Oasis Blog

A little bit about Natalie

October 29, 2014

At Oasis Overland HQ, we have a fantastic team who work hard behind the scenes to make our travellers’ trips amazing!  Some of you may have spoken to Natalie who currently deals with all things Africa.  Here’s a little bit about her and how she got the travel bug…

Natalie at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Natalie at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

I first travelled to Africa aged five with my parents.  We only went on holiday every three or four years, but when we did my Mum wanted to make sure it was to a far-flung place.  I’m not sure Mum and Dad quite realised what they had started!  In 1998 I packed my backpack and set off on a trip to Zimbabwe.  It sealed the deal with my love affair with my backpack and my love of travel.


Natalie at the Equator in Africa

At the Equator in Africa

After university I started my initial career with the NHS, before taking a long-overdue ‘gap year’ (actually it was my second gap year but whose counting…) or should I say gap-two-year!  I started this trip with a bang and went down to Antarctica, before heading onto South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America.  It was an amazing trip and one that holds so many special memories.   I went back to work and fast forward to a few years down the line, and I had itchy feet again.  Way back when I was in Zimbabwe in 1998 I’d dreamt of travelling from Cairo to Cape Town.  A simple search showed that Oasis Overland ran this trip, and I came along to one of the travel shows, signed up and never looked back.  With my traveller hat on I can honestly say it was 16 of the best weeks of my life!  It was truly life changing for me as well as I met my husband and best friend on the trip!

Just another day in the Oasis Overland office

Just another day in the Oasis Overland office

In 2011 an opportunity to work for Oasis Overland presented itself.  The dream job really did exist, so I accepted the role and moved from London to Somerset to start the next chapter in my life.  Initially I worked with the South America trips, and for two years I thoroughly enjoyed this.  I was lucky enough to take five months off over last winter and to travel with my husband overland from London to Beijing and back to India.  Having travelled through 12 countries and racked up 20,000km we had to board a plane!!  Going back to work after such an adventure is not hard when you work for a travel company and since I have been back I have been involved in all aspects of our Africa trips.  I love talking to our travellers and getting excited with them as they embark on their own adventures.

She does love an Oasis Overland truck

She does love an Oasis Overland truck!

First Oasis truck travelled on (and still my favourite): Nahenda (some know her as Bulldog) – an amazing girl driven at the time by Franco.  She’s a beauty!

Favourite country: An impossible question…. can I have three?!?!  Zimbabwe, Myanmar, New Zealand

Top thing to pack:  A small handbag / man bag that contains all your charging cables.  If you get the chance for a night out on the town, then empty the chargers out and you are ready to go!

Top tip: When something doesn’t go to plan, then go with it… you never know where it will take you and what opportunities will pop up as a result

What is your favourite travel memory?: Standing out on deck in Antarctica whilst a pod of orcas circled near our expedition ship.  We felt so privileged to be sharing their environment

Natalie will soon be leaving us for pastures new… thank you Natalie for all the help you’ve given our travellers in Africa and South America.  We wish you all the best and will miss you!



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Preparing for the trip of trips…

October 22, 2014

Joe tells us about preparing to tour lead our Trans Africa Expedition…

Oasis Overland Tour Leader, JoeWay back in March I received an email from the good folks at Oasis Overland HQ offering me the gig tour leading the trip of trips, the biggest baddest of them all, the Trans Africa Expedition. Two years ago when I started with Oasis I would never have even dreamed of doing this trip. In fact, whenever I was asked about it I usually replied with “No way, that trip is a bit too much for me”.

But Africa is one of those places that gets under your skin and even just the smallest of hits can leave you with an enduring lifelong habit.  Even if you never return there will be that ever present itch to give way to the voices in your head and go back for more. Not unlike those who get their kicks through less fulfilling sources than travel.

