We use our dashboard mounted navigation (click) system in Europe a LOT. Thanks to Microsoft Autoroute, our location is plotted in real time on a map and we have all of our useful POI (Point Of Interest) information available to view at the click of a mouse. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t provide any mapping information for Africa so upon arrival you are presented with a totally blank continent!
|Microsoft Autoroute - No good for Africa|
There is a solution, however, thanks to Garmin. If you are familiar with Garmin products you may have already seen or used some of the programs I am about to talk about. There may even be a better way of doing what it is I am about to describe in which case please get in touch!
What you need to download and install (in this order).
Garmin Basecamp (MapSource) - Click to Download
This is the engine behind the software, it allows you to plot and use the data and manipulate the maps but not to navigate as it has no GPS option. It’s not much use on its own, unless you already have a Garmin in which case you should be able to view the maps you own using this software.We have a TomTom so no idea how one would go about loading their Garmin maps onto the computer!
|Garmin Basecamp showing some of the POI's from the Olaf Map |
(scroll down for details of where to download it)
Garmin nRoute - Click and Download 'nRoute_276.exe'
nRoute itself is a legacy program which means it is no longer supported by Garmin and is not available from their official site. It is however available to download elsewhere on the internet. I couldn’t get it to work on its own, without having a copy of Basecamp or Mapsource downloaded onto the system already, hence the step above. The software accepts a GPS input from a Garmin device and will plot your current position on a map. If you have a regular USB or Bluetooth GPS receiver like then you will need an extra bit of software detailed in a minute.
|Garmin Nroute connected to a GPS receiver|
Open Maps Free Navigation Map's Click & Zoom to Morcco, select 'enable manual tile selection'
Open Maps allow you to download free navigation maps, if this is of interest to you and you do not already have the Garmin maps. You can easily switch between maps using the interface and choose which one you prefer to use - Olaf's map is much more detailed in some areas but you can't plot a route using it. Since both are free, there is no harm in using both. You need to download 3 tiles for full Morocco and Western Sahara coverage.
The Olaf map is well respected by hardened overlanders for Morocco and contains a wealth of POI and map information for free and we found it largely accurate during 2,000 miles around Morocco. A fantastic resource.
Note: This map does not support ‘navigation’ but does have lots of POI information built in so is worth installing. Using nRoute or Basecamp you can swap between maps maintain your existing position / view so it's easy to find out which map is best. We use this map for the built in POI information.
Franson GPS Gate Client - Click to Download - 'Free GPSGate Client'
The final piece in the puzzle is to get your regular GPS receiver to work alongside Garmin Nroute, which only detects a own branded Garmin GPS receiver.
Connect your USB GPS Receiver and open Franson GPS Gate Client. Set it to emulate a Garmin device on an available COM port and minimise it to the tray. You can now open Garmin N Route which should have automatically detected the free Marokko-Topo map. If it has not you may have to re-install the map in the root of the C:\ and manually select it’s location.
|NRoute with Franson Gate GPS Client open & transmitting|
Using the Software
|Wide angle zoom showing the Satellites Pane|
The software is relatively straight forward to use. The bottom section of the software is the menus for Waypoints, Saved Routes, Tracks, Favourite Finds, Status (giving speed & height), Driving Directions (for Garmin Maps), Trip Computers and Satellites
If you right click using the 'pointer' tool you can choose 'Find nearest places' and select 'Campground or RV Park; which on the Olaf map contains lots of information regarding nearby camp sites.
|The 'Find Nearby Places' pane|
The best way to get used to it is install and and have a good play around with it while Simulating the GPS by selecting Utilities > Simulate GPS to allow you to play with the map while still at home before getting to Morocco.
We found it a fantastic tool to have in Morcco and I hope that you've found this post of use too!
There is a good guide for using Garmin nRoute for navigation HERE.