Category Archives: Overland Journeys

Overland Journeys

Overland Journeys News - April 2020

Current Events

I don’t pretend to be an authority on any particular subject. I don’t openly offer advice on topics that I don’t know well. I have learned over the years to look well forward and anticipate the future and make informed life and business decisions based on experience, history and a lot of gut feeling. Sometimes, It did not always play into my hands, things did not go exactly to plan and in those cases happenings just made me more determined and work harder for an end result. Life is a journey and there are a lot of mountains to climb, rivers to cross, obstacles to overcome but eventually you will make it to the finish line if you’re patient and with the help of friends.

At times like this, when the world has a “little” problem on its hands, and everybody has time to reflect on life we realise that we as individuals are just a small cog in a big wheel. As clever as we maybe, no one individual, business owners, authorities or world leaders had the intuition to forecast the current dilemma. Now we are all involved in this worldwide crisis, not a single person is exempt, and everybody has had to make adjustments to their lifestyle at short notice. Its character building stuff and brings the best and the worst out in us all. Detention, Isolation, Quarantine, call it what you like but it’s a foreign concept to most, other than criminals. Sometimes just sitting still on an aircraft for 10 hours while we jet to a favourite holiday location is enough entrapment for most.

BAM (Baikal Amur Mainline) Tour

Land Cruiser on the frozen Lake Baikal, the BAM Tour

I refuse to mention the “C” word and can only relate it to a good quality and popular Mexican beer or a reliable Japanese car. So, where the hell did this name come from and how did it sneak up and bring the world to its knees. If nothing else its character building stuff. We have all had to change our lifestyles instantly, change living and working habits and seriously think about how we move forward or in many cases survive the economic impact.

BAM (Baikal Amur Mainline) Tour

Overland Journeys vehicles on the BAM Tour

Up until Saturday the 28th March I was in Central Russia (Siberia) before jumping one of the last flights out of Russia and on to New Zealand. I am pleased to be back in NZ but it was a close call as the rest of the world was closing its doors to keep the monster from moving across their territories. Some countries like NZ and Russia had the benefit of some forward warning as some other not so lucky countries like Italy and Spain were struck down early with disastrous consequences.

BAM (Baikal Amur Mainline) Tour

Look at the height of snow cover on the BAM Tour

Overland Journeys were fortunate to have almost completed the first three big jobs of the season and managed to see our clients arrive safely home in NZ. Like a good captain I elected to tidy up in Russia, hang around for a bit longer and go down with a sinking ship. In less than a week the “as normal” life in Siberia went to a weeklong public holiday extended to a non-working month ordered by Mr. Putin himself. There were introduced regional movement restrictions and quarantine in several cities later in the week. While the virus numbers are relatively low in Russia for a country of their size they are taking the threat seriously.

Our first big challenge of the year involved providing twelve 4×4 vehicles and selected staff for the International BMW GS Trophy Challenge. It’s a motorcycle event with no less than 140 new GS850 adventure motorcycles being supplied to 20 challenge teams from different countries from around the world. This 9-day overland ride involved 240 people including our Overland Journeys team who were worked hard to make this huge event happen. The GS Trophy circus started in Rotorua and finished in Queenstown. The day to day itinerary was “top secret” so as part of the contract, we were unable to talk to anybody about the event in detail even on social media. As I was involved in the 14-day reconnaissance with the German organisers, it may explain a big gap in our communications at that time. It was fortunate for us, the organisers and our countries economy that we got through the event before the disruptions occurred. Have a look at the day to day video footage and the exposure of NZ’s most amazing scenery. See: http://advpulse.com/adv-news/gs-trophy-2020-new-zealand

Rally Tours NZ and BMW GS Trophy challenge

Transport provided by Rally Tours NZ for the GS Trophy challenge

Rally Tours NZ Ltd was proud to be associated with the BMW GS Trophy Challenge and the amazing people associated with this event.

Rally Tours NZ and BMW GS Trophy

BMW GS Trophy NZ 2020

Even before the GS was over, I was on a plane to Moscow to negotiate Rally Tours NZ Ltd involvement in yet another large international motorsport event. The “Silk Way Rally” is a Dakar type rally raid featuring most of the same competitors, vehicles with a route that normally takes in at least 3 different countries including Russia and China. As a result of our meeting we now have an official relationship with the Russian organisers addressing some of the access issues to secure stages and ease of border crossings etc. More details later. This July event is now solely in Russia for 2020 and as yet has not been cancelled.

Our 2020 BAM (Baikal Amur Mainline) 17-day self-drive winter tour started in Novosibirsk on the 19th Feb. The tour this year featured a slight change in the itinerary. A drive across the ice on Lake Baikal to Olkhon Island is a life changing experience and one of many highlights on this extreme tour. Our BAM road was built as a service road during the construction of the railway more than 40 years ago and is not negotiable in summer because of the lack of bridges. Our Russian Land Cruiser fleet are fitted with special tyres to handle the snow and ice and the cool temperatures (down to -40C) Everyday has its challenges and the historical cultural encounters make this one of the most amazing adventures available in this day and age. I shouldn’t say it, but no viruses here because it’s too cold !! We will be advertising this trip to run again in February 2021 and taking enquires now. Be Quick and email Anton: anton@rallytours.co.nz

BAM (Baikal Amur Mainline) Tour

Amazing scenery on the BAM Tour

So meanwhile 2020 has been cancelled with both our Caucasus and Central Asia self-drive trips postponed until 2021. Our scheduled Silk Road 2021 tour which is almost fully booked is to go ahead as planned. Obviously Overland Journeys, with the help of our local contacts are monitoring the current situation almost daily. At this moment we believe it will business as usual for this trip departing Vladivostok 2nd May 2021. However, for clients already booked on this tour we will be communicating on a regular basis from now with our usual, tips, information and news.

Rally Tours NZ Ltd are the official tour operator for the WRC Rally NZ event in September. Thanks to all our supporters who have reserved a seat and again will keep you up to date with any new developments. We can appreciate that many who intend visiting NZ for this special round are currently sitting on the fence. Don’t worry we will have plenty of seats available, accommodation is on hold and we will react on short notice when the flag drops on some certainty of our current situation. If you are registered for Rally NZ we will communicate directly as information comes to hand and if not regular newsletters will be pumped out.

Our thoughts are with all of our friends, clients, suppliers and anyone associated with Overland Journeys and Rally Tours NZ. Anton and I continue to work from home on a daily basis and optimistically are planning toward activities and tours for 2021 which will include some new and exciting adventures in a range of countries including our own. Feel free to contact us at any time. Please stay safe and most of all keep smiling.

Regards,

Greg Paul (Director)

Overland Journeys & Rally Tours NZ Ltd

The day I drove a Toyota Supra in the Targa Tour NZ

TOYOTA GR SUPRA
Base price:
 $99,990.
Powertrain and performance: 3.0-litre turbo-petrol inline six, 250kW/500Nm, 8-speed automatic, RWD, fuel economy 7.7 litres per 100km/CO2 177g/km (source: RightCar), 0-100kmh 4.3 seconds.
Vital statistics: 4379mm long, 1292mm high, 2470mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 290 litres, 19-inch alloy wheels with 255/35 front and 275/35 rear tyres.
We like: So easy to drive fast, smooth straight-six engine, looks the (Supra) part.
We don’t like: Intimate cabin might be too… intimate, transmission needs more aggression.

Greg is kind of a go-to Kiwi guy for global motoring and motorsport adventures. He’s a director of Overland Journeys/Rally Tours. It takes people all over the world, driving themselves or spectating top-level motorsport in (very) interesting places.

He’s an accomplished competitor himself and, judging from our quick chat, a collector of some of my bucket-list cars: Lancia Delta Integrale and Fiat 130 V6 (you know, The Italian Job one) among them.

