I pondered about where to put this topic - it's a question, it's about sat nav and it's about motoring. So here it is.
I'm planning a touring holiday (?), well a break if not a holiday, in Cuba. Car hire is easy enough, but apparently you can't buy maps there and it's case of bring your own. There are very few road signs and it is said you need a decent knowledge of Spanish to get directions from the locals.
I'm pretty certain you can't get a Sat Nav with Cuba mapping but I fancy getting a hand held GPS thingy which will at least tell me where I am and which way is up. At worst, if I'm totally lost it'll let me retrace my steps.
Has anybody any experience of such touring and which GPS should I get. I suppose a compass and good map would do, but I fance a GPS thingy.
Was going to comment on using handheld GPS, but thought I'd search for some base maps for Cuba first.
In doing so I found a couple of sites stating that GPS units are banned in Cuba and will be confiscated!: snipurl.com/20xfp [www_tripadvisor_co_uk]
Sounds like you will have to dust off the compass, Dulwich..
Well, at least you can see one of the reasons I want to go - a truly wierd place. The customs regulations even forbid import of air conditioners and toasters! GPS I can understand as it helps prevent escapees in boats to Florida - but toasters ? ? ?. It looks like you can't even take in any food - no animal or vegetable/fruit products allowed.
Anyone know of a good brand of compass, please. A serious request.
Touring by car in Cuba - GPS? -
Silva make good compasses, but go for the Explorer 4. It's a bit more pricey, but has a much larger baseplate and is much easier to use if you have to end up taking bearings and so on. It also has the markings in place for various map scales, making general micronav very easy.
One criticism is that the bezel can be a little difficult to turn with one hand, so might be worth going into a store where you can try a couple to see if one is looser (although I have a feeling they have changed the packaging so this isn't possible)
I stayed with a Canadian friend in Cuba last year and we went for a minitour of the island (3 days) in his smartcar which he brought in on his boat (long story!).
I can definitely confirm that GPS navs are illegal - the ones on his boat were sealed by customs upon his arrival.
So long as you have a map getting around is not difficult; the roads are well signed but be aware that accomodation can be problematic. There are few hotels off the tourist track and there are only a few guest houses which will take foreigners (they need a special licence); there is a special sign to indicate this but I can't recall what it is.
You also need to keep topped up with petrol as again there are only certain filling stations licenced to sell petrol to foreigners; be prepared to get stopped and searched at police/military checkpoints, particularly near the coast.
I found it an interesting experience and it was surprising to see the amount of horse-drawn traffic. Some command of the language will definitely make life easier, however.
"It looks like you can't even take in any food - no animal or vegetable/fruit products allowed"
No different to the USA for good reason. Big penalties.
I would think the road network is not that difficult. Years ago I managed on Corfu with most road signs written in Greek - having done Physics/Mechanics A-Levels I thankfully knew the Greek alphabet and could translate/read. At least Cuba will use a familiar alphabet.
Apart from a rum cocktail-laced stopover in the airport at Valladero, I can't comment on Cuba directly. However, I absolutely and thoroughly agree that you should not even consider packing any kind of GPS in your bags. The GPS system is essentially controlled by the US military so you can understand the sensitivities. I can confirm that GPS works in other countries disliked by the US -- and therefore potentially useful for any excursions by either US personnel or discreetly by mere motorists like myself. Experience elsewhere in non-favoured countries suggest that unless you are playing the tourist in the middle of a town, don't make a show of using your compass and map. Satellite maps might be viewed with equal suspicion by inexperienced local police unless your Spanish is particularly good. I have used both GPS and satellite maps in places where you might think they don't work or exist and the key thing is discretion in their use.
Nsar, you're right Stanfords is THE PLACE for maps. I've spent many a contented half-hour perusing street plans of outer mongolian villages etc. when I've been there. If it exists Stanfords seem to sell it.
I recall that HM Government paid a pre-invasion visit and bought up every Falklands map in stock back in 1982(?).
Why not just write a nice letter to the Pentagon? I'm sure they have a full set of very detailed maps they might be prepared to share if you agree to salute the flag, or promise some troops for Iraq...