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Crew Focus : Driver Cary

How long have you been overlanding and how did you get into it?

On and off since January 2015

A friend did a trip in South America with another company which inspired me to start doing it.

Which Oasis areas have you worked in?

I’ve worked in South America and Central Asia

Where are you now?

I’m living in Ireland at the moment.

Next trip?

I’ll be the driver for the Exploratory – London to Istanbul via Kathmandu (26 weeks) Ultimate Asia Overland Expedition.

 

What was your first Overland trip? Any particular memories?

My first trip was the Kingdoms and Carnivals (15weeks) from Rio to Quito.

I really enjoyed driving through the mountains in Patagonia.

 

Funniest overlanding moment:

A passenger once asked how the military trained the Guerillas (Gorillas!)

The things tour leaders say on long drive days!

Happiest overlanding memory:

Thank you letters from the Passengers. I keep them all!

Favourite places/ activities:

Horse riding in Kyrgyzstan

Mountain biking on Death road in Bolivia.

Plane ride to Angel Falls in Venezuela

Where would you like to travel next?

India, Pakistan and Nepal – How convenient!

 

Best truck meal:

The 3 types of Curry and rice and the chai tea at a bushcamp in Kyrgyzstan.

 

Advice for Oasis travellers:

Dig a little deeper – it’ll pay off.

 

Final words of wisdom:

Ask Kate…..or whichever tour leader I’m working with!

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Morocco – A must see destination for all travellers!

Located in the North of Africa, Morocco is a popular destination for all travellers including families. Full of colourful culture, vibrant communities and beautiful sunny weather, it’s easy to understand why people love it so much!  If you haven’t yet been, it really should be high on your destination wish list!

Morocco’s intoxicating mix of sounds, aroma and colour welcomes you. There is so much to see and do, that the only thing that you may struggle with is deciding what to do next!  The ancient labyrinthine medina of Marrakech, the astonishing landscape of the Atlas Mountains and extraordinary Sahara Desert scenery are not to be missed.

We offer a selection of Morocco trips;

For those travellers with limited time enjoy the Morocco Express, a perfect short break of just 5 days or for those with longer you can enjoy a 15 days treat by booking the Morocco Encompassed trip.

The Imperial Cities of Fez, Rabat, Marrakech and Meknes have all been capital of Morocco at some time, so each of them each enjoy historical importance.  Whether you want to see palaces and churches or mosques and museums, you can spend weeks exploring the culture of these places, the wonderful sights and sounds are never ending.

Add that to the other exciting places we offer on our trips, and your time will be full of history, scenery and relaxation, what’s not to like?!

Here are some of the highlights and places to visit when you go to Morocco…….

Marrakech is a great imperial city, unique in the Arab world for the chance it offers to experience city life, which in patterns and appearance, remains medieval for the most part. The atmosphere of the city rather than a long list of sites and monuments is what attracts many visitors.

The name Marrakech conjures up images of magic carpets, snake charmers and spices all brought in on camel trains. Set within the rose-coloured walls of the medina lies a reality that is not that far removed from an exotic film set – a tangle of winding streets that open onto verdant gardens and dark alleyways that lead to bustling souks.  You can explore the central square, the Djemâa-el-Fna, an extraordinary gathering and market place. It is full of colour, spicy aromas and traders and is worth visiting in the evening when it’s overflowing with food stalls and buzzing with dancers, acrobats, fortune tellers, musicians and henna artists. Towering over all this is the Koutoubia Minaret, the tallest building in the city, and a reminder of the importance of Islam to the lives of the city’s residents.

The stunning Atlas Mountains stretching the length of the country, dominate the interior of the country and are accessible from the foothills of the High Atlas which can be reached in just an hour from Marrakech. They offer fantastic trekking with walks to suit all levels of ability.  Berber villages are on terraces, clinging to the sides of the mountains. The network of paths are used by locals every day and offer you an insight into real mountain life.

When you visit the Sahara Desert Berber Camp you are offered the opportunity to trek on camels into the desert, enjoy a Berber meal and relax under the beautiful Saharan starry sky.

Casablanca, bordering the Atlantic Ocean is Morocco’s main port and the largest city in the country, again offering something different for travellers with its share of older neighbourhoods showcasing French colonial and Moroccan architecture. Whilst not as atmospheric as other cities in Morocco, this is where business prospers as it is the industrial, economic and financial centre of the country.

Meknes  includes the spectacular  Bab Mansour, a huge gate with arches and mosaic tiling, the 12th century Grand Mosque and the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, the resting place of the most famous and notorious sultans of the country.

