If you’re looking for adventure, an opportunity to travel with like-minded travellers and to get off the beaten track then this type of trip is for you! We will sometimes be covering long distances over a period of a few days but will then most often be camped up for a few days with opportunities for adventure activities, visiting local communities, time in a town or city to chill out or wildlife viewing experiences. The roads are sometimes bumpy and you need to expect the unexpected! This type of travel is through regions where things can change and experiences are more important than luxury – borders sometimes close and there may not always be hot water in the showers! You will generally be camping out under the stars, sometimes out in the bush, but generally more on campsites. (Our South America and Central Asia trips also use small locally-run hostels and guest houses). The trips are fully participative so you will be involved shopping for food in local markets, cooking for your group (on a rota system), collecting water and setting up camp. If you’re not confident about doing any of these things beforehand, don’t worry our crew are there to help you and you’ll be good at it by the time you finish!
You will be travelling on one of our own purpose built overlanding vehicles with up to 24 travellers, many of whom will be travelling on their own. It is a great way for solo travellers to travel. We have lost count of the number of travellers who have met their future spouse on one of our trips! Our vehicles are fully equipped with tents and cooking equipment and are designed for great all-round viewing and a sociable seating plan. You will be accompanied on your trip by a Driver and Tour Leader and, depending on your trip, we often use local guides at sites of specific interest for more detailed information.
This type of travel will provide you with a plethora of memories and stories to tell, new-found travelling companions and friends and a well-exercised spirit of adventure!
Responsible tourism: Istanbul to Ashgabat overland tour
Buildings/ Energy/Water-Approximately 50% of the time on this trip is spent camping, often out in the bush, rather than on designated camp sites, as these are not a common feature in many of the countries we visit. The rest of the time is spent in simple hotels and occasional hostels. As with all our tours we try to choose small, locally run hotels rather than international chains in order to support local communities more directly.
In Garmeh, Iran we stay at a homestay-thereby benefitting a local family directly and enabling a wonderful opportunity to engage with the local community and see aspects of everyday life at close hand. Our experiences with the local community in Iran are generally very positive. Often when we camp up for the night we will get an impromptu visit from the local community, ending up in singing and dancing and lots of discussion about our travels and Iranian life.
Camping obviously involves minimal use of electricity and if we're out in the bush we can only use the water that we carry-no chance to leave taps running, the air conditioning or heating or lights on! Filling up and carrying jerry cans of water helps concentrate the mind on how much water you consume!
Waste: at the point of booking a tour with us, all our travellers receive detailed pre-departure information which contains a large section on travelling responsibly. This includes advice on minimising the amount of waste they create on the trip. This informs travellers on what they can do before they go, for example removing toiletries from unnecessary packaging and taking a reusable water bottle and gives advice on what they should do whilst on the tour, for example, disposing of litter appropriately. All of this information on waste reduction is re-iterated at the pre-departure meeting at the start of the tour, with specific advice for the areas we visit on the tour. As a company we have a big commitment to reducing, reusing and recycling in our UK office. We are very aware of the environmental impact of our office in the UK, so we recycle and compost as much of our waste as possible. We try to reduce paper usage, but when necessary we use recycled paper and stationery. Our brochure is available to view or download online and the paper version is printed on stock produced from sustainable sources and vegetable based inks.
Friends and Neighbours: On all of our trips we try to ensure that as much of the trip costs as possible are spent locally and at a grass roots level-helping to sustain local communities. We generally do most of our food shopping in local markets and encourage visits to local restaurants and craft centres. Your crew will encourage you to try local dishes such as 'Ciorba'-a characteristic soup with a sour taste in Romania,; ' Plov'-a rice, mutton and shredded turnip dish in Turkmenistan and Yerevan brandy in Armenia. The trip to the distillery is also very educational!
In Turkmenistan and Iran we have a local guide travelling with us for the duration of our time there. This not only facilitates our travels, but allows us to gain a greater understanding of the countries and their culture.
Travelling with Respect: In our detailed pre-departure information travellers are advised on travelling with respect and what they can do before they travel, to help achieve this and what they can do while they are travelling. We recommend for example, that they learn some of the local languages before they travel, to help them interact with the local people and read up on the area’s history and culture; that they do not take photos of local people without asking for permission first and are respectful in terms of their behaviour and dress during their trip. This is of particular importance in countries such as Iran where local customs dictate specific dress codes and behaviour for women.