The roads in West Africa can be quite challenging!So there I was sitting in a bar by the River Nile in Uganda with a fully fledged Africa addiction.  Like a lot of addicts I was beginning to find the kick not as potent after a little over 12 months treading the familiar trail through East Africa and down to Cape Town and a short jaunt backpacking Kenya and Ethiopia.  I needed to find a way to get that original feeling back and there it was on my iPhone. The next level of Africa. West Africa…

I took my time deciding to do it. I spoke to a few overlanding buddies who had run this particular trip themselves and they all more or less said the same thing, “It the hardest trip you will ever do but its the best. It makes you work but the rewards are worth it.” After a few weeks of devouring all the information I could about West Africa I took the gig. I couldn’t focus too much on it though. I had a job to do. Another seven months doing the East and Southern Africa run.

Joe cleaning out tents for our Trans Africa Expedition

Fast forward to September. I bid farewell to my last Grand Adventurer crowd and headed back to Sydney for a three week break. This is when the work for me began in earnest. Applying for passports and visas, beginning to formulate an itinerary and working out just how to get around Ebola affected areas (turns out we are going quite literally, around them, through Mali). With all that and some R&R time with the family it was time to head to Oasis HQ in the UK where the real prep would take place.

I have done my fair share of trip preparation after completing five Grand Adventurers but the scale of preparation that goes into this trip dwarfs all others. It had begun months before I arrived with Natalie, Chris and the rest of the Oasis HQ team leaving no stone unturned. I joined the melee of emailing, photocopying and planning and it became evident there was a lot left to do. Things to clean, two trucks to fill with food, itineraries to finalise, visas to sort and more information to consume than one could possibly imagine. The days are running out and the jobs are gradually being ticked off. The shopping is done, our very flexible itinerary completed and my desk covered in a pile of paper that is slowly finding order.

Van full of food - just a fraction of the huge amount to be carried on the truckEver wondered what a van full of canned goods looks like… I now know. Let’s get this show on the road.

Our 39 week Trans Africa Expedition starts on 4th November.  Contact us if you’d like to join – we still have places left but you’ll need to be quick  as there is limited time to make visa applications.


Posted in Africa. Tagged with , .

The not express, Mosi-Oa-Tunya Express

October 15, 2014

Oasis Overland Tour Leader Joe tells us about his group’s train journey from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls…

All aboard! The Bulawayo to Victoria Falls sleeper trainI was recently asked by the folks at Oasis HQ to take my group on the train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls as part of our 75 day Grand Adventure trip. Being somewhat of a train travel enthusiast as a result of my previous travels through Asia, Europe and Africa I was eager to take up the challenge as were my 13 fellow travellers on the trip.

Being Africa I knew it would be a somewhat unique experience and a quick browse of seat61.com seemed to affirm this. No online booking, a somewhat relaxed approach to scheduling and carriages that were built in the 1950′s during the colonial heyday, that have received little or no TLC since independence in the 80′s. Perfect! It was shaping up to be a uniquely African experience.

Bulawayo to Victoria Falls train, ZimbabweAs I settle into my sleeper cabin a quick inspection reveals, one very grubby mirror that still bares the insignia of Rhodesian Railways (It hasn’t been referred to as Rhodesian Railways since independence in the early 80′s). Two well worn benches. Four lights that, try as they might, produce only a dull, annoying hum but alas no light. One sink, tarnished and inoperative and one crisp packet. The carriages on this particular train were built in the 1950′s either in the UK or in South Africa so a degree of wear and tear is to be expected and besides, this IS Africa after all, or T.I.A as it is popularly shortened to.

What we did have though was a rather large fold out table, food to eat, beer to drink, some tunes on the ipod and a packet of cards and when all the revelry is through a reasonably comfy bed to sleep on. If you wish to part with $4 you can also have it expertly made up with crisp white linen by the carriage attendant. Result!

On the Victoria Falls train, ZimbabweWith the train under way 3 minutes early we settle down to a dinner of chicken rolls. Progress is soon halted for quite a period of time for no apparent reason, this would prove to be a rather common occurrence on our journey to Victoria Falls. In such situations there is nothing to do but sit back, relax and crack open a refreshing beverage while sighing the immortal phrase, “T.I.A”.

One refreshing beverage became several and before you knew it there were 12 people crammed into a 6 berth cabin, we had a train party on our hands. It was a good thing we had each only brought a limited supply of drinks otherwise I feel it had the potential to carry on well into the wee hours.

