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Thread: Maps, guidebooks, and GPS (installing maps, waypoints/POI, and creating routes)

  1. #1
    Trailblazer Tim Cullis's Avatar
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    Maps, guidebooks, and GPS (installing maps, waypoints/POI, and creating routes)

    Maps: Morocco doesn’t have a huge road network, so a single country-wide map with a scale of 1:1,000,000 is sufficient for initial planning and will also show some of the unsurfaced roads suitable for 4WD traffic. With a map of 1:1,000,000 it’s easy to get suckered into days that involve huge distances, so it’s as well to look at an equivalent scale map of your home country to give you an appreciation for what you are planning.

    I have most of the maps that are available for Morocco and the two that I favour are the Rough Guide and Michelin 742. These both feature scenic routes shown with a green edging, the Michlin map also indicates with a blue edging those roads that might be closed due to winter snow. Of the two the Rough Guide is best as it’s printed on a plasticised surface that is more resistent to being folded and refolded. Unfortunately it is currently out of print and Rough Guide is being cagey about when—or indeed if—it will be reprinted. So at the moment Michelin 742 is your best bet.

    [edit--see Feb 2011 post below]

    Guide books: It's always handy to have a general guidebook with you to look up hotels and facilities. I have most of these and the one I tend to carry is Rough Guide. Others include Lonely Planet, Everyman Guides, DK Eyewitness and so forth. For adventure exploration you should get a copy of Chris Scott’s Morocco Overland which focuses mainly on routes in southern Morocco. Stanfords is a great mail order resource for Moroccan maps and guide books.

    GPS navigation: The coverage of Morocco included in the Atlantic basemap loaded in Garmin Streetpilot/Quest/Zumo units is actually more detailed and extends further south than the coverage shown in Mapsource. Compare them side-by-side to see. Both TomTom and Garmin now have detailed GPS maps available for Morocco, but unless you are spending considerable time in the country it’s difficult to justify the price.

    I use the free-of-charge Marokko Topo GPS maps. I have travelled extensively with these maps and found the roads and tracks are accurate. The most recent version is December 2007. For best results on the road only download the street maps to the GPS unit (i.e. remove the topo overlay from the download to your GPS) as otherwise you can get confused between contour lines and tracks. The Marokko Topo map segments don’t take up much storage space as they don’t include routing information. Consequently, when you come to plan a route using roads, you’ll find the GPS will only use the original basemap roads. Which leads to the second point, that GPS navigation in Morocco is best done as ‘off-road’ straight lines between known waypoints.
    Last edited by Tim Cullis; 29-01-11 at 10:02.
    "For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
    and enlarges the world in which you live,"
    Irving Mather (1892-1966)

  2. #2
    Trailblazer Tim Cullis's Avatar
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    Maps, guide books and GPS

    Installing MarocTopo maps on your GPS

    The proper site for the Olaf maps is http://www.island-olaf.de/travel/marokko/gps.html No need to worry about unlock codes, it's open software. It works on Garmin Streetpilot, Quest, Zumo and the 60Cx handhelds.

    Basically you download and install the full windows version. When you come to transfer the maps to the Garmin device you can transfer both the street maps and the topo maps, or just the street maps. I normally just download the street maps so the screen on the GPS device isn't so cluttered.

    To do this, zoom right out so you can see the entire country, and select ALL the maps using the Mapsource map selection tool, and you'll see a listing of all the 174 map segments in the tab to the left of the Mapsource screen. Now go into that list and remove the all the 'topo overlay' segments. You'll find it easier to sort the list first by segment size. After this you will have 87 segments. Now download these to the Garmin device.

    The only 'problem' with this approach is that you now have topo elements on the PC than aren't on the GPS, so when creating routes make sure you don't accidentally select a contour line otherwise the route will fail to download properly. If this is a problem, you could instead download the street-only package from Olaf.
    "For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
    and enlarges the world in which you live,"
    Irving Mather (1892-1966)

  3. #3
    Trailblazer Tim Cullis's Avatar
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    Motorways in Morocco


    Possible Autoroutes Map 2015

    A7 Agadir to Marrakech: I recently rode the new 183-km A7 motorway extension from Agadir to Marrakech which provides a super quick way to escape the horrors of Agadir It also helps by providing a speedy link between Marrakech and the northern section of the Anti Atlas mountains. Only one fuel station is currently operational though others are under construction.

    A9 Fez to Oujda: This is a massive 328-km extension of the Rabar to Fez motorway, linking the extreme east of the country with Fez and the remainder of the motorway network. I viewed several sites along the construction route and it seems the motorway and its 70-plus bridges is likely to be open autumn 2011. Of immediate interest is the stretch between Fez and Taza which helps access to the eastern end of the Middle Atlas range. The motorway is part of a grand scheme called l’Autoroute Maghrébine which is to link Nouakchott in Mauritania with Tobruk in Libya. Sounds great, but until the border with Algeria opens the scheme will be stillborn.

    A11 Casablanca to Beni Mellal: Morocco has taken out a €220 million loan from the European Investment Bank to fund a 172-km stretch of motorway from Casablanca to the south-eastern region of Tadla-Azilal. The new stretch of motorway was started in April 2010, should be operational in June 2013, and will provide an ideal entry point to both the southern end of the Middle Atlas mountains around Khenifra, and the central High Atlas areas of the Ait Bougmez valley and the Imilchil highlands. More information from The View from Fez.

