An update on the happenings at Switchback Travel:
I have begun inserting links to digital maps onto various pages on the site, a big addition. This will help bring to life the areas and hikes being described, and users can explore things like terrain, difficulty, start and end points, and surroundings.
Given the different countries there is some variation in maps. Norway, for example, has one of the premier digital mapping systems in the world in Norgeskart (Norway leads the pack again). With this system I have created custom links for each map and inserted them in bold next to the hike names. An example can be found on the Lofoten Islands Hiking page
. The hiking trails are represented by red dotted lines and the Norgeskart maps include huts and other landmarks. You can zoom in, zoom out, and move around throughout the country. These maps are printable, although you’ll likely want to buy official DNT maps upon arrival in Norway as well.
Nepal is at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of information. The best option here is custom Google Maps for each of the treks, created by Switchback Travel. Again, you will want a hardcopy map of your trek, but these digital versions will help with trip planning and becoming familiar with the options. An example is our Everest Base Camp Trek map
. The main trail is in blue and the optional side trails are in yellow, red, and green. Further descriptions can be found on the information panel on the left.
For New Zealand, I will be inserting links for each area or hike to the corresponding Department of Conservation (DOC) page. New Zealand doesn’t have digital maps to rival Norway, but the DOC has static maps, descriptions, and summaries of the highest quality (with descriptions far better than anything Norway has available). Switchback Travel has been granted permission by the DOC to link directly to all of its internal pages and maps.
I hope the new maps will prove helpful to everybody. After careful analysis, it doesn’t seem that a one size fits all mapping system is best when many of the countries have dedicated tremendous resources and expertise in creating their own (custom Google Maps will be the default for those that haven’t). In this way, users of Switchback Travel will be getting the best all the available resources. It may be that down the road Switchback creates our own universal mapping system, but for now these are great options.
As I mentioned in my last post, a number of new Featured Outdoorspeople will be going up (the most recent was photographer Jack Brauer
). Top-notch guest articles are in the pipeline as well, including the West Coast Trail by David Smith and the Great Divide Trail by Shawn Forry. I myself am consistently creating new pages and eyeing future destinations, and soon there will be a significant addition to the Nepal section with the Nepal Trekking Guide Database (more to come on that). It’s going to be an exciting couple of months for Switchback Travel!
Enjoy the springtime and happy travels,