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visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

Orange County, CA
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visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

We will be avoiding the main cities while visiting South Africa and Namibia, except for Cape Town and Windhoek.

What GPS and maps should we buy? Should I purchase in the US or Africa?

I have found inexpensive Garmin Nuvi 200W for less than $200 but maps seem to be very expensive and I am not sure what GPS will take the added maps.

We will not have a computer with us while we are vacationing.

A place called 4 Tracks Africa seems to have very inexpensive maps for Namibia and South Africa but they require you have Mapsource Software from Garmin and Garmin seems to charge almost $200 for this software.

I'm sorry, I have never used a GPS before.

Johannesburg, South...
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1. Re: visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

Hi Richard

Maybe your fear of roads in Africa is a bit unfounded. Roads all have international markings/signs and for the most part are very well marked. Distances between places are well marked on the side of the roads, villages and towns clearly indicated. I drove close on 4,000 km in Namibia and not once did we get lost or even have the need to ask for direcitons. I had a basic simple map, the kind you get at a Petrol Station in South Africa, and it was more than adequate for our needs.

In South Africa and to a large extent in Namibia too, you will have no language problem and people who live in an area will give invariably be able to pride you with good directions eg when leaving your accomodation to your next destination. Windhoek, by the way has one main street and about three other roads that matter to a traveller - you'll master that one in 30 minutes! In South Africa you can buy excellent road maps of the coutry and really I would not worry about spending hundreds of dollars of a GPS system.

Your only problem will be driving on the wrong side of the road, and if that takes me about ten minutes to get used to when we visit the States, it wont take you long either!

Enjoy

H

Orange County, CA
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2. Re: visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

Hirene,

Thanks for your letter. It puts my mind at ease.

I drove in England about 30 years ago. They gave me the keys at Ford in London, and said "stay to the left". When I hit my first turnabout in London near Oxford street and Piccadilly I panicked, so I went around it a few times.

The rest of the country was a piece of cake because I avoided any cities over 100,000.

Thanks again,

Richard

Pickering, United...
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3. Re: visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

Hi Richardleeds. I'm in Durban at the moment having spent two weeks self-driving in Namibia. Namibia has a population of just over 2.1 million in a huge land area. Roads are fine (we spent half the time on gravel and never saw a pothole in the tarmac) and easy to navigate. Hotels & tour companies (through TASA - tour & safari association of Namibia) issue a great map with town plans for Swap and Windhoek. It did us proud. We had a basic Garmin with us (about US$80 and no extra soft ward loaded) and just had to reset it to the local satellite network. It and used it a couple of times to check GPS co-ordinates (more for the fun of it than necessity). In SA we find we don't need GPS. All lodges, B&B, guest houses etc give excellent instructions for the final stages of the journey. An expensive GPS is just something else to have to look after! You can rent them here for R60 a day - what a rip off? Tracks for Africa (also contribute to GoogleEarth by the way) - I think it's also over-priced. Be brave and have fun!

Orange County, CA
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4. Re: visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

Thanks for your information and support.

We will probably just take a chance and drive everywhere with a map.

I just saw a Garmin 200W (4.3 inch screen which is the largest one they make and fits in your shirt pocket). Price includes US and Canada maps for $169 US.

If I find one of these six months from now for $99 or something like that, can I use it in SA and Namibia without downloading local maps if I just enter a lodge GPS coordinates? I'm sorry, just never used a GPS.

Durham, United...
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5. Re: visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

For Namibia I'd recommend the Globetrotter Travel Atlas. It's small enought to fit in your luggage but covers all the roads you'll use and has town maps of Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund etc. Available from Amazon.

On this basis, I would assume their map of South Africa would be of similar quality.

I don't really think there is any need for GPS unless you're really heading of the beaten track in Namibia i.e Kaokoland

Howick, South Africa
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6. Re: visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

I'd recommend the map below - it has South Africa and neighbouring countries, some city maps, and is an excellent tourist map (I've used one for years.) As per other replies, nowhere here is complicated enough to need a GPS.

ISBN 0 624 03846 7

Published by Sunbird Publishing.

Orange County, CA
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7. Re: visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

Thanks all for the good advice.

I do not think Sunbird Publishing sells any maps in the U.S.

Will I be able to purchase the map in the airport before leaving Johannesburg for Kruger?

I assume I will not get very lost in Namibia as long as someone does not turn the road sign in the wrong direction or something of the sort.

Richard

Howick, South Africa
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8. Re: visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

The map I wrote about shows on Amazon as available. I'm not sure whether you'd get it at the airport bookshop but major retail book shops have it.

Cape Town
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9. Re: visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

Hi Richard

You can buy the Tasa map that safarifiend recommended at the airport in Windhoek on arrival (at least you could a year ago), as well as all across the country at petrol stations and in some of the Namibia Wildlife Resorts offices (national parks). It is practical for the more detailed plans of Windhoek and Swakopmund, and I have relied on it in its various permutations since 2002. There are other good maps and many of them now rely on the same underlying dataset, so don't fret if you don't find the Tasa one.

South African road signage is by and large excellent, and Namibian roads and signage are also very good. My advice is to hire a comfortable vehicle, preferably with higher clearance (e.g., Nissan X-Trail 2wd) for Namibia as you will be spending a LOT of time in that vehicle given the distances between destinations. You do NOT need 4x4 unless you're going looking for offroad experiences. Take it slow, enjoy the scenery, and when you're off the tarred roads (which is most of the time) you should fuel up whenever you have the option, and carry water with you in the vehicle. You will love it!

HTH

Kurt

Orange County, CA
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10. Re: visiting SA and Namibia, suggestions please what GPS/maps

Kurt,

Thanks for the information. I wanted to hire the higher clearance vehicle but I do not think it is available in automatic. Neither of us knows how to drive the manual, so unfortunately we are going to have a Toyota Corolla or Nissan Tilden automatic.

Thanks for the map details.

Richard