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Colombia: An Overview

Tell anyone you’re travelling to Colombia, and you’ll inevitably get the raised eyebrows, widening of the eyes, and a slight pause, before they respond. Forgive me if you surround yourself by well-travelled/news-clued-up people, but if like me, most of your friends and colleagues don’t travel, or at least not to “dangerous” countries, you should prepare yourself for this type of reaction. Again and again.

What do people imagine when they think of Colombia? Cocaine? Pablo Escobar? Guerrilla warfare? FARC? I suppose this is understandable; these negative media storieImage result for Narcoss are probably all that people have heard about this beautiful country in the North of the South American continent. Netflix has also fuelled the bad reputation with its hit series Narcos, detailing the drug lords of 1980s Colombia and their war with the law. It’s gritty, violent, raw and makes compelling watching. It does not, unfortunately, encourage the audience to visit Colombia.

Let me help you to change your mind. Colombia is now considered a safe country to visit in South America, but not only that, is undoubtedly one of the friendliest. Perhaps it’s because tourists have stayed away so long, or perhaps it’s just their general demeanour, but Colombians are wonderfully hospitable and an incredibly kind people. The country itself is truly beautiful: you’ve got mountains, tropical rainforest, beautiful beaches, and even dive-worthy coral just offshore. Team all that with the vibrant, metropolitan cities of Medellin and Bogota, and you’ve got yourself an adventure-filled destination!

 

I visited Colombia in 2015, and have been extolling its virtues ever since. I LOVE Colombia, and would go so far to say it’s in my top 3 in South America. It’s where I started to like coffee; where I trekked to ancient ruins and came across a still largely undiscovered people, and where I had the best horse ride of my life! Big claims I know, but all true.

 

So where to go? Well, that depends on how much time you have, and also what kind of trip you are looking for. Many people I met spent almost their entire trip in the North, relaxing on the white sand beaches of the Caribbean coast, occasionally taking a dip in the beautiful turquoise water. That’s definitely an option – just make sure you leave a couple of days to explore lovely Cartagena, the colonial town of the North with history and beauty in bounds.  If you need to earn your beach time, you could include a trek to Ciudad Perdida, or “The Lost City”. This 4-7 day trek takes you into the deep (sweaty!) jungle, to one of the most mysterious and one of the largest pre-Columbian towns discovered in the Americas. For me it was more about the journey through the jungle and the Tayrona people I met along the way, but it definitely left a lasting impression.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bogota was a highlight for me too, even though I’m not usually a “city person” – I’d definitely recommend the free walking tour you can do of the old part of the city. There are hidden gems of cafes and bars, and the Museo del Oro was stunning. I also loved the Museo Botero which hosts the work of Colombia’s most famous artist Fernando Botero: a celebration of all things chubby! 🙂

And definitely try to include a visit to the Zona Cafetera! Salento remains a jewel of a town in my memory, especially when I walked through the Valle de Cocora. While famous for all the wax palm trees, it was the wonderful hummingbird feeding stations that captured my attention; that and the local “hot chocolate with cheese” delicacy….hmmm.

 

 

 

 

 

I could go on and on. Having mentioned my best ever horse ride, I feel I have to tell you that it was in St Agustin, in the South of the country. This small town is famous for its ancient volcanic statues and all the associated legends.

This country really does have so much to offer every traveller, and while on one hand I’m happy that it’s still off the generic tourist trail, I also feel it deserves so much more than the negative reasons it’s famous for.

Oasis includes trips to Colombia on a few of their South America expeditions; do yourself a favour and sign up! There’s something for everyone, and I promise you won’t regret it!

Happy Travels 🙂

Cartagena – Quito (22 days) Colombian Adventure

Manaus – Quito (50 days) Venezuela and Colombia Overland

Cartagena – Rio (18 weeks) Kingdoms & Carnivals

 

Posted in All Blogs, South America.

