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Oasis Photo Competition Winners Announced!

Finally the wait is over! Here are the winners of the Oasis Photo Competition! Congratulations to you all and we look forward to seeing you on another trip with us soon.

Old man, Khiva, Uzbekistan - Lars - 1st prize

Old man in Khiva, Uzbekistan

 

1st Prize goes to Lars who took this fantastic photo of an old man in Khiva, Uzbekistan during his Ultimate Trans Europe and Asia overland adventure from London to Singapore. Lars wins a £200 voucher off any Oasis Overland trip!

Bushcamping under the stars, Namibia - Xun - 2nd prize

Bushcamping under the stars, Namibia

 

 

 

 

 

 

2nd Prize goes to Xun – this amazing photo was taken whilst bush camping near Brandberg Mountain in Namibia. He was experiencing our Victoria Falls to Cape Town 22 days Deserts and Gameparks overland trip!  Xun wins a £100 voucher off any Oasis Overland trip.

On the drive to Torres del Paine - Maya - 3rd prize

On the drive to Torres del Paine, Chile

 

3rd Prize goes to Maya who captured this wonderful shot of the mountains of Torres del Paine National Park on her Oasis Kingdoms & Carnivals trip from Quito to Rio.  Maya wins a £50 voucher off any Oasis Overland trip!

 

 

 

Congratulations to Lars, Xun and Maya who are all winners in our Oasis Photo Competition!  We wonder which trips they will choose to go on next?  Thanks to everyone who entered, all the photos we received were fantastic and it was really hard to choose the best ones.  Our next competition closes end of February 2017 so enter your Oasis Overland trip photos to be in with a chance of winning money off your next overland adventure! You might see some of your photos on our website too.

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Tell us All About Your Trip

Crocodile,  West Africa

We love hearing about your experiences on our trips and we know how useful your travel reviews are for anyone considering booking a trip. As a little incentive anyone posting a trip review between now and February 13th  2017 will be automatically entered into a competition to win £200, or a crate of beer * off their next Oasis trip. On February 14th 2017, we’ll spread a little bit of Oasis love and inform the lucky winner. Post your reviews here.

(*Winner will be selected at random on 14th February. No cash alternative. Beer alternative is subject to where you live in the world-but we will do our best!! Discounted trip must be booked by 30/9/17 ).

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Come and see us at the Family Travel Show-1st and 2nd October-London Olympia

See Oasis Overland at the Family Travel Show in London

Family Travel Show – we hope to see you there!

In the meantime, here are a few images from our family trips in Africa, Peru, Morocco and Egypt.

Loading up the vehicles for the drive to Mount Kilimanjaro base

Loading up the vehicles for the drive to Mount Kilimanjaro base

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Exploring streams on a family adventure holiday

Exploring streams on a family adventure holiday

Learning about Maasai spears in Tanzania

Learning about Maasai spears in Tanzania

Riding a camel on a family adventure!

Riding a camel on a family adventure!

 

 

Checking out Egypt's Karnak Temple

Checking out Egypt’s Karnak Temple

Poolside fun on the Red Sea

Poolside fun on the Red Sea

Explore the Sacred Valley in Peru with your family

Explore the Sacred Valley in Peru with your family

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New Truck, new paint… meet Ithaca

Our new South America overland truck, Ithaca

Mark from Oasis recently travelled to Cusco in Peru where he met the newest member of the Oasis team…

“Hanging out in a truck park in Cusco probably doesn’t seem like the most exciting trip you’ll ever do, but it is places equal to this where I’ve had some of my best travel experiences.  This is largely down to the people I’ve met and worked with.

The quality of work carried out is always a surprise to me, especially with the tools and equipment available.  This was the case when our new Volvo truck, Ithaca (named after the Greek Island) needed an ‘Oasis’ paint job.

It took only a day or so for 4 ladies (mostly the wives of the truck park workers) to sand down every bump and blemish and within 1 more day we’d started to see coats of Oasis yellow going on.