Greg Paul, Director at Overland Journeys

JOHN COWPLAND/ALPHAPIX Man and a mountain: Limited Tour leader Greg Paul. Supra behind.

Anyway, we’re not here to talk about Italian cars. Or stand around talking to Greg.

We’re here to drive a Japanese-German one on the Targa Tour and the reason Greg is so important is that we have to follow him. He’s driving a 2000-vintage Alfa Romeo 156 Twin Spark with 300,000km on the clock, by the way.

Targa with Rally Tours NZ

JOHN COWPLAND/ALPHAPIX A Toyota GR Supra leads a BMW. Not that we mean anything by that.

Toyota New Zealand bravely invited media to take part in the Tour this year, participants each taking half a day and several stages in the new GR Supra.

Targa NZ you probably know. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, it’s a competitive timed event on some of the country’s best roads. That’s the bit for the serious people.

Targa Tour comes along behind on each stage, on the same closed roads: it’s designed for non-competition drivers in non-competition cars, unshackled by a 100kmh speed limit and the centre line.

Targa with Rally Tours NZ

JOHN COWPLAND/ALPHAPIX Your name here. If you’re lucky.

Unshackled, but not unlimited. The Tour groups are broken up into Open, Mid Point and Limited. Nobody gets to hop straight into the higher groups, least of all journalists getting into somebody else’s fast car completely cold.

So we’re in the Limited Group: maximum allowed speed 130kmh. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is when you consider the narrow, sinewy stage roads we’re on. Even the top Open Tour group only gets to do 160kmh… and they have to wear helmets.

So you take a look at Greg’s car and think: we have to stay behind that? Then you spend the rest of the day trying to keep up.

Targa with Rally Tours NZ

JOHN COWPLAND/ALPHAPIX The Tour cars get close at times, but no overtaking allowed.

“It was destined for a wrecking yard so I bought it for $2000,” says Greg. “I’ve had four Targas out of it. It’s just so easy, you turn the key and go.”

And go fast. With speed capped and demanding roads, getting a good flow on a stage is all about confidence (the real kind, not the misplaced variety), being smooth and keeping the momentum up. The driver as much as the car, in other words.

Greg does all of that and if you’re lucky enough to be right behind him (we are, that’s our allocated spot and there’s no overtaking allowed) then you simply do your best to emulate his lines and braking points. Not that he seems to do a lot of braking.

Targa with Rally Tours NZ

DAVID LINKLATER Route book, check. GPS monitor, check. Fire extinguisher… um, well yes, that too.

It’s a great way to get to grips with the GR Supra, a car we haven’t really driven beyond some very slow laps of a very wet Hampton Downs.

It’s not just the swift stuff, either. You have to travel between stages under normal road rules and on the half-day where we were not driving the Tour, we followed the service crews in a second Supra.

Our stint was day three of five, on the second half of the circuitous Targa route from New Plymouth to Whanganui.

Targa with Rally Tours NZ

JOHN COWPLAND/ALPHAPIX Alfa 156 leads the brace of Supras: red ‘safety car’ (just not for this event) front and silver Tour machine rear.

So no helmets, but you kind of feel like you’re wearing one in the Supra anyway, because of the shape of that arched roof that wraps right down around you.

That’s the big difference between Supra and the sister BMW Z4 convertible (the two share a platform and a 3.0-litre straight-six, eight-speed automatic powertrain): coupe versus convertible.

More sports focused it may be, but the Supra is still an incredibly easy car to drive at urban speeds. The straight six (a heritage layout for Supra, although this engine is pure BMW) is super-smooth and delivers peak torque from just 1600rpm. The gearbox is slick. So too is the ride, despite the car’s sporting aspirations and substantial mixed-size footwear.

Targa with Rally Tours NZ

JOHN COWPLAND/ALPHAPIX It’s got the curves: Supra compliant but nicely controlled at speed.

At higher velocity? The steering feels initially aloof but it’s also consistent, quick and precise. It seems even more so when you discover how keenly the Supra turns into corners.

There’s still body roll. This is no tied-down track-day car. But the weight transfer is nicely managed and a bit of squish in the suspension highlights how aggressively the Supra squats down out of corners, thanks in part to a good stability control system and electronic differential.

The engine is sonorous, but understated. It also sounds very BMW, but that’s okay. If it’s good, it’s good to have in the car. Just like BMW switchgear, touch-screen technology and iDrive is also good to have.

Targa with Rally Tours NZ

JOHN COWPLAND/ALPHAPIX An image that sums up Targa Tour perfectly: like an awesome episode of Wacky Races.

If there’s anything lacking for spirited driving it’s the gearbox. It’s astonishingly smooth, but lacks aggression when you’ve got the drive modes wound right up. A bit more pop during gearchanges would add to the high-performance experience.

It all seems so easy, but the key is that there’s enough of an edge to keep sports-car credibility. That’s a tricky balance to achieve and one that demands concentration from the driver, because you can get lulled into a false sense of security by the comfy ride and slick powertrain.

Had a few sweaty palm moments, but my only big indiscretion was on an uphill hairpin bend. Feeling cocky and assuming anything was possible with the Supra’s chassis technology, I gave it a bit too much on the exit and fishtailed dangerously close to a bank.

A good reminder that the Supra is also engineered to be leery in the right hands (not mine), even with the safety aids still turned on.

No harm done and time to use a bit of the Supra’s smooth 250kW. Got an old Alfa to try and catch up to again.

Stuff

Overland Journeys News - September 2019

The 2019 season is coming to conclusion and we can now say that it was very successful band busy for us. We have discovered new places, met interesting people and achieved expectations of all our clients who became our friends. Greg is still overseas driving with clients from Magadan back to Novosibirsk and Anton is preparing to fly out to Ulaanbaatar to help with repositioning cars due to new laws have been introduced in Russia.

We Have Great News!

We have updated itinerary of our ultimate winter expedition across the greatest Lake Baikal and Siberia – the BAM tour! Now it includes crossing the frozen lake right on the wheels and visiting fantastic Olkhon Island. Baikal is the deepest, the oldest and the biggest freshwater lake on our planet. Moreover, you will experience hot springs in winter! And certainly, you will explore the political and social history of Russia’s greatest railway construction project of the 20th century.

Baikal Amur Mainline 2020

Baikal Amur Mainline Tour
We are now offering two date options for our BAM (Baikal Amur, Mainline) trip.

Yes it’s a winter trip in ice roads and its cold but it is spectacular! It’s ice roads, Baikal Lake and river crossings on ice, interesting culture and an amazing story of different cultures coming together to build the impossible, the BAM railway. The temperatures will be cold, but we supply the cold weather gear, warm reliable Land Cruisers and bright blue clear skies. This is a trip that you will definitely remember and want to tell your grandchildren about. It’s a lot more fun than laying on a beach in the hot sun!

Three Land Cruisers available, seat in vehicle or self-drive by application. 12 seats available in each direction. $USD7,500 per person.

Dates: February 22nd February to 10th March – Irkutsk to Blagoveshchensk (17 days).

Black Sea and the Caucasus 2020

Black Sea and the Caucasus Tour
This is our new overland adventure. The best of Southern Russia, Crimea, Armenia and Georgia. Overland Journeys ventured down into these unknown territories late last year and discovered a treasure trove of amazing places to visit and experience.

Georgia and Armenia for New Zealanders and Australians is visa free and the hospitality is outstanding. This tour is designed as an introduction to the delights of Southern Russia, historical and beautiful Crimea, spectacular Georgia and Armenia in just 30 days.

Access by air into Moscow and out of Volgograd minimises flight time and maximises tour time.

This is a self-drive or seat in vehicle tour and we have just 3 vehicles or 8 seats available.

