Oasis Blog

Spanish and… Salsa? My Experience at Spanish School in Quito, by Rachel, Oasis Tour Leader in South America

May 7, 2015


Just a year after ending a less-than-successful stint at university, I unexpectedly found myself back in the classroom. I was about to embark on the 15 week Kingdoms & Carnivals trip with Oasis Overland, and my Spanish seriously needed some work!

I knew the basics: “hola!”, “gracias”, “uno cerveza por favor”, but not enough to get by outside a bar or restaurant environment, so I signed up to a week of Spanish lessons in Quito, Ecuador.  The lessons were at Atahualpa Spanish School, and I would be staying with a local family for the week so I could practice what I’d learned that day and get a feel for life in South America.

The night before my first da, I met my Ecuadorian family and they welcomed me into their home. I was nervous, sat round the dinner table with people I’d just met, trying to communicate in a language I didn’t have much of a grasp on. However, by the end of the first meal I had managed to maintain a basic conversation, and ended being taught the Spanish versions of a few favourite Disney songs by my new five year old “sister”.Rachel with a new friend at Machu Picchu

Each day started with breakfast, then “mum” walked me to school and I had a morning lesson of conversational Spanish, with my teacher Lusmille. We’d then take the bus into central Quito, and Lusmille would take me round the various cultural and historical sites in the city, much of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site with plenty of reminders of its role as an important centre, before and during the colonial era, and over the course of the independence struggle and into the modern era as the capital of Ecuador.

It was great having Quito Old Townmy own personal tour guide taking round the city. She only spoke to me in Spanish, which I was surprised to find I could actually understand quite well! We’d then have lunch in a local restaurant or market and head back to school for my afternoon lessons. My other teacher, Juan, taught me grammar and vocabulary. It may sound a bit dry, but these were my favourite lessons and helped me immensely with my conversations.

School was tiring, but as soon as I got home I did my homework; a model student and a stark contrast from my actual schooldays!

Evenings usually consisted of a delicious family dinner and an early night, but on the Friday during my stay there coincided with a festival in the city centre and my family invited me to go along. I said “si, porque no?!” and we set off to Quito Old Townthe Old Town with various aunts, cousins and grandparents in tow. We wandered along the cobbled streets, past food stalls and street performers until we reached our destination: a restaurant with a courtyard where all the tables had been pushed back to make a dancefloor. We shared a jug of some kind of warm alcoholic juice. Then the band arrived and everyone got up to dance. I was keen to show off the one salsa move I had learnt on my previous travels in South America, but after a few songs I realised everyone was actually dancing merengue, and I had no idea what I was doing! It was great fun all the same, and a unique experience. I was the only “gringo” there, and towards the end of the night one of my aunts got the crowd to chant “Ingleterra, Ingleterra!” every time I got up to dance!

I learned a lot more than I thought I would during my time at Spanish school, and I enjoyed it a lot more that I’d expected as well! I’m not close to being fluent yet, but Spanish school gave me the confidence to practice conversation with the people I meet and has really enhanced my experience in South America, a continent where not a huge amount of English is spoken so far – I liked it so much I’m doing it again in October!

You can add a one-week Spanish School and Quito Cultural Program with a family homestay like Rachel to any Oasis Overland trip starting or finishing in Quito, with prices starting from £395 a week, including lessons, accommodation, some meals and guided tours of Quito. Selecti it as an ‘add-on’ before or after booking by logging into your Oasis account.  We can also add volunteering projects, or Spanish lessons of a longer duration, and cater for all abilities from beginner to fluent. For more information, e-mail southamerica@oasisoverland.co.uk.


Posted in All Blogs, South America.

Cairo to Cape Town in 50 days

April 14, 2015

Jackie from our UK office was in Cairo last week and was fortunate to be able to meet up with Mark Beaumont #africasolo. Mark has just begun a 10,000km epic cycle journey from Cairo to Cape Town and is aiming to complete the journey in 50 days, beating the current world record for this journey. That’s about 200km every day!