Fes, the most ancient of the imperial capitals is the oldest and largest medieval city in the world. Its medina-city of Fes El Bali, is believed to be one of the world’s largest urban pedestrian zones, with only donkeys and bikes as means of transportation and is a heady mix of aromas, sights and sounds. There are plenty of mosques and palaces to visit. After exploring the dye-pits, tanneries, pharmacy, pottery and restaurants, you can enjoy a traditional meal and live Moroccan entertainment including traditional and belly dancing.

The coastal city of Tangier, also known as the ‘white city’ is located at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is a lively city with a mix of cultures, both European and Moroccan. There are many historical highlights you may wish to visit in the city, including the Grand Socco – which is the romantic entrance to the Tangier marketplace, Kasbah – a museum that is housed in the former sultan’s palace of Dar El Makhzen, or the Caves of Hercules – named in homage to the Greek hero Heracles (Hercules in Roman mythology). Or you may simply wish to get lost in the winding streets and alleyways of the medina, or take a beachfront stroll.

Essaouira is a striking blue and white fishing town enclosed within sea front fortifications called the Skala de la Kasbah. Great beaches and surf beckon.  Completely different from the other places you visit, this is an enjoyable base to unwind, and is perfect for enjoying a casual stroll around the medina. For the adrenaline seekers there are optional extras such as wind and kite surfing due to its infamous wind!

For a trip that is rather different from the norm, the Berber Migration Tour is a unique trekking expedition which is like no other. 

One of our favourite trips on offer with Oasis Overland is an exciting journey beginning in the heart of Morocco, in the city of Marrakech. You will join a Berber family and their farming animals as they head on their bi-annual journey to new pastures, trekking through the High Atlas Mountains and seeing unmissable sights including breathtaking panoramic views and picturesque valleys. You will visit Berber villages and have the opportunity to enjoy traditional Moroccan food and relax under the beautiful starry skies. Not only is this trek filled with traditional culture that can rarely be experienced so closely, it also shows you the wonders of Morocco’s landscape through the eyes of those who use its land. It really is a trip like no other!

Morocco provides a never ending trail of excitement and places to explore catering for all needs in your group and is particularly suitable for family holidays. We have 3 trips that cater for families,

Souks and Sand Dunes and Souks, Sand Dunes & Surf for those with children aged 5 to 16 years and the Marrakech and Sahara Teen Tour for 12 year olds and above.

Our trips are run in conjunction with a local operator. All of the guides are English speaking and experienced. They are knowledgeable and passionate about the history and culture of their country and are always ready to provide information and explanations of what you are seeing and experiencing.

Contact us today to find out more and to book yourself a lifetime adventure with Oasis Overland to the magic and excitement that is Morocco.

 

Posted in Africa, All Blogs, guided walking morocco, walking high atlas.


What’s your Excuse?

Have you ever wanted to jet off to far flung exciting places, only to be held back by, well, yourself? Travelling solo can be scary, but here’s the way to do it.

If I had a pound for every person I met who told me “I want to go, but I’m scared to go on my own”, or “I couldn’t afford the single supplement”, or sometimes “I’m worried about travelling on public transport”, I’d be rich! Sadly I’m far from it, but on the plus side, there is a way to travel and avoid the problem of extra expense or the stress of logistics: join an Oasis Trip.  Even Wanderlust Travel Magazine agrees – they recently listed overlanding in their “Top 10 ideas for solo travellers”.

More than ever before, the world has opened up to all sorts of travel, and people wanting a spectrum of different experiences can be accommodated. A lot of people actually travel to meet people, but taking those first few steps is the hardest part. Travelling in a group gives you ready made friends with a similar mindset, support when you need it, but also allows you to take time out and do your own thing. Overlanding Trips encompass all of this, with the added benefits that others on the expedition are also single travellers with the same apprehensions and doubts as you.  Oasis also doesn’t charge a single supplement either, so you don’t need to worry about an extra cost of wanting your own adventure!

Group Sandboarding Peru

Another myth I feel I have to debunk: it is definitely not true that people who want to travel on their own have no friends! Most of our solo travellers are very sociable people, and some travel alone because their friends and/or partners don’t want to come along. My Dad travels alone because Mum has no desire to explore the “crazy destinations” my Dad craves, and they enjoy a happy marriage. My brother has a lot of friends, but they are working towards house goals/career goals/children goals – and he just wants to spend his time off exploring South America!

Various travel companies have reported a massive growth in solo travel, with some reporting over 50% of their clients as singles. Travelling with a group allays other fears too – there’s safety in numbers and overlanding, even to the distant corners of Africa, means that personal security becomes shared: someone can watch your bag while you pop to the loo, come with you to travel to that historical site off the beaten track, or even keep an eye on you if you’re feeling under the weather.