When daylight broke it was to reveal a sunrise only Africa can turn on. The sun’s rays of golden light transformed into a hue of deep red by the haze of dust particles in the air that you only really get in the height of a dry season. The train worked its way through the Zimbabwean bush like a long lazy brown snake that’s just had a meal.

As it turned out the train had been delayed though the night as we slept. When I queried the cabin attendant he dutifully informed me that we were indeed 300 minutes behind schedule. No biggie, only 5 hours. There is little to do in this situation but sit back, relax, eat your delicious breakfast muffin while sighing the immortal phrase, “T.I.A”.

The train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls As the train trundled on we passed through Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest national park. Here from the comfort of our cabin we saw Impala, Zebra, Kudu, Giraffe and even an Elephant! One of the greatest things about train travel, in my opinion, is to sit quietly and watch the world slide past the window with the clickety-clack of the rolling stock on the rails beneath you. Throw in a splash of African wildlife and you are onto a sure winner.

Another quite long stop, in a town called Morden, to drop off the coal cars our train seemed to have acquired through the night ensured that we would not be making up any of that lost time.  A few enterprising locals were walking up and down the length of the train selling ice cold water and soda as well as biscuits. This made for some light entertainment for a few minutes.  With the burden of the coal cars relieved on our aging engine we carried on.

Victoria Falls Railway StationA mere few hours later,  the sight of the “Flight of the Angels” helipad out the window told me that we would soon be approaching our destination of Victoria Falls. On the other side of the train a mist hung above the bush, this was the tell tale spray of Mosi-Oa-Tunya, The Smoke the Thunders or as we know it Victoria Falls.

The old girl gracefully came to a halt at the beautifully historic Victoria Falls Station and we disembarked a mere seven hours late. It was now time to get settled into our accommodation at Rest Camp, find a spot by the pool, grab a cold drink, sit back, relax and sigh, “T.I.A”.

Thanks Joe!

You can take the Bulawayo to Victoria Falls train on these Oasis overland trips in Africa:

NAIROBI to CAPE TOWN (75 days) Grand Adventurer

LILONGWE to CAPE TOWN (35 days) Deltas & Dunes

NAIROBI to VIC FALLS (54 days) Apes & Lakes




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Deaf travels with Oasis Overland

October 8, 2014

Oasis traveller Helen tells us about her experience on our Trans Africa Expedition

Crossing the Equator on the Oasis Trans Africa ExpeditionPacking my bags for my 9 month UK to Cairo trip around Africa wasn’t easy, it had to include a year’s worth of batteries for my 2 Cochlear Implants (Hearing aids) which weighed a lot!  I also had to pack all kinds of spare parts for it, a drying kit and a spare Implant (ended up needing it!).  I’m profoundly deaf (100% deaf) and I rely a lot on lipreading to understand others and I was VERY nervous about doing this trip in terms of understanding people and getting along with them!

After we all got together and arrived in Africa, I asked my tour leader if she could tell everyone that I was deaf and to get my attention before speaking to me or to make sure that I can read their lips clearly, that light is on their faces, no shadows on their faces or even having the sun in my eyes which prevents me from lipreading!

I realised I could lipread most people easily and learnt to adjust to lipreading the harder ones and we all helped each other out, so that worked out well.  I also know British sign language so I taught some of my fellow travellers  to learn some of the basics signs for fun and also just in case I need to sign in situations where I can’t wear my CI (Cochlear Implant) i.e. swimming in the river/sea.

Oasis Overland travellers Trans Africa Expedition 2013-14I loved the layout of my overland truck because all the seats were facing each other so I was able to follow most conversations.  This was also one of the reasons I chose Oasis.  I made sure I sat in the middle most of the time so that it was easier to ‘watch’ people.  This certainly made truck life a lot easier.

