Africa asks that you adhere to their strict guidelines clearly spelt out on their Website. The amount of information T4A regularly receives from contributors going about their travels is staggering – from detailed GPS-derived “breadcrumb” trails that show the precise roads and tracks traversed by the user, to where the best shops are and what you can do once at your destination. Groenewald elaborates: “Thanks to our T4A Community we have an incredibly rich set of points of interest which is absolutely relevant to the independent traveller in Africa. Our maps cover more than 156 000 points of interest, ranging from activities and attractions to fuel stops and emergency services. We also have accommodation such as hotels, guest lodges, backpackers as well as the most comprehensive listing of campsites in Africa.” Padkos, a stand-alone portal on Tracks4Africa's Website, is another important resource for travellers wanting to get the real low-down on destinations they intend to visit. Here, content such as photos, descriptions and comments corresponding to each POI on the T4A maps can be uploaded by users – providing those reading the posts with a realistic impression of what to expect and better plan their trips. You can even search the Tracks4Africa Live Maps from your web browser. Out with the old, in with the new Because the African continent is in a constant state of flux, T4A updates their maps twice a year – first in May then October. The release number of each map corresponds with the release date. For instance, the latest version, 16.10 was released in October last year. Says Groenewald: “Our map growth is organic in nature, as a consequence our work is never done. This time around we processed 555 data submissions for Version 16.10. These submissions not only contribute to more roads and POI’s to the map, they also improve the quality of existing data by means of corrections.” Tracks4Africa's Africa Map 16.10 features Here's a brief breakdown of what you get when purchasing T4A's latest Africa Map offering: 1 117 780km of roads, detailed tourist coverage and fully navigable 156 753 points of interest Most complete and detailed protected areas (national parks, game reserves etc.) in Africa – 1452 parks in total. 13 397 accommodation listings 3 845 campsites, the most comprehensive camping database in Africa 6 141 places to eat or drink 10 562 fuel stops Updates that made T4A's Africa Map 16.10 possible Changes made to bring T4A's Africa Map 16.10 up to speed included the following: New roads and tracks added for Nigeria, including major highways. Major Towns traced and added as points. Top 100 attractions researched and added. All major highways across Africa identified and added e.g. The Trans-Sahara Highway. Further updates to follow. Increased network coverage of Algeria/Tunisia. All suburbs of South Africa added as points and are now searchable (4000+) Kenya: Chegilet, Kangundo, Ndumberi link roads. Doornrivier 4x4 trails got updated and gravel roads around Enselsberg Update on roads in Ethiopia, new tar road and roads in Omo National Park 4x4 route was added around Ga-Lekgothoane Cities in Sudan added POI's for Dar es salaam added North of Luderitz-sand dune offroads were added Aar Hiking trail at Boplaas added Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve tracks added Ndakaine Dam Circuit updated Botswana: Maun, Ghanzi, Kasane points of interest updated. Trees of Historic importance added to Zambia and Zimbabwe as POI’s and tracks traced leading to them. Angola rivers updated All major and minor roads updated for Angola. Technical stuff Strictly speaking, what Tracks4Africa has created is not a map. It's the collective navigational experience of the T4A Data Community as they go about countless leisure trips to eco-destinations into remote and eco-sensitive Africa, and no two travel experiences are the same. Your Tracks4Africa maps can be viewed on your PC or Mac, allowing you to plan your trip and download the data to your Garmin device. Simply put, T4A Maps explain where and why environmental users do what they do. Road lines and points of interest featured on T4A Maps are only constructed from GPS recorded/confirmed data, and all data submissions must comply with T4A quality standards. And, the road lines on the T4A Map are spatially averaged from many independent GPS recordings – making them super accurate, reliable and unique. T4A GPS Africa Map 16.10, comprising 16 separate regional maps, comes preloaded on a micro SD card with standard adapter, ready for Plug & Navigation. This SD card can be used on most map-capable Garmin units and has been tested with latest Garmin Nuvi models as well. Note: This product is not compatible to iGO in car navigation systems, Android or iOS devices. For these platforms, Tracks4Africa has separate products available. The SD card also contains installation files for PC and Mac users who want to install the maps on their computers for trip planning or for transferring maps to older Garmin units such as the 276c, 76csx and previous generation eTrex models, etc. As South Africa's only authorised upgrade partner, NavWorld is able to assist you with both installation and support for your Tracks4Africa maps. You can also chat to us online via the chat screen on this page (bottom right). The physical maps and SD cards for your Garmin can be purchased at any of NavWorld's walk-in service centres. – (c) 2017 NavWorld Garmin users please note: You must have MapSource or BaseCamp in order to view or load T4A GPS Maps on your device.