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Make 2019 Amazing with an African Overland Trip

Every year, we all set out to make this one ‘the one’. We want to make it bigger, better, and more memorable than the years before, and we want actually to do something with our time. However, how can you do that? Make 2019 amazing with an African Overland Trip.

Here at Oasis Overland, we have the answer – travel. Travelling is one of the most exceptional experiences you can bring into your life and one that enhances and enriches your year in a way that nothing else does! So, this year, why not pack your bags, pop on some factor 50, and head to Africa for an Oasis Overland tour that’ll make 2019 your year.

Why Visit Africa?

When it comes to reasons to visit Africa, we could go on and on for days, so we’ll try and stick to just a few. From the chance to see some of the most incredible and rare wildlife in the world living in their natural habitat to learning about the many diverse cultures through music, art, and different ways of living, it’s an experience like no other.

The scenery you’ll see is unreal, with dreamy sunsets, clear starry skies, and untouched nature at it’s very best. A vast wealth of possibilities will open themselves up to you, from hiking up mountains to cage diving with sharks. Africa is like a whole other world, and no one should miss out on experiencing everything it has to offer.

Some of Our African Trips

We have many African trips that you can choose from in 2019, so you can find the one that’s perfect for you. From trekking up the world-famous Kilimanjaro in 8 days to exploring national parks, beaches, and local life on a 41-day tour from Nairobi to Harare, each of our trips lets you explore Africa in the way you want to.

For the complete Africa experience to make 2019 one to remember, why not escape normal life for 40 weeks and run away with a group of like-minded people on a once in a lifetime expedition around this beautiful continent. Explore Africa and rediscover what’s important in life on our UK to Cairo Trans Africa adventure.

Why Choose Oasis Overland?

When it comes to uncovering the culture and unique beauty of other countries, an Oasis Overland tour is the ideal way to travel. You’ll have a guide who knows all the secrets of the areas you’re exploring and can give you the best, authentic experience while keeping you safe. You’ll also be travelling with a bunch of awesome people who will soon become your second family, and you’ll be able to connect with people just like you who are seeking adventure and want to get everything they can out of life. Our tours are also managed responsibly, so we ensure the impact we have on local environments and societies is positive.

If you want to take back your life in 2019 and create a year you’ll love, start chatting with our team today about our tours or check out all of our Africa trips. It’s a small way to start something big.

 

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Discover the Wonders of Peru and Bolivia

South America is a must-see destination on a ton of travellers’ lists, and rightly so! It’s brimming with diverse culture, from the food to the music, and home to some of the most incredible sights on this Earth. Delve deep into the area and explore the countries that make it so special with Oasis Overland.

Some of our South America tours traverse the countries of Peru and Bolivia – two spots that sit side by side that we think every budding adventurer must visit! Discover more about Peru, Bolivia, and our tours with this guide.

Why Visit Peru?

Surround yourself in history and ancient culture in Peru, where the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, the beauty of the Sacred Valley, and the old city of Cuzco – believed to be the oldest continuously lived in city in America – reveal the lives of people who lived long before us.

Peru is also famous for its beautiful beaches – of which there are plenty! – and gorgeous landscape, as well as the friendly people and delicious cuisine. Keep a lookout, too, for the Uru people, who float along Lake Titicaca on towns made entirely from reeds.

Why Visit Bolivia?

Discover the diverse landscape of Bolivia, from the incredible mountains and colourful jungle to the rolling fields and quiet desert. It’s a place full of natural beauty – and plenty of llamas, too! It’s also got a lot of rich traditions kept alive because of its high indigenous population, making its culture vibrant and unique.

There’s tons of wildlife waiting to be spotted in Bolivia, including monkeys and dolphins, and, of course, it’s home to Salar de Uyun, the world’s largest salt flat, which really is quite spectacular!

Our Peru and Bolivia Tours

Make your way through the Inca Trail, walk the cobbled streets of La Paz, and delve deep into the jungle on our Peru and Bolivia tours. Each tour offers something different, letting you choose the right one for you, and helps you to get to grips with the culture and nature of these beautiful countries.

