Oasis Blog

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

 

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

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!

 

Posted in All Blogs.

Oasis Photo Competition Winners Announced!

September 4, 2014

Finally the wait is over! Here are the winners of the Oasis Photo Competition that ended in August 2014. Congratulations to you all and we look forward to seeing you on another trip with us soon!

1st Prize goes to Leo who took this fantastic photo of the sunset at Yurt Camp in Lake Song-Kul in Kyrgyzstan on our Istanbul to Beijing 15 week trip. Leo wins a £200 voucher off any Oasis Overland trip – congratulations!!

2nd Prize goes to Jordan  – who captured this panoramic sunrise on Dune 45 in Namibia on our Victoria Falls to Cape Town trip. Jordan wins a £100 voucher off any Oasis Overland trip!

3rd Prize goes to Mel who snapped this picture of her Lake Titicaca ‘Mum’ in Peru, whilst on our Lima to Buenos Aires 35 day trip. Mel wins a £50 voucher off any Oasis Overland trip!

Congratulations to Leo, Jordan and Mel 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 2015 so enter your Oasis Overland 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!

 

Posted in All Blogs.

Piranhas and parrots in the Brazilian Pantanal

August 27, 2014

Earlier this year I travelled to Brazil and to the vast wetland area known as the Pantanal.  I knew you could look for wildlife here but I didn’t realise how much I would see, it was fantastic!

Macaws in the Pantanal , BrazilDon’t go expecting a jaguar to saunter past you but do expect to see abundant colourful birds, smaller creatures you may never have heard of and possibly a small, infamous fish with very big teeth…

The Pousada Santa Clara was our base in the Pantanal, where the Oasis Overland truck groups stay. Once a working farm, it is now a lovely place to stay complete with a pool to cool off in the heat and traditional, delicious meals to eat.

Howler monkey in the Pantanal, BrazilThe first morning’s activity was a two hour hike in search of wildlife.  The area is pretty flat and later in the season it would be flooded but for now we walked through grass to raised, tree-covered parts that dotted the landscape.  These become refuges for animals in the floods and even now was the best place for spotting wildlife.  We caught sight of a group of quatis, cute, long-nosed mammals with a long, striped, racoon-like tail, racing along the tree branches.  From quite far off we heard what sounded almost like roaring and as we approached the trees, some in our group looked quite nervous!  Our guide led us confidently on and pointed up to the tree-tops where a  group of very aptly named howler monkeys were making themselves heard.  The noise was incredible!

Caiman, Pantanal. We took to the river in the afternoon, chugging along in a small motorboat.  We saw more caiman than you can shake a stick at, slipping underneath the surface of the water as well as capybaras, the largest rodent in the world (but also very cute)!  An absolute highlight was the sight of a couple of river otters, staring at us from upriver before they ducked under the water and out of sight.

That evening we headed out in the truck with a spotlight which picked out a fox, a bush deer, bats, hundreds of caiman’s eyes glowing on the banks and the biggest spider I have ever seen!

I mustered up enough energy in the sweltering heat the next day for a sedate horse ride whilst others went to pitch their strength and wits against Brazil’s most famous fish, the piranha!  The fishermen and women returned victorious with lunch for the day and very good they tasted too.  They do have really big teeth though.

Piranha fishing in the Brazilian PantanalYou’re not likely to get bitten by a piranha but mosquitos are pretty much guaranteed so good insect repellent is essential.  The heat was intense too so don’t forget your hat and sunscreen.

Birdlife is everywhere in the Pantanal and we saw toucans, macaws, parrots, kingfishers, ducks and herons on our trips out.  One of the best things about this place though was just walking around the Pousada amongst the shady trees and watching the hyacinth macaws, all sorts of parrots and parakeets, stunning small birds like the red crested cardinal and hundreds of other colourful, noisy feathered friends!

You can visit the Pantanal on our Coast to Coast or Kingdoms & Carnivals Overland Adventures or on our Rio to La Paz, Rio to Cuzco and Rio to Lima Regional Explorers.

 

 

 

 

Posted in South America. Tagged with , , .

Making an experienced lady look brand new…

August 21, 2014

We are lucky here – we have a team of dedicated drivers who care for their trucks like they are their best friend.  Overseen by Mark, our Fleet and Operations Director, the trucks purr away and carry our happy travellers on adventures of a lifetime.

This year we are running two trips down through West Africa, and so it was time to give one of our trucks M745 an overhaul in preparation!  She has driven the African continent North to South several times, repeatedly traversed the Middle East in times of peace and conflict, and followed the whole of the Silk Road from Istanbul to China.  There is not much she hasn’t seen on the road – from love affairs to film crews, she has seen it all.

