Trail Development

Map and Mapping

The trail map is often of poor quality and the excuse is normally heard 'well the trail is well marked so the map is really unimportant. This may be the case but a detailed map is important for a number of reasons. For instance, should there be an emergency and a hiker needs to find a direct route for help or a veld fire has to be avoided, then the hiker needs to know the lie of the land. Farm roads, electricity pylons, farm buildings and dams need to be pinpointed on the map. GPS points are also recommended along with possible cell phone reception areas. A note of telephone numbers that can be used in case of problems.

The above map was produced by the Geography Dept of The University of Pretoria for Komatiland Ecotourism. It has many good points worth mentioning. The map shows the trail outlined in green and the relief of the area clearly visible in the form of contours. There is a compass point showing north and a scale. Roads are clearly shown as is the railway line. A cross section of the trail is also shown which can help the hiker by giving him an idea of the terrain that he has to traverse.

Closer scrutiny of the map reveals other important points such as where perennial drinking water is available along the trail, distances from hut to hut and shorter linking routes. Spot altitudes can also be of interest to hikers. Places of interest such as old mine workings should also appear on the map.

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Peter Slingsby has been involved in the production of fine hiking trail maps for many years. All the maps of the old National Hiking Way Board were produced by Peter and today there are still some fine maps for hikers being produced by this company.


On this map one can see information about the area such as ship wrecks and also cautionary notes about routes that could be dangerous.


On this map we can see the contours clearly and a lot of information that could be of interest and useful to the walker.



Maps like these can work out expensive. For those who have a constraining budget there are alternatives. The Government Printer produces excellent 1:50,000 maps for the whole country and in some cases 1:10,000 maps. I have seen these enlarged and the trail plotted on it quite effectively. When enlarging a map, I suggest that you cut out the scale on the legend of the map and place it on the part of the map to be enlarged so that it enlarges in the same ratio. Please bare in mind that Copy write exists in these maps. If you decide to draw your own map it might be a good idea to do this with the aid of a GPS. Maybe ask at your local high school to see if the Geography department might be able to help you in the production of your map. GPS navigation points are always useful as more and more hikers carry these instruments. Your designated booking agents can also give you advice as far as mapping is concerned.