Our Peru & Bolivia 19-day explorer trip is ideal for those looking for a whistle-stop tour around the must-see sights, with a trip to Machu Picchu, a visit to Bolivia’s capital city, and a 5-day trek in the Amazon Jungle all included.

We have a wide range of tours through Peru and Bolivia, however, so be sure to take a look at all of them!

If you have any questions about these trips or any of the other tours we have here at Oasis Overland, ask our team today – we’re always happy to help!

Posted in South America.


5 Tips for Solo Travelling Newbies

For most people, the idea of travelling solo is pretty scary. In fact, pretty much everyone who’s never done it before would be anxious at the idea of jetting off to a foreign country on their own, but it’s those that go anyway that create some of the best experiences. It doesn’t take long for the nerves to go and the fun to start!

If you’re thinking of going solo on your next adventure, or have planned your trip already and need some extra tips and advice to calm any worries, you’re in the right place. At Oasis Overland, our adventurers thrive on travelling solo, and this blog is our advice to you solo travelers.

Travelling Group Africa

Oasis Overland group and truck in Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) Don’t Push Yourself Too Far

If you’re feeling nervous about your first solo trip, it’s probably not the best idea to book a year-long around the world adventure – not because it wouldn’t be fun, but because you’d be more likely to get anxious before going. Instead, start with a small trip. Head on a plane to somewhere that’s only a couple of hours away and do a few days or a week there. You’ll be able to see what it’s like, get over your worries, and maybe even make friends you can meet up with for future travels!

 

2) Sort Your Airport to Hotel Transport

For your first-time solo travelling, we’d always recommend booking a car to take you to your accommodation when you land. It just makes things so much simpler!  You won’t have the stress of finding public transport or haggling with a taxi driver, your hired driver will know where to drop you so you don’t have to worry about getting lost, and you’ll have someone waiting for you at the airport if you need any help.

Airport transfer attendant

Airport transfers with a smile!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Let Someone Know Where You’re Going

Both for your safety and peace of mind, always make sure someone knows where you’re going before you head off exploring – even if it’s not your first trip! Give someone the name of the place your staying, the address, and let them know if you’re going on any group tours and which company you’re going with.

 

4) Plan, But Don’t Over-plan

Sort your travel, first couple nights of accommodation, and maybe make a list of key things you want to do or places you want to see, but don’t over-plan your trip. One of the joys of solo travel is being totally free to do what you want, when you want, but a strict itinerary can definitely get in the way of that! Plan for the essential stuff, always have money for accommodation and food, but let the adventure plan the rest.

John Lennon Wall, Prague

John Lennon Wall, Prague

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) How to Meet People

Just because you’re travelling solo doesn’t mean you have to be alone all the time – far from it! In fact, one of the best things about solo travel is that you get to meet so many new people. The easiest ways to make new friends whilst travelling is by staying in hostels, which are always filled with solo travelers, and going on group tours.

 

If you want to make friends and banish any worries on your first solo travel adventure, why not join one of our Oasis Overland group tours? They’re an awesome way to get the freedom of travelling alone whilst being in the company of people just like you. Whether to kick-start a longer solo trip, or as your preferred method of solo travel, give it a go and see what you think! We’re pretty sure you’re going to love it.

Oasis Overland group and truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve got any questions about our group tours, get in touch with our team today and we’ll help you out, or you can check out more about our Oasis Overland tours and see if you like the sound of it.

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Travelling with Nomads

If you have access to British Television and have been inspired, or intrigued, by Kate Humble’s Living With Nomads  series  our Marrakech to Marrakech (11 days) Trek Morocco – Berber Migration Trip  allows you to spend six days  travelling with a Berber family as they move their animals between summer and winter pastures. You will be camping alongside the family and trekking with them over the Atlas mountains in Morocco. Walking with goats, sheep, mules, donkeys and camels by day, and camping out under the stars, this trip provides a fascinating insight into a way of life that is rapidly disappearing

Accompanied by a local guide, porters and an excellent chef you will need a good level of general fitness, but you don’t need to be superfit!