Dates: 11 April to 10 May 2020. 30 days tour.

Costs per person:  $NZD13,200.

Email Anton at Overland Journeys anton@rallytours.co.nz soon.

Highlights include: Moscow – beautiful and modern capital of Russia, Volgograd – “Mother Russia Statue”, Astrakhan’s beautiful Kremlin and gardens, Tbilisi city, Yeravan and spectacular views of Mt Ararat, Akhatlsikhe 12th century fort, Stalin’s museum in Gori, Mtskheta historic Georgian city, Sevastopol and Yalta on the coast of Crimea, crossing the new 19 km Russia Crimea link bridge, Krasnodar voted one of Russia’s nicest cities.

But best of all the hospitality and friendliness of the people in these areas will surprise you for sure! More information about the tour is here.

Central Asia and the Pamirs 2020

Central Asia and the Pamirs Tour
Central Asia and the Pamirs is the most interesting part of our great Silk Road Tour. Thus, it will be a great adventure for those who don’t have enough time to cover the whole Silk Road Tour but wants to see the wonders of this part of the world.

Cities of Central Asia were used by merchants who stopped on their way from China to Europe. They traded goods and brought new knowledge. Currently, Central Asia is a lively region with a diverse population.

Experience one of the epic drives of the world and the Silk Road – the Pamir Highway – gateway to the lands of legends Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

It’s a 22 days adventure starting in Bukhara, Uzbekistan on 20 May 2020 and finishing in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 10 June 2020. Tour price is $USD8,900 per person.

You are free to look at the photos and read more here. Contact Anton for information and bookings anton@rallytours.co.nz

Africa 2020

Africa Tour
New to our menu of adventure trips. It’s a total diversification from our usual offerings in Russia, Mongolia and Central Asia. We have forged a relationship with a like minded Australian adventure operator and will offer their 31-days Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe self-drive tour. Full tour details available on request. More information is also available here. Different dates available from April to August 2020. Tour price is $AUD11,995 per person. Contact Anton for further details anton@rallytours.co.nz

Silk Road Tour 2021

Silk Road Tour 2021
This is the most exciting trip on our agenda and interest is already high.

The hardest part of this trip is deciding to do it and understand it’s a big undertaking, but we can give you contacts of almost 40 couples that enjoyed this life changing experience, that we call our Silk Road experience.

The expedition route will be similar to past expeditions with some variations. There will be the usual self-drive 4×4 options and passenger in vehicle options.

Itinerary: Vladivostok, Russian Far East to London, UK, 12 different countries and 21,000 km in 81 days expedition. Dates: 03 May to 23 July 2021. Price: $NZD92,000 per couple. More details here or contact Anton anton@rallytours.co.nz

Contact us today to book adventure of a lifetime!

Overland Journeys News - August 2019

We would like to start this newsletter with one of our Silk Road tour client’s quote “No matter what you read, how much you study this will never prepare you for what you will see and experience on a trip like this. Unbelievable!”, Brian McConnell.

The Silk Road adventure, the mother of all road journeys through 12 different countries, 16 borders and 21,000 km in 81 days has finished in London. It has been another awesome trip with a group of awesome like-minded people from New Zealand and Australia. Our clients have been both adventurous, accommodating, and sometimes patient when experiencing delays, adverse weather or officious and will be better people for their experience for sure. They have been a great bunch of people to travel with and in times of need, especially when a few minor breakdowns occurred lots of personal expertise came to the surface! As usual lots of everlasting friendships have been forged in 2019. Again, all of our friends, suppliers, agents, accommodation providers and car repairers have really performed to make this great trip happen. Thank you very much from all of us.

Silk Road Tour
We are sure Greg Paul will be able to tell those who are interested a lot of interesting stories after he comes back to New Zealand in October. At the moment he is repositioning two Land Cruisers from London to Novosibirsk to start another tour in Russian Altai & Mongolia and then drive with a group the Road of Bones, Kolyma Highway.

Meanwhile, we are glad to announce our amended program for 2020.

Baikal Amur Mainline 2020

Baikal Amur Mainline Tour
We are now offering two date options for our BAM (Baikal Amur, Mainline) trip.

Yes it’s a winter trip in ice roads and its cold but it is spectacular! It’s ice roads, river crossings on ice, interesting culture and an amazing story of different cultures coming together to build the impossible, the BAM railway. The temperatures will be cold, but we supply the cold weather gear, warm reliable Land Cruisers and bright blue clear skies. This is a trip that you will definitely remember and want to tell your grandchildren about. It’s a lot more fun than laying on a beach in the hot sun!

Three Land Cruisers available, seat in vehicle or self-drive by application. 12 seats available in each direction. $USD7,500 per person.

Trip 1: February 24th February to 10th March – Novosibirsk to Blagoveshchensk (19 days).

Trip 2: March 14th March to 28th March – Blagoveshchensk to Novosibirsk (19 days).

Black Sea and the Caucasus 2020

Black Sea and the Caucasus Tour
This is our new overland adventure. The best of Southern Russia, Crimea, Armenia and Georgia. Overland Journeys ventured down into these unknown territories late last year and discovered a treasure trove of amazing places to visit and experience.

Georgia and Armenia for New Zealanders and Australians is visa free and the hospitality is outstanding. This tour is designed as an introduction to the delights of Southern Russia, historical and beautiful Crimea, spectacular Georgia and Armenia in just 30 days.

Access by air into Moscow and out of Volgograd minimises flight time and maximises tour time.

This is a self-drive or seat in vehicle tour and we have just 3 vehicles or 8 seats available.

Dates: 11 April to 10 May 2020. 30 days tour.

Costs per person:  $NZD13,200.

Email Anton at Overland Journeys anton@rallytours.co.nz soon.

Highlights include: Moscow – beautiful and modern capital of Russia, Volgograd – “Mother Russia Statue”, Astrakhan’s beautiful Kremlin and gardens, Tbilisi city, Yeravan and spectacular views of Mt Ararat, Akhatlsikhe 12th century fort, Stalin’s museum in Gori, Mtskheta historic Georgian city, Sevastopol and Yalta on the coast of Crimea, crossing the new 19 km Russia Crimea link bridge, Krasnodar voted one of Russia’s nicest cities.

But best of all the hospitality and friendliness of the people in these areas will surprise you for sure! More information about the tour is here.

Central Asia and the Pamirs 2020

Central Asia and the Pamirs Tour
Central Asia and the Pamirs is the most interesting part of our great Silk Road Tour. Thus, it will be a great adventure for those who don’t have enough time to cover the whole Silk Road Tour but wants to see the wonders of this part of the world.

Cities of Central Asia were used by merchants who stopped on their way from China to Europe. They traded goods and brought new knowledge. Currently, Central Asia is a lively region with a diverse population.

Experience one of the epic drives of the world and the Silk Road – the Pamir Highway – gateway to the lands of legends Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

It’s a 22 days adventure starting in Bukhara, Uzbekistan on 20 May 2020 and finishing in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 10 June 2020. Tour price is $USD8,900 per person.

You are free to look at the photos and read more here. Contact Anton for information and bookings anton@rallytours.co.nz

Mongolia and the Russian Altai 2020

Central Asia and the Pamirs Tour
The Mongolia and Russian Altai 2020 is a tour of contrasts. Steppes and mountains, deserts and lush valleys, nomad livestock herders and huge arable croplands, modern cities and ancient settlements, dirt roads and new tarmac, ger camps and 4* hotels. We take you on a journey from the capital of Siberia, Novosibirsk to the modern city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Expect the unexpected.

The Russian Altai reminds many of our New Zealand explorers of Queenstown but less crowded. The scenery is every bit as spectacular just over a much larger area with fewer people.