The re-spray was part of my annual pilgrimage to South America to meet our hardworking crew and check over all of our Overland Trucks, to ensure they are all kept to a UK MOT standard.

Below you can see some of the work in progress.

Why not travel on Ithaca in South America on a trip in to or out of Rio Carnival:

QUITO to RIO (15 weeks) Kingdoms & Carnivals

RIO to QUITO (15 weeks) Kingdoms & Carnivals

Getting to all the nooks and crannies - Ithaca's paint job

 

Spray painting sections - Ithaca's paint job

Almost done - Ithaca's paint job

 

Ithaca's paint job in Peru

 

The finished result! Our new South America overland truck, Ithaca

 

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Life as a child soldier

We obtain gorilla trekking permits for those wishing to do the gorilla trek in Rwanda through Herbert, who some of you may have met during your overland trip with us.  We have worked with Herbert for many years and when company owner Chris met him, he told him how he had been a child soldier during the 90s.  We thought it a poignant story worth telling.

by Gato Herbert, Rwanda

“My experience during the 90’s when I joined the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) was a strange and sad experience” explains Herbert.

I left school at the age of 14 along with some other school friends after we were befriended by a group of men and given the opportunity to join a project helping young Rwandan children who were in exile. These men dressed in civilian clothes and when they visited our village near Kisoro in South West Uganda they would give us candy and tell us stories about how good our future would be if we could help the children. The children spoke Kinyarwanda, which was our local language and if we helped them we would be looked after. Little did we know that these men were part of a Tutsi Army rebel group, the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) that was fighting for liberation of Rwanda from 1990 to 1997.

I didn’t tell my parents, I just left in the night. We were told that the mission should not be done publicly and when I asked about bringing my clothes I was assured there were lots of clothes in the area we were going to.

I will never forget that night. We covered around 70 miles on foot, collecting other groups on the way until the group became very large and they then split us into smaller groups. They had promised we would travel by truck but when my friends asked why all the walking, they were immediately separated from the group. I later found out that they were tortured.

Around midnight when we were approaching the Rwanda border I realised we were being led by the army rebel group and upon reaching the border we were handed over to a group of aggressively officious men in uniform, all whom were armed. That’s when the penny dropped, I realised we were being forced to join the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) and thoughts of my mothers words of warning started flooding back as the tears streamed down my face. My Mother knew I’d been talking to campaigners and warned me of such things and now I was praying to God, oh how I wish I’d listened to my Mother.

Tired and hungry we hid in the bushes until we were found and searched by operation commanders and checked for any documents or family photos. Anyone who misbehaved or tried to escape was made an example of and they were slotted with a bayonet on the spot.

By now we had not eaten for three days but no one dared to complain, some of the Army would tell us food was coming as a form of motivation but that we needed to wait patiently as the path ahead was not clear yet. One week later we started training and we were hungry, worried and tired and the AK47 was fully loaded and so heavy and we were starting a war.

It was as if I could never feel a child again.

At first I didn’t know who to fight but after witnessing so much loss of life I quickly learnt what war was about and six months later we were defeated by the Government Army. Museveni, the President of Rwanda at the time was secretly supporting us and granted permission for us to retreat back into Uganda for one night during which time Kagame, our current President and then head of the Rebel Group decided we should move north to the Virunga Mountains. We completed the tiring overnight march into the high altitude area for two months, where the Rwandan Army could not attack us.

Conditions were harsh and many members of the Army perished due to freezing temperatures. I will never forget the hunger in these Mountains where we shovelling bamboo shoots into our mouths like gorillas just to stay alive. Eventually we made a surprise attack on a small town, capturing it for a day so we could gather food, weapons and equipment. We stormed the Ruhengeri prision freeing political prisoners and succeeded in creating an escalation of fear in Rwanda. Following this the RPF withdrew and began to carry out a classic hit and run style guerrilla war, low intensity fighting which dragged on with neither side managing to inflict any major defeats on the other.

