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  • Writer's pictureThe Traveling Tortoises

Navigating Our Motorcycle Adventure

So you have your bike, bags are packed and you ready to hit the road be that dirt or tar. But where do you go? What roads do you take? How are you going to navigate your way?

Well there is the one option to just hit the road and flip a coin when you get to a turn off, left or right. Or you can use some sort of navigation system to plan and navigate a route for the best roads and tracks you can find.

So let us share what we use for planning and navigating our routes.

But before we get there let’s talk about the options.

  1. Paper Maps - This is one of our favorite tools we use, no matter what app or system you use there is still nothing that gives you the overview, as a paper map. There are many different paper maps and some of them really gives you some amazing detail.We also love the feeling of using them and to trace the routes we did ride on them with a marker.

  2. GPS - The trusty device that gives you pin point accuracy on where you are and where you going. There are many different types of GPS devices out there and picking the rite one for your needs is extremely important. Biggest is not always the best option. Look at what you need and what it was build to do, putting a GPS on a bike that is not waterproof and dust proof is not going to work very well on an off-road adventure. Electronic equipment also needs to be hardy, able to handle the stress of being on a motorcycle, vibrations, bumps, element like rain and dust and the odd fall here and there. But the system also needs to be able to work with the correct maps for the type of terrain you want to ride.

  3. Phone - Phones can be an amazing way of navigation with all the apps you can put on them. It is something we all always have with us and has become just part of our daily lives. Extremely capable, depending on what phone you have and what apps you use this could be your go to one stop shop. We do use our phones for planning but not for navigation and there is a very good reason for this. But you can use this for a all in one workflow.


So what do we use and how do we plan our routes.

Our workflow is a very simple and not to technical way or detailed approach. For the simple reason, we try and keep it open and easy and not to get to fixed on “planning”.

But this is normally how it goes, sitting around the camp in the evening with a cup of coffee and tea, we fold open our paper map and look at where we are and in what direction we want to go. After a little chat on the options, we will pick the next day destination and a rough route in mind.

We then jump on our phones and use the following apps, Tracks4Africa, Maps.Me, OsmAnd Maps and our favorite Garmin Explore. We get some info on these apps on the options of roads we can take to get to our new destination.

This is where we use our phones, all the apps maps and details are offline so we can zoom in and see landscape, road surface type and any info we can get.

After discussing the route for about 10min we then use Garmin Explore to create our custom route for the next day and send this via Bluetooth to our Garmin Montana 700i (the GPS we use for navigation).

So this whole route planning from start to finish normally takes us 15 - 20min. No rush, no stress, just a chat over a cup of coffee and then we ready to hit the road the next day.

Paper Maps - So why do we use a paper map to start the conversation?

Well first it automatically gets the correct vibe. A paper map just makes you feel ready to go and explore! But also this gives us a complete overview of a very large area and makes it easy to look at options. You would need a very large screen to get the same overview on a digital map as what a paper map gives you.

Apps - So we use a couple of different apps and there is a very good reason for this. As good and amazing as apps are these days they are not always correct. Sometimes they say there is a road and then there is none. Or they say there is no road and then it is the most amazing road! So we cross reverence the routes on different apps to see what the options are and what we can plan.

Some off the apps gives us some local knowledge of places (historical sites, pick-nick spots, ect ect.) others will give us more detail on road/track surface. All of them gives us different details and we enjoy combining the knowledge we gain from all of them.

But our favorite app is still Garmin Explore app, this is our main app we use and it is simple and just amazing! We have downloaded a couple of different maps and layouts that we can layer. But the ease of use and accuracy is just awesome.

Navigation Device - Garmin Montana 700i

So why don’t we just use our phones? Well a very simple reason, the rite tool for the rite job! Yes the phone can do it to but the Garmin just do it so much better and we keep our phones on us for when we need to phone, film (we use our phones as cameras aswell) ect ect. The phones will also not hold up as long as the Garmin with all the vibrations, bumps, dust, sun, rain and all the elements we put it trough every day.

But ok anyway we know there are many people who stand by the phone or a tablet…. All to their own we do it this way and it works.

So why the Garmin Montana 700i - it is a compact GPS but with a large screen, easy to read and use and it can be used in so many ways. But import is that we also use it with the inReach function. Not only to be tracked and let our loved ones know where we are but also as a satellite communication device. We are out in the middle of nowhere more often than not and cell phone signals just can’t be trusted anymore in Africa.

So we trust our Garmin Montana 700i and it has never let us down.

So there you have it! That is what we use and how we use it, no rocket science or to complicated. We keep it simple and easy and really not over think things. We use the rite tools for the rite job and just try and keep it fun.

We hope this can give you a little inside on how we do things and also show you that you really do not have to have a tour planned out from A - Z, adventure is out there! Keep an open mind, keep it simple and easy and have fun!

Happy adventure,

The Traveling Tortoises

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