Here at the Southern tip of Africa we're an outdoor, adventure-loving nation with a lot of serious real estate to explore. Lush indigenous forests, gargantuan mountain ranges, vast swathes of bushveld, pristine valleys, secluded wetlands, encroaching deserts and sand dunes, you name it – our choices are almost endless. Even better, these varied biomes combine in their own idiosyncratic ways, creating unique topographies that never fail to fill the human spirit with awe. However, getting to witness these (often remotely-located) natural treasures isn't always easy. To do that you probably need to take a long, sometimes adventurous scenic drive. No wonder 4x4ing makes up such a huge part of our local outdoor adventure scene; it allows South African families from all walks of life to explore our nation's vast and varied natural landscape just the way we like it – up close and personal. Speaking of which, here are 5 great 4x4 trails where you can take your family, have a great time and get intimate with the natural beauty this land of ours has on offer. Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail (Northern Cape)Location: Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkGPG Coordinates: S 26.2826, E 20.3648 Located within the expansive boundaries of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, on the border of South Africa and Botswana, is the legendary Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail. This 4-day, one-way route is nothing short of breathtaking in its stark, red-sand beauty. Extending between the Nossob and Twee Rivieren camps, departing from either location on an alternative basis – it's an impressive 214 kilometres long, taking around 85 hours to complete. This is no easy drive, consisting of gravel, sand dunes and sandy stretches guaranteed to challenge handling skills to the max. As a consequence, visitors are required to take one of the experienced, qualified guides along as this is not a self-drive course. The absence of man-made barriers (except to the west and south of the park) has created a conservation area large enough to maintain examples of two ecological processes that were once commonplace throughout Africa – the large-scale migratory movements of wild herbivores (wildebeest, springbok, eland and red hartebeest); and their predation by large carnivores. These processes are impossible to maintain except in the largest of areas, making this park particularly special. The honey badger, pangolin, bat-eared fox, ground squirrel and meerkat are some of the park's other regularly-seen residents. But it's the excellent chance of spotting predators – namely cheetah, leopard, brown and spotted hyena and the definitive black-maned lion – that are the park’s main attraction. How to get there:The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is situated approximately 250km from Upington in the far Northern Cape, or about 904km from Johannesburg. Visitors driving from Johannesburg have a choice of two routes, either via Upington (255km tarred road) or via Kuruman, Hotazel and Vanzylrus (about 340km gravel). Website: www.sanparks.org Hennops Offroad Trails (Magaliesburg)Location: Near HartbeespoortGPS Coordinates: S 25.7914, E 27.9801 Gautenger's wanting to escape the urban jungle need look no further than Hennops Offroad Trails. Conveniently located near Hartbeespoort Dam, 30 km from Sandton and Pretoria – this 4x4 trail is ideal for enthusiasts wanting to brush up on their off-roading skills and spend a fun day outdoors. It's also a great spot to properly get to know your vehicle before heading off on your own mini version of the Great Trek. This self-drive trail is about 9 km long and takes between 2 – 3 hours to complete, depending on how busy it gets on the day. The trail – graded between 2 (low-range required but suitable for first timers) and 4 (technical trail for the experienced) – is layout in such a way that visitors can take detours whenever they encounter obstacles they don't think they can handle, making it suitable for all experience levels. While on the trail you'll encounter axle twisters, rocky climbs, declines, dongas and mud-holes. You can also expect to see herds of zebra, blou wildebeest, blesbok and impala, together with a wide variety of bird life and smaller animals along the trail. And, while you're at it, keep look out for the local celebrates – the herd of Zonkies, a feisty hybrid mix of donkey and zebra. Their picnic area (comprising braais and basic ablution facilities) may also be used for camping, but there is no hot water or electricity available. So if you want to really test your camping gear before heading out into the great dusty unknown, then this is the place to be. How to get there:Leaving Pretoria on the N4, head towards Pelindaba for about 22km. Take the Elias Motsoaledi St / R104 exit and turn left. 2km later, turn right onto the R511 and continue for a further 1.6km. Turn right, then immediate left. Website: www.hennopstrails.co.za Rust de Winter 4x4 Bundu (Limpopo Province)Location: 50 km from HammanskraalGPS Coordinates: S 25.1154, E 28.3432 The Rust de Winter 4x4 Bundu trail starts and ends at the 4x4ATV Club, a private campsite situated on the banks of the Elands River that welcomes day visitors. Taking two days to complete and covering 80km, the trail cuts through predominantly mountainous and rocky terrain, and is guided by experts who have intimate knowledge of the area. It winds through deep gorges and valleys, then climbs steadily up rocky mountain passes to the overnight camp. You'll encounter various obstacles along the way, and cross several mountain streams that'll test your driving skills – so this trail requires drivers know their vehicles and have some off-road