Oasis Overland are proud to have been approached by Mark for assistance in the planning of his journey, based on our years of experience running trips on this route. Chris, our Director, a keen cyclist himself, was keen to offer Mark all the help he could, having cycled himself  from London to Ghana and down through South America.

We wish Mark  every success on his journey and will be following his adventures closely.

If Mark’s route stimulates your sense of adventure, but you’re not quite up to the cycling have a look at our 17 week Cairo to Cape Town expedition




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La Paz Teleferico (that’s Cable Car to us gringos)

April 1, 2015

Recently constructed and opened this has added a whole new dynamic to the indigenous city of La Paz, the highest capital city in the world (and yes, that does include Kathmandu).

La Paz Cable CarThe Cable Car, although I think TELEFERICO sounds heaps better, starts its journey from La Paz El Alto at 4000 meters above sea level where La Paz sits on the Alti Plano. From here it glides down the city above the roof tops of the clustered houses, schools, office buildings and the colourful Andean street vendors and the busy everyday life of this high altitude old city.

Oasis Tour Leaders encourage our travellers to jump on the cable car and experience the ride along with the bustling local commuters as they hop in and out at the various stations as the cable cars sweep their way down towards Ciudad Baixa at the bottom of the city at around 2800 meters.  La Paz claims their Teleferico breaks quite a few records; entirely funded by Bolivia, it claims to be the only Cable Car system of its size built for local commuters -not tourists or as part of a feature; it is the highest and longest  urban cable car in the world, and carries more people per revolution and per day than any other in the world.

Bolivia Cable CarIn the opinion of our road crew Rachel and Ricardo who have sent these images in to us it is definitely the ‘coolest’ in the world. And what about price? At 3 Bolivianos (only 25 UK pence or $0.40 cents) why not jump on and take a ride?


Posted in South America. Tagged with , , .

Toilet Twinning

March 31, 2015
2.5 billion people across the world don’t have somewhere safe, clean and hygienic to go to the loo. That’s more than a third of the people on the planet. We think that stinks!
For those of you that have already travelled with us, you will have some understanding of bush toilet stops and the hazards this entails-even on a short term basis. For people living with the reality of no toilet on a daily basis a hole in the ground is quite literally a life saver – protecting women from the risk of attack as they find somewhere private to squat, and shielding children from preventable diarrhoeal diseases.
Oasis Overland have just joined forces with Toilet Twinning  to build seven new latrines for communities in Africa. Toilet Twinning raises funds to enable people living in poor communities to have clean water, a decent toilet, and to learn about hygiene – a vital combination that prevents the spread of disease, reduces the number of deaths among children, and brings hope for the future.
For a £60 donation, you can twin your toilet at home, work etc with a latrine in various parts of the world. With a framed certificate and precise co-ordinates as to the location of the twinned loo it also makes a great gift for a loved one. The three loo pictures in this post are three of the seven we have twinned with.


Posted in All Blogs.

Congratulations and Respect to the Oasis UK to Cape Town Trans Africa Team

March 24, 2015

Congratulations to our two truly adventurous trans Africa expeditions, led by Steve, Steve and Joe on reaching Namibia. These intrepid  travellers left the UK in November, 2014. At that time Ebola was at it’s height, African borders were being closed at an alarming rate and Africa’s desperately needed tourist revenue was nowhere to be seen. Our adventurous group was not deterred! Leaving a cosy European winter they set off for Africa, crossing through Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Angola and now into Namibia. Some of the group will complete their African adventure in South Africa, but others will venture on, up the east coast to Cairo. They have sooooo many stories about the highs and lows, the heat and the dust, jungles, deserts, rivers, waterfalls and the fantastic people they have encountered along the way.  Look out for some of their stories over the coming weeks. Well done to you all and we can’t wait to hear your tales!

