Southern Tanzania Topo Maps





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  1. #1
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    Default Southern Tanzania Topo Maps

    Hi Everyone,
    Does anyone know where I can get my hand on decent Topo maps for the South of Tanzania, between the Mozambique border and southern Selous?
    Also, has anyone got any useful advice about that region?
    Thanks
    Simon

  2. #2
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    Hi Simon.

    You'll battle like hell to get maps of the area - the Tanzanians are quite sensitive about maps, probably a hangover from the days when Frelimo and later Umkhonto we Sizwe had training bases around Masasi and Nachingwea. The only place I was able to source good maps was in Dar es Salaam at the survey office, and then you have to fill in plenty of forms. Things may have changed - I last did that 10 years ago, but my experience is that things change very slowly in East Africa!

    Re the area: the main road linking Songea to the coast (the only road) used to be a nightmare in the wet season - took us five days to do 350km. Not sure if it has been upgraded yet. There is a beautiful tar road to Songea from the west (Mbeya-wards). Past Songea, the road passes through some stunning scenery and lovely mosaic woodlands, but there are a lot of settlements all along the way.

    At the coast, Mtwara is a weird little backwater, a sleepy little port town, but interesting in its own way. South of Mtwara there is a lovely beach and some excellent diving at Msimbati, an island reached over a causeway at low tide. Other nice spots for diving and fishing (great flyfishing), if you can get to them, include Sudi Bay just north of Mtwara, and some of the bays and peninsulas around the three Kilwas.

    The whole area is renowned for its Makonde wood carving - seriously spooky stuff that fetches a fortune in galleries in New York and elsewhere. We have some really good stuff that we bought for very reasonable prices there - the nice thing is that you can actually get the artist's name, which you seldom can if buying away from source.

    Bush camping is possible along the way, but there have been lion issues in the past around Tunduru. The one woodland we camped in after finding a vague track heading off the road was infested with tiny little black flies that bit the c**p out of us. If you're going to bush camp, try and pick up some elephant dung along the way to chuck on your fire - best bug repellant around.

    I suggest you ask the Mods to move this post to the Overland section - you'll get a better response there, as I know there have been a couple of Forum members through there more recently that I have.

    Tony
    Last edited by Tony Weaver; 2009/08/07 at 02:33 PM.
    Tony Weaver

    1991 Land Rover 110 Hi-Line S/W 3.5l V8 carburettor
    Cooper Discoverer STT tyres, four sleeper Echo rooftop tent
    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  3. #3
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    About 10 years ago, we travelled North to South through the Selous, coming out at Liwale. The plan then was to make our own border crossing. Arrived in Dar and found out about the new ferry.

    We had contacted a friend in Dar who went into the Tanzanian version of the Surveyor General. Back then all the details were in the Tanz Lonely Planet. The topo maps as usual were quite cheap. We actually settled on crossing the Rovuma in the area of the new bridge North of Lichenga in the Mitimoni District of Tanz, but with the ferry, why bother.

  4. #4
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    Tony mentioned something about lions. In doing my research on Southern Tanz, one thing that stood out. They do had issues with man eating lions where farms had reduced wildlife habitat and there have been lots of poaching. Especially around airstrips.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the advice! I was hoping to drive up and spend some time in the area before moving on to Dar. Looks like I will have to stop off in Dar first. Talking of Lions, that is why I will be going. The area is in the process of being proclaimed a transfrontier conservation area (joining Selous and Niassa), so I am hoping to be doing some research on the Lion and Wild dog populations and movements in the area. Conflict between the people and the wildlife will clearly be a good area to look at as well!
    At the moment I have no idea how accessible the area is... especially after the rains! I guess that is half the fun. Thanks again, Simon

  6. #6
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    Hi Simon,

    Talking of lions, the apocryphal story that is told in the area is that in the late 1980s, the Tanzanian authorities sent in a specialist game ranger to shoot a couple of so-called man-eating lions, and that he himself got eaten! I could never verify the tale, but it's a good yarn.

    Tony
    Tony Weaver

    1991 Land Rover 110 Hi-Line S/W 3.5l V8 carburettor
    Cooper Discoverer STT tyres, four sleeper Echo rooftop tent
    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

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