Overland travel brings people together in a way few other trips can rival -the number of Oasis weddings and children is tantamount to that! You end up getting to know your “truck family” very well, often better than friends at home, due to the nature of the experiences you share, the adventures you do together and the time you have for deeper conversations.  You meet people from different countries and different backgrounds; people who you wouldn’t otherwise have encountered in your safe life at home. Working as a Tour Leader for Oasis, I frequently met travellers on my trips who were initially nervous and unsure about many things (cooking often being one!), but finished their trip more confident, with more friends and a long list of new travel destinations!

Interestingly, the increasing trend for solo travel isn’t biased towards a certain demographic, or age range; it seems to be for everyone! Currently it’s still more women than men who elect to go solo (men, take note), and that seems to be the case across the statistics.  Perhaps The Telegraph has an answer: they published an article on solo travel in May this year, and asked whether the growth in popularity could be linked to people staying single for longer? (You might need more than one overland trip to meet your future “one”!)

Whatever the reason, solo travel is good for you, fun, educational, it is doable, and overlanding is a fantastic way of doing it.  Stop making excuses and get out there and travel!

See you on the road 🙂

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Central Asia: Why it’s the Next Big Thing

Three weeks, four countries, and a trip into the deep heart of Central Asia. Sound like your type of trip? Read on to discover more about our Silk Road Highlights Expedition to one of our favourite destinations.

Many people have heard of the Silk Road, but most of them struggle to name the modern-day countries that the ancient trading routes now travel through.  Uzbeka-what? Turkmenojikistan?!  This legendary network of paths and roads once made up the bridge between East and West, and the everlasting history encapsulated in this region is felt by all who travel through.

In stark contrast to the elegant antiquated jewels of cities you associate with Central Asia, your first stop on this trip is modern day Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital. Built almost exclusively in white marble, this city is often referred to as “weird”, or “bizarre”. With its airport designed as a flying bird, it’s well worth your time.  A city tour is included – and needed, just for someone to explain why there are so many gold statues of the president, or why there is a ministry dedicated solely to horses…?!

Cities not your thing? Not a problem; the Oasis Silk Road Highlights trip does what it says – it visits all the highlights of this magical region, including those more off the main path. And you really do experience the meaning of ‘remote’ when you travel to Northern Turkmenistan.  Orange sand dunes, sand speckled shrubs and herds of camels are the scenery that greets you throughout your journey to the Gates of Hell.  Darvaza Gas Crater continues to attract a steady chain of interest, despite not appearing on the ‘suggested’ government tourist schedule. Once night falls, you’ll realise just how worth it the drive was. Getting close to this intense burning crater of fire is a feat if just for the temperature, and it’s unlike anything else in the world.

Your desert experience will test your endurance as you continue through the sand to Uzbekistan.  The previous life-giving waters of the Aral Sea have been diminished to almost nothing, and the remaining ship carcasses make for incredible photography (and a playground for those who like climbing!).  History is still a touchy subject in this region, but again, you’re travelling far off the beaten track into forgotten areas of countries that once served such as part of such an incredible trade exchange.

While the legacy of Soviet Control still exists in many parts of Central Asia, the history and mystic of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand shine through. While there’s less of the trading post and more of the modern city feel about them, these cities in Uzbekistan still cultivate their older parts of town where the tourists congregate. Bursting with mosques, medrassahs and minarets, these sites are famed by their blue tiles of all hues glittering in the sunshine. The local markets here are some of my favourites along the whole route.

 

 

 

 

 

As you travel further East, the dusty expanse of desert gives way to green rolling hills and horses start to populate the view. Kazakhstan also features on this trips’ itinerary, where travellers try their best to spot the elusive golden eagle and ibex while hiking or horse riding through the beautiful Aksu-Dzhabagly nature reserve. The Mongols boast a lot of history of this region, and who doesn’t want to pretend to be as masterful as Genghis Khan?!

The Tien Shan mountain range (locally known as the Mountains of Heaven) in Kyrgyzstan provide an incredible backdrop to your adventure here, whether you choose to end it in Bishkek for our 20 day adventure, or extend your trip to include more of this fabulous emerald of a country. Always a favourite, its snow capped peaks host horse riding, hiking and all manner of outdoor activities – you can even enjoy the thermal springs! You’ll bunk down in a traditional yurt to really experience life like a traditional nomad, and it’s worth braving the cold to gaze at your star studded ceiling. Survival out here relies on horseback, and our travellers are often able to catch a game of Kokboru or Buzkashi, Central Asia’s famous goat polo.

