How to follow the trails on your own

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At the end of 2019 Curaçao Hiking stops organizing guided hikes. Of course there are alternative hiking organizations; see the overview with links on the home page of this site. An alternative is to go hiking yourself or with a group of friends or similar minded people. To facilitate that I provide several options and tools:

  1. A facebook group where you can create an event for your hike so that other members of that group can accompany you on your hike; you need to be an accepted member of that group to use this service
  2. Descriptions of most of the trails that Curaçao has offered; these descriptions can be found on this site in the section Hiking
  3. A map with the track for most of the trails that Curaçao Hiking has offered; this map can be found as a downloadable picture in the description of the hike on this site in the section Hiking or as a downloadable picture in the Files section of the above mentioned facebook group
  4. The track of most of the trails that Curaçao Hiking has offered; these tracks can be found in several places:
    1. Wikiloc 
    2. As a downloadable file in the description of the hikes in the section Hiking on this site
    3. As a downloadable file in the Files section in the above mentioned facebook group
  5. Suggestion for tools to follow the track (see the remainder of this article)

Two apps that can be used to follow the track

A very good way to hike along a trail is to have the track of that trail in a real GPS or a GPS-like app on your mobile phone. In this way you have a virtual guide with you during your hike.

Apart from a real GPS (expensive) he following two apps are good choices if you want to be sure during your hike that you are still on the track. Apart from that both apps can also be used to record your hikes so that you can build a collection of tracks yourself.

  • Wikiloc app (available on Android and iPhone)
  • Locus map app (only available on Android devices)

I have tested both apps extensively. A problem in Curaçao is that in-app purchases are not possible; at least I never got it working. That prevented me from buying the premium version of Wikiloc or the Pro version of Locus map. For Locus map I found an alternative app store to buy the Pro-version from.

Wikiloc

With the free edition of the Wikiloc app you can record trails and follow your own trails but you cannot follow other trails. To be able to search for trails in the area that you currently in and to follow the available trails in that area you have to purchase Wikiloc Premium. That purchase can only be done through an in-app purchase and that feature I never got to work. I contacted Wikiloc about this problem and got a 3 months subscription from them. So I know that this app is perfect to follow the tracks that are published online. I guess the problem is related to Google Play restrictions for Curaçao. So maybe you are able to purchase the premium edition if you have a Google account registered in another country. It is certainly worth it.
The Premium version of the app would be my first choice, but I had to look for an alternative because I was not able to upgrade to the premium version.

Locus map

The Locus map app has far more functionality but is also far more complex. There is good documentation though so, if you want to invest some time, you have a very powerful app.
Also in the free edition it is a great app, but as said there is a steep learning curve. Recording your own tracks and following imported tracks from other people is possible also in the free edition. So this would be the app of choice if you are not able to purchase the Wikiloc Premium app. Unfortunately the Locus map is not available on iPhone.
The Locus map has far more functionality than the Wikiloc app; in fact it can easily replace my Garmin Oregon GPS; even custom (raster) maps can be used in the app. So if there is no map with trails available online you can scan a paper map and use that as a map in the app provided the picture has been geo-rectified. That means that you have to add the coordinates for a number of points in the map so that Locus can calculate the coordinates of every point on the map. Not an easy process but is can be done. The Pro version of this app supports this functionality in the app itself. For the free version you have to geo-rectify in an external program.

The Locus map also supports text-to-speech guidance along an imported track; this should make it easier to follow a track without looking at your phone for guidance. With a street map loaded navigation to a specific location is also possible.

So Locus map is now my preferred app. It took some time to get used to this app but it was certainly worth it.

Also for the Locus map app in-app purchases are not working in Curaçao and that prevents you from purchasing maps or the Pro version of this app. But I found a solution for this by getting the app from the Amazon app store (I didn't know that Amazon also provides Android apps). The Pro version of the app obtained from the Amazon app store supports in-app purchases; these are handled by Amazon and not by Google; that shows that the restriction comes from Google Play and not from the app.

So which app would be the best for you?

  • if you are using an iPhone then Wikiloc is your only option
  • if you are using an Android phone and are able to get the Premium version then Wikiloc Premium is the easiest app for your needs
  • if you are using an Android phone and are unable to get the Wikiloc Premium version then Locus map is your only option to follow trails from other people
  • if you are using an Android phone and want the most functionality from a GPS-app then Locus Map Pro would be the app for you

An advantage of the Wikiloc app over the Locus map app is that Wikiloc also has a website where you can upload your recorded track to from the app. In this way you have an online collection of tracks that you can share with others. To follow those tracks in Wikiloc the hiker needs the Premium version.