The thing that I struggled the most with was evenings.  After a long day of lipreading (listening with eyes is hard work!)  sometimes my eyes would hurt and I would get a headache.  It didn’t help that light conditions went down with the sun and made it difficult to understand what was going on.  The cooking and food preparation was fine as there are lights over the tables.  Sitting together and eating, I made sure I sat where the truck lights were behind me so therefore most light would fall on people in front of me. We would have a talk from the trip leader about plans for the following day/week.  Sometimes I couldn’t see which was fine as I’m tired at this point.  Sometimes I would use my head torch on people so I could follow important conversations.  After we all cleared up most people would be near the kitchen lights so I would ask or someone would explain what I missed and what time I need to get up for breakfast and I preferred that as I could ask questions about it to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Helen at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro!  Doing fun activities was no problem at all. I would tell the instructor that I’m deaf and they would explain all I need to do or watch out for before the activity starts whether it was quad biking, shark diving, sky diving etc.

My advice to other deaf/disabled travellers is to let people know what your needs are then I’m sure your fellow travellers would be happy to help you – like mine did with me.

Thanks Helen, we’re glad you had a great time!


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Oasis HQ tries out some gear from Blacks & Millets

October 1, 2014

We’ve been sent some cool stuff from Blacks and Millets which disappointingly isn’t actually for us here at Oasis HQ but is for three of our Nile Trans Cairo to Cape Town travellers to try out!  They’ll be reviewing the gear during their intrepid journey across Africa but we thought we would take a sneaky peak first and give our own opinion!

First out of the bag was the Thermarest Prolite sleeping mat… lots of ‘oh they’re brilliant… fantastic… I love mine!’ comments as we opened it up.  It seems quite narrow compared to our own ones but if the rest of its qualities are the same as ours then we think they’re great – you don’t feel the ground through them, they’re easy to roll up, Natalie’s lasted 16 weeks across Africa and Katie’s survived a complete soaking in a rain-filled tent!

Natalie sporting the head torch on one of our overland trucks!

Natalie sporting the head torch on one of our overland trucks!

Next up, a Petzl Tikka 2 head torch…  essential piece of overlanding equipment!  Or so Katie and I thought but Natalie prefers to hang her Maglite round her neck or on a headband.  ‘It’s very light’ (Ceris) ‘oh it’s heavy’ (Natalie).  On comparing to another one we had to hand we agreed on slightly heavy!  This head torch is quite basic with just two settings of brightness.  We felt you didn’t really need more than that although a red light setting can be useful for being less attractive to bugs.  It comes with batteries which is handy.

The very small video camera and accessories

The very small video camera and accessories

Last but not least, a VEHO MUVI™ Atom ‘No Proof No Glory’ Bundle.  It’s a small video camera which is very, very, very tiny!  We didn’t want to mess around with this one too much so we’ll have to wait and see what our Oasis traveller has to say about it but it looks like it will be a cool piece of kit!  It has loads of little accessories for attaching it to all manner of things from a cycle helmet to your backpack.  The instructions look pretty clear and simple so hopefully even a technophobe like me could work it out!

The items have now been packed up again and will soon be winging their way to Cairo for the 16 week expedition to Cape Town.  Let’s see if they survive the journey!



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Africa’s Greatest Hits – by tour leader Joe

September 24, 2014

In my role as a tour leader with Oasis Overland in East and Southern Africa I am often asked at the start of trips, “What optional activities do you recommend?”. To this I usually answer, “Everything.” It is a very vague answer to what is, in reality, a very broad question. There is so much to see and do in this part of the world that without knowledge of your individual trip, budget and personal preferences it is the only answer I can give. Usually, after a long discussion I am able to help in narrowing down the huge range to what I feel you, the traveller, will get the most from.

With this in mind I have put together a shortlist of the activities that in my opinion will help you get the most from your trip with Oasis. Some are cheapies but goodies, others may put a dent in those heard earned savings but are in my experience ‘must do’s’ that your African experience just would not be complete with out.

