Finding roads to somewhere

Coming home was never in the books, but I’m sure glad it happened. It got to the point where I realized that this trip needed more planning than we had originally given it. On previous adventures timing played a much less integral role and I always had the luxury of being lazy with regards to deciding how to proceed with the trip.

In C.A and S.A, language is a huge roadblock because my Spanish just isn’t good enough to have an in depth conversation about good cycling routes. Also, info is hard to find with regards to where small roads exist, where they lead to, or whether they are purely myth. Until now, route planning consisted of basic maps downloaded to our ipad, however many of the small dirt roads aren’t mapped out very well on the Open Street Maps which cycle tourists and adventurers love.

Gina and I have started planning with Google earth, and so far it’s been a tremendous resource. You can see just about everything from superhighways to hiking trails, and look at photos uploaded by various people. We have approximately 20,000 km to map out so it’s a really slow process, but in the end having a solid dirt trail mapped out will give us the ability to explore some more remote regions and ride the trail less ridden. We are certainly keeping an open mind with regards to where we can ride and if we meet other cyclists we can always detour, but we hope that the plan helps us to avoid many of the major roads we were forced to take in C.A.

We’ve also purchased a Garmin Oregon 650 to help us navigate, and we are able to save our Google Earth tracks into Garmin Basecamp and export them to the GPS.

I would also like to thank Pikes on Bikes ( as it was through them that I became inspired to start looking for my own routes. They have a wonderful website,, which is a great resource for touring offroad in South America.





8 thoughts on “Finding roads to somewhere

  1. The 6xx series is pretty cool. I broke my earlier oregon (Truck ran over it in BC) and eventually upgraded to the 600. Incidentally, in 4 months or so, I might be in SA. Keep in touch, may be we can ride some days together!

  2. Google Maps – “purely myth” just about sums up their coverage of South America. They have never been updated to show new road construction, often show roads that really should be there but have yet to be built and even place towns on wrong roads!

    • Yea, Ivan it is pretty difficult knowning who you can trust with regards to road information as many people just have no idea about a road that might pass right through their backyard. I guess it’s not so different than here seeing as we don’t tend to explore our own home ground before exploring the world.

  3. I’ve just started planning a similar trip.
    What basemaps are you using on your garmin for S.A.? OpenStreetMaps?
    How are you storing and transferring your maps between ipad to garmin?

    • Hey John, glad we can answer some questions for you. Our iPad and Oregon 600 got stolen so now we have a cheaper etrex 20 and android tablet. I’ll run through both options for you!on both devices we used OpenStreetMap maps and have no hesitations. I did use Perut basemap in Peru but I’m not sure it was any better than the OSM.

      With the ipad, we used Gaia to download satellite and OSM maps. Then we would make a route and use Gaia to export and email it to ourselves. We downloaded Basecamp mobile onto the iPad as well, and from the email it allowed us to open in basecamp. The Oregon 600 had Bluetooth transfer technology in it so from there we could transfer onto our unit. It was a hit or miss process which sometimes took a few attampts to work, the Basecamp app being pretty awful.

      On the android, the process is much easier. Our etrex 20 doesn’t have bluetooth but that turns out to be a non issue. Again we use Gaia to plan the route and then email it to ourselves and download it onto the device (Gaia wont let you straight export the gpx to the device). We can then connect the Garmin directly to the tab and transfer files back and forth. It is actually quite straightforward!

      I hope this has been helpful. Let us know if we can answer any other questions or if anything is unclear!

  4. Thanks for sharing! It seems that Basecamp app for iPad is no longer around? Perhaps for reasons you have pointed out.

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