My only advice: make it quick! Central Asia, despite its countries being unpronounceable by most, is slowly starting to emerge onto the radar. Tourists looking for “something different” are starting to sit up and take notice. By all means join them, but do it overland with Oasis, where we can ensure you experience the best the Silk Road has to offer! Contact the team to find out more or for inspiration on doing a longer trip with us!

Bishkek to Ashgabat (20 days) Silk Road Highlights

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Crew Focus: Driver Talbot

How long have you been overlanding and how did you get into it?

Back in 2010 I missed a bus in the Outback, Australia so went to couch-surf for the night; the host’s son was an overland driver at the time which encouraged me to book a trip to West Africa that night and the rest is history.

Which Oasis areas have you worked in?

I have been overlanding for 8years – 4 of those years have been with Oasis Overland in Africa.

Where are you now? Next trip?

I’m on the way to Central Asia for a 6month trip through Iran and the ‘Stans

What was your first Overland trip? Any particular memories?

My first trip was as a passenger from London to Cape Town through West Africa. Mali holds great memories (Mali not Bali!)

 

Funniest overlanding moment:

Kande Beach fancy dress

Happiest overlanding memory:

Feeling like a very lucky man in Egypt when I was walking around with ‘my three wives’!

 

 

 

 

Favourite places/ activities:

Zimbabwe is my favourite country – as it has a diverse landscape, friendly people and tonnes of adrenaline activities!

Where would you like to travel next?

I would like to visit Pakistan – it my last ‘Stan’ to experience and I’m keen to see Trango Towers and do some climbing.

Best truck meal:

Definitely the 2018 Christmas dinner in Uganda prepared by Cass and Wendy! Homemade stuffing!

Advice for Oasis travellers:

Book your trip now! Make Africa a priority.

 

 

Final words of wisdom:

If you book a trip and I’m the driver – please bring Vegemite!

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What to Pack?

Packing for a camping trip that’s going to take you through the deserts of Africa, the mountains of South America or the captivating culture of the Ancient Silk Road is

tough! How many pairs of trousers do you need? Are 3 t shirts really going to be enough? And will you really need a dress/nice shirt?! When you travel with Oasis we provide you with a suggested packing list which covers the basic essentials – check it out by clicking on the ‘before you go’ tab on any of our trips and clicking on ‘What To Take’!

But there will always be extras you want to squeeze in your bag. Here’s a few suggestions for any extra room you might have.

  1. Something Personal to You

When I first started travelling many moons ago, the best advice I was given was to take something comforting, or something that makes you feel like the ‘you at home’. It’s different for everyone, but for me it was (bizarrely) face cream. I’m a tad obsessed with my night time routine and knowing that I could take a moment for myself, to sit and put the cream on my face before bed (even if ‘bed’ was a sleeping bag in the desert), helped me cope with being away from home for the first time. It will be different for everyone – sometimes it’s a mascot, or a favourite top, or even photos of home. But don’t underestimate the value of having something just for you when you need it. Just make sure it’s small…and legal.

  1. A Camera

I’ve met a few people over the years who haven’t bothered bringing a camera, or who couldn’t afford one before they began travelling. All of them regretted it. Sure, they managed to persuade their fellow travellers to take photos for them, and everyone shared their photos at the end of the trip so they created a collection then. But the photos weren’t theirs. And of course there are times when you’re on your own and you just see something that you want to capture. Yes, the mental picture you store in your memory is precious; but so is showing off to everyone at home when you get home about how close you were to that lion!

  1. Enough Money

This is a REALLY important one! And it sounds obvious, but some people don’t bring enough, and it really does suck when you can’t do everything you want to. You already know you have to pay your local payment on Day 1 of your trip, and you’ve already paid for the trip before travelling. But have you gone through the optional activity list to see just how many things you’d like to do? Don’t automatically assume you won’t be up for horse riding or bungee jumping – it’s amazing how peer pressure can change your mind on just about everything (in a good way)! When the whole group have decided to sign up for something, it’s such a shame when people miss out only because they didn’t think they’d fancy it when they were sitting at home with the list!

Pay attention to the suggested weekly budget as well – if you know you’re going to enjoy at beer (or 3) most nights, may be give yourself a bit extra. I know we can all have fun without alcohol…but it helps! 😉

  1. A journal

Writing a diary isn’t for everyone in their regular daily lives, but it’s amazing how many people choose to keep a travel log of all their adventures. There are people who write essays every day, not wanting to forget a single moment, and there are others who keep it to one or two lines, simply documenting place names and activities. Some people start the trip writing every day, others decide it’s a good idea to start half way through their trip! Whatever kind of traveller you are, it’s worth thinking about packing something to write with and on.