The scenery on route is spectacular, ranging from rocky, mountain-edged river beds to lush green valleys, even passing snow! Generally, walking begins by about 8am and you will stop and set up camp by the afternoon. After lunch and plenty of Berber tea the afternoons are free to relax, take a stroll, ‘foot spa’ in a nearby stream or have a cookery lesson with the fantastic camp chef. Evenings are spent dining, chatting, star gazing and maybe some impromptu singing with the trekking guides.  (Excellently accompanied by drumming on the jerry cans and plates!)

Breathtaking scenery and the general sense of remoteness are real highlights of this trip as well as potentially being invited in for tea with nomad families. Their hospitality is humbling. Amidst the careful tea-making process your guides will translate and help you learn a bit about your host’s lives, sipping sweet tea before setting off again on our trek.

This trip also gives you a few days in Marrakech with plenty of opportunity to explore the myriad sights – the Unesco acclaimed Djemaa el-Fna with it’s story tellers, musicians, snake charmers and merchants; Bahia Palace with it’s stunning opulent ceilings and architecture, Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle and of course, the labyrinthine souqs.

Stop-overs are also made to the majestic waterfalls at Cascades d’Ouzoud and the red mud-brick Kasbah at Ait-Benhaddou-where you can practise your Lawrence of Arabia; Gladiator and Jesus of Nazareth poses, as they were all filmed at this impressive site!

(For those of you interested in this trip and worried about the level of walking Jackie, at Oasis HQ undertook this trip in her late 40’s and describes herself as ‘not particularly fit!’ (Her description-not ours!) She did however do some training prior to the trip. )

This really is a unique trip. Our next departures are on 18th May and 21st September 2019. (Due to the migratory nature of this trip it only runs twice per year-in May and September. ) Click here to find out more

 

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Bolivia: A Hidden Gem

Bolivia: a small, landlocked country in South America. Often overshadowed by its very famous neighbour, Peru, this tiny country has more than ample to satisfy a tourist thirsty for adventure. For whatever reason, it hasn’t quite made it onto the main tourism stage, but as a company who’ve travelled there for a number of years now, we’re determined to shout about how fantastic it really is! Check these facts out:

La PazBolivia is the highest country in South America. La Paz is the working capital city and is (unofficially) the highest capital worldwide, at 3650m! You’ll see tourists breathlessly navigating the up and down streets, while the locals weave amongst them, often with loads on their backs, and not even breaking a sweat!

 

Did you know there are Zebras in La Paz? Volunteers Wildlife in La Paz!dress up to help people cross the streets – and bring a smile to peoples’ faces 🙂

 

 

The Salar de Uyuni is one of the world’s highest deserts, and surround by volcanoes and mountains. The salt pan covers almost 10,600 square kilometres, and there’s even a hotel built entirely out of salt! The salt flats appear to go on forever – make sure you grab some props to have some fun with crazy photos!

 

The stuff of travellers legend, “Death Road”, is in Bolivia. Renowned as the world’s dangerous road, this downhill journey is available to mountain bike. You’ll travel from snow capped peaks to tropical rainforest in 64km – all downhill. It’s terrifying and thrilling all at the same time!

 

San Pedro Prison, in La Paz, has hit the headlines numerous times. It’s a prison with a difference: inmates must pay rent for their cells, and many live with their families inside. It became famous when a British drug dealer, Thomas McFadden, was admitted and held there for a few years – he made money by giving tours around the prison! This had to stop when people started to disappear…! You can still see the Prison in the centre of La Paz, and “Marching Powder”, the book about Thomas and his life in San Pedro, is a must-read.

Bolivia boasts 5055 dinosaur footprints – from 8 different dinosaurs! The prints date back 68 million years and are on a vertical wall. Crazy!

Bolivia exports Brazil Nuts. In fact, this small country is responsible for 70% of the world’s Brazil Nuts; that’s almost 25 million tonnes!