If you love your overland tour as much as some of our past tour participants, you will be back. And not just for the Chinggis vodka, some of the best in the world.

It’s a 21 days adventure starting in Novosibirsk, Russia on 03 August 2020 and finishing in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on 23 August 2020. Tour price is $USD7,500 per person.

More information is available here. You can also contact Anton for information and bookings anton@rallytours.co.nz

Africa 2020

Africa Tour
New to our menu of adventure trips. It’s a total diversification from our usual offerings in Russia, Mongolia and Central Asia. We have forged a relationship with a like minded Australian adventure operator and will offer their 31-days Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe self-drive tour. Full tour details available on request. More information is also available here. Different dates available from April to August 2020. Tour price is $AUD11,995 per person. Contact Anton for further details anton@rallytours.co.nz

“Your Choice” Russian Empire Car Trek

Your Choice Russian Empire Car Trek Tour
In 2012, 2014 and 2016 Overland journeys ran very popular classic tours from both Beijing to Paris and Shanghai to London. We would like to offer the chance for car owners to experience the same adventure driving their favourite choice of vehicle. We will not be restricting this overland expedition to just classics. Our, “Your Choice” Russian Empire Car Trek, from Vladivostok to London via Georgia, Armenia and Crimea is open to any type and age of vehicle and will arrive in London in time for the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

We have selected a fantastic itinerary with lots of time to enjoy the sights along the way and is kind to the car. Call or email us very soon to reserve one of just 10 spaces available and receive details.

22nd April to 1st July 2020 (71 days) and $USD55,000 per couple. More information available on our website by clicking this link.

Vladivostok – Novosibirsk – Ekaterinburg – Volgograd – Tbilisi – Sevastopol – Odessa – Trier – London.

Silk Road Tour 2021

Silk Road Tour 2021
This is the most exciting trip on our agenda and interest is already high.

The hardest part of this trip is deciding to do it and understand it’s a big undertaking, but we can give you contacts of almost 40 couples that enjoyed this life changing experience, that we call our Silk Road experience.

The expedition route will be similar to past expeditions with some variations. There will be the usual self-drive 4×4 options and passenger in vehicle options.

Itinerary: Vladivostok, Russian Far East to London, UK, 12 different countries and 21,000 km in 81 days expedition. Dates: 03 May to 23 July 2021. Price: $NZD92,000 per couple. More details here or contact Anton anton@rallytours.co.nz

Contact us today to book adventure of a lifetime!

Overland Journeys News - May 2019

In this newsletter we will announce absolutely new tours and new destinations!

Daylight saving has ended, the days are shorter and its starting to get cooler. Winter has almost arrived. Overland Journeys has some interesting alternatives to having to endure another New Zealand winter season.

On offer are a variety of “new“ self-drive and seat in Land Cruiser expeditions across Russia, Georgia, Armenia and beyond to London. Adding an exciting adventure into Africa will give our previous and loyal clients yet another option to experience another continent in August and avoid the cold at home.

Overland Journeys have more than 12 years’ experience operating on the Russian continent and have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and contacts. Russia, Mongolia, Central Asia and South America are our speciality destinations and we pride ourselves in providing the best avenue in which to see these amazing countries traveling with like-minded adventurers.

Overland Journeys take all the effort out of travel in our specialty destinations.

Depending on the destination and the tour duration we offer to ship your own vehicle from NZ or Australia (or any other country by request), hire you one of our Land Cruiser fleet, or offer you a seat in one of our vehicles (mostly traveling with our tour leader or trail car).

Don’t want to travel in a group situation and want a flexible itinerary then we now offer a variety of consultation services including Land Cruiser hire.

Overland Journeys aim to make all forms of adventure overlanding easy!

Times are changing and the operating climate and boundaries for adventure journeys into exotic destinations change daily. Less visited regions are being discovered and Overland Journeys are moving with the times to offer new and exciting destinations in 2020 and beyond.

As well as new tours Overland Journeys (Rally Tours NZ Ltd) celebrates 10 years of operating self-drive adventures on the Russian Continent.

Overland Journeys recognise the loyalty of clients that have travelled with us on past overland and South American tours and will pay for your fuel on any of our tours in 2020 if on a self-drive tour.

Africa 2020

Africa Tour
New to our menu of adventures trips is a total diversification from our usual offerings in Russia. We have forged a relationship with a like minded Australian adventure operator and will offer their 30-day Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe self-drive tour and have allocate 5 vehicles to Overland Journeys. Interested, if so we need to know quickly to arrange vehicles and campsite accommodation. Full tour details available on request. More information is also available here.

Greg is back in Russia now and fully focused on out up and coming Silk Road 2019 adventure which will start on the 7th May with the arrival of the participants from NZ and Australia.

This is the most exciting trip on our agenda and already interest in the 2021 Silk Road tour is high.

The hardest part of this trip is deciding to do it and understand it’s a big undertaking, but we can give you contacts of almost 40 couples that enjoyed this life changing experience, that we call our Silk Road experience.

Kolyma Highway, Road of Bones 2019

Kolyma Highway, Road of Bones Tour
By popular demand Overland Journeys have ventured to Magadan in the Russian Far East on two past occasions. The infamous Kolyma Highway from Yakutsk to Magadan is better know by most as the “Road of Bones” and made famous by the British actors Euan McGregor and Charlie Borman who rode this track on motorcycles in 2005 and then sold millions of their video of the amazing road trip.

It’s a much more comfortable trip in one of our well prepared Land Cruisers these days but a real trip back into the Soviet era with derelict towns, basic accommodation and spectacular mountain scenery along the way.

It just so happens that we are finishing the 2019 season with a 20-day trip from Magadan to Novosibirsk in mid-September with just 5 seats available. This is a top trip taking in the best of the rugged Magadan Baikal Lake and Siberia regions. See more information here. This is not an expensive trip, at a good time of the year and may not happen again for a while. Contact Anton for information and bookings anton@rallytours.co.nz

Next year, 2020 will be another big year for Overland Journeys.

Baikal Amur Mainline 2020

Baikal Amur Mainline Tour
We have decided to give our BAM (Baikal Amur, Mainline) trip a big push.

Yes it’s a winter trip in ice roads and its cold but it is spectacular! It’s ice roads, river crossings on ice, interesting culture and an amazing story of different cultures coming together to build the impossible, the BAM railway. The temperatures will be cold, but we supply the cold weather gear, warm reliable Land Cruisers and bright blue clear skies. This is a trip that you will definitely remember and want to tell your grandchildren about. It’s a lot more fun than laying on a beach in the hot sun!

Three Land Cruisers available, seat in vehicle or self-drive by application. 12 seats available in each direction. $US7500 per person.

Trip 1: February 14th to March 3rd – Novosibirsk to Blagoveshchensk (19 days).

Trip 2: March 03rd to March 21st – Blagoveshchensk to Novosibirsk (19 days).

“Your Choice” Russian Empire Car Trek

Your Choice Russian Empire Car Trek Tour
In 2012, 2014 and 2016 Overland journeys ran very popular classic tours from both Beijing to Paris and Shanghai to London. We would like to offer the chance for car owners to experience the same adventure driving their favourite choice of vehicle. We will not be restricting this overland expedition to just classics. Our, “Your Choice” Russian Empire Car Trek, from Vladivostok to London via Georgia, Armenia and Crimea is open to any type and age of vehicle and will arrive in London in time for the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

We have selected a fantastic itinerary with lots of time to enjoy the sights along the way and is kind to the car. Call or email us very soon to reserve one of just 10 spaces available and receive details.

22nd April to 1st July 2020 (71 days) and $US55k per couple. More information available on our website by clicking this link.

Vladivostok – Novosibirsk – Ekaterinburg – Volgograd – Tbilisi – Sevastopol – Odessa – Trier – London.