  1. A great book

We have a truck “library” on board, but it’s always great to get more (recent) material! Even self-confessed “non-readers” can find themselves picking up a book to get them through some of the longer drive days, and your crew will love having access to a vast spectrum of reading material. I’ve read books I might otherwise never have heard of/chosen because people have brought something new and interesting. Travelling is always a great excuse to catch up on those books you’ve heard of recently, or always wanted to read. Make sure you pack them (and not just your kindle!)

  1. Marmite

Love it or hate it, there’s always someone who can’t live without it! While a random jar can occasionally be found on some of our trucks in Africa, it’s hard to find in South America and Central Asia, so if you love it, bring your own! I should mention Vegemite here too – the Aussie equivalent to marmite. This remains elusive on every continent apart from its own, so make sure you pack your own stash!

  1. Decent tea bags/Good coffee

If you are a hot drink snob – and let’s be honest, a lot of us are – and really can’t function in the morning without your special brew, then make sure you reserve space in your pack! Twinings, Nescafe Gold…even percolators have found their way onto my trucks! You might be at the risk of offending your well meaning Tour Leader, who does her/his best to stock up the truck with essentials, but one has to remember that they are shopping on a budget and have to cater for a lot of people. They’ll be cool (for a fee 😉 )

  1. Binoculars

You might be thinking, really?! But these are a godsend when someone’s pointed out a leopard from the side of the truck and you’re straining your eyes trying to determine cat from shrub. Binos aren’t just for the bird geeks (I am one so I can say that); they allow you to really get up close and personal with the wildlife, all the while remaining safe in your vehicle – you will be asked to lend your “extra-eyes” to most of your fellow passengers. Think up a good trade in advance!

  1. External Power Source

Even if you think you’re getting away from all the trappings of technology, you’ll soon realise that leads and chargers take up way space than they should! There’s a gadget for everything, and some people bring them all. Do yourself a favour and save queuing for charging ports; bring a power bar that you can plug into and charge your phone/camera/ipad with – it’s a game changer! Just remember that most airlines now ask you to pack battery packs in your carry on – you might find yourself being called out of your gate and questioned if you try to leave it in your main bag. Maybe, I wouldn’t know, this is just hypothetical, obviously….

  1. A proper towel

Mircofibre, quick drying towels are all the rage at outdoor stores. They come in fun colours and various sizes for your convenience. They do what they say: pack small and dry quickly. But they also smell after prolonged use, and they don’t actually dry you! If you want to bring one item of luxury, make it this. The feeling of a real towel against your skin after yet another cold shower is truly wonderful. Truly, yes, it will feel that good – you won’t believe how your priorities will shift…

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What’s it like on an Oasis Pakistan Tour?

Northern Pakistan is an incredibly beautiful and friendly place to visit and I was lucky enough to join our PAKISTAN Karakorum Highlights & Chitral Valley (21 days) tour.  Here are a few pointers on what to expect.

Safety

Let’s cover this one first as it’s most people’s biggest concern about travelling to Pakistan.    The FCO have advisories in place regarding certain areas of the country, some of which are included on our itineraries.  My only slightly unnerving experience occurred when a police truck appeared seemingly out of nowhere and escorted us for an hour on our drive approaching Chitral.   Driving in front of us, our view was of a police officer in the back of the pick up with AK47 at the ready.  The Gilgit-Baltistan Police (who cover the Karakorum Highway area) have established a new “Division” especially for the protection and safety of tourists.  In some areas it was compulsory that a policeman accompanied us although local people we spoke to felt it was unnecessary and more likely to put tourists off than encourage them. 

Personally I never felt unsafe anywhere in Pakistan but ultimately it’s for the traveller to learn about the risks of travelling to any country and to make an informed decision themselves. 

 People

The Pakistanis are amongst the most hospitable you will meet anywhere and we were regularly invited into people’s homes for tea.  You will find a lot of tourists from Karachi in the north of Pakistan and may well find yourself the biggest attraction with a queue of people eager to have a selfie taken with you!  As a female traveller I have often got a lot of unwanted attention when travelling alone in Muslim countries.  Although travelling with my partner this time, I did venture out alone on occasion and was never hassled in any way.  And although men would often prefer to talk to Steve than me, he received the same treatment when we met women who would totally ignore  him and drag me off to learn my name, look at my jewellery and attempt to teach me some Urdu.

 Willys jeeps

Our transport was in a 1970 Willys jeep which I loved, not just because it was the same age as me.  You really need an open topped vehicle to take in the mountain views as these tower sky high at close proximity.  The 360 degree outlook from the jeep is fantastic and when it’s slower going, you can stand up for an even better view.  There is a cover for when it’s extremely hot or cold or raining!  They are perfect for the rough roads you encounter in this part of Pakistan.

