Sunday, January 24, 2010

I will not stop for directions in Timbuktu

No, that’s not true, local info is always gonna be the best for road conditions and I’m sure will provide some of our more “colorful” interactions, but I took some time the other day to look into GPS maps. We have a Garmin Zumo 660 that I bought for our Colorado Transamerica Trail trip in the summer of 2009 and figure it’ll be a great device for navigating us and tracking our progress on this adventure.

First stop to look for maps was Garmin where I found that they can only really take us one step south of the border with a detailed map of Mexico. After that, we would need to rely on their World Map which I imagine would get us between major cities, but is likely not more detailed than that.

For Latin America, the name Bicimapas always comes up on the forums. It seems Bicimapas has been absorbed to some extent into MexicoMaps which offers a Central America product for $159 that I’m sure would be good. South American coverage seems to be a challenge and is not provided in detail by Garmin or MexicoMaps.

Looking for comparisons between the mapping products on the HUBB, I came across a thread by a couple whose RTW trip I’ve been following from time to time raving about a set of maps being compiled by another member of the forum, SmellyBiker. The Wanderlust maps are something of an “open source” project combining public source maps with information contributed by users and is said to be the most complete world map out there. The 2RideTheWorld folks have a comparison  between the detail in the Garmin World Map and Wanderlust that looks pretty impressive.

Of course, I found the Wanderlust info just as the confirmation email for my purchase of the Garmin World Maps appeared in my inbox. Oh well, for $115, it’ll be nice to have a couple sources of info. I stared blankly at the impressive but very confusing Wanderlust forum before guessing that maybe if I download the sample maps, it will become clear how to register for the full version.

Once my Garmin World Maps arrive, I’ll load them both for a comparison.