The Army had to be furiously reorganised in the Virungas Mountain, such was the loss of leadership. Alex Kanyarengwe, a Hutu forma ally of Habyarimana and then President of Rwanda, was appointed RPF Chairman.  During this time the RPF also recruited from the Tutsi diaspora. In addition to Ugandans, new members arrived from Burundi, Tanzania, Zaire, USA and Europe. By early 1993 the RPF had grown to 15,000 and after the 1994 genocide we were 25,000 strong.

I cannot explain the struggle of war or what I went through, that is for another time. But on reflection I can say that with the new lightweight weaponry available AK47s are now much easier for children to handle and fire, even from the age of eight and with much less training needed. Moreover child soldiers are obedient, they don’t question orders and are easier to manipulate. They don’t demand pay and don’t complain. They are loyal and won’t desert the Army if things worsen as they grow older and they will die for their Army.

Some children become soldiers simply to survive, as they believe they will get a better life. In war-ravaged countries where schools have closed, fields destroyed and relatives arrested or killed a gun is a meal ticket and a more attractive alternative to sitting home alone and afraid. This was the life in Rwanda.

I am forever grateful that I survived this time but I carry with me the scars of war and I live every day with the memories of being a child soldier.

Herbert, his colleagues and Chris and family

Herbert, his colleagues and Chris and family

Footnote:

Herbert and his wife now have a thriving business and employ approximately 5 people and have been providing all the Gorilla Permits for Oasis Overland travellers since 2008.

If you would like to go and see the Gorillas we offer a range of overland adventures, most popular being our 19-day Gorillas & Gameparks, which starts and finishes in Nairobi. For those with less time we offer a 14-day Nairobi to Kigali overland trip visiting a selection of terrific wildlife National Parks en route.

Oasis Overland supports a British registered charity called Soft Power that works with the people of Uganda to improve their quality of life through education.

All travellers get the opportunity to visit this inspiring project when travelling to see the Gorillas.

For more information visit http://www.softpowereducation.com/about-us

Herbert and his colleagues

Herbert and his colleagues

 

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Take the Entire Family on an Overland Trip this Summer

Here at Oasis Overland, we specialise in putting together awe-inspiring adventure holidays which will leave you with lasting memories and unforgettable experiences. We’ve put together a whole host of trips that are perfect for you and your family to enjoy. If you’re bored of a typical beach holiday and want to show your children that there’s more to a holiday than just lying on a beach and paddling in the sea then an overland trip will show your children what the world has to offer. Some of our overland trips involve travelling in one of our state-of-the-art overland vehicles, which add an exciting, adventurous element to your tour.

Cusco to Lima (12 Days)

Take the family on a South American Adventure, travelling along the famous Inca Trail, all the way to Machu Picchu. We’ll take care of the majority of the planning as your flights transfers and orientation packages are included. We’ll arrange guided tours of landmarks to ensure that you have the most educational of sightseeing tours. The accommodation and travel plans you’ll need along the way will be sorted for you, taking the stress out of holiday planning. All that’s left for you and your family to do is meet your Oasis Tour Leader and be taken on a magical adventure from the Peruvian Amazon basin to the Inca Trail.

Monkey in Peru

 

 

 

 

 


Explore Egypt (8 Days)

On this exciting overland trip through Egypt, you can witness the famous landmarks of Egypt from the River Nile to the Valley of the Kings and more far flung destinations such as Abu Simbel. You’ll be given in depth insight into the country with English speaking Egyptologist Guides and all of your transport and accommodation will be arranged for you. Take your kids on a camel ride, experience a Kalesh-horse drawn carriage ride and marvel at the sights Egypt has to offer.

2015-08-04 23-00 Copy of kids jumping pyramids

2015-08-04 23-00 Copy of camel riding pyramids

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Africa Family Adventure (9 Days)

East Africa has so much to offer to you and your family. Overland vehicles give you the chance to explore the breath taking landscape. If you and your family are especially interested in wildlife, then this one’s for you. You’ll be able to visit an elephant orphanage, a giraffe centre and get up and close with some of Africa’s most popular animals in two of Africa’s most well known National Parks, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.  Your accommodation, camping and cooking gear are included and you’ll be in the safe hands of our Oasis crew.


chagga traditional house MaranguAlexis - arriving at Bagamoyo

 

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Deserts & Gameparks, part 2

Continuing on from my last blog, Deserts & Gameparks – part 1 (for those that missed it!)