The mountains

What can I say… the mountains of the Himalaya, Karakorum and Hindu Kush ranges are incredible, impressive and stunning with an awful lot being over 7000m high.  Sometimes they are cloaked in clouds which is annoying but can’t be helped and can actually make a great photo.

 

 

Pakistani food

I’ve met would-be travellers to Pakistan that are worried the food will be really spicy.  Mostly it wasn’t, so don’t worry!  Porridge, eggs or sweet bread with jam were generally on offer for breakfast.  Chicken was commonly on the menu, occasionally mutton or fish and vegetables dishes were plentiful including okra, kale, potatoes and dahl and rice and chapatis accompanied every meal.  In the far north there are Chinese influences and in the west Afghan flavours.  Meals were huge and we usually had two tea stops each day – you will not go hungry or thirsty!

Clothing

On our Pakistan tours you are provided with two sets of Shalwar Kameez, the dress of choice for both men and women in Pakistan.  We wore ours all the time as they were so cool to wear in the heat (we travelled in August) and generally comfortable for travelling in.  In more conservative areas these are essential to wear to avoid being disrespectful.  I struggled a little to keep my headscarf from slipping off my head but a small child in Chitral gave me some helpful instruction which helped for the remainder of the trip!  Local people clearly appreciated us wearing traditional clothing and Steve was frequently complimented by strangers on how smart he looked.  We even wore it to our local pub on our reluctant return home, much to the amusement of the rest of the village.

 

If you are interested in travelling to Pakistan, take a look at our tours below or contact us with any questions.

Pakistan Karakorum Highlights (15 days)

Pakistan Karakorum Highlights & Chitral Valley (21 days)

Pakistan – Domes & Deserts of the Indus – Northbound (17 days)

Pakistan – Domes & Deserts of the Indus – Southbound (17 days)

Posted in All Blogs, Central Asia.


The Wonder of the Galapagos Islands

Nestled in the waters of the Pacific Ocean are the beautiful Galapagos Islands, part of the South American country of Ecuador, which sits around 1,000km away. There are 13 main islands in the group, 5 of which are completely uninhabited, and all of which hold plenty to explore.

If you’ve heard of the Galapagos before, it may be because of Charles Darwin’s famous trip to the Galapagos Islands where he began to work on his theory of evolution. Or, maybe you’re an animal lover and you know about the biodiversity here, or you’re just a keen traveller, and you’ve seen them for yourself!

boobies in Galapagos

Either way, the Galapagos Islands are a wonderful place to visit, and a bucket list destination that we think is incredible!

Why Visit the Galapagos?

There are a ton of reasons to visit the Galapagos Islands. For starters, the incredible abundance of wildlife is like nowhere else. They roam freely, unafraid of humans and not a threat, creating a wonderful feeling of harmony between man and animal.  It’s also one of the remotest groups of islands in the world, meaning that much of the natural life has remained untouched, creating a completely unique experience for visitors.

giant tortoise standing next to human in Galapagos

 

It’s wonderful for snorkelling, has plenty of clear blue ocean, and the beautiful landscapes will certainly take your breath away! Lounge under the sun, and hike up volcanoes, getting to grips with these stunning places that you’ll certainly never forget.

To really experience the Galapagos Islands and get the most out of your trip, why not join Oasis Overland’s 8 Day Cruise? It’s the ideal way to explore the area with an expert guide – and you’ll make plenty of new friends to travel with, too!

tourist cruise on the sea with blue sky

 

Oasis Overland 8 Day Galapagos Island Cruise

 

Spend just over a week travelling around the Islands, taking in all they have to offer. There are lots of action packed and fun activities to do, including:

  • Snorkelling with marine life
  • Travelling by ‘panga’ – a Galapagos amphibious craft, to see sea life such as turtles, penguins, mola-mola, and nazca boobies
  • Encountering lava flows on hikes
  • Visiting the world-renowned Darwin Lake
  • Getting up close to tortoises at Breeding Center Arnaldo Tupiza
  • Taking strolls over sandy beaches at sunset
  • Floating in the hypersalinic lagoon

sea turtle in the Galapagos

 

This trip is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and totally different from your average holiday!

If you’re interested in joining the Galapagos Island group adventure and have any questions, get in touch with our team today.

 large lizard

Posted in All Blogs, South America.

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Did you know that we run a trip from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls?

This action-packed overland adventure travels through South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe; it’s an amazing trip visiting renowned gameparks, enjoying spectacular views and finishing in an adrenalin heaven!

The 19day trip includes 50% accommodation in lodges and hostels and 50% camping so perfect for travellers who want to experience overlanding but don’t have a lot of time to travel and would rather not camp for all of it!

