50k Topographical Maps of South Africa

It’s quite easy to get your hands on a 1:50 000 scale topographical map for the Drakensberg or Western Cape. Not so much for the rest of South Africa.

The National Geo-spatial Information Department has a series of 1913 sheets covering the whole of South Africa available on DVD. These high res A1 maps cover 640 square kilometres each and are quite detailed. The maps indicate magnetic declination, have 20m interval lines and use the Hartebeeshoek 94 datum (WGS 84 Ellipsoid).

The pack is made up of maps from various editions and not all are recent, some even going back to 1980. That said I haven’t yet come across one that is completely outdated – most of the mountains, forests and rivers have been around for longer and surprisingly so have the borders, beacons, windpumps, roads and other manmade structures.

A list of vendors can be found on the Department of Rural and Land Reform’s website.

Contents of the DVD

  • 50k Survey Index (PDF file)
  • 50k Google Earth overlay (KML file)
  • 6 DVDs containing 1913 Sheets

Example of a 10000px by 7000px map. These are saved as high resolution TIFF files.

The index of 1913 sheets covering the whole of South Africa.

Google Earth overlay for easy reference. Each map is numbered according to a grid of numbers and letters.