for Garmin GPS receivers

Chief Directorate: Surveys & Mapping, Republic of South Africa

Set of transparent GPS topographic maps to overlay other GPS maps

AfricaTopo is a set of topographic GPS maps uploadable to Garmin GPS receivers. The set is compiled transparent so that it can be used in conjunction with other GPS maps  (e.g. overlaid on road maps on the GPS).

At present only the Republic of South Africa is covered.

The South African set of AfricaTopo GPS maps is compiled from the 1:50 000 topographic map set vector data produced by Chief Directorate : Surveys & Mapping, South Africa, who retain copyright.

The map set includes 20m contour lines, elevation points, trig beacons, rivers, water areas and the coast line as displayed on the 1:50k maps. A map tile is provided per 1:50k map sheet and each tile is named the same as the corresponding 1:50k paper map for easy reference to the paper set.

The names of rivers, dams, bays etc. are included only where avaiable in the source vector data.


Frequently Asked Questions about AfricaTopo

Q: Can I try AfricaTopo before I buy?

Yes, there are free demos available for download. To obtain the full map set you need to order the CD.

: How do I view the AfricaTopo maps?

A: Viewing software is NOT included with AfricaTopo. You need to supply this yourself. AfricaTopo map tiles are supplied in Garmin .img format. If you own a Garmin MapSource map set, you can use your copy of MapSource to view and upload AfricaTopo to your GPS receiver. The cheapest MapSource product is Trip & Waypoint Manager, which does not include any maps uploadable to your GPS receiver, but can be used to view and upload AfricaTopo.
Alternatively you can use Sendmap and/or IMG2GPS to upload AfricaTopo to your GPS receiver (but not to view the maps on your PC).

Q: What is a 'transparent map'?

A: A transparent map does not obscure other maps covering the same area when uploaded to the GPS receiver. This means that you can view the transparent map and another map at the same time on the GPS receiver screen. To avoid duplication and/or conflicts with your favourite road map, AfricaTopo does not contain roads, cities, towns etc. Note that AfricaTopo can only be overlaid on other maps on the GPS receiver; this is not possible in MapSource on the PC.

Q: How do I
simultaneously upload AfricaTopo and maps from other products to my GPS receiver?

A: All maps required simultaneously on Garmin GPS receivers need to be uploaded in one operation because a map upload always replaces all maps of the previous upload. If you use Garmin MapSource, select the AfricaTopo map tiles you require, then switch to your other map product(s) and select map tiles until you have selected the complete set required. Then upload the entire set to the GPS receiver.

Q: What are the map tile sizes in AfricaTopo?

A: Tiles sizes range from 5kB for flat areas with very few contour lines to approximately 690kB for mountainous areas.

Q: Why does AfricaTopo use so many small map tiles?

A: AfricaTopo has a map tile for each 1:50k paper map sheet, following the structure of the source data. Topographical maps require lots of GPS memory. Small tiles enable users to upload topographical data only where it is needed, allowing owners of older GPS units with limited memory to use Africa Topo. (largest tile in AfricaTopo is approximately 690kB)

Q: Why do I see strange lines running along some map objects in MapSource e.g. the major contour lines (500m, 1000m, 1500m etc.) & country border on the PC screen?

A: AfricaTopo is compiled transparent so that it can be overlaid on other maps. When zoomed out, MapSource displays a low resolution preview map. Normally the detail map replaces this preview map when zooming in, but since the AfricaTopo detail is transparent, this does not happen and you will see both the low resolution and the detail for some objects. This only happens on the PC screen since the preview map is not uploaded to the GPS receiver.

Q: The contours tend to clutter the screen and makes the GPS display difficult to read when zoomed out. What can I do?

A: Check the detail level in your GPS map setup. We suggest that you use the 'normal' setting, but results may differ between the various GPS receiver models. When zoomed far out, it might be better to unselect AfricaTopo in the GPS map setup since the major contours are displayed on all zoom levels. (This is a side effect from being compiled transparent and might be corrected in future).

Q: Why can't I search for Points of Interest (POI) on AfricaTopo?

A: AfricaTopo is not compiled with POI support.

Q: Why are the names of some rivers and dams missing on AfricaTopo although they are shown on the paper 1:50k maps?

A: Not all the names shown on the 1:50k maps are available in the source vector data set used to compile AfricaTopo from.

Q: After uninstalling the AfricaTopo demos Garmin MapSource gives error messages. How do I fix this?

A: The earlier Drakensberg and Blyderivier demo uninstallers contained a bug which caused a registry key to be left after uninstalling. This was corrected on 2005-11-09. The easiest way to fix the problem is to download the new installer, install and uninstall. Else you can edit the registry manually, at your own risk. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this bug.

Q: I have found an error on AfricaTopo. How do I report it?

A:Check the updates page, it may have been corrected already; if not email us providing a detail description, tile name and a waypoint indicating the position of the error.

More questions regarding AfricaTopo? Email us or join the Madmappers forum and discuss there.

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