I had just left Botswana with the group and have now entered Namibia. And our first stop was to stay at a campsite right on the edge of the Okavango River, which feeds in to the Okavango Delta.  Where rather than a pool, you can jump in to a caged ‘pool’ in the river to cool off, while being kept safe from crocodiles and hippos! The views from this campsite are just incredible, and if there is availability you can always upgrade to one of their tree houses, which are just lovely!

Okavango River, Namibia Ngepi Bar, Namibia Facilities at Ngepi, Namibia

 

 

 

 

From here we set off for Etosha National Park, & I really loved this Park, as we saw so much. The heat was incredible and it was amazing to think that any animal would venture out in those temperatures. At our campsite we all relaxed and cooled off in the pool before we did a late afternoon game drive, hoping to have more chance of spotting animals….and we were so lucky, as we were treated to plenty of elephants at a watering hole, giraffe and even a rhino, as well as zebras and jackals. Once back at the campsite we headed down to the flood lit watering hole where we were treated to a rhino settling down for a rest in front of a beautiful sunset.  The next day we once again set off for another game drive, where we saw even more elephants, rhinos, hyenas, mongoose, vultures, Oryx, springboks, lions and even a lioness just shortly after killing a zebra trying to move the remainder of its kill in to the shade and out of the open and away from all the Jackals trying to get a snack!  And once again at the floodlit watering hole at the campsite we were in for a real treat, as 6 rhinos came down to drink and get right in, as did 2 hyenas, a lion, giraffe and a herd of elephants. All in all just a really great place for seeing Africa’s wildlife.

baby elephant, Etosha National Park, Namibia baby zebra, Etosha National Park, Namibia rhino, Etosha National Park, Namibia lioness eating a zebra, Etosha National Park, Namibia Pale Goshawk, Etosha National Park, Namibia Male lion, Etosha National Park, Namibia

 

Cheetah park was next, where a family has a few tame cheetahs, and some wild ones too on their land. These cheetahs were caught by other farmers nearby and were going to be shot, as they kill their livestock, and are seen as a nuisance. With nowhere legally to relocate them this family have taken on a few of them to save them. Some were rescued at a very young age and so were hand reared hence why ‘tame’, while others roam freely around the 7000 hectares. Being able to touch these tame cheetahs and hear them purr was incredible, and it was lovely to meet a family who clearly cared for them so much.

There is such a mixture of stunning sceneries in Namibia that it is just mesmerising to watch as you drive through it.  Our next stop was a Himba Village and a short tour for those that wanted, the guide was interesting and did give you an insight to their lives and the tribe, I may have got distracted and ended up playing with one of the children, who kept going in to fits of giggles as I was driving his toy car up and down his arms – his smile was just infectious.

Cheetah, Namibia Himba children, Namibia Himba child, Namibia Oasis Overland Truck, Namibia Rock Carvings, Namibia Rock Carvings, Namibia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then continued on to Twfelfontein, where in its valley are rock paintings/engravings dating back to 2000 and 2500 years ago. Some of them were still so clear it was strange to think that someone had carved/painted these all those years ago. On the day we were there the heat was extreme, and there is no shade while looking at these, and so it was a case that we did a very quick overview of them while taking pictures, before getting back to the shade of the truck as quickly as possible!

That evening we had a bush camp, which for me have always been my favourite things – as a small child I was lucky enough to camp out in some really incredible places with my family such as along the Nile in Sudan (now North Sudan). And this bush camp did not disappoint, we truly were out in the middle of nowhere, away from town lights, and so you could see the stars clearly as we sat down next to the camp fire, and through the mesh of my tent (as I didn’t need to put the full tent cover on), others also just slept out next to the fire in their sleeping bags to get the full impact – who needs a shower when you get to have a stunning night like that!