1. Trekking with Mountain Gorillas, Rwanda.

Lets face it, at £495, it will probably be the most expensive hour of your life but it is something that will stay with you for the remainder of your life. You will be awake early and not long after wiping the sleep from your eyes you will be trekking into the lush Rwandan rainforest in search of the  amazing creatures. Depending on how lucky you are you may only have a short walk or, if you are fit and up to the task it could be a leg shaking slog. Either way that all becomes inconsequential when the sound of the gorillas slapping their chests and grunting reaches your ears through the forest, a sound that shakes you to your core, and then there they are. Perhaps but a glimpse of a black shape moving through the undergrowth at first until you come across the whole family sitting down to a light lunch of bamboo shoots and leaves. Nothing can describe their presence. You don’t just see gorillas, you feel them. There is nothing quite like a 200kg silverback sitting only meters away surveying your every move. The babies are super playful and very inquisitive as all babies are. They roll and tumble clumsily as they move about the forest. I have even heard of the babies coming right up to humans to get a closer look. Imagine that with a 200kg father watching on…

Walking in Hell's Gate National Park, Kenya2. Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya

I would not normally include this one but I am as talk around the campfire suggests that in the not to distant future this park will be closed to make way for geo-thermal electricity production. If it proves true then it is an absolute travesty that this amazing landscape will no longer be there for people to experience. Most folks opt to cycle through the park (don’t worry nothing is there that will eat you). It a pretty cruisy day out as you will be cycling along the flat base of an immense valley. With any luck you will spot the inspiration for Pride Rock from Disney’s ‘Lion King’ not to mention a few giraffe, zebras and warthogs or Pumbas as they are called in Swahili.  Once across the park you reach Hells Gate Gorge inspiration for another scene in the Lion King (I will leave you to judge this one). Hells Gate is an important place for the local Masai as it is key to local folklore. A guided day trip including a local lunch should cost around $50.

3. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

There is little I can say about the Serengeti. Due to the cost of going I waited nearly a year before I finally ventured in and my first response was, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Where else in the world might you encounter wildbeest and zebra as far as the eye can see? Not to mention the predators that feed on them. The circle of life is there for all to see some even call it the greatest show on earth. Add to the mix Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara you have a three day experience it will take years to stop telling all your friends about. It doesn’t come cheap though. Depending on the size of your group expect to pay between $550 and $665. Note: When planning your trip bugdet to pay $665 that way you don’t have to miss out. If you get it for $550, great! Thats $115 to spend on something else.

4. Zanzibar Island, Tanzania

Your African experience would not be complete without a trip to ZANZIBAR!!!! Perfect white beaches, crystal clear waters a shade of blue only the Indian Ocean can dish up. Don’t forget the sunset cruises, scuba diving, snorkelling, good food and if you are up for it, a boogie late into the night at one of the beachside bars. There is a lot more to this island though, it has a rich history of slavery and spices, a history you can learn all about on the brilliant spice tour. We must not forget the enchanting Stone Town either. Allow your self to get lost in its winding alleys and soak in the sights, sounds and smells to get the full Stone Town experience then find your way to Africa House for a tipple of your choice as the sun sets as only the African sun can. We spend 4 nights on Zanzibar and if you stay at the places we recommend you can expect to pay between $25 and $60 per night depending on the option you choose. Return passage on the ferry is $60. Meals range between $10 to $20 but you can get a great feed most places around the $10 mark. A sunset cruise on a traditional dhow is $25 and snorkelling trips vary between $50 and $30 again depending on the option you choose from. The spice tour is $25 and transfers from the ferry to your beach accommodation are $16.

5. Zimbabwe

Ok, ok. So, Zimbabwe is not optional. You will go there if you book the right trip but there is so much to do there it seems unfair to tell you about a few and not the others!!! So I will try to give you a taste for Zim in the next paragraph.

Where else can you hike in pristine mountain wilderness, get up close and personal with lions, stalk rhinos on foot, take a chopper ride over the world famous Victoria Falls and throw yourself off a bridge??? Thats right, Zimbabwe. I would list prices but as I said there is just so much and this is only really scratching the surface. Check out the pre-departure information for your respective trip for more info.

If your Oasis Overland trip starts in Victoria Falls why not arrive a few days early to get the most from the town.

