Botswana Traveler

An American explores the desert and the delta

Affordable GPS Basemap for Botswana

Posted on | October 21, 2009 | 273 Comments

Load this thing Tracks4AfricaI have found the Tracks4Africa GPS basemap to be the best purchase I have made for traveling in Botswana (and all of Africa for that matter). The maps are simply incredible – the detail, the accuracy, and the extra landmark information – and they led me to places I didn’t even know existed. It meant I’d travel down paths I’d have never gone down before I held the knowledge of their destination in the palm of my hand. The best part is that the price is and unbelievably reasonable 125 Rand, or about $18 U.S. dollars.

For a while, we thought we could get by with paper maps. I mean, this is what we survived on for all those years before GPS, and hey, getting lost is an adventure, right? After returning to camp after dark more times than I can count and a handful of nervous nights spent in the middle of nowhere because we never actually found our camp, we broke down and bought a Garmin GPS. Being from the States, I ordered a refurbished one on eBay and had a friend deliver it when they came for a visit. Of course, this meant I could find a Burger King in Baltimore, but could find only a country boundary in Africa. What I needed was a good basemap compatible with my Garmin eTrex.

First I looked at the Garmin website for their Southern Africa maps and about fell out of my chair at the $119.00 price! Amazon had it for a more reasonable $83, but I didn’t spend $200 on a GPS to have to spend another $100 on a map! And what if I went to Tanzania, what then? Another $100? I began feeling a bit ripped off by the whole experience.

Some further Googling led me to the Tracks4Africa website. The maps came highly recommended by many travel websites, 4×4 forums, and general lunatics that post on the web.  Well, count me as one of the lunatics raving about the Tracks4Africa maps.  There are step-by-step instructions on the website on how to add the maps to your Garmin GPS (unfortunately they only support Garmin units currently) and they are easy enough even a beginner could figure it out.  The maps are all user-generated, meaning that they are updated constantly by people (mainly South Africans…they drive all over this place) who are driving these roads on vacation.

If you are self-driving anywhere in Africa, and ESPECIALLY Botswana, don’t even think twice, spend the money and buy the Tracks4Africa basemap and a cheap Garmin unit today.

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