experience. Some demanding sections are virtually impossible to negotiate without guidance. One is a very steep, rocky descent that few would attempt on their own. The second, a similarly steep ascent, requires considerable momentum and will probably demand more than one attempt. The trail proceeds through “lovers lane” – a water-formed gorge through alluvial rock, covered in evergreen trees that form a leafy, shady tunnel. Trees along the trail are identified with National Parks signage and numbering. The best time to visit is in the summer months, when the valleys are covered in green and streams flow with crystal clear water. The 4x4ATV Club campsite has about 160 permanent stands and about 200 casual sites available for day visitors. A touch of luxury is provided by 7 ablution facilities and 12 water tanks fed through a bore hole or pumped from the river system depending on the time of year and water level in the river. It's not fit for drinking though, so remember to bring your own. How to get there:Follow the highway from Pretoria to Warmbaths. Take the Hammanskraal / Boekenhout off-ramp, turn right across the highway and travel east. Then, just after crossing the highway, take next tar road left going north. At next T-junction turn right. Pass the Rust de Winter dam road sign and continue straight through the next tar cross roads. Pass a small settlement with stores and cross the Elands River bridge. Turn right just after the river into the grounds of the 4x4ATV Club. Website: www.4x4atv.org Boegoeberg 4x4 (West Coast)Location: Lambertshoek Farm, ClanwilliamGPS Coordinates: S 32.1723, E 18.4524 This scenic trail, boasting panoramic views of the coast to the west and the Cederberg mountains in the East, is set high in the “Engelsman-se-berg” on Lambertshoek Farm. Buchu is still actively cultivated here, and a variety of activities based around this medicinal herb are offered to visitors. In fact, all the initial roads in the area were made to harvest the Buchu in the first place, which grows naturally high up in the mountains. Prior to the roads, harvested Buchu had to be carried down the mountain by hand and donkey. These routes now form part of the Boegoeberg 4×4 trail. From the start of the 30 km trail, the climb begins – passing interesting places en-route such as “Buurman-se-gat”, “Sarel-se-kop”, Kliphuis, Die Poort, Groenvlei and Stillerus. Eventually you reach the Platklip viewpoint, where panoramic views reward intrepid visitors. You'll encounter a number of challenges along the way, from steep ascents and descents, to technical driving sections where you'll have to negotiate your passage around and over large rock formations. On the last section to the Platklip viewpoint a stream gets crossed on numerous occasions. Depending on the time of year, this section can get tricky, seriously testing your driving skills and vehicle's traction. In addition to the mountain trail, you can also drive a short circular route with a variety of challenges, including a particularly tough sand hill climb that's still waiting to be given an appropriate name. Two campsites are available on the farm for visitors, one at the start of the trail, under large trees and next to a dam, the other on top of the mountain at the Kliphuis. Both campsites offer basic toilet facilities and fresh water. How to get there:From Cape Town take the N7 north. Turn left at Paleisheuwel signpost 10 km before Clanwilliam. Drive for 12 km and turn right at the Graafwater signpost. After 7 km turn left at Boegoeberg 4×4. The farm is 3 km further on down the road. Website: www.boegoeberg4x4.co.za Bedfogfontein 4x4 Route (Eastern Cape)Location: Addo Elephant National ParkGPS Coordinates: S 33.4833, E 25.7500 The Bedfogfontein 4x4 Route – once used by Boer commandos and British soldiers during the Anglo-Boer War – runs between the Darlington and Kabouga sections of the Addo Elephant National Park. This historic, 45 km trail takes about 6 hours to complete, immersing travellers in breathtaking scenery and early 20th-century history. Graded 2 – 3 on the complexity stakes, the rugged mountain passes this trail winds through can be a real challenge. An experience that will no doubt increase your respect for the perseverance of those early pioneers' who somehow managed to cross these mountains in ox wagons. The trail cuts through a variety of vegetation, from riverine thicket, to Afromontane forest, fynbos on the peaks and into the arid Nama Karoo. Two species of ancient cycads grace the mountain slopes, while towering yellowwood trees pierce the sky and offer welcome shade during summer. This is not an extremely technical or challenging route, but the scenery and views are spectacular, particularly along the Sundays River section. Remember to keep a look out for black rhino while driving through the Rhino Camp on the Darlington side. Water is scarce and summer temperatures regularly hit 40 degrees, so visitors should ensure they carry enough drinking water. A maximum of six vehicles are allowed on the route at any one time, and it is strongly recommended that at least two vehicles travel together for safety purposes. The route is only suitable for vehicles with 4x4 and low range facilities. Remember to check conditions with the ranger should you wish to attempt the optional Grade 5 river crossing. How to get there:From Port Elizabeth follow the N2 highway towards Grahamstown, then turn left at the exit signposted ‘Motherwell’ and ‘Addo Elephant National Park’. Proceed through Motherwell, following this road until you pass through the town of Addo and further on until you see the entrance to the park on the right. Website: www.sanparks.org – (c) 2016 NavWorld
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