Of course we all need to put on a new set of clothes and smarten ourselves up from time to time, and a truck is no different in many ways.  So after so many troublesome roads across the world, it is time to show ‘our girl’ a bit of TLC.  Mark has driven the truck in to the workshop and is currently completing a full mechanical check of the vehicle in preparation of the Trans Africa (London to Cape Town) and her next adventure in November this year.

Painting, polishing and sticker-ing...all in the name of an over haul!

Mark says “it’s unbelievable the vehicles withstand the harsh conditions so well.  Even with almost 1 million kms under her belt, the truck runs like new”.  It is not uncommon for trucks to complete this sort of mileage, as they really are built to last, and this particular one, is from an era before electronics, which makes it a really reliable and strong vehicle.  As a matter of course, wearing parts such as brakes, tyres and diesel injectors will all be changed and serviced.  All lubricants will also be changed, to help keep the truck running smoothly.  There will be a complete re-kit of kitchenware and spares, which are both essential for a trip of this scale.  Her lockers have also been repaired and re-painted and the whole truck has been given a good polish – no mean feat for a vehicle of this size!

Oasis certainly takes pride in its fleet, and this is just another example of keeping our vehicles in top shape for the challenging expeditions we undertake.

Almost ready to go!

If you’d like to join M745 on her journey through Africa then spaces are still available on either our UK to ACCRA (9 weeks) Trans Africa or UK to CAPE TOWN (21 weeks) Trans Africa. Or why not come along to our Open Day for a sneak peak of our shiny truck

 

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

‘Up North’ in South America – Rio to Quito via Manaus

August 13, 2014

Our Trans South America crew of 2013/2014, Scott & Leslie, have kindly written a brief blog of  some of the highlights on our Rio to Quito, via Manaus section.  The trip spends 6 weeks in Brazil and then another 7 weeks in Venezuala & Colombia before coming to an end in Quito, the capital of Ecuador and the gateway to the Galapagos Islands. Read on to hear what they had to say.

After yet another epic Rio Carnival and a few new additions to our FRIDA truck family, we headed for the exotic beaches of the famous Brazillian coastline. Taking in the breathtaking scenery whilst meandering through the likes of Itaunas, Prado, Caraiva – with Brazils top 2 most beautiful beaches of praia do Esprelho, and praia do Carumbau. Well needed RnR for a couple of weeks (having started the trip 16 weeks earlier in Quito!).

Western bound for the magical landscapes of the stone country of Lencois. Quaint coffee shops and bars, a rockclimbers heaven and an endless choice of 1 day adventures to be had. Over the next few weeks cruising the contours of the mountains. Never failing to spring surprises on us around every corner.

Working our way to Belem to board the mighty Amazon River, for a 5 day cruise to Manaus. Hanging out in hammocks and taking in the views.

 

A definite highlight of our tour was swimming with the Pink River Dolphins, on a day tour out of Manaus. Dolphins, literally cuddling your legs and playing with such affection, it was hard to leave the water. Feeding giant fish, 2 metres long and hanging out with tribal people and native wildlife like Sloths, Anacondas and the like. A must do tour!

2 days north of Manaus to Venezuela and on to the Carribean coast. Henri Pittier N.P, for more beaches saturated with some of the worlds finest chocolate farms. Angel Falls, flowing top to bottom, sleeping in hammocks in the jungle lodge and enduring crazy dugout boat rides through what could only be described as a photographers mecca.

More action packed days followed as we met up with Alan Highton  (aka the lightening man ), Alan led Frida and our group into Los Llanos.

Los Llanos was everything and more than we could have possibly wished for. On one occasion the vehicle stopping abruptly to leave us staring at a dried out waterhole seemingly full of nothing. Our fearless guide soon proved otherwise. After gently prodding the soft ground for 2 or 3 minutes, literally the earth started to move around us as 6 or 7 anacondas, two or three meters in length, merged from their hollows and intertwined themselves within the shockingly excited group standing extremely still. After playing a while, we headed a couple of kilometres away to a half filled watering hole. What happened then was astonishing, a quick walk of the bank and an dangerously accurate plunge into the water, presented a 3 minute dual. A predator of pure muscle versus skill and courage. The end result being a giant female anaconda measuring 5 meters. An absolutely awesome sight never to be forgotten.

A couple of days later experiencing the phenomenen of Lightening in our private hammock space of Catatumbo Lake (aka Lightening Lake). Yet another awesome adventure.

Colombia next, Coffee shops and plantations everywhere. Some people meeting the infamous Roberto Escobar brother and business partner of Pablo Escaobar. Medellin for a spot of paragliding, Taganga for a quick scuba dive and an adventure out to Tayrona national park. All in all, Colombia’s beauty is world class, friendly and definitely not to be feared.

The last couple days into Quito Ecuador via a shopping frenzy at the Otavalo markets, ensuring any loose change was well spent. An exceptionally breathtaking tour full of adventure and beautiful people, both on and off the truck.