Black Sea and the Caucasus 2020

Black Sea and the Caucasus Tour
Last but not least. To complete an amazing 2020 year, we wish to showcase the best of Southern Russia Crimea, Armenia and Georgia. Overland Journeys ventured down into these unknown territories late last year and discovered a treasure trove of amazing places to visit and experience.

Georgia and Armenia for New Zealanders and Australians is visa free and the hospitality is outstanding.

This tour is designed as an introduction to the delights of Southern Russia, historical and beautiful Crimea, spectacular Georgia and Armenia in just 31 days.

Access by air into Moscow and out of Volgograd minimises flight time and maximises tour time.

While other parts of Northern Europe and Eastern Russia are cooling down it’s the perfect way to enjoy the last of the warmer temperatures by heading south and even swim in the Black Sea.

This is a self-drive or seat in vehicle tour and we have just 3 vehicles or 8 seats available.

Dates: 13 September to 11 October 2020. 31 days tour.

Costs per person:  $NZ13200 / $AU12500 / $US8900.

Call or email Anton at Overland Journeys anton@rallytours.co.nz +64-22-1286095 soon.

Highlights include: Moscow Circus, Volgograd “Mother Russia Statue”, Astrakhan’s beautiful Kremlin and gardens, Tbilisi city, Yeravan and spectacular views of Mt Ararat, Akhatlsikhe 12th century fort, Stalin’s museum in Gori, Mtskheta historic Georgian city, Sevastopol and Yalta on the coast of Crimea, crossing the new 19 km Russia Crimea link bridge, Krasnodar voted one of Russia’s nicest cities.

But best of all the hospitality and friendliness of the people in these areas will surprise you for sure! More information about the tour is here.

Watch out for regular posts on the Overland Journeys / Rally Tours NZ Ltd Facebook page as the Silk Road 2019 group travels from Vladivostok to London via Mongolia, Central Asia, Ukraine to London.

Contact us today to book adventure of a lifetime!

Overland Journeys News - March 2019

Newsletter contents:

    • Reports for the last season
    • Tour Announcements for 2019 and 2020 (Africa, Georgia, Armenia, Crimea and many more!)
  • Directors Ramblings

Reports for the last season

I have just returned home to my NZ base at Ardmore after 2 months in South America which is traditionally where our season starts.

The “Dakar Rally” spectator tour is a speciality trip that Overland Journeys have been operating annually since 2013, following the worlds longest Rally Raid event on the globe.

Interestingly, we are also the only tour operator that follows the event from start to finish which in some cases passes through up to four countries. To enable us to deliver this comprehensive experience of the famous “Dakar” we go to the trouble and expense of shipping our own specially prepared Land Cruisers from NZ to South America. This year, and for a shorter duration the event was held solely in the sand dunes of Peru for just 10 days. With 3 vehicles and 7 Dakar enthusiasts from 5 different countries we viewed challenging stages every day of the rally in some very remote regions with spectacular scenery and amazing racing. Its safe to boast that it was our best Dakar experience yet!!

Watch this space for the 2020 Dakar Rally Raid information, dates and itinerary as it becomes available in early May. Overland Journeys will be there for sure for the 8th time.

Dakar

Remote access to the best stage view point pleases Tony and Rob

As we finished the Dakar Rally trip in Lima, Peru it seemed sensible to continue the South American experience with a self-drive tour. Brian and Enid Service joined us in Lima and for 28 days we followed a route via Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile back to Santiago that suited both Brian and Enid’s time requirements and worked well for Overland Journeys to return our vehicles back to a port for shipping to the Russian continent.

The South American drive was comprehensive, travelling to the high altitudes of the Inca empire of Cusco and Machu Picchu, then into La Paz, Bolivia via Lake Titicaca. It seemed on this trip that every day we passed through places that we had either read about in National Geographic or maybe had dreamed about when browsing through a travel brochure.

The traverse across the vast Uyuni Salt flats and via Tupiza (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid territory) and into Argentina is always a highlight. Argentina, the lower altitudes, the vast open deserts the pretty historic cities of Salta, San Juan, Mendoza and of course the nice wine and huge steaks are all fond memories of this interesting country.

Dakar

Just a little excitement in the dunes during the SA Trip

It was as though the end and arriving in Santiago came to soon. It was a perfect itinerary and being back in South America and appreciating its many delights and varieties of culture, tastes and experiences was very enjoyable. Thanks for joining us Brian and Enid and Simon, great driving in all conditions and know you enjoyed the dune experience!!

For sure we would like to do this SA self-drive trip again in 2020 so if its on your “to do” list give us a call. Don’t wish to drive then we do always have a limited number of seats in vehicle.

Overland Journeys have a busy 2019 season on the board.
Late last year Greg was lured back to Russia in September to provide Land Cruiser transport for a specialist group into Southern Russia, Crimea, (which is again part of the Russian Federation) Georgia, and Armenia.
Venturing into new areas is always exciting and hard to resist. It was a fascinating tour and as a result has widened the horizons of Overland Journeys and we will surely be offering travel opportunities into these regions and countries in 2020.
Our conclusions after this trip was that its safe, interesting, spectacular and the locals especially in Georgia and Armenia are incredibly friendly.

Tour Announcements 2019

Silk Road Tour

Next up for 2019 is our bi-annual Silk Road 2019 Tour.

This is the mother of all overland tours and starts in Vladivostok on the 6th May and finishes in London on the 25th July. Our SR19 trip as always is well subscribed with 2 vehicles being shipped out of Australia this coming week, 3 out of NZ the following week and 2 of the Overland Journeys Land Cruiser fleet on the water en-route from South America. Also, this year one of the convoy will include one of the Overland Journeys LHD Russian registered 100 series Cruisers which will join us in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Last minute deal : Its not too late to join this tour. We can still get your visas at this late time and we still could ship your 4×4 or hire you a 100 series Land Cruiser. Talk to us about this tour before the end of this week. Friday the 15th is definitely the last day for applications otherwise you will need to wait until 2021.

An easier proposition is that Overland Journeys director and tour leader has a seat available in the lead car for this amazing trip. Again, talk to us this week for details and a sharp deal including a very favourable fare for this seat.

Thanks to those who have committed to our 2019 Silk Road trip and with improvements that we have made to the itinerary it will be the best yet.

A convoy of 12 in 2017 near Chita

Bob and Thelma launch into a typical tailgate lunch

The 2019 season for Overland Journeys has been topped up with charter work with the organisation supplying expertise, logistics and transport for a 23-day tour through the Russian Altai region and through Mongolia for other travel operators. Our local contacts, knowledge of these areas and a reliable vehicle fleet make us well qualified to offer our services in these areas.

“Just another river crossing in Mongolia”

Also, as the summer season draws to a close yet another charter will take our fleet into the famed Magadan region travelling on the road of bones.

Road of Bones Tour

As our vehicles end up in Magadan, we have decided to offer a one off 22 day tour ex Magadan to Novosibirsk. Quite simply fly to Vladivostok and Magadan and drive the famous “Road of Bones” also known as the Kolyma Highway to civilisation and visiting the Siberian cities of Chita, Ulan-Ude, Irkutsk  and finishing in the Siberian capital of Novosibirsk. This will be an action packed “one off” seat in vehicle tour with daily highlights including getting close up to Lake Baikal, the largest fresh water lake in the world. A self-drive option may be available. Expressions of Interest are now being registered and seats are very limited. Seat in vehicle $US7900.

“Arriving in Magadan is a special experience and an achievement”

The UTV Tour in Mongolia

“Opportunity Knocks” Earlier this year Overland Journeys sourced, by request, 6 UTV vehicles (side x sides) and customised an awesome 10-day tour (excluding flights) in Mongolia.