6. Okavango Delta Mokoro Trip, Botswana

At $145 for 2 nights, 3 days this is great value for a truly unique experience. This activity is not about blood-pumping wildlife encounters, it is about you. I say that because the Delta and what people get from it is very much up to them. You can swim, learn to pole a Mokoro (a traditional dug-out canoe), play cards, read a book and just generally relax. You will see very few other people and hear only the wind through the trees, the grunting of a nearby hippo (if you are lucky) and the buzz of the occasional scenic flight. Its all about the serenity.

7. Sandboarding, Swakopmund, Namibia

At only $40 this activity falls into the ‘cheapy but a goodie’ category. Hit the dunes just outside Swakopmund and carve up the sand on actual snowboards complete with boots and bindings. Take a break and have a go at lie down sandboarding which will inevitably turn into a battle of the biggest ego to see who can go screaming down the dune the fastest, usually top speeds for the day are approaching 80kph. Worked up a thirst and an appetite? Thats cool, lunch and a few cold drinks are all part of the deal.

8. White Water Rafting

Few things compare to the rush of white water rafting and two of the best grade five rivers in the world await. The Nile River in Uganda and the Zambezi River on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia offer very different experiences. The Nile is all about long stretches of tranquil flat water broken up by terrifying drops and big rapids where as the Zambezi is a balls to the wall rollercoaster ride of surging white water. If you are unsure of this whole rafting caper and have the luxury of visiting both places I suggest trying your hand on the Nile and if you like it go for the duo when you hit Victoria Falls. Rafting the Nile costs $150 with a sunset cruise on Lake Bujagali included and if you want to charge the Zambezi it will set you back $165.

Note: Rafting the Nile is another African experience that is at threat as the Ugandan Government is in the planning stage of building a new dam for hydro-electricity production. If the dam goes ahead as planned the rapids currently used by the rafters will be lost forever.

9. Cultural Experiences

There is a lot more to Africa than the ‘Big 5′. One of the most important and rewarding aspects of travel is exposure to and integration with different cultures and a trip with Oasis Overland is abound with opportunities to interact with local people and experience local customs. From an orphan school visit in Uganda to village walks in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi to slum or township tours in Uganda and Namibia. In all cases these are run by local people for the benefit of the local people. Cost ranges from a few dollars to $40 but all will leave you with a much truer sense of what life is like for those who call these places home. Alternatively, you could take yourself on your very own village tour. Africa is just outside the campsite waiting to say “Hello”.

Regardless of how you spend your time in Africa you will be amazed. The continent is unlike any other place and an Oasis Overland trip the perfect way to see it and the more activities you can manage to do the more memories you can take away. So, when planning your trip take these activities into consideration. Any further information you may require on activities is in the pre-departure information.  Just remember you may only get one chance to come to Africa, why not get the most of it?

Note: These prices were correct at the time of writing.

Have a look at our Africa Overland Adventures or Contact Us for help in choosing your trip!


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Christmas and New Year 2014

September 23, 2014


Today, is officially the first day of autumn in the UK and already the shops are starting to fill with Christmas fare. If the thought of Christmas is leaving you cold and New Year never quite lives up to expectations why not get away from it all this year? We have a number of departures over the festive period ranging from 8 days in Morocco or Jordan, 19 days in Kenya and Uganda-with an opportunity to trek with the mountain gorillas, to 35 days exploring from Lilongwe to Cape Town…plus many more. With no single supplements, basting of turkeys or buying of presents, give us a call if you want our help to plan a different end to 2014 , or start of 2015.


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Oasis Overland Open Day 2014

September 17, 2014

Oasis Overland Open Day 2014On Saturday 13th September we held our 3rd annual Open Day at Oasis Overland HQ.  We met some past travellers, future travellers and those interested in being future travellers!

On the back of our Trans Africa overland truckOne of our favourite trucks was on display, M745, also affectionately known as ‘Fanny’.  She did her first trip back in 2003, a UK to Cape Town Expedition and more recently travelled from Istanbul to China.  This summer she was given an overhaul ready for the UK to Cape Town overland expedition starting this November so she was spruced up and ready for visitors on Saturday.

Jon, one of our Tour Leaders, gave a talk with photos of his Africa travels and some of the places and people you might meet on one of our Africa overland trips.  He was in high demand and gave the talk twice – great for Jon as by his own admission, he likes to ramble on about Africa!