If you have a true spirit of adventure and want to immerse yourself in the wonders that Africa has to offer, our next trans-Africa expedition leaves the UK on 15th November 2015. This really is a trip of a lifetime! See the links below for further details

39 weeks from UK to Cairo

21 weeks from UK to Cape Town

9 weeks from the UK to Accra


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Oasis staff organise Charity Comedy Night

March 10, 2015

If you’re in the Dorset area on Saturday, 21st March why not come along to our office staff’s 17th Charity Fundraiser Comedy night! So far, these shows have raised about £15,000 for local and overseas good causes. We have four acts from the national comedy circuit to keep you all laughing in the aisles, plus a compere to hold it all together. There will be a bar and snacks available and, tickets, at just £12 each are great value for money, with all profits going to our two good causes for the night. These are are Shillingstone Seniors’ Club  and, a regular charity Oasis supports, the Sudanese Development Project in Cairo. The show takes place at The Exchange, Sturminster Newton and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets are available, in advance, or on the door.


Posted in All Blogs.

Overland Travel in Central Asia

March 5, 2015

Are you thinking of travelling overland along the Silk Road through Central Asia?  Not sure if overlanding is for you?  Nellie Huang of WildJunket recently travelled on our Bishkek to Istanbul overland trip and wrote this excellent, well-balanced review on what it’s like to travel overland through Central Asia…

Big, wide open spaces in Central AsiaTraveling Central Asia is the stuff of dreams, evoking images of golden sand dunes, vast steppes, yurts, and exotic ancient architecture. For centuries, this region has been closely tied to the Silk Road and has acted as a crossroad for the exchange of goods, people and knowledge between Europe and Asia. The first travelers came to this region in 200 BC and since then it has attracted an influx of Silk Road travelers over the centuries.

Stretching from the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan to the Tien Shan mountains straddling between China and Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia is a massive region of varied geography. Travelling the Silk Road means crossing at least one major stretch of desert, climbing up mountain passes, and avoiding roads that are blocked by meters of snow, even in the summer. As if this is not daunting enough, the mountain of red tape you have to overcome and the lack of infrastructure in this part of the world are enough to deter even the most hardened traveler.

To traverse this challenging yet exciting route, I chose to travel on an overland expedition with Oasis Overland, a UK tour operator specializing in overland travel. To dig up some Silk Road history and retrace the footsteps of Marco Polo, the Bishkek to Istanbul trip brought us through six countries – Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey.

While amazing sights were aplenty, it was the overlanding journey itself that made the trip memorable. For those who plan to travel overland in Central Asia, here’s a detailed review of my experience that will hopefully give you a better idea of how it is like to travel in the region.

How is overlanding Central Asia like?

Oasis Overland truck in Central AsiaFor the uninitiated, let me explain what an overland expedition is. It usually involves traveling in a big, multi-purpose truck that packs in cooking facilities, storage space, camping tents and seating capacity for 10 to 30 passengers. Travelers are expected to help with cooking and pitching up their tents, and it’s all about team work. For this Silk Road journey, there is a good mix of camping in the outback and staying in hotels while exploring cities. While the degree of comfort usually varies according to the price of the tour, don’t expect to be indulging in five-star luxury as most of these overland expeditions involve camping and participation from travelers.

Expedition travel: Flexible Itinerary and Lots of Freedom

Firstly, to join an overland expedition, you need to be flexible and spontaneous as unexpected situations may occur anytime. If you are looking for a set itinerary where everything runs smoothly, then this is not the kind of trip for you. Itineraries can change due to unforeseen circumstances. For instance, we had to change our route in eastern Turkey as violent riots were taking place all over the Kurdish region. Our tour leader and driver made sure to follow the news and talk to locals in the area and the foreign office to find out the best route to avoid the risky areas. We felt that we were in safe hands and sure enough, we didn’t find ourselves in any tricky situation at all.

Truth be told, it is this flexibility and unpredictability that I love about this particular trip. The tour operator mainly takes care of the driving and logistic part, while you do the exploring on your own. On our trip, we had a lot of free time to explore and do whatever we wanted — and that meant we could meet locals easily and have serendipitous encounters just as we would if we were traveling independently. During certain parts of the trip (like in Turkmenistan and Iran) having a guide is mandatory according to the countries’ tourism law, but that didn’t restrict us in any way. In fact, we could choose to explore on our own or go around with our guides and ask whatever questions we had.

