Travel Apps for Africa

Travel Apps for Africa

The wealth of choice that one has these days when it comes to mobile applications is beyond anything that we could have imagined even two years ago. The sheer amount of variety is often way too confusing; Which one do I buy? Which one is better? Which one works offline?

These are the important questions that need to be answered well before you set off on your safari. Imagine paying US$ 40.00 for a birding field guide only to find out that the app requires an internet connection to work (there is not a whole lot of internet available in the bushveld of Africa) – now that would be money wasted.

Let us face facts here for a few seconds, Google Play and iTunes offer up 100’s of thousands of apps in their stores. Which one is right for you, are the reviews genuine and will this app work in Africa? These are the questions that we will try and answer.

Let us get started: here is our ever-growing) selection of what we regard as our favourites when travelling in and around Africa.

Navigation Apps for Africa

The first and most obvious navigation app for travel in Africa is, of course, Google Maps which is available on Android, IOS and Webapp. We have had great experiences with this platform in the past especially in cities and town where there is a good (ish) 3G/4G signal. Anything below 3G and one can get frustrated beyond belief. Do not get us wrong, Google maps is awesome and should always be installed on one's device, but (and this is a big issue) offline maps is as close to useless when travelling in Botswana, Zambia or pretty much any rural destination in Africa. One has to use some form of internet connection to download these offline maps (roaming charges come into play) and then the downloadable area is not large enough to cover one for a 2 or 5 day journey. If Google expanded its offline mapping capacity we could recommend this app but until that happens Google Maps is only really good in countries like South Africa.

Now when it comes to what we regard as the best navigation app, HERE maps comes out tops in most departments. Only available for Android and iPhones at the moment, HERE maps is free with the most comprehensive offline mapping system that we have found. HERE maps is our go to nav. app for pretty much everything these days, whether it be city navigation for a bush safari through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique, HERE maps simply rocks. Our only point of contention (and it is not a big one at that) is that the offline map requires a rather substantial download, for example, the complete download map for the whole of South Africa is in the region of 390mbs.

So what do we recommend? Without question – HERE Maps (HERE Maps)

Weather App for Africa

This is going to be short and sweet, WeatherBug is the best (in our humble opinions), no matter where you are in Africa all you need is an internet connection and WeatherBug will update you as to the rest of the day or what is happening weather wise for up to 10 days in advance. Yes, it is available on IOS, Android and Windows phones. Remember to adjust your settings to WiFi only, or roaming charges will apply.

We recommend? WeatherBug (search your app store for downloads).

Other options include;

  • Google Weather
  • Flowx
  • AccuWeather

Bird Apps for Africa

There are two very good apps in this department, Roberts Multimedia Birds and Sasol eBirds. Both cover most if not all the species found in South Africa, whilst offering a host of features (the most important being offline). Both Roberts Multimedia Birds and Sasol eBirds, when purchased, do come with a substantial download (185MB and over), so best download these files whilst still at home or in a free WiFi Zone.

Our personal favourite amongst the two would be Sasol eBirds but on saying that we have spent very little time with Roberts Multimedia Birds. I suppose that with both these apps being rated highly it would be a matter of personal choice (or you could buy a bird book which does not have to be charged for it to work 😉 ).

Unfortunately, as hard as we have tried, we simply cannot find anything of the same standard for central and east Africa bird species, as soon as we find one we will add it here ASAP.

Roberts Multimedia Birds;

Sasol eBirds;

We recommend? A bird book (but Sasol eBirds would be our app of choice at the moment)

Mammal Apps for Africa

Not too much of choice when it comes to mammal guides, but here are the two main options for Southern Africa (again we are struggling to find something of equal quality for East Africa);

Sasol Field Guide Mammals (with in app purchases);

Mammals of Southern Africa (an upfront cost);

Photographic Apps

The stock standard camera apps that come with most modern smartphones are more than good enough for capturing scenery, selfies, panoramas, videos etc. Obviously, some are devices are better at capturing than others, iPhones are excellent and older Blackberries not so much, whilst quite a few of the latest Android devices are up there with the best.

Will these devices ever replace DSLR’s or dedicated camera’s – in our opinions, no.

Here are our favourite apps for editing photos taken on smart devices;

  • Instagram (Android and IOS)
  • Flickr(Android and IOS)
  • Snapseed (Android and IOS) ****The best****
  • FXCamera(Android and IOS)
  • LightRoom(Android and IOS)
  • Perfectly Clear (Android and IOS) ***Best for image corrections and ironing out those wrinkles when taking a selfie or 500****

Currency Apps is probably the best one out there at the moment and has been for quite a while, we use it on a daily basis.

NOTE: All currency apps will offer up currencies at their true rate, these are NOT the rates you will be charged at banks or currency exchange centres around Africa (these companies will add their own fees/ commission onto rates so as to make a profit – please always shop around for the best rates before departing with your hard earned cash).

Translation Apps

Coming soon (promise)

Reading Apps and Devices

There are numerous apps available for ones reading pleasure on both smartphone and tablet devices which in the real World do an awesome job, but on safari where one can go a few days without being able to connect up to a charger, this becomes problematic. One of these Reader apps will flatten your smartphone and tablet in a few hours.

Our recommendation would be to get a dedicated E-Book reader, at least the battery will hold its charge for two to three weeks.

E-Book Devices;

  • Kindle
  • Nook
  • Kobo
  • Sony

Exploring Apps

Coming soon (promise)

Eating Out Apps

Coming soon (promise)

Star Gazing Apps

Coming soon (promise)

Medical Help Apps

Coming soon (promise)

Flight Apps

Coming soon (promise)