Oasis Overland Adventure Travel Open Day 2014The ‘Sausage Sizzle’ on the bbq went down well and from it we raised £65 for the Sudanese Community Development Project in Cairo, one of the regular charities we support.  Thank you to everyone for your generosity!

We loved meeting you all so thank you to everyone that came along.


Posted in UK News.

Nothing could be Finer than to be in China

September 10, 2014

Oasis Overland Tour Leader Grace has recently told us about her first impressions when arriving into China. Grace and Malcolm are leading our London to Beijing Overland trip on one of our unique Overland Vehicles.

“Our first impressions of China are it really is a country of contrasts. Take the border as an example, with five check points – two in Kyrgyzstan and three in China across an area of about 160km it was meticulously organised and controlled. The motto displayed at the immigration desk spoke about efficiency, security and orderliness and in many ways this is how China is.  They have a good motorway system with efficient toll booths and are taking on the task of rebuilding roads such as the Karakorum highway which has peaks of up to 7000m and is the notoriously windy.  Furthermore the 550 km long roads through the Taklaman desert, one of the largest bodies of moving sand in the world is lined with plants with well houses.  People are employed and are stationed every 3 to 4km to look after the road and ensure the sand doesn’t drift onto the highway.

Parking up near the Great Wall

The security in China is beyond belief from not being allowed to take my handbag into the supermarket, to every shop having a police vest and helmet with a constant police presence in the cities and numerous checkpoints along the roads.  China in general has set ways to do things which are hard to stray from.  Our guide Mr Wang met us at our hotel with our itinerary printed out, maps to give to our travellers and a great Chinese restaurant in mind for dinner.  He also demonstrated the organised nature of China.

Beautiful drives through China

However, scratch below the surface of China and you find a country with an erratic beating pulse… In all the countries myself and Malcolm have travelled to we have never been deafened by so many car horns as by the crazy drivers here, the supermarkets are bursting with strange food from cellophane wrapped chicken feet to lambs heart!  Not to mention the night market that we visited on our second night in Kashgar.  Whole roasted sheep were propped on the table with rosettes around their necks alongside some items which we couldn’t even identify but would hazard a guess were some form of offal.  The people we have encountered have been friendly, wanting to pose for photos and are incredibly interested in our Oasis Overland truck.  Our guide has embraced the roughing it style of the trip, helping us to find bush camps and helping to build fires.  He has insisted we try the “real” drink of China – the strong and pungent Chinese white spirit as well as the famous Tsing Tao beer!!”

Trying the local delights


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Office Staff Return From Kyrgyzstan Trip

September 9, 2014

Katie and Jackie from our UK office have just returned from our 15 day Bishkek to Bishkek Kyrgyzstan Overland Adventure. This mountainous country, has only really existed as an independant state since 1991, and has scenery to blow your mind-alpine lakes, fast flowing rivers, conifer forests, agricultural plains and rolling meadows . Most nights are spent bush camping in stunning locations alongside clear lakes or glacial filled rivers. Katie and Jackie really enjoyed the three nights the group spent in a yurt at Lake Song-Kol. The vast open space and big skies were incredible. There are plenty of opportunties on this trip for trekking, horse riding and discovering local culture. The group were lucky enough to watch a game of Ulak Tartysh-a form of horse polo/rugby played with a goat carcass and to see one of the country’s leading eagle hunters in action. In the name of research (!) Katie and Jackie tried as much of the local food as possible-particular favourites were ‘laghman’-noodles with mutton and a spicy sauce, ‘manti’-steamed dumplings and ‘plov’-a mixture of rice, mutton, carrots and onions. Katie and Jackie never really acquired a taste for ‘kumys’-the local brew of fermented mare’s milk!

Our intrepid duo loved the feel and history of the country’s capital Bishkek and the ancient Caravanserai of Tash Rabat. A big thanks to their excellent crew Malcolm and Grace for running such a fantastic trip and to their fellow travellers for putting up with them!


Look out for further details and photos of their adventures!


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