These UTVs are exciting and popular and cover the ground with ease. The tour is fully supported including the vehicles, mechanical assistance, fuel, accommodation and is not expensive at $NZ6900 per person. We have just 2 machines left and would love to give someone the chance to experience this “one off” adventure.  Dates are 25th July – 6th August 2019.  Call us today as these spaces will fill quickly.

UTV’s in Mongolia, it’s a new revolution

Details and Itinerary available now from anton@rallytours.co.nz

What’s happening in 2020?

  • We have an exciting plan for 2020 with some surprises!!
  • Tours and tentative dates are now released and public with this release.
  • Expressions of interest are welcome as of now.
  • Charter enquires are welcome for any destination in the world including New Zealand and Australia.

Dakar 2020 in January

Exact dates, location and costs announced early May.

South America in January / February

Dates, duration, countries and costs are dependant on the Dakar dates.

BAM (Baikal Amur Mainline), The Greatest Lake Baikal

Dates: 14th Feb – 3rd March.

Novosibirsk–Baikal–Blagoveshchensk. The Ultimate Ice Road experience.

$US7500 pp seat in Vehicle. Self-Drive on application. Limited spaces available.

“Your Choice” Russian Empire Car Trek

Dates: 5th May – 15th July, Price: $US55000 per couple.

Vladivostok-Ekaterinburg-Volgograd-Georgia-Armenia-Crimea-Ukraine-London.

Choose your favourite mode of transport for this fully escorted 70 day adventure.

Motorhomes across Russia

Dates: 28th April – 20th June.

Vladivostok-Novosibirsk-Moscow-St Petersburg-Tallin (Estonia), Europe-London.

Fully supported 54 day trip across the Russian continent. Europe at your leisure.

Africa – “New Release”

Dates: 1st August – 31st August.

Namibia-Botswana-Zimbabwe self-drive adventure for 31 days.

$US8500 pp / twin share. Overland Journeys are co-operating with a well established Australian company to offer this amazing experience on the African continent.

Black Sea and the Caucasus

Dates: 14th Sept – 15th Oct

Russia-Crimea-Georgia-Armenia

30 days, self-drive and seat in vehicle adventure.

Moscow / Astrakhan / Tbilisi / Batumi / Krasnodar / Sevastopol / Yalta / Volgograd.

$US8900 / $A12500 / $NZ13200 pp twin share.

Travelled with Overland Journeys previously, then you automatically belong to our “Overlander’s Adventurers club and are eligible for a rebate (don’t like the word discount) on your next tour with us.

Directors Words of Wisdom

I must say that there are lots of good reasons to leave home in the winter months and the promotions in the general media tend to suggest a venture to a tropical island, participate on a boat cruise or enjoy a trendy river boat cruise in Europe all of which are very tempting and, in most cases, cost effective.

However, I suggest that if you save the above options for your “later in life” vacations and while you can, take a self-drive adventure in an interesting part of the world while the countries on our agenda are available to us to visit in safety. This will also surely give you a greater appreciation of the places visited on the boat cruises later in life!!

Overland Journey’s biggest challenge is that of convincing clients that the likes of Russia are not what they have been led to believe. Always portraited as the “bad boy” of civilisation, dark and dingy and unfriendly, it’s a hard image to shake off especially when the media play on its reputation.

To quote: the majority of our clients within 24 hours of arriving in Vladivostok to start an Overland Journeys self-drive tour. “Wow, this is not what I expected!!”

Yes, the people are friendly, the weather is warm, even in May and the scenery and architecture is amazing. The initial impression sets the scene for the start of an unforgettable 81-day tour to London passing through no less than 14 countries.

Consultation and Advice Service.

Part of the Overland Journeys portfolio these days is making arrangements and advising independent travellers on Overland travel.

During the course of last year, we made arrangements for 2 New Zealand motorcyclists on a 150-day journey from Singapore to Amsterdam via China, Central Asia, Iran and Turkey. It took some organising, but the boys had a ball and soaked up the experience on a daily basis. The trip has already finished and created a great life time memory.

Another couple from Rotorua are back in the country after driving their Land Rover Defender from the UK via Finland to Murmansk in North Eastern Russia. They had an interesting Itinerary in Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia.

Due to some early issues with the LR we also provided a list of the LR service agents throughout Russia. All part of the Overland Journeys customised service.

No matter what you want advice on if you are wanting to travel overland by road we can probably help and give you good advice.

This year we have another couple in a Land Rover traveling from Singapore to London and their journey starts very shortly.

Chris, alone motorcyclist has also sort advice from Overland Journeys and we have customised a safe and leisurely trip for him from Vladivostok to London which suits Chris’s mature years. He also has the full support from Overland Journeys network of agents and contacts throughout his marathon journey alone.

Contact us today to book adventure of a lifetime!

Overland Journeys News – July 2018

Directors Ramblings

The winter weather has been wet in most parts of New Zealand with the occasional snow fall closing roads for a short period throughout the country and prompting an early opening on most of the countries ski fields.

It’s the first real winter I have had to endure in NZ for 7 years and normally at this time of the year am basking in the sun and warmer temperatures of Mongolia, Russia or Central Asia.

Must say that there are lots of good reasons to leave home in the winter months and the promotions in the general media to venture to a tropical island, participate on a boat cruise or enjoy a trendy river boat cruise in Europe are all very tempting and in most cases cost effective.

However, I suggest that if you save the above options for your “later in life” vacations and while you can, take a self-drive adventure in an interesting part of the world while the countries on our agenda are available to us to visit in safety. This will also surely give you a greater appreciation of the places visited on the boat cruises later in life !

Overland Journey’s biggest challenge is that of convincing clients that the likes of Russia are not what they have been led to believe. Always portraited as the “bad boy” of civilisation, dark and dingy and unfriendly, it’s a hard image to shake off especially when the media play on its reputation.

To quote the majority of our clients within 24 hours of arriving in Vladivostok to start an Overland Journeys self-drive tour. “Wow, this is not what I expected !”

Yes, the people are friendly, the weather is warm, even in May and the scenery and architecture is amazing. The initial impression sets the scene for the start of an unforgettable 81-day tour to London passing through no less than 14 countries.

Reports

Anton Zaglyadimov, “Events and Operations Manager” for Overland Journeys has been doing an amazing job developing and refining our website.

We seem to be reaching a wider audience and a renewed awareness and interest in Overland self-drive and escorted travel is evident.

Its true to say that we are leaders in this field of travel and now have a global audience.

Just recently, NZ 4×4 Magazine have released their July edition with a 8 page article (with some spectacular photos) of our January winter ice road BAM trip in North Eastern Siberia. Either pick up a copy of NZ4x4 Magazine or read the article online on nz4x4.co.nz. The inclusion of an international articles written by Overland Journeys will be a regular feature from now on.

Greg Paul and the old faithful 96 / 80 series Land Cruiser in conjunction with Goosey’s Customs the Pukekohe Ironman 4×4 dealer recently displayed our tour product at a home show at Pukekohe. It was a great weekend and met lots of interesting people with that were amazed that a NZ organisation arranged 4×4, classic car and motor home tours around the world ! Of course, everybody who did engage in a conversation was keen to participate in such trips but mostly filed their thoughts in the “too hard basket”

I can assure you that the hard part is making the decision to do such a trip. The rest is easy with our help and organisation !

Part of the Overland Journeys portfolio these days is making arrangements and advising independent travellers on Overland travel.

At the moment we have 2 motorcyclists on a 150 day journey from Singapore to Amsterdam via China, Central Asia, Iran and Turkey. It took some organising but the boys are having a ball and soaking up the experience on a daily basis. At the moment they are on the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan.

