Enthusiasts in several Latin American countries, including Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia have formed groups that share an interest in GPS systems and the application of the technology. Over time these groups have begun collaborating in the development of accurate maps that enable the application of these advanced technologies in their countries.
In 2003, I started GPS_YV, an internet-based group that has developed highly detailed GPS maps of Venezuela, along with the tools and techniques to optimize the map-making process. In January, 2006 I had the opportunity to visit Peru and take a road trip from Lima to Máncora, the beautiful beach town near the border with Ecuador.
Unfortunately, back then useful GPS maps of Peru were not available, and my party wound up getting lost a few too many times. Although driving past the same spot three times when trying to get from the museum at Sipán to the pyramids of Túcume in Lambayeque was amusing, getting lost at night on a remote road further north was not quite as amusing. By the time we arrived in Máncora, the fabulous sunset we enjoyed from the beachside deck made these trials and tribulations fade, like the sun’s red globe, silently into the Pacific Ocean. But it became clear that tourism in Peru would benefit from a project similar to the one we were developing in Venezuela.
In 2008, Ivo Santamaria, a member of GPS_YV who often traveled to Peru to visit his wife’s family, started to make GPS maps of Peru. In July of that year Ivo started an internet forum focused on creating free GPS maps of Peru, which he called Peru Ruteable, or PeRut. The group currently has 918 members, and the large amount of data collected by the group members allows an updated version of the PeRut map to be published every month. If you want to be part of this project or would like free use of the digital map, the website of the project is perut.org.
Some of the people who would most appreciate the benefits of this tool are the tourists who travel by road to destinations or areas of the country that they do not know well. In addition to calculating the best route to reach the desired destination, users can search for a point by name or find the closest points in each category. In cases of emergency, PeRut is also of great help. For example, if a user needs fuel, the GPS can indicate which gas stations are nearest and calculating the way to arrive to whichever gas station is selected. It works similarly with tire shops, medical centers, pharmacies, banks, police stations and a range of other places of interest.
GPS: How it works
GPS technology allows users to know their exact location through the use of a network of satellites orbiting the earth. These satellites emit electronic signals that are received and processed by devices known as a GPS receiver, commonly known simply as GPS. There are several types of GPS, some which are already installed in vehicles and others that are handheld portable units. But having a GPS device is not enough, since the GPS requires specialized maps that allow a GPS to understand the surroundings. More advanced maps, called "routable maps" also have the ability to calculate the best route to a desired destination.
The PeRut map currently work only with Garmin devices, including all units in the popular Nuvi line. The PeRut map also works on devices that use Garmin software, which includes some Kenwood receivers as well as some PDAs and cell phones (including brands such as Nokia and Samsung).
The PeRut includes over 100,000 points of interest, such as hotels, restaurants, gas stations, police stations, tourist spots, etc. If you prefer car-based tourism, you can buy a Garmin Nuvi 255W from Amazon.com for about $110 and then load the PeRut maps onto it. This GPS would then be able to conveniently guide you on a weekend trip to Cañete, as well as tell you how to find the nearest restaurants at any point on your way back to Lima. If you enjoy hiking, the rugged Garmin 60CSX can guide you in your car as well as guide you to your next hiking stop on the Inka trail. In any of these units, the user needs only to enter the destination by name and click "GO," and the GPS receiver calculates the best route to the destination. The instructions are displayed on the color screen as well as through spoken instructions that include the street names and destinations. The group also provides a free topographic map for hikers and off-roaders as well as a map of speed bumps and speed traps that provides warning of any of these obstacles that are on your path.
PeRut keeps improving every month thanks to the efforts of members of the group and all users who provide the valuable information that allows continuous improvement of the project. We invite you to enjoy these maps and provide data and information to further improve this great project.