    A3 Rabat Racade: The French word 'rocade' means bypass and this one is intended to ease the traffic round Rabat, the capital of Morocco.

    A5 El Jadida to Safi: The 81-km extension of the main coastal motorway to Safi is projected to be completed by January 2015.


    Possible Autoroutes and Expressways by 2020

    The map above shows further possibilities including a further 140-km extension of the A5 from Safi to Essaouira by 2020. Tetouan to Fez is another possibility with the objective of reducing the 4.5-hour journey time to 2.5 hours. In the distant future other possibilities include Nador on the northern coast to Taza and yet another extension of the A5 to link Essaouira and Agadir. The good news is that this affects few of the scenic roads in Morocco.
    "For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
    and enlarges the world in which you live,"
    Irving Mather (1892-1966)

  4. #4
    Trailblazer Tim Cullis's Avatar
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    Download of 200+ fuel station waypoints

    This is the January 2011 release of fuel station waypoints with 206 stations included. A few are already in Olaf's Marok Topo as unnamed fuel stops, but the majority of these are new--many in remote places.

    This has taken a considerable amount of work to collect and document, and is provided for individual use only, so please DO NOT copy and incorporate these waypoints in any other collections of waypoints.

    The file is in .GPX format so you should be able to use this with any make of GPS system.

    Altenatively, if your GPS allows it (e.g. Zumo 550), you can set up a custom set of POIs (points of interests). This is far preferable as POIs aren't mixed in with your own waypoints and don't eat into the waypoint limit of your GPS unit. The process is explained below.

    - Download and install the Garmin POI Loader.
    - Create a folder that will be used for POI files
    - Download the knowledgebase fuel station file (right click, save target to your new POI folder)
    - run POI Loader to move these to your Zumo or other device

    When you are on the road in Morocco with a Zumo you can now look for fuel stations in two ways
    - where to > food/lodging > fuel will bring up Olaf waypoints
    - where to > extras > custom POIs will bring up knowledgebase fuel points

    If you come across useful remote fuel stations that are in neither Olaf or the Knowledgebase collections I'd appreciate a waypoint which incorporates the name of the station (e.g. Afriquia, Ziz, Total, etc).

    Tim

    PS: The download works fine with Chrome but you may find Internet Explorer names the file with an .xml suffix, in which case you should rename it with a .gpx suffix.
    "For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
    and enlarges the world in which you live,"
    Irving Mather (1892-1966)

  5. #5
    Trailblazer Tim Cullis's Avatar
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    Download of 220+ hotels and campsites

    This is the December 2011 release of accommodation waypoints with 196 hotels and 33 campsites included. In many cases the telephone number and website/email are included, also some idea of the price.

    This has taken a considerable amount of work to collect and document, and is provided for individual use only, so please DO NOT copy and incorporate these waypoints in any other collections of waypoints.

    The file is in .GPX format so you should be able to use this with any make of GPS system. The download works fine with Chrome but you may find Internet Explorer names the file with an .xml suffix, in which case you should rename it with a .gpx suffix.

    Altenatively, if your GPS allows it (e.g. Zumo 550), you can set up a custom set of POIs (points of interests). This is far preferable as POIs aren't mixed in with your own waypoints and don't eat into the waypoint limit of your GPS unit. The process is explained below.

    - Download and install the Garmin POI Loader.
    - Create a folder that will be used for POI files
    - Download the knowledgebase hotels file (right click, save target to your new POI folder)
    - run POI Loader to move these to your Zumo or other device

    When you are on the road in Morocco with a Zumo you can now look for accommodation in two ways
    - where to > food/lodging > will bring up Olaf waypoints
    - where to > extras > custom POIs will bring up knowledgebase waypoints

    If you come across useful accommodation I'd appreciate a waypoint which incorporates the name of the hotel, plus telephone, web, and prices if possible.

    Tim

    PS: if you are interested in campsites, Camping Morocco by Vicarious Books comes highly recommended.
    "For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
    and enlarges the world in which you live,"
    Irving Mather (1892-1966)

  6. #6
    Trailblazer Tim Cullis's Avatar
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    New maps

    Two revised Moroccan maps are available for 2012.

    - the latest version of the Michelin 742 (available 16 May). If it follows previous releases it will be a paper map, single sided which doesn't like getting wet or being folded in unusual ways.

    - the 2011 version of the Reise Know-How Morocco. This is a plasticised waterproof map that can easily be folded into a tank bag map pocket.

    The Reise Know-How is now the recommended map for Morocco. It has been updated slightly from the 2009 Rough Guide version of the same map with more places of interest marked. As with previous versions there are pistes marked with are now tarmac (not usual given the road building program) but more seriously there are roads on the map that are definitely pistes. The motorway between Marrakech and Agadir (opened 2010) is still shown as under construction, as is the motorway Fez to Oujda (opened summer 2011).
    "For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
    and enlarges the world in which you live,"
    Irving Mather (1892-1966)

  7. #7
    Trailblazer Tim Cullis's Avatar
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    Radar guns are used throughout Morocco to control speeding. The fine used to be 400 dh, but things have changed recently and it's now a three-tier system, if you are between 1 and 19 kph over the limit it's a fine of 300 dh, between 20 and 29 kph it's 500 dh and 30 kph or over it's 700 dh. The radar detectors now store images of the vehicles and the speed recorded, and the officers have to account for any shortfall in revenues collected, so the old days of offering a 100 dh 'gift' to forget the incident are over.
    "For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
    and enlarges the world in which you live,"
    Irving Mather (1892-1966)

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