From here we made our way to Skeleton Coast, seeing the empty Desert on one side of the truck as the ocean appeared on the other side created a beautiful setting. We all got off the truck and headed down to dip our toes in the South Atlantic Ocean, and oh my goodness was the water cold – unsurprisingly none of us went for a swim! It did get very windy down on the beach, but I still felt like it was a cold English summer, but our driver Often from Kenya thought it was freezing! After a few obligatory pictures and checking out a small ship wreck we continued on our way.

Namibian scencery Skeleton Coast, Namibia Skeleton Coast, Namibia Cape Cross Seal Colony Cape Cross Seal Colony Oasis Overland Truck, Skeleton Coast, Namibia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next stop was given away by the smell, oh my goodness it hummed! Seal Cross Colony where you can smell and hear them before you even see them. It was hardly surprising as you saw how many of them there were crowded in to this area – the numbers were just insane!  Strangely I did seem to get used to the smell, but perhaps that is because I am used to being surrounded by farms back in the UK!

We left the coastline for Spitzkoppe, an outcrop of mountains in what appears to be the middle of nowhere, where we were treated to our next bush camp. Although this is a bit of a cheat ‘bush camp’ as there was a drop loo in a hut, rather than having no facilities at all. For those that wanted you could set off and explore the rocks and wander up as high as you can get, or you could go on a guided tour, either way there was no way of escaping seeing rock hyrax’s (a bit like very large guinea pigs!) which seemed to be everywhere! Another night of sleeping out under the stars was just perfect.

Swakopmund was our next port of call, and this was a town like no other I had yet seen on this trip, as it was if I had suddenly transported myself to Germany, as there was no mistaking the German influence here. After Victoria Falls, this is the next opportunity on this trip to get the next adrenaline rush – so once again I crammed in as much as possible! Within about an hour of arriving in to Swakopmund I had signed up to a few activities, and was already on my way out in to the middle of nowhere, to do a tandem skydive! I really, really loved this (even though I am actually scared of heights!), the adrenaline rush you get as you are falling is just insane, and even while you are wearing the most ridiculously hideous jumpsuit ever, and giving your best Harold Bishop impressions as the wind contorts your face in to odd shapes, you can’t help but look around and take it all in – the views from up there were just incredible – The Southern Atlantic on one side, the Desert on the other and the outcrop of Spitkoppe in the distance…I was just so pleased I did the jump here.

Spitzkoppe, Namibia Quad biking, Namibia Pink pelican, Namibia

 

 

 

 

 

I also did a dolphin and seal cruise for a morning, where you go out to Walvis Bay, and on route to the boat we stopped off to take in a flock of flamingos feeding along the shoreline.  Once on the boat it didn’t take long before we were joined by a large pink pelican, and then a seal! As we moved away from the jetty it was only minutes before we saw our first pod of dolphins. On this cruise we saw lots of seals, and ones that liked to swim in the wake of the engine, we also got to see hundreds of oyster catchers and hear about how they are farmed – to top off the morning we were given delicious snacks with champagne (there were also beers and soft drinks provided) and oysters, so I did feel very glam and a lit bit merrier by the time I got off the boat! I also managed to drive a quad bike  later that day across the desert, which I found scarier than jumping out of a plane!

More natural settings were up next on our adventure, from watching a sunset over a gorge to climbing up Dune 45 to see the sunset (oh my goodness hiking up sand is really, really hard work!), and visiting Sossusvlei, and then heading on to Fish River Canyon and its impressive views…I will let the pictures show you what it is like!

Sunset, Namibia Sunrise, Namibia Dune 45, Namibia Sossusvlei, Namibia Fish River Canyon, Namibia Table Mountain, Cape Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then entered our final country on this trip, South Africa, where we headed to Stellenbosch, where we all went on a rather fun & yes boozy wine tour through 4 different wineries, all with stunning locations, before heading on to finishing our trip in Cape Town. If you have the time I would definitely recommend staying out in Cape Town for a bit longer as there is so much to see and do there.