 

 

One fact we know quite well is the state of the roads – only around 11% of them are paved. It makes for a bumpy ride! 🙂

A different night out in La Paz is to go to watch the wrestling. Ignore all your pre-assumed stereotypes though; the favourite shows feature the “Cholitas”; hard Bolivian women wearing their bowler hats and their many frilly skirts! You’ll see women fighting women, but also women fighting men – you can guess who the favourites are in those matches 😉 The crowds go wild – just watch yourself when the fight breaks loose of the wrestling ring!

You can’t miss the Witches Market when you’re wandering the streets of La Paz. You’ll see the Llama foetuses dangling from stalls, see jars with snakes and scorpions in them, and if you hang out for a while, you’ll meet people coming to visit the stalls in search of potions for everything from encouraging a lover to taking revenge!

There is no McDonald’s in Bolivia! It’s possibly the only country in South America to boast this, but even in the capital, it remains Big Mac free!

 

We hope you’ll agree that Bolivia really is worth checking out. We visit on both regional explorer trips and overland expeditions (see examples below), so whether local transport and small groups, or camping and trucks is your thing, we’re ready for you!

NB – these are just 2 of the many different itineraries we offer that include Bolivia. Happy Travels! 🙂

Bolivia Encompassed 15 Days (including the Amazon Jungle) – regional explorer

https://www.oasisoverland.co.uk/trips/South-America/details/139/LA-PAZ-to-LA-PAZ-15-days-Bolivia-Encompassed-Inc–Amazon-Jungle-.html

The Cordilleras 35 Days – overland adventure

https://www.oasisoverland.co.uk/trips/South-America/details/48/LIMA-to-SANTIAGO-35-days-The-Cordilleras.html

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10 Fun Facts About Uzbekistan To Celebrate The New Visa Free Regime!

On 1st February 2019 a visa-free regime was established in Uzbekistan for 45 countries for 30 days from the date of entry. These countries include the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and most European nations. Our American and Canadian friends will still need to apply for an E-Visa prior to entry. Full details of the new regime can be found here.

 

To celebrate this exciting news, we have compiled a list of 10 fun facts about Uzbekistan!

 

  1. Uzbekistan has a population of just over 32 million people; most of whom live in rural areas.
  2. Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, has the biggest metro system in Central Asia. Some of the stations feature marble ceilings, engraved metal and chandeliers. This year is the first time that photography has been allowed in these beautiful stations.
  3. None of Uzbekistan’s rivers lead to the sea.
  4. Uzbekistan is one of two doubly landlocked countries in the world (that is, a country completely surrounded by landlocked countries) can you guess the other doubly landlocked country? Comment down below!
  5. Uzbekistan is home to the world’s largest open-pit gold mine. The county produces 4.5 million kilograms of gold per year!
  6. The national dish is Palov or Plov; made of rice, mutton, onions and grated carrot. According to local legend this dish was invented by the cooks of Alexander the Great.
  7. Melon is a popular fruit in Uzbekistan; they have over 150 different varieties!
  8. Lepioshka (bread) is never laid upside down or placed on the ground as this is said to bring bad luck.
  9. Traditionally, the most respected guest at dinner is seated the farthest from the entrance to the house.
  10. Uzbekistan can be visited on many of our Central Asia Overland Adventures! Join us in 2019 on any of the following trips to experience this fascinating country:

 

BISHKEK to ASHGABAT (20 days) Silk Road Highlights

BISHKEK to ASHGABAT (36 days) Silk Road Highlights and Kyrgyzstan Overland

BISHKEK to TBILISI (42 days) Kyrgyzstan to Caucasus

BISHKEK to TBILISI (8 weeks) Kyrgyzstan to Caucasus

BISHKEK to ISTANBUL (9 weeks) The ‘Stans, Iran & Turkey

BISHKEK to ISTANBUL (11 weeks) Kyrgyzstan, Iran, The ‘Stans & Turkey

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Its a good time to book your overland trip!