Another couple from Rotorua are currently in Moscow after driving their Land Rover Defender from the UK via Finland to Murmansk in North Eastern Russia. They have an interesting Itinerary in Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia. Their blogs provide interesting reading and if you wish to follow Dennis and Jenny’s travels let me know and we can provide you with a web address.

Due to some early issues with the LR we also provided a list of the LR service agents throughout Russia. All part of the Overland Journeys customised service.

Tour Announcements

“Special Announcement

Overland Journeys are proposing a “last minute” limited edition 30-day Central Asian tour from the beautiful Kazakhstani city of Almaty to seaside resort of Yalta on the Crimean peninsula now back in Russian ownership.

Dates: 12th August ex Almaty to 13th September arriving Yalta.

Cost: $US19500 for 2 persons twin share including vehicle hire. (Land Cruiser 100 series LHD)

Notes: Only two customer vehicles available plus guide.

Email or call for detailed itinerary and tour inclusions / exclusions now.

Almaty, Bishkek, Osh, Dushanbe, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Astrakhan, Krasnodar, Sevastopol, Yalta.

Dakar Rally Tour

The famed Dakar Rally-Raid is next year to be held entirely in Peru.

This is a huge surprise to the Dakar fraternity, but the sand dunes of Peru are what the Dakar is all about and the return to Peru and the dunes earlier this year gave the competitors and teams a taste of what the Dakar event is known for.

Its tough going and the duration of the rally has been reduced to 10 days, also a surprise.

Overland Journeys will be again following the Dakar Rally from start to finish in Peru in January 2019.

We will be shipping our specially prepared Land Cruisers to South America for the 10-day event.

We are traditionally the only company that follows the Dakar from start to finish.

Due to the Rally only being on Peruvian soils this year and that its shorter in duration we have slashed the price in hope that all 15 seats will be filled in 2019.

This will be the last Dakar that Overland Journeys / Rally Tours run as rumour has it that it may be the last in South America.

Cost: $US8,000. Per person. (Seat in vehicle) Vehicle hire options are available.

See our website for more details.

The Best of South America

South America is on for 2019.

Following the Dakar tour which this year finishes in Lima Peru, we will be starting a self-drive tour (with vehicles provided) to travel to the Southern tip of the continent, to the city of Ushuaia.

This route will be Lima (Peru), La Paz (Bolivia), Salta, Mendoza (Argentina) zigzagging back and forth across the Argentine / Chile border to take in the best of both countries.

The city of Ushuaia at very tip of the South American Continent is our turning point before heading back up to Santiago by way of a relaxing 3-day ferry trip.

This trip is “The Best of South America” and has morphed into a 50-day affair combining the best of all 4 countries at a crazy price of $NZ49k per couple based on share twin accommodation.

There are only 4 clients vehicles available for this tour so you need to be quick to accept this offer !

Start: Lima (Peru) on 18th January 2019

Finish: Santiago (Chile) on 8th March 2019

Cost: $NZ 49,000 per couple (4×4 vehicle included)

Details and Itinerary available now from anton@rallytours.co.nz

Motorhome Adventure

Momentum is gathering for our planned “Across Russia” Camper Van / Mobile home tour from Vladivostok (Russia) to Tallinn (Estonia) starting May 2019.

Advertising in the two most popular Motorhome publications has yielded plenty of enquiries from adventurous travellers keen to experience Russia and explore Europe and the UK with their own wheels.

A trans Russia Motor Home trip is now possible due to improved road conditions.

It will be leisurely trip with several two and three night stops and city sightseeing trips arranged with local guides and lots of optional excursions to museums, concerts etc.

Email Anton to get information about this trip and obtain a tour prospectus.

Start: Vladivostok (Russia) on 28th April 2019

Finish: Tallinn (Estonia) on 20th June 2019

Cost: $NZ37.000 (does not include shipping)  

Silk Road Tour

Still taking bookings for the 2019 Silk Road Tour. We have just 4 spots left for this 81 days “Overland Journeys” adventure of a life time.

If time is a problem and you don’t have 81 days we have one vehicle for hire that is available to do the Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) to Volgograd (Russia) leg. It’s 54 days and takes in the best of Mongolia, the Pamir Highway and Central Asia.

Call us now if this is an option for you.

Also, we have a couple of “seat in Vehicle” fares available. This will involve travelling with Greg in the lead Land Cruiser or the “TEC” (Trail and support) vehicle. This is a cost effective and relaxing alternative to driving at $NZ36k.

NoteWe operate this tour bi-annually. The 2021 Silk Road Overland is almost booked out.

If your thinking about the Silk Road adventure we can get you organised now for the 2019 trip.

Experience the Baikal Amur Mainline

February 2019 is not that far away, and we are now looking for expressions of interest for our 2019 BAM Russian Ice road trip.

Yes is cold, but not cold as we know it !

It’s a dry cold and the skies are mostly clear every day.

The tour cost includes warm Russian clothing, warm hotels, vehicles and as much vodka as you like to keep your insides warm.

This is truly an amazing trip and an incredible experience that you will not forget.

Talk to us about it now or take a look at the 8 page article that Greg wrote on our 2018 BAM trip and see the spectacular photos on www.nz4wd.co.nz or buy the NZ4WD magazine July 2018 edition and you will be convinced. This is also a very cost-effective trip and is seat in vehicle or vehicle hire by arrangement.

Cost: $US7500 per person

Duration: 18 days. 18th Feb – 8th March.

Call us now to discuss this trip.

2020 Classic Car Tour

2020 will see us run our popular Classic Car trip and this time from Vladivostok to London. Details out soon.

We have escorted Classics across Russia on 3 occasions before and its proved to be popular.

The tour will end in the UK in time for the “Goodwood Festival of Speed” and the Silverstone Classic and Historic race meeting.

So, dust off your favourite classic and reserve the months of May, June and July to tour Russia, Eastern Europe and the UK.

Cost and dates to be announced soon.

“Special” Travelled with Overland Journeys previously, then you automatically belong to our “Overlander’s Adventurers club and are eligible for a rebate (don’t like the word discount) on your next tour with us.

Travel, the bucket list and why you should just do it

We’ve all been there – the bucket list, to do list, if only I could list, closely followed by should I, shouldn’t I, can I afford it, what if? Well, what if you don’t? This is my take on travel, the bucket list and why you should just do it. 

Lake Baikal, early spring, ice melt, Overland Journeys, news and reviews

Lake Baikal early spring

Where should I go?

The “to see and do before we die” list is quite long. And then one day we realise if we don’t get on with it we won’t be able to for any number of reasons that are creeping (or running) up on us.

For some time I’d had an urge to do something a bit out there. It had to be a challenge. I wanted the road less travelled. Crowds have no appeal, be they locals or tourists. I was looking for something that would change my life. I’m not a 20 something going to find myself. I just want to go and find everything else.

Late 2016 and we made a decision to just do it and go on an Overland Journeys epic tour. The 2017 Silk Road from Vladivostok to London itinerary read like a story book of names of many of the places I had read about and dreamed about since childhood. My great aunt had been to the USSR in 1969. She brought me back Matrushka dolls. Maybe the seed was sown.

Why self-drive?

Richard wanted to take the Trans Siberian Railway. I wanted to drive the Pamir Highway – among other things. He loves trains. I don’t mind trains. He likes driving. The train doesn’t do the Pamir, often the views are not so scenic, a lot of travel is at night, he has trouble sitting still, I wanted a big adventure – so the decision wasn’t that difficult.

Planning

We’ve always been a bit DIY in many aspects of our lives including travel. I started planning our ultimate itinerary and rapidly realised the logistics were going to be incredibly time consuming and difficult even without taking multiple visas, languages and border crossings into account, never mind shipping a vehicle ourselves. I Googled “self-drive Overland tours Pamir Highway and Russia” and found Overland Journeys.