Our itineraries do vary slightly with each trip, but this hopefully gives you a good idea!

And if you want to look or book the trip then you can! Victoria Falls to Cape Town, or Cape Town to Victoria Falls

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Deserts & Gameparks, part 1

I have recently returned from my Deserts & Gameparks trip, and just had to share my fantastic experience, of travelling from Victoria Falls to Cape Town.

For this first blog I will just cover Zimbabwe and Botswana, with Namibia and South Africa to follow.

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People often ask me where to fly in to and I have always flown in and out of Livingstone, Zambia, as this is just over the border from the town Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe where your trip starts from. The only reason I have done this, is that I have often found cheaper and more frequent flights. But you can also get flights to Victoria Falls.

Flying in to Zambia, I obtained my double entry visa on arrival at the airport. The reason for getting the double entry is that there are activities over on this side of The Falls, from micro-lighting, to sitting in Devils & Angels pools (dependent on the current/depth of the Zambezi) to name a few. If I were to fly in to Zimbabwe, again I would get a multiple entry visa for this reason.

There is so much to do in Victoria Falls, so I arrived a few days before the trip was due to start to fit in as much as possible, and this will vary for everyone and what you want to do – but my list was large (as my theory is while you are there – do it!). So I have done everything from sitting on the edge of the Falls in Angels Pools, to chucking myself off the edge of the gorge more than once for the Gorge swing (click here for video of me doing the gorge swing!),  to the zip line & the flying fox! I also wanted to see the Falls from the air, and I did the micro lighting option, as well as in helicopter (as my dream has always been to go in a helicopter and couldn’t think of a better place to do it!), and I have also done the sunset cruise down the Zambezi. So as you can see you can do a lot here (& I haven’t even mentioned everything that you can do here!), but the great thing is it is totally up to you what you want to do, and there are more relaxing things to do, like having high tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel.

DSCF3365 12193337_10153036695415146_5934673696682001128_n DSCF3580 2

 

 

 

 

 

On leaving Victoria Falls, we exited Zimbabwe and headed in to Botswana, where straight away I was treated to the incredible sight of so many wild elephants while on our included Chobe river cruise. After setting off on our boat, it didn’t seem to take long before we started coming across different herds of elephants heading down to the waterfront for their evening drink. There were also a few crocodiles basking in the sun, while hippos were wallowing and a few were even braving the heat to graze, and we even got to see a fish eagle, which actually caught a fish right next to our boat!

DSCF3685 DSCF3663 DSCF3692

 

 

 

 

 

Next up was a campsite that lived up to its name, Elephant Sands. Shortly after pulling up and setting up our tents, 2 large elephants wandered through the campsite down to the watering hole, by the pool and bar area. As elephants are my favourite animal I was rather excited by this!

From here we continued on to Maun, where a few of us opted to go on a flight over the Okavango Delta. I had been fascinated to see for myself just how vast an area this was from up in the air, and hopefully spot a few animals too. We were not disappointed as we were able to see just how vast the Delta was, we were even able to see plenty of animals from up in the air too (although I wouldn’t bother trying to get good photos of them, as it turns out it is quite hard to do as you fly over them!), we saw giraffe, lots of hippos & baby hippos out grazing, elephants, zebra and buffalos. Seeing the Delta from above I was looking forward to seeing it from a Mokoro (local canoe) the following day.

The advantage of seeing the Delta from the air helped me realise that there was almost no shade for people while in the Mokoros, so I knew to take a lot of sun cream, and to cover up!  After working out who went in which Mokoros and with a bit of working out of where to put all of our bags, eski and tents, and who are polers would be, we set off. It wasn’t long before we heard hippos nearby, and then we weaved our way through small waterways, and beautiful lilies peppered our journey as we went along – it still amazes me as to how the polers know where they are going!  But after about an hour we reached our site where we would set up our camp, a small clearing under trees in the Delta. The guides then gave us a talk about what you can and can’t do (for instance don’t go wandering off without them as there is wildlife about, such as hippos, and they pointed at a hippo print near to my tent!).

