Useful Travel Apps, Navigation Tools and Ways to Stay Connected in Africa

Staying Connected in Africa 

Aside from trusty old hard copy maps which definitely add an authentic sense of adventure to your journey, there are a number of navigation tools and useful travel apps available to help you stay on course. We find that the multi-source approach works best.
#1. Tracks4Africa

These GPS maps comprise of 16 regional maps covering most parts of the African continent. The system uses data sourced from travellers who have recorded their experiences. This information is then catalogued and processed to ensure accurate and reliable GPS co-ordinates. Aside from marking out roads and dirt tracks, other information and points of interest are available to travellers. These include accommodation options, restaurants and petrol stations to name a few. One drawback that we found when using this system is that information regarding roads and points of interest can sometimes be outdated. Another drawback is that users cannot comment on or review points of interest such as hotels and restaurants.

#2. maps.me

Available via free download, this app operates completely offline and can be supported by any device. Using GPS to track your location, the app automatically orientates itself providing a detailed map and database of various points of interest. Amongst these are accommodation options, restaurants, shopping centres, petrol stations and tourist attractions. Another useful feature of the app is that it allows the user to drop pins and save specific locations. Road maps tend to be very accurate, however, data collected from users doesn’t appear to be processed. This can sometimes result in points of interest being inaccurately marked.

#3. iOverlander

It comes as no surprise that this free website and iPhone app is specifically designed for overlanders. The system comprises of an  integrated map and database of useful information. From campsites, hotels, restaurants, vehicle mechanics to petrol and propane filling stations. While on the move overlanders can review and update existing information as well as add new places using their GPS co-ordinates. 

#4. XE currency exchange
One of the main functions of this free app is to allow the user to access live exchange rates. This information comes in handy when calculating prices in different currencies or exchanging money at the borders. We all know what it feels like to be extorted by the border money changers!
#5. Local SIM/chip cards
Gone are the days of having to opt for an expensive satellite phone in order to stay connected to loved ones. Cellphone network providers have conquered Africa making local SIM/chip cards for your phone readily available and inexpensive. In order to register a SIM card, all that you will need to present a copy of your passport. The network coverage throughout most regions is extensive and reliable, allowing you to stay connected in a land without wifi.