Scott & Leslie

If you are interested in taking part in a trip to see these amazing places, we still have some availability on our upcoming departures as follows:

Quito to Quito- Trans South America – 29 weeks, starts 31st October

Rio to Quito via Manaus – 92 days – starts 19th February

Rio to Manaus – 42 days – starts 19th February

Manaus to Quito – 50 days – starts 2nd April

Check out these trips and all of our South America trips here.

 

 

Posted in All Blogs.

Thank you and Bon Voyage to Oasis Crew Scott and Leslie

August 5, 2014

It’s time to bid a sad farewell and to say a big thank you to Scott and Leslie, two of our crew in South America. They have been leading trips there for the past two and a half years.  They will be greatly missed by their fellow crew and the team here at Oasis HQ. On behalf of Oasis and all your past travellers we would like to say a big thank you to Scott and Leslie for all your hard work, commitment, energy and enthusiasm. We wish you all the best for your future ventures and if you ever change your mind you know where we are!

 

Posted in All Blogs.

Oasis Overland Open Day – 13th September 2014

July 30, 2014

 

Have you been on an Oasis Overland trip and always wondered where we are based? Are you interested in finding out more about one of our trips, or do you live in the area and are curious about what goes on at Oasis? Well now is your chance to find out! Come and join us between 11am – 3pm on the 13th September 2014 at:

Oasis Overland HQ, Unit 2, The Marsh, Henstridge, Somerset. BA8 0TF (near J Day engineering)

 

The team at Oasis Overland HQ will be opening our doors for the 2014 Open Day and you are all invited!  During the open day you will be able to:

 

 

  • Meet our Trans Africa truck- one of our purpose built expedition trucks, which is due to travel down the West Coast of Africa in November.
  • Talk to the team, past Oasis tour leaders and past travellers – get your questions ready!
  • See our mini-camp set up – complete with tents and rain shelter (we like to be prepared)
  • At 1.30pm one of our Africa Tour Leaders Jon will be presenting a showcase of Africa photos and stories – come and hear his tales and be inspired!
  • See our expedition photos and stick your favourite Oasis travel photograph on our ‘wall of fame’
  • Enjoy a BBQ and drink (in exchange for a donation to one of the Oasis charities)
  • 10% discount on any bookings placed on the day (excludes Trans Africa & Trans South America)

 

We will be operating a free pick-up service from Templecombe railway station at the following times:

11:30am and 1:30pm, and a drop off leaving HQ at 1:15pm and 3:15pm.

If you would like to take advantage of one of these pick-ups then please email info@oasisoverland.co.uk by 11th September stating which transfers you would like.

We look forward to seeing you there!

            

 

Posted in All Blogs. Tagged with , , .

Getting our hands dirty…

July 23, 2014

The team working on the truck

Trucks, our drivers love them, our travellers love them and we love them.  It’s not uncommon for our travellers to see their driver ‘tinkering’ on the truck at the end of the day.  Whether it’s checking tyre pressures, greasing various parts of the truck or running routine checks, they keep busy.

We are very proud that we still build, run and maintain our own trucks.  This gives us ultimate control over how the trucks are kept and in the long run we feel helps to keep our travellers safe.  Whilst our fleet manager Mark makes several visits out to see the trucks every year, other members of the office team also visit them at various points and run over a few simple checks.

To make sure the whole team are prepared to do this, we recently held a training weekend at our second workshop in Lincolnshire.  The girls in the office donned oversized overalls and set about making the journey north.  When we got there, one of our Trans Africa trucks awaited.  She wasn’t used to having girls work on her, but she quickly got used to it and I think in the end kind of liked it!

After watching a video on basic checks, it was time to get our hands dirty.  Our drivers regularly do ‘MOT’ style checks on the vehicles and so our training followed the same format.  We worked our way through the list, crawling under the truck to listen for air leaks on the brakes (which I am pleased to report we did not find), checked the wheel nuts and tyre pressures, jacked the front of the cab amongst many other things.

Working hard!

Natalie and Ceris investigating brakes!

Once our basic knowledge was up to scratch we moved onto more technical things.  So we looked at how the brakes operated as well as looking at a clutch.  Anything you want to know about slack adjusters and ‘S’ Cams, then we are the ones to ask!  Finally we descended into the ‘pit’ underneath the truck and Mark pointed out what various things do, from the parabolic springs to the water pump.  Move over boys – the girls now have the skills!

All in all it was a very useful long weekend.  Don’t be surprised if someone from the office is on your trip and looking around the truck.  We believe there is no such thing as checking the vehicle too many times, and many eyes help to keep our trucks in tip top condition.  Our drivers do a great job at caring for their trucks, and we are proud that we now have an office team who can go through some simple checks with them on the road.

 

Posted in All Blogs, UK News. Tagged with , , , , .

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