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The Delta is down time, and you can either sit back and relax and enjoy being away from civilisation and mod-cons. Or if you want, you can ask the polers to take you out in the mokoros and teach you how to pole – turns out it is actually quite difficult, well it was for me and a few others, while some were just naturals!  There was also a watering hole about a 10 minute walk away from the camp that was safe to swim in, which was a lovely way to cool off in the glaring heat.

Late afternoon as the temperatures dropped slightly, for those that wanted we were taken on a sunset walk, which was an hour’s stroll with two guides.  Sometimes you are lucky and get to see some wildlife while out on this walk, we managed to see some hippos in the distance, but the main bonus from this evening walk was getting to watch the most incredible sunset.  We were also treated to some fun songs from the polers around the camp fire in the evening, where they were getting us to join in, and it seemed like the hippos were joining in as well!

Next stop Namibia, which I will catch you up on in my next blog!

And don’t forget you can now do this trip in reverse going from Cape Town to Victoria Falls.

 

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Cape Town to Victoria Falls Special Offer!

We have a new Africa overland trip this summer!

 

It’s one of our most popular routes through Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa but you can now do it in the reverse direction from Cape Town to Victoria Falls.  The trip starts on 1st July 2016 and is discounted by £100 bringing the cost to £445 plus US$445 local payment.

Cheetah rescue centre in Namibia

Cheetah rescue centre in Namibia

This is a journey through a stunning area of Southern Africa.  Starting in the buzzing city of Cape Town with its bars, shops, beaches and Table Mountain backdrop, it ends three weeks later in Victoria Falls where you can do a bungee jump, white water raft the Zambezi, sip tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel or simply look out over the mile long waterfalls.

Cape Town and Table Mountain

Cape Town and Table Mountain

In between you have the spectacular landscapes of Namibia – the vast Fish River Canyon and the huge sand dunes in the Namib Desert.  Floodlit waterholes in Etosha National Park allow you to see wildlife at night or for a more close up experience you can sidle up to a cheetah at a rescue centre.

Sunset in the Namib Desert

Sunset in the Namib Desert

In Botswana you have the opportunity to head into the Okavango Delta for an overnight wilderness experience and in Chobe National Park you can witness elephants and other wildlife on a river cruise.

There are too many highlights to mention so here are a few more pics to tempt you and if you would like more information, head to the Cape Town to Victoria Falls trip page or contact us for more info.

Oasis Overland at the Tropic of Capricorn

Oasis Overland at the Tropic of Capricorn

Ladies of the Himba tribe

Ladies of the Himba tribe

Elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana

Elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

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Halfway up the Hindu Kush, A Journey to Northern Pakistan

Oasis Operations Director, Mark recently travelled where few others have… Northern Pakistan:

Northern Pakistan river valley

“Oktoberfest, Munich 2014 – We’d talked about it for nearly 8 years and never really had the time, and we were both very aware that from a safety point of view, it probably wasn’t the place to go at the moment……or was it all just media hype?  After several large Bavarian beers, a plan was loosely made and it was left to chance if we’d both keep our word and make it happen.

Dressed in shalwar chemise

Dressed in shalwar chemise

Islamabad July 2015 – Dressed in a Shalwar Chemise, the local Pakistani clothes, and both sporting copious amounts of facial hair, my friend and I jumped in to a 1970’s ex-military jeep and headed north.  Due to the potential instability of the area and the delicate cultures we were to visit, we’d decided to do a tour of sorts.  Local knowledge really cannot be beaten, and our driver and guide proved invaluable in all manner of things, from what areas we could sensibly reach, to what to say and how to behave in the company of each ethnic area.  It is to be remembered that not only were we in an area of potential terrorism, but more dangerous in many ways were landslides, floods and the very real issue of a road traffic accident.  These are all good reasons to invest your money in people that know the area and dangers, and that have up to the minute information and vehicles to cope with the terrain.