If you are thinking of booking a trip, do it now!!! As the majority of our trip costs are looking to increase on the 15th Jan 2019 (Tuesday!). So if you book before this time then you will get the current trip cost (please note local payments may still increase, as these are reviewed during the year & are dependent on local operators).

 

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New Year, New You?

How Oasis Overland can help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions in 2019.

As 2018 comes to a close, I’m sure many of us will be looking back at the past twelve months and the New Year’s resolutions we failed to keep, and promising ourselves that next year we’ll do better! Well, a problem shared is a problem halved, and Oasis Overland is here to help you stick to even the toughest resolution!

So here are last year’s ten most popular New Year’s resolutions, according to a YouGov poll, and what we at Oasis Overland can do to help:

1. Eat better

The Mediterranean diet is widely believed to be one of the healthiest in the world, but did you know that the cuisines of South East Asia are close contenders? Why not join Oasis Overland on one of our South East Asia Explorer trips to try a Thai tom yung gung soup, or a tasty Vietnamese phở?

2. Exercise more

Uhuru Peak, Mount Kilimanjaro

Why not get in shape by training for a challenging climb up Mount Kilimanjaro?

3. Save more money

Sure, you could save up for your retirement, a house deposit or a new boiler, or you could save up for an epic overlanding adventure through Central Asia… I know what I’d rather do!

4. Get more sleep

Do you often find you can’t get to sleep, be it due to noise pollution, or your pesky smart phone distracting you with that glowing screen and constant access to social media? Then why not disconnect and have a refreshing night’s sleep camping in the wilderness of Kyrgyzstan with Oasis Overland?

Bush camp in Kyrgyzstan

5. Read more books

One of the joys of overlanding is travelling slowly across vast distances. Many of our travellers use long drive days to their advantage by getting stuck into a good book. All our custom-built trucks have on-board libraries, so you’ll never be short of a novel to read whilst cruising through Brazil on our Rio to Manaus expedition!

6. Learn a new skill

Looking to learn a new skill in 2019? Why not pick up a new language? How about French in Morocco, Spanish in Peru, or Persian in Iran?

7. Get a new job

Are you hard-working, resilient and on the lookout for a new adventure? Why not apply for a job as one of our fantastic Oasis Overland crew!

Chilling out with new friends in South America

8. Make new friends

Looking to expand your social circle? Join any of our Oasis Overland group tours! We have a great track record of bringing together

individuals who go on to form lifelong friendships, relationships and even marriages!

9. Get a new hobby

Yes, you could take up knitting, stamp collecting or baking… but doesn’t mountain biking in Bolivia, skydiving in Namibia or hot air ballooning in Turkey sound much more fun?!

10. Focus more on appearance

Mountain biking in Bolivia

You may have read this one and be thinking how on Earth can Oasis Overland be linked to focussing more on your appearance; surely travellers are less inclined to worry about how they look? Well, have you ever thought you’d look good with a nice bushy beard? Or are you regretting cutting yourself a fringe after a few too many wines at last week’s office Christmas party? Then why not join our epic Trans Africa expedition and see how fabulous you look after 40 weeks without a haircut!

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Christmas Opening Hours | Oasis Overland

🎶 Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the (camp) fire is so delightful, and since we’ve no hope of snow, let us go, let us go, let us go (on an overland trip!) 🎶

San-truck Claus wishes everyone a wheely good Christmas!

 

Christmas & New Year Office Opening Hours

Monday 24th Dec              9.00am – 1.00pm (emails only)

Tuesday 25th Dec             Closed

Wednesday 26th Dec       Closed

Thursday 27th Dec           9.00am – 5.00pm

Friday 28th Dec                 9.00am – 5.00pm

Saturday 29th Dec            Closed

Sunday 30th Dec              Closed

Monday 31st Dec              9.00am – 3.00pm

Tuesday 1st Jan                Closed

Wednesday  2nd Jan        Usual opening hours

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of the team at Oasis Overland!

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