All of us rely on maps to get us where we need to be, but for some of us maps are more than purely functional items. They call to us with promises of places to be discovered and new experiences to be savoured. If sitting down with a map gives you butterflies, you’re probably a cartophile. Welcome to the tribe! By Magriet Kruger
In The Island of Lost Maps, his book about a cartographic criminal, Miles Harvey describes the appeal of maps:
“A map has no vocabulary, no lexicon of precise meanings. It communicates in lines, hues, tones, coded symbols, and empty spaces, much like music. A map provides no answers. It only suggests where to look: Discover this, reexamine that, put one thing in relation to another, orient yourself, begin here… Sometimes a map speaks in terms of physical geography, but just as often it muses on the jagged terrain of the heart, the distant vistas of memory, or the fantastic landscapes of dreams.”
It is the ability of maps to transport us to new worlds that makes them so powerful. And whereas books can take you places in your imagination, maps will take you places in real life too.
Tick how many of the things below you’ve done and we’ll rate your passion for maps:
- Spent more time poring over a map before a trip than during the trip.
- Prided yourself on folding a paper map so it looks like you’ve just received it from the shop.
- Looked at a map with no destination in mind, simply letting your eyes and mind wander.
- Spread out different maps of the same places side by side – like the Tracks4Africa Atlas, paper maps and the location maps in our Botswana and Namibia self-drive guide books.
- Traced the route of your epic overland trip onto your paper map.
- Taken a wrong turn just to see what route your T4A GPS Maps would come up with.
- Contributed to a map by sharing the waypoints from your trips with Tracks4Africa.
- Tested yourself – and everyone else travelling with you – on the meaning of each icon in the map key.
- Pinned a map to a wall or even framed it.
- Volunteered to be the navigator on every trip.
If you’ve ticked…
- Three or more: you are a map lover. You appreciate a good map just as much for its utility as its hold on your imagination.
- Six or more: you are a map aficionado. For you, looking at a map is part of the adventure.
- Eight or more: you are a cartophile. Not only do you prize maps, you use them every step of the way.