Questions.

We weren’t sure that group travel was our thing; we didn’t know if we would get enough time (however much that might be) in each place; we weren’t sure if we knew enough about our vehicle (she is old and “different” and we had only had her a couple of months); we didn’t know if we were young enough, old enough or fit enough (i.e. what the mix of the group would be); we didn’t know how much driving there would be each day and whether that was what we wanted to do.

Cost

It was a fairly decent chunk of cash and there were a few unknown costs as well – fuel, meals, insurance and other extras. I’d had that fund ear tagged for a little building project. True to our form we just did it and sorted all that as we went along.

Safety

Was it going to be safe? Well you know “they” are shooting at each other along the borders; there are big earthquakes and floods and landslides; there are things that bite (a bit like our near neighbour in that respect); the water is dodgy; the food is dodgy, it’s very hot; it’s very cold; it’s high altitude; it’s extreme; the people are ruthless – we’d get mugged or kidnapped or worse. Or so we’d been told. Add all that to language issues, driving on the “wrong” side of the road and why would anyone do it? Why didn’t we just go for a nice long cruise?  It just shows you don’t want to believe everything you are told especially by people who have never done it.

Group Travel

After meeting with Greg at Queenstown Airport he thought we’d fit in ok and we thought we should just quit over thinking it all and just do it. He seemed pretty relaxed about it all and we figured if he wasn’t worried about taking a group of mixed abilities, health and backgrounds into those environments why should we worry. He’d been there. We hadn’t. So it was a case of commit and be determined to make it the best experience we possibly could for ourselves and our companions. 

We really weren’t sure about group travel but as we very soon found out there are distinct advantages to being with like minded people. It doesn’t mean we lived in peoples’ pockets.

Guns

We saw guns – lots of guns on guards, patrols, borders, police, and security. None of us was shot at. In fact, I felt very safe the whole time. We got used to police checks. It’s just how they roll. As long as all the paperwork is in order, especially the insurance and the car registration, we had no problems. I’d like to think we did our bit for international diplomacy. I don’t think most of the very young policemen had seen a New Zealander before. Don’t take photos or film security guards, military or police, even train guards and there is no problem. If you ask nicely they may just let you or not. In which case smile & say goodbye.

The route

Vladivostok had always been on my bucket list just because it was there in the Far East of Russia and nobody I ever spoke to seemed to have a clue where it was.


Vladivostok to Dushanbe was not quite halfway.

We drove across some massive landslips on the Pamir. Our intended route from Kalalaikum was blocked with a bridge out so we had to take plan B. None of us were hit by falling rocks or earthquakes. And if that was Route B then Route A may well have completely blown my mind. We’ll find out next time.

Had I been planning our route I might not have worked out that there are certain border crossings that, while on the map, may not be used by foreigners, only residents of the two countries on the border. There are lots of things that Overland Journeys organises that we would not have known about ourselves – possibly when it was too late. Some visas cannot be applied for anywhere except within your home country so thinking you’ll just take your time and wait and see when you get to a border is, often, not an option.

Things that bite

One of our group managed to get a tick embedded in his skin- and it was dealt with. Because we started out early in spring and it was still cool there were few mosquitoes and sandflies until later on and even then they were not in the plague proportions we expected. We didn’t see any wild tigers or bears or snakes or anything else remotely fierce or dangerous.

Extremes

It was hot, it was cold, it was high altitude and low altitude, it was extreme in some respects and yet, at the time, it didn’t feel stressful or unbearable. We both had smiles a mile wide day in day out. At no time did we ever feel we wanted it to hurry up and end.

Challenges

Yes, we had mechanical issues. Yes, we got sick a couple of times. Yes, we were challenged. Was it insurmountable? No. People pitched in and helped out when and how they could. We made a great team and that is part of the success of any group travel. We all knew that if someone needed something and someone else had it, it would be available.

Time

Did we have enough time in all of the places? No, and would we ever? I rapidly came to the conclusion I may not have seen every single thing I thought I wanted to but I saw and experienced other things I had no idea existed. It was all new. It was all an experience that I would not have been having anywhere else.

Food

In many of the countries we visited, tourism is a relatively new thing. We enjoyed local fare – sometimes what we ordered (or thought we ordered), sometimes not. More than once I said, “it is edible be grateful”. More than once we were stunned by a beautiful meal prepared with the most basic of facilities. Just don’t expect to order a fillet steak and fries on the side outside of the big hotels and do expect seasonal fruits and vegetables. None of us starved!

Opportunities

As one of our travel companions said “I’ve become a “yes” girl. If I’m asked if I want to do something I say “yes”. I may never have that chance again.”

I absolutely, completely agree. 

Understanding

We hope we were good ambassadors for our country and for Overland Journeys. We hope the people we were in contact with felt our appreciation and our joy at seeing their world. 

Before it is too late

So there are places on our “to do list” that have been wiped off the face of the Earth by war and natural disaster or made inaccessible by political disagreements or have become so overrun and crowded by tourists that the attraction has diminished somewhat. Yes I know I am one of the tourists and there is irony in wanting to go and experience the world sans other tourists.

We never know what we are in for with our health or wealth despite the best planning and precautions for both. Since we have returned we have been especially shocked by the deaths of one of our group and the brother of a friend.

We have seen too many people plan to do it “later” and there was no “later”. We have also seen people plan their finances only to have someone else spend that money for them as an inheritance or a rip-off.

I hope that’s explained how I feel about travel and why you should just do it if you have the desire. It will be a long time before places like Syria will be back on our “to do” list.

 

Bangkok to Magadan

Bangkok to Magadan incorporating the “Road of Bones”

2017 sees the start of a very new 4×4 self-drive adventure.

5 x Overland Journeys client vehicles will start from Bangkok Thailand on 3rd July. We have a short time in Thailand before crossing into Myanmar which is a brand new self-drive destination only recently opening its borders to foreign self – drive adventures. Reports so far received suggest that is it an amazing place to visit, incredible scenery and friendly people. Our journey takes us back to Thailand for just a few days before entering interesting Laos for a few days.

China is our next destination countries for 18 days. We have been working alongside our very capable Chinese agents to provide a road journey through this vast country that is different and unique taking in regions of china not often travelled through by regular overseas tourists.

This will give us a chance to utilise the flexibility of a self-drive scenario to explore areas in China rich in customs and tradition. Our China section finishes at one of our traditional border crossings into southern Mongolia, a city called Erinhot in the middle of the baron inner Mongolia region of China.

Our Traverse across Mongolia on this trip is also pioneering some parts of this vast and remote country not often visited tourists. The route we are using will take us into Russia’s Far East Region and through to Skovorodino located at the intersection of two major Russian highways the M58 and the M56. Our group will be turning left and heading directly 3177km north on the Road of Bones to our final destination, Magadan. We have left the driving biggest challenge on this expedition to the last 10 days.

“Mongolia”, Vast, Interesting and challenging !!

Meanwhile having completed the Silk Road trip in London Greg assisted by 4 capable drivers will reposition 4 Land Cruisers by road back to Vladivostok in just 20 days to hand over the vehicles to 4 more clients wanting to join the epic journey to Magadan…

If you are interested in joining us on the London Vladivostok 20 day express across Europe, Russia and Siberia to Vladivostok as a passenger we have seats available. Hotel accommodation will be provided nightly and this unique chance to see this vast continent by road is a one off. Interested? Call us today !!

The 54 day Bangkok to Magadan tour concludes in Vladivostok on the 27th August. Watch our reports and video footage and join us in 2019 for a repeat of this epic adventure. A big thanks to our enthusiastic clients who have twisted our arm to create the Bangkok to Magadan self-drive adventure.