The Bishkek to Istanbul trip that I did was also a brand new trip for Oasis Overland, it was only their second time doing it, so they were still finding their way around and trying out new stops, different routes and hotels. I thought our tour leader Grace and driver Malcolm did an excellent job and behaved very professionally even though it was their first time in this region too. They had clearly done plenty of research beforehand and were able to answer most of our questions and provide us with recommendations along the way. It definitely felt more like I was traveling with friends rather than on a tour.

Preparing lunch on the Central Asia overland trip


As part of an overland expedition, you are expected to have an active involvement in the day to day running of the trip.

The trip is run by a tour leader and driver, but you still need to do your part and help with various tasks, whether it’s cooking meals, pitching your tent or cleaning the truck.

Passengers are divided into cook groups and are given expenses by the tour leader to do grocery shopping and cook. It’s a fun way to get to know each other and sample food cooked by passengers from different parts of the world. Food is only covered by Oasis Overland when camping or doing truck lunches; so don’t worry about missing local food, there’s plenty to try.

I genuinely enjoyed the self-participation aspect of an overland trip, it made me feel like part of a team and that we were working together on this adventure.

When you’re camping with people 24 hours a day for months on end, the camaraderie definitely forms a close bond between you and your travel mates.

Overlanding on the Silk Road


There is much more to Nellie’s review… read more on the WildJunket blog.

Many thanks to Nellie for allowing us to reproduce her blog.  We hope to see you on the road again some day!


Posted in All Blogs, Central Asia. Tagged with , , , , .

A trip across the back of South America – Andes to the Atlantic

February 18, 2015

Oasis Overland’s Operations Director, Mark, has just got back from South America where he has been working on our trucks, and this is a short account of his time out there…

I arrived in to Cusco early morning, and my mechanic friend, Efrain, was waiting at the airport.  This is a part of ‘Overlanding’ that you don’t see.  By travelling in this style, not only do you get a trip of a lifetime and a real off the beaten track experience, but you support local people.  10 years ago Efrain worked as a fitter in a rough garage – mainly thanks to the steady income of working on Overland trucks, he now owns his own garage with concrete standing and covered areas.  It has literally changed his and his family’s lives.

It was also handy that Efrain was a dab hand with a 10 speed splitter gearbox, and within a couple of days we were ready for the journey ahead, with the gearbox having never changed so well.  We really like to keep roadside problems to a minimum, and that can only be achieved by regular maintenance such as this.

Our purpose was to get Frida (the name of our truck) from Cusco to Rio de Janeiro in about 9 days, and definitely in time for arriving passengers, ready to party at the Carnival celebrations.  Cusco sits at 3300mtrs high in the Andes, and our first day’s drive literally took us off the side of the mountains.  Until 3 years ago, the journey to the Peruvian jungle in Puerto Maldonado took almost 10 days, throwing mud, river crossings and thick jungle at the driver.  Now this has all changed with the Trans Oceanic highway – the sign above the road told us Sao Paulo was a mere 4750kms away!

The route takes you over 4700mtrs altitude with astonishing views of the surrounding white capped peaks.  The route has literally joined high Andean Alpaca farmers with banana growers and made them just a few hours apart.  This amazing mix of indigenous people is apparent as we stopped for a quick bite of Trucha Frita (fried trout) with a local family in a stone building high in the mountains.  3 hours later, after plummeting down a great many switchbacks, and we were sweating in shorts and T shirt eating a wide variety of jungle fruits, with faces looking more Brazilian with every mile.