Starting in Johannesburg, South Africa  – you have the option to take a tour down a Goldmine at Gold Reef City, visit Soweto and the former home of Nelson Mandela, local shabeens (bars) or the Apartheid Museum.

Moving onto the mountainous kingdom of Swaziland you will visit Mbabane the capital and Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.

Kruger National Park is next where you will go on an afternoon game drive in the overland truck and have the chance to spot some incredible wildlife!

After Kruger, the truck will move onto the Hot Springs of Tshipise where you can swim in the naturally hot swimming pools and take some time out to relax before continuing your adventure!

Crossing into Zimbabwe, you will then stay overnight on the banks of Limpopo River which includes a wildlife drive through bushveld.

Chimanimani National Park in the Eastern Highlands is next. Here you can hike through this vast beautiful mountain wilderness area bordering Mozambique or the chance to visit Bridal Veil falls and enjoy the surrounding scenery from this sleepy village.

The trip then moves onto Great Zimbabwe Ruins – this ancient ruined city, is the largest stone structure ever built south of the Sahara and is where the name ‘Zimbabwe’ comes from which means ‘houses of stone’

Following this you will visit a privately run game reserve, where you have the option to go game viewing on horse back, amongst other activities – which makes for a very different experience!

A safari with a difference at the Matobo National Park comes next! Allowing you to game walk to get up close and see the elusive Black Rhino along with visiting Cecil Rhodes’ Grave and the chance to check out some Ancient Rock Paintings.

At Hwange National Park you will get another chance to do more wildlife spotting on a morning game drive and guided walking safari in search of large elephant herds. You will also be able to visit a Wild Dog Sanctuary.

Finally you will reach Victoria Falls which is one of the most spectacular places to end your trip!

Viewing these spectacular falls from the Zimbabwe or Zambian side is a must. For the more adventurous Victoria Falls is an Adrenaline Heaven  with a number of different activities to try your hand at including; grade 5 whitewater rafting, and kayaking trips or Flight of Angels (microlite or helicopter), sunset cruises, gorge swing, abseil, bungy jump, jet boating and more!

 

This 19day trip can be booked on its own or part of the longer 35day Southern Explorer trip which starts in Cape Town or the 93day Grand Adventurer.  

 

 

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The Best Hikes On Trips with Oasis Overland

Worried about losing your fitness while you’re on holiday? Here’s some of the best ways to get out and about and get that heart racing! 🙂

  1. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

The ancient city of Machu Picchu is one of the biggest draw cards to Peru. There are various routes to get there (including a train option for the non-hikers!) and all of them include stunning vistas through the Andes. The Classic Trail is the most popular, but those in the know also argue for the Salkantay; it really does take you up to the snow capped peaks. Others vote for the Lares trail, where you discover more local villages and get a snapshot of Andean rural life. However you get there, you’ll be following in the footsteps of the Incas, and the site of their ancient community awaits you. It’s a magical place.

 

  1. The W Trek, Chile

Possibly the most famous trek in Patagonia, this trail through Torres del Paine National Park in Chile doesn’t disappoint. With jaw-dropping views at every turn, snow capped peaks and ice blue lakes punctuate every photo. It’s not for the faint hearted, however; there is some serious uphill during the 4 day hike. You can choose one or two of the days hikes, – The Towers is a popular one. It’s tough-going, but the reward of the rock pinnacle “Towers” at the top, reflected in the glacially-cold lake, is definitely worth it. If you’re on the crazy side you could also go for a dip!

 

  1. Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

While not technically during a trip with Oasis, this expedition to the highest mountain in Africa can be added onto your African Adventure before you begin your overland trip. You’ll journey up to 5895m and back over a week, and it most certainly will test you. Rising above the cloud line is an incredible feeling, as is the sight of millions of twinkling stars in the unspoiled night sky. It’s a challenge, but the feeling of accomplishment (and relief!) when you make that signpost is almost impossible to put into words. Until you realise the locals can run up in under 10 hours…then you don’t feel quite so tough!

 

  1. Trail to Mt Fitzroy, Argentina

Walking the trails from the small town of El Chalten to the lake at the base of Mount Fitzroy, while not lauded as one of the “must dos” in Patagonia, remains one of my favourite things to do there. It’s a beautiful and relatively gentle walk, with lovely scenery along the route. If you’re lucky enough to have sunshine when you reach Mt Fitzroy, it’s a stunning scene reminiscent of the Towers in Torres del Paine – rocky outcrops dusted with snow looming over a glacial lake. If you’re lucky enough to trek in autumn, the colours of the trees make for wonderful photos 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. *Chimanimani National Park, Zimbabwe

Not many people dream of travelling to the beautiful country of Zimbabwe, and even those who do have rarely heard of Chimanimani National Park. The East Highlands form the boundary with neighbouring Mozambique, and are home to some incredible formations. A land largely covered in huge boulders, these mountain passes played a significant part in the independence war in Zimbabwe. Many people trek to Bridal Falls, a lovely waterfall and picnic spot; but if you’re up for a bigger adventure, lose yourself in the dramatic, wild landscape of rifted peaks, spectacular gorges and natural pools. Just a word of warning, if you go for a swim, it’s rather chilly…!

