BaseCamp Boot Camp


Words by Jess Fogarty

Many of us are familiar with Garmin’s tried-andtested MapSource software, but as this software has been discontinued, it’s probably a good idea to start moving over to its replacement, BaseCamp. This article will show you how to plot routes on your computer, find waypoints, transfer routes to your GPS, and more.

If you’re a beginner GPS navigator, begin with BaseCamp. You won’t have crossover issues, and BaseCamp is sure to be around for quite a while. Both programmes use the same maps, but BaseCamp is the only one that’ll work on a Mac. Mapsource (MS) works on a file-based system – meaning that your data (waypoints, tracks and routes) are stored in a file; GDB and GPX files. Here you can create waypoints, tracks and routes for a trip and save these in a file and re-open them at a later stage.

Basecamp (BC) on the other hand works on a library-based system. Here the data is always available in the application, but saved in separate folders or lists. You can still import and export GPX and GDB files, but in BC it will still be organised in folders and lists. Now you can create and modify folders and lists at will.

There are also a few fundamental differences in the way data is sorted in a folder or list. In MS you would have separate tabs for waypoints, tracks and routes which make it easy to see what you are working with, whereas BC just have a list of all your data mixed together.

BC is available from the Garmin website for free (, and although discontinued, MapSource was still available at time of writing ( jsp?id=209).

To get it working:

In order for the route planning to work, you must install your Tracks4Africa (T4A) and Garmin maps onto your computer. If you get new software, you must make sure that you delete or uninstall older versions from your computer first, and then download BaseCamp software, which can be found on the Garmin website for free, see previous paragraph.

Your maps:

There are several mapsets you can use on your Garmin GPS and BC software. Garmin City Navigator is preloaded software, on some units such as the Nuvi devices. Garmap is for sale as an aftermarket product and preloaded on selected outdoor units but Garmap has announced their final version of the software as it will soon be discontinued. The Tracks4Africa mapsets are also sold as an aftermarket product.

To use these maps on BC you have two options. If you bought the T4A mapset online or on SD card, it can be installed to your computer and will be available within BC at any time. When you plug the T4A SD card into your computer, you will find PC Install Files, Mac Install Files, and an installation guide.

If you have a GPS with preloaded maps, e.g. Garmin City Navigator, then you can use these maps by connecting your GPS via its USB cable to your computer. BC will recognise the GPS and read all available map sets and data on the GPS. The maps are then available for use in BC for as long as the GPS is connected to the computer.

For those of you who do not know T4A, they focus on overland travel; the roads and tracks on these maps have been submitted by fellow travellers and they are filled with points of interest that are relevant to the overland way of travel. The coverage is also the entire African continent! The T4A maps, however, are not great for city navigation in SA and don’t support address lookup, so for that you would want Garmin City Navigator or Garmap. T4A shows many hiking trails, 4×4 trails, and unmarked roads, making this mapset extremely useful to the overland traveller. On the T4A website, you can also find “Special Maps” under the T4A Maps tab. These include specific hiking- and off-road trails, which you can then download for free and overlay onto the other maps on your GPS. On these longer, more extreme routes, the maps include huts, caves, water sources, etc.

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