We did indeed make it to Puerto Maldonado to our jungle lodge, which still sits on the outskirts of town in an area of untouched jungle.  It’s a comfortable place, complete with swimming pool, and with one of the owners being Thai, you are sure of a tasty feast, after a hard day’s drive.  From here our travellers venture down the Tambopata river in search of anaconda and the glimpse of a jaguar.  Sadly we were here to drive, so it was onward to the Brazilian border.  This turned out to be a mere formality and although the Peruvian official made a meal of selecting a variety of stamps to use in our passports (he obviously doesn’t get to use them too often!) it was all with a friendly smile and we were on our way to Rio Branco.

Rio Branco is famous for its rodeo, and we passed a variety of arenas with gauchos riding their steeds in preparation.  Roads are full of potholes and the going is slow at times, but the traffic is light and the scenery stunning, so our day runs quickly.  Brazil is now the largest producer of beef cattle, even over Australia, and on both sides of the road large swathes of rainforest have been cleared for pasture land for the hardy white horned cows.

This deforestation unfortunately continues as we travel east toward Porto Vehlo, and it brings me to think that this is something everyone should see and make up their own mind about.  Who am I to say it’s wrong and stop a family from making a living and putting food on the table.  But this is on a grand scale and not just a local family taking down a few trees.  In the distance to our left and right, beyond the rich pastures, you can clearly see primary rainforest forging its way skyward.  But with this in mind, you have to say that these areas have not been ripped out without forethought – pasture land is next to the road, with easy access to transport (everything moves by truck in Brazil) and great trees have been left untouched, probably only used as scratching posts by the herds, but nevertheless still standing.  Unfortunately however you look at it, our rainforests are disappearing, and it is clearly visible here.

Porto Velho is the gateway to the Amazon and the River Madeira makes its way north east before joining with the mighty river itself.  The soya bean is largely grown in this area and makes its way via boat to Manaus where it is exported to the rest of the world.  The town itself isn’t really a traveller haunt, but that in itself almost makes it a draw to me.  It’s a place where you can meet local people off the beaten track, and I’ve found jungle dwellers some of the most friendly in the world, and the most interesting – what is it actually like to live in the middle of the Amazon basin for example?!

Our journey now takes us south and on to a major trucking route.  This improves the road conditions – generally truck routes are better maintained – and we get our first taste of a major thunder storm – we are in the rainforest after all!  You can see how quickly flash floods happen and how whole road sections disappear.  We have already travelled some 2800kms, but looking at the map, have hardly scratched the surface of Brazil.  Travelling overland really is the only way to see a country of this size properly.  We stay in truck parks and garages, where there are clean showers and toilets and a decent meal of steak, rice and beans or the local feijoada (a sort of bean and meat stew).   Travellers on our trips often have this experience in Brazil and it is a way of meeting people that you would never come across in towns and cities and I can tell you, they are just as interested in you as you will be in them!  It’s not every day a giant orange truck full of ‘gringos’ pulls on to the forecourt and sets up camp!

Next on the agenda is Cuiaba and the main point of interest here is Chapada Dos Guimares – a fault ridge along a tectonic plate, which has produced a stunning valley of rocky outcrops and 80mtr plus waterfalls.  The town itself is quirky and small, and its inhabitants give it a kind of mystic feel, as it sits equidistant between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.  As the sun dropped to the horizon I noticed a shape wandering on the road at the edge of my headlights and I immediately slowed, expecting a donkey in our path.  However, tonight was to be my lucky night as a large Tapir wandered lazily in front of the truck and into the scrub to our left – what an amazing spot!

View points in the area show the dramatic step to the flatlands that become the wetland area of the Pantanal – a vast plain crammed full of wildlife such as Capybara, Anaconda, Jaguar, Tapir and a variety of birdlife.

Our route now unfortunately was to take us further south, and then east and on in to the chaos of Sao Paulo, where I would need to jump off and catch a flight home – all good things come to an end.  However for our travellers this would be just the beginning of a variety of Brazil’s must see attractions, including the bizarre and futuristic buildings of Brasilia, the current capital;  Lencois, a small town with cobbled streets and a friendly air, with amazing trekking opportunities;  Salvador, a city with an African vibe and amazing nightlife;  the coast of Brazil, visiting beaches that only locals generally visit;  the colonial gold mining town of Ouro Preto and finally the famous Rio de Janeiro.

