The yourname.gpx file is used in your personal gps device to provide basic geocoded information about your trip.

What it is (see image below)

  • The yourname.gpx file is an e-mailed/downloadable file that can be read by most gps devices, google earth and several other online and free mapping programs. The format is "GPS Exchange Format" see wikipedia for a detailed description.
  • The file contains a data set customized to your individual itinerary with tracks for the roads leading to and from each of the destinations you'll visit, points for the destinations on your itinerary, and points showing the locations of restaurants, parks, trail-heads, activities, interesting features etc. along the way. It contains enough information to get you where you're going but if you head off exploring it won't be much help.
  • The yourname.gpx file is compatible with most devices, but must be downloaded from the internet and uploaded to the device before use so typically cannot be used in a rental car. If you rent a gps unit with a car it will include all of the roads and points of interest and you will not need the .gpx file.
Custom .gpx files take care and effort to create so please do not request one unless you have a device to use it in. If you would like to test compatibility with your software or unit you can right click here and download sample.gpx

What it is NOT

  • We do not provide a GPS device. This file is for use in your own personal gps device.
  • This is not a base map of Costa Rica. It is not a comprehensive directory or guide. The file includes only the routes we recommend you follow and a few select points of interest we think you might enjoy.
  • The file does not provide spoken or textual turn-by-turn directions from point a to point b

If you need any of the above and you're renting a car we can arrange for a rental unit for around $10 per day.

If you would like to purchase a detailed base map and marker set for your Garmin GPS there are a couple of licensed ones available for $150 -- yes, we know that you can buy all of the U.S. or Europe at much higher quality for a tenth of that price. That is exactly why we provide the free .gpx file for those of you who'd like to use their own gps but don't want to shell out that much money for a detailed licensed basemap.

example of a gpx file

The image above shows a typical gpx itinerary loaded into the Garmin MapSource software. The appearance is similar on the display screen of a handheld or dash mount gps unit, but of course much smaller.

The yellow lines and purple dots are from the yourname.gpx file. The background and red and gray roads are from the free Garmin world map that is included with any gps they manufacture (similar low resolution maps are provided by Magellan and others).

You may notice that the yellow lines frequently diverge from the red. This is because of inaccuracies in the garmin map of more than 5 kilometers in some instances. The yellow lines were recorded during actual travel and while they are not guaranteed to be perfect they are typically accurate to within about 50 feet.

How to Use the GPX File

The exact steps necessary to display the yourname.gpx file will vary widely depending on exactly what type of GPS unit you own. Generally you will need to
  1. Download the .gpx file from the e-mail attachment to your computer hard drive
  2. Connect your GPS unit to the computer with a USB or serial cable -or- insert the removeable memory module from your GPS unit into the card reader on your computer
  3. Open the .gpx file using the software package that came with your GPS unit (for example Garmin uses Mapsource software).
  4. Upload or copy the information to your GPS unit or the unit memory using the software that came with your GPS unit..
If you find that your GPS cannot utilize the .gpx format there are several good free format converters available on the internet. We like this one

Another fun way to use the gpx file is loading it into the free 3D visualization software Google Earth. It's a simple and very powerful way to visualize your trip. In Earth simply click "File" then "Open" and navigate to the .gpx file saved on your hard drive.

In Earth you can select any of the routes we've provided and play a tour of it. You fly along a couple hundred feet above the road seeing almost what you'd see if you followed your trip route in a helicopter. You can also use the routing infomation we provide with Earth to geocode your photos so they show up where you took them. Have fun, but be warned it can be addictive.