Our guide Ehsan and us, ready to explore

Our guide Ehsan and us, ready to explore

Gilgit was our first major stop – it’s a hustling city in the heart of the far north, and is kind of the travellers’ hub to all other areas – well it would be if there were any other travellers! Our guide Ehsan, who lives in town, announced that we were his 2nd and 3rd western guests this year!  It became very apparent the more we travelled, that since 9/11 and the demise of tourism in the area, local people are really struggling to survive.  We were told that tourism stopped like ‘turning off a light switch’ in 2001 and it hasn’t returned.  Pakistani’s do venture north on holiday, but it seems that locals much prefer ‘foreigners’ due to their friendliness and appreciation of their country, and from our experience, certainly not for their potentially larger wallets!  Once there, Pakistan was a very cheap country to travel, with excellent food, friendly people, and actually very little to spend money on!  If wild party nights are your thing, then this is not the place for you!

Ferry across Lake Attabad

Ferry across Lake Attabad

Venturing north on the Karakorum Highway (KKH) we travelled to Karimabad, where 2 Tibetan style forts, from almost 900 years ago, sit atop high rocky outcrops, surveying the valley down below.  Landslides are a real hazard in the area and can quickly change travel plans, so our itinerary was fairly fluid and anyone travelling this area should take this as part of the adventure.  As an example, 5 years ago a slide on a biblical scale blocked the road south of Passu, flooded several villages and created Lake Attabad.  Entrepeneurs in the area quickly had wooden boats transported up from Karachi, adapted them with planks to transport vehicles, and started a ferry service on the 45 minute journey over the lake!  So this was to be our ride too – I have to say my heart was in my mouth as Matu inched the Jeep on to the planks, and came to rest with a rock behind each wheel, across the boat with both front and rear axles stuck out over the water!

Our initial plan was to travel the entire KKH to Kashgar in China, but both visa and weather issues were to make life difficult.  With hindsight our time was well spent in Pakistan itself and it gave us more time to appreciate its people and landscapes.  You cannot believe that you are sitting at 4000mtrs and a large number of mountain summits around you are a further 3 to 4000mtrs higher!

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Driving through northern Pakistan in our open top jeep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did eventually make it up the Khunjerab Pass to the Chinese border at 4700mtrs, on the one day it opened, and just before the river completely took out the road again!  Like I said, it’s all part of the Pakistan experience!

On reflection, cycling down from this height to a little under 3000mtrs on a local bike with a wobbly wheel and traditional ‘non disc’ brakes, was a bad idea.  Think hairpin bends, oncoming Chinese trucks driven at full throttle, rocks the size of small bungalows sat on blind corners, and you have an idea of the next 45 minutes of our lives!

Apart from freefalling down the Karakorum range on a bike, one of the greatest memories I will take away with me was our trek to Rakaposhi base camp.  It was quite a slog carrying our gear the 1400mtrs in elevation from Minapin to 3800mtrs in an afternoon, but once there, I really cannot think I have ever sat in a more impressive landscape.  Our guide Ali, who said he was ‘the best’, proved his worth on our 2nd day, as he took us across several kilometres of glaciers, winding his way around crevasses and over melt-water channels that were spilling down from the 7000mtr peaks of Diran and Rakaposhi, and all without any climbing gear or crampons!

As with all great adventures, our time in Pakistan had to come to an end, but I certainly only have amazing memories.  Of course we cannot forget that terrible things have happened in this, and other, parts of the world, but unfortunately in my opinion they have been dramatised in the media, mainly due to one man being in the cross hairs of the USA.  So I would say that if it has been on your ‘to visit’ list for as long as my colleague and I, don’t wait – go now!”

We are now offering two itineraries to this spectacular part of the world, our 15 day Pakistan Karakorum Highlights and our 21 day Pakistan Karakorum Highlights and Chitral Valley.

Call us or drop us a line if you would like some more info about these trips to Pakistan.

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