If you’d like to follow in Mark and Paul’s footsteps, why not take a look at the full expedition:
Trans Amazon Explorer – Rio to Lima – 55 Days

There are several options to shorten or lengthen your trip – please don’t hesitate to contact us for details, or take a look at our website: www.oasisoverland.co.uk


Posted in All Blogs, South America. Tagged with , , , , , , , , .

Mali: The kind of place your family and your government would prefer you wouldnt visit

February 11, 2015

Tour Leader Joe reports from our Trans Africa expedition, currently in West Africa:

Oasis Overland truck on the Trans Africa ExpeditionWay back in the middle part of 2014 I took the decision to accept an offer from Oasis Overland HQ to lead the Trans Africa Expedition. It had taken me six weeks to decide. There was a lot to consider. Was I, as a person, up to it? Was I, as a tour leader up to it? How would I cope taking a group of people to places I had never been? What about Ebola? Was it dangerous?

Through many conversations with Oasis HQ and our other crew out here I know who had run this very trip I arrived at the decision to accept the Trans Africa. I knew it would be tough and I knew it involved a certain element of risk but that in essence is what this trip and all travel is, at its core, all about.  Pushing yourself to the limits of your ability and understanding and coming out of it more or less unscathed and all the better for the experience.

So, it was with great excitement that I jumped into devouring everything I could find on the places we would visit.  I began planning an itinerary in a notebook and quickly realised that there was so much to see and do.  I had a vague glance at Mali as part of this but discounted it as our route was to be through Guinea and Sierra Leone.

As time went by it became evident that the Ebola problem was refusing to go away.  The number of infections grew, more people died and borders were closed, forcing us to consider another route.  Chief among these was going through Mali as the Trans Africa did up until that country’s civil war and resulting coups in 2013.

I had concerns about our safety.  With stories of travellers being kidnapped, some killed by Islamic extremists.  Some research into it suggested that the tourists killed had gone to Timbuktu against the advice of those in the know and made crucial mistakes when the shit hit the fan, if you will excuse the expression.  Further research suggested that the situation in Mali had somewhat stabilised and was now confined to the north of the country, unfortunately that meant we would have to keep to the south of the country.  But even the south was against FCO advice with them advising against non essential travel.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term FCO, it stands for Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  It is the British government department charged with issuing advice to its citizens about where is safe and unsafe to travel.  Amongst many other things.  In Australia we call it ‘smart traveller’, in New Zealand I believe it is ‘safe traveller’ and in the U.S the State Department issues such advice.  Although this advice is to be considered whenever you are planning a trip in my personal opinion it can be a bit vague which often leads to it being misinterpreted and is always very much erring on the side of caution.  It should still be taken into consideration whenever a trip is being planned though.

Then, in the preparation for the trip I was given a safety briefing.  We were to limit our time in these places and I was to impose a ban on the use of social media and blogging while there in the interests of our safety as there was evidence to suggest that the bad guys had used these things to target and track the movement of westerners.  All very daunting stuff.  I was also given a briefing in the procedures we were to follow should the worst happen.  I remember thinking I had perhaps bitten off more than I could chew but armed with all the relevant information I was confident that along with the driver Steve we would avoid any problems.  All that was left to do was actually go there.

Just to put a cherry atop it all a few days before we were due to leave Oasis HQ it was reported in the news that a case of Ebola had been reported in Mali after a two year old girl crossed the border from Guinea… I was beginning to wonder if it was all worth the hassle.

Busy Mali town on the Trans Africa ExpeditionSo after crossing Senegal it was time to enter Mali.  We were a little more relaxed than we were before entering Mauritania (also against FCO advice) as we kind of expected a similar experience.  What we got far exceeded our expectations.  Not to mention that the Ebola threat in Mali had now subsided.  The day we entered Mali the news reported that there were no cases of Ebola present in Mali and should no more be reported in the next 42 days Mali would be declared Ebola free.