*This article was written before the recent Cyclone Idai devastation of the area. Our thoughts are with the people affected by this disaster. We didn’t want to remove this section as we want to keep this are in peoples’ thoughts and to acknowledge that our trips will return there as soon as we can. We are currently looking into ways to support the region during this crisis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Altyn Arashan, Kyrgyzstan

Another country slowly emerging as a jewel to visit, Kyrgyzstan is filled with mountains to climb and valleys to traverse. There’s rolling green hills dotted with yurts and homesteads, and herds of horses, cows and sheep roaming for the best grazing lands. Few vehicles can successfully travel up to Altyn Arashan, and this makes it extra special – when hiking up here you really do feel as if you’re the only one around. The trek towards Ala Kul lake takes you into the heart of the mountains, although unless you want to set off super early, don’t set the lake as your destination – it’s a loooong round trip! The best thing about any of the hikes here is relaxing in the hot springs by the river at the end of them – bliss!

 

  1. Villarica Volcano, Pucon

You may have seen it on the news; this still-active volcano has exploded a couple of times in the last decade! Hauling yourself up these steep slopes is a fantastic way to earn the views at the top: they are stunning! Those who don’t want to walk the whole way can take the cable car for the first half of the climb, but then everyone has to strap on their crampons and trudge through the snow to the top. The way down, however, is a little more speedy – and tremendous fun! You sit on what is essentially a plastic tray, are handed a pick axe as a ‘brake’, and take off down ice shoots as fast or as slowly as you like! Amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Trekking the Mountain Gorillas, Uganda

This is one trip that nobody ever regrets – however far you’ve had to walk. Everything depends on the apes, and how far they’ve moved through the jungle overnight. Some people find themselves trekking for hours up and down the mountain sides; others are pleasantly surprised with a gentle stroll through the rain forest. Wherever you are on the scale, you’ll have your time with these magnificent animals to treasure forever 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Aksu-Dzhabagly Nature Reserve, Kazakhstan

Travelling East across the ancient Silk Routes, this Nature Reserve is a true gem. You’ve left the desert and the dust behind, and emerged into rolling green hills and mountains covered in horses. This is the oldest nature reserve in Central Asia, and a beautiful place to take a walk. Options include hiking on foot or travelling on horseback, and both are rewarding. It’s a long walk, not particularly challenging in gradient but you’re rewarded by fantastic views and once again, that feeling that no one else is around. You also have the opportunity for some wildlife spotting – we saw ibex last time, and I still hope for a glance of a golden eagle!

 

  1. Table Mountain, South Africa

While most people choose to take the cable car up this iconic mountain, it’s also a great hike up! There are various routes you can take, some more scenic and some more direct – all of them will take you up the kilometre or so to the top. It’s an adventure for those who like to challenge themselves; if you’re content with the circular walk on top of table mountain (yes, there’s still a walk!), which boasts much better views, then the cable car is for you. It is (usually) the end of your trip after all…

 

  1. Cappadocia, Turkey

The various valleys around Cappadocia host fantastic short walks through dramatic, fairytale like rock formations. The Rose Valley is one of my favourites, where you can see fairy chimneys (which change their colour depending on the time of day!), rock churches and mini vineyards along the way. The valleys all lead into one another so you’ll have amazing views wherever you walk, and there are so many ancient caves and rock churches, you’ll never run out of new things to see. Hiking through the Ihlara Valley deserves a mention too – the cave churches are wonderful and walking through the farmers tilling their fields as they’ve done for hundreds of years, you really feel like you’ve stepped back in time!

 

  1. Dune 45, Namibia

I felt this deserves a mention because where else can you hike up a sand dune?! It may only be 170m in height (other sources say 80m; it’s somewhere inbetween!), but treading through sand is hard work – especially when you’re doing in uphill! It’s totally worth it though – watching the sun rise (or set) from the top of the dune is magical. When you realise that the sand grains you’re perched on could be up to 5 million years old, that makes it all the more breathtaking!

 

 

For more information on one or all of these hikes and what trips they feature in, please email info@oasisoverland.co.uk or give us a call. There’s nothing we like more than chatting about our trips – 01963 363400

Happy Travels! 🙂

Posted in Africa, All Blogs, Central Asia, South America.

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