The first hint at the experience we would have in Mali came way back in Rabat, at the Malian Embassy.  The friendly and relaxed demeanour of the officials who seemed to fall over themselves to help.  This was indicative of the Malian hospitality we were to receive.

From the moment we arrived at the border it became apparent that the embassy would not be an isolated experience.  The chief of the border post was all smiles and very helpful.  He was intrigued by our journey and wished us a wonderful time in his nation.  It was infectious.  As Steve drove us away from the border we blasted “Danger zone” a song from the top gun soundtrack from the cab stereo.

Friendly kids in MaliFirst stop was Kayes.  Kayes had been in the headlines recently as it was the destination of the bus from Guinea that ferried the 2 year old Ebola victim into Mali thus dragging Mali into the Ebola mess and world headlines once more for all the wrong reasons.  We hit the market for some food where we were greeted with big smiles and many questions.  On the road again, we were greeted with smiles and big waves everywhere we went.  Then I saw a man standing on the side of the road with a gun, my heart skipped, he reached for his weapon pushed it onto his back, flashed us a huge smile and waved enthusiastically.  Crisis averted.  Such encounters became normal.  Every village cheered and shouted upon our arrival.  Tourists clearly are a rare occurrence in these parts.  A lunch stop would usually be encountered with a visit from a passing local with a big smile and many questions to greet us.

The villages we passed through hinted at Mali’s past as a French colony.  Many with stone railway stations with their white washed gabled facades stained by decades of red dust thrown up by passing traffic, cracking and crumbling.  Shoots of new life sprouted from cracks in the platforms as mother nature reclaimed these bastions of all things civilised.

The Oasis Overland truck on the river ferry in MaliMali at this time of year is hot and dry and therefore quite dusty.  Getting down and dirty is all part of the fun of the Trans Africa so when we found a stretch of river easily accessible from the roadside it was a welcome opportunity for a rinse and some welcome relief from the heat.

After a couple days driving we hit Bamako, the capital.  None of us were really sure what to expect.  What we got was a city with a lot going for itself.  Bustling markets selling anything from veg to lion heads, grand architecture (one example funded by none other than the late Colonel Gadafi of Libya), a surprisingly good nightlife and some great live music.

We took a sunset cruise down the Niger River followed by a bar hopping session in which we were transported around in a Sotrama, one of the colourfully decorated 1970′s model Mercedes vans used in Bamako as local transport.  The night was topped off by catching a gig at the local racecourse where we took in some typically Malian music that included the Kora, a type of African guitar and the singing drum, a revelation to the ears.

As all good things must though, our time in Mali had to come to an end.  We left all the better for the experience and we had only scratched the surface of what Mali had to offer.  Not bad considering it was a country that everyone we told of our plans to visit thought we were nuts!

Thanks Joe!  Looking forward to your next installment!


Posted in Africa. Tagged with , , , .

Half Price Gorilla Permits-April and May 2015

February 2, 2015

Visiting the mountain Gorillas in Uganda/ Rwanda really is one of those once in a lifetime experiences. With only about 700 of these magnificent creatures left in the wild viewing them in their natural habitat is a true adventure. If you have been considering a trip to the gorillas for a while, now is the time to book. In April and May 2015 the cost of Gorilla trekking permits has been halved from the usual £540 to £270 only.

The following Oasis trips offer an option to trek to the Gorillas

Our 19 Day Nairobi to Nairobi Gorillas and Gameparks Adventure. Trip cost £495, plus local payment of $295 USD.

Our 40 Day Nairobi to Lilongwe Apes and Lakes trip. Trip cost £995. Local payment $495 USD.

Our 54 Day Nairobi to Victoria Falls Apes and Lakes Trip. Trip cost £1190. Local payment $585 USD.

Our 75 day Nairobi to Cape Town Grand Adventurer trip. Trip cost £1650. Local payment $850 USD.

Permit numbers are limited, so don’t leave it too long!



Posted in Africa, All Blogs. Tagged with , , , , .

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