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Overland Journeys

Overland Journeys News – July 2019

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.

Road of Bones - Far East City of Magadan

Overland Journeys’ (Rally Tours NZ Ltd) is the first NZ driving tour organisation to make the epic the “Road of Bones” drive in a 4×4 reaching the remote Far Eastern Russian city of Magadan.

After quite a few years planning and accumulating experience of operating on the Russian continent, including the far-east regions it was decided to experience the infamous “Road of Bones” which is 3177 km north east of the main Trans-Siberian rail link to Vladivostok.

The journey started in the Novosibirsk on the 9th August with a quick 6 day 4150km eastbound drive to Skovorodino to start the assault on the M56 Kolyma Highway route in a north-easterly direction toward Magadan. The sun was shining……

 

Our first target was the city of Yakutsk a mere 1250km to the North.
Yakutsk is isolated by distance from any close civilisations and is rich with diamond and gold deposits as well as their own interesting Yakutian culture, which has a remarkable resemblance to that of the North American Indians. To get to Yakutsk involves an interesting ferry journey on the “Lena” river so warranted a 2 night stop to discover the delights of the fascinating place.

The 2051km driving challenge from Yakutsk to Magadan on the “Road of Bones” began on Thursday the 18th with the return ferry crossing back to the M56 and we were not about to be disappointed with the driving challenges of the next few days !!

Our aim was to reach Khangyga just 400km up the road but weather and road conditions plus another surprise ferry crossing made it a long and interesting day. All my driving experience and the capabilities of the 100 series Land Cruiser were put to the test more than once. This is however is what we came for, the challenge and the experience of this amazing route to Magadan…

This is a fact finding mission for a tour to be operated next year, at the same time to Magadan by Overland Journeys. Finding suitable accommodation, food supplies, checking out achievable travelling distances and looking for off-route places of interests for our future tours is what I was here to do on this occasion.

Without the help of Olga Antonova our Russian Travel agent from Novosibirsk, this would have been extremely difficult. As you can imagine absolutely nobody speaks English in this part of the world. We met up with two groups of motorcyclists both envious with the fact that we were travelling in the comfort of a warm dry Land Cruiser and we were not covered in the black slimy mud that turns to a creamy slush when wet, which is most of the time !!

 

Accommodation is clean and comfortable The smooth fast slushy black coal dust roads It’s a bit like a trip back into history, into the secret Soviet times to be precise.
It’s very different to the rest of Russia, as time has not moved although prosperity of a different type in a different era is very evident with lots of derelict buildings and in an abandoned city which we had a drive through….Interesting indeed and I have some firm theories as to why its inhabitants left in a hurry??

The drive is spectacular. The scenery is varying, vast and unfortunately being exploited for gold mining, but what else is this vast and baron land useful for? It is rich in both Gold and Diamonds but takes a special people to endure the harsh and long winters.

Magadan, the civilisation at the end of the one-way road is a vibrant and multi-cultural city reliant on the Kolyma Highway to bring in the majority of its supplies. The truckies that run this road throughout the year are real drivers with real skills…and we saw a few that had run out of either luck of skill on a few occasions.

Overland Journeys arrived here in Magadan yesterday at 18.00 on the 21st August. Today we continue to investigate tour opportunities, hotels etc in preparation for our commercial 4×4 tour to Magadan next year at precisely the same time….Join us on the expedition if you want an experience of a life time!!

It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Magadan and about 12 degrees. In two days Greg will drive the road again in the reverse direction to reposition the Land Cruiser to Vladivostok in preparation for shipping to Chile for the Dakar Rally in January.

If you would like to know more about this tour, which will be 2017, please contact greg@rallytours.co.nz or deb@rallytours.co.nz we look forward to hearing from you.

July 2016 - News

July 2016

We are not quite in the depths of winter here in Auckland. Hope that if you are outside in NZ you are experiencing some lovely warm weather.

We have been working on the up and coming tours for end of 2016 and 2017. Greg is now on the last leg of the combined Shanghai to London and Vladivostok to London tours. 60 days completed so far. More details …

We have a lot going on for 2017

THE DAKAR – Dec/Jan 2017

Dakar2017-SlideDo something completely different, celebrate New Year’s in South America, arrive into Asuncion on the 31st December 2016,then follow the DAKAR …
The DAKAR is the most exciting motor rally event the world has to offer. It’s an endurance event for man / machine crews and enthusiasts like ourselves that follow the Dakar Circus !! More details …

We will get you into some fantastic vantage points to watch this rally unfold over the 14 days. Speculation is that it could be the last Dakar in South America so this is it. It could be your last opportunity to witness the greatest show on earth as we know it. 2016 Details here …


SILK ROAD – May 2017

Vladivostok is the starting point for this 81 day journey across to London. A 4×4 adventure, driving through Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Germany concluding in England. This is the ‘Ultimate Road Journey through Time”


ROAD OF BONES – May 2017

Road-of-BonesThis is a 4X4 self-drive adventure, once Greg has completed the current tour, he will head towards Novosibirsk and drive towards the start of what is going to be part of the Road of Bones adventure. Greg is going to scope this area out, as part of the Road of Bones tour that we are promoting for 2017.

We have three options;

1) Singapore (61 days), and drive through Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, China and Mongolia up into Russia and complete the tour in Magadan.

2) Bangkok (50 days), Myanmar, China and Mongolia up into Russia and complete the tour in Magadan.

3) Vladivostok (21 Days) through to Magadan
All the information will be up on the website at a later stage.


As the Shanghai to London and the Vladivostok to London tours end 26th July, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the following persons/companies who help pull all this together and ensure the smooth running for our clients in their ultimate adventure.

• Judy Tapper – Flight Centre travel consultant
• Phil Gibbs and his team at GT Logistics
• Murray Reedy – Silk Road Adventures
• Tracy – Navo Tours
• John Barley – Barley and Associates for all our marine/travel & medical insurance


If any of these tours interest you, please call Deb +64272586614 or email deb@rallytours.co.nz for more information.

Overland Journeys - Update

Rally Tours NZ is now Overland Journeys

Lots has been happening in the world of Rally Tours just lately. Read our blog below to see what we have been up to and what planned for the future.

“Overland Journeys” is the new trading identity for Rally Tours NZ Ltd. It best describes the direction that we are heading and the type of adventures that we are operating now world-wide to a global market.

Now operating self-drive guided tours since 2007 in China, Russia, Mongolia, Central Asia and Europe. Recently added to the Overland Journeys portfolio of exotic travel destinations is South America, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. In fact we will take you anywhere by special request. New exciting destinations are being added in 2017 including New Zealand. See below.

Earlier in the year Greg spent almost 2 months in South America, in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia to be precise. The biggest, most radical motorsport event in the world took Greg to these three countries in January. The “Dakar” is like nothing else and is the ultimate endurance test for man and machine!!

Rally Tours NZ have been to the Dakar 3 times now and it requires specialist knowledge and suitable machinery to follow this amazing event. Rally Tours are the only organisation to follow the Dakar from start to finish.

This year in 2016 the “Dakar Circus” as It’s often referred to travelled 8000 km from Buenos Aires through Northern Argentina and up and into high altitudes and salt flats of Bolivia. The 15 day rally adventure finished in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.

DAKAR 2016 REPORT

John Kilpatrick reports on his first “Dakar” experience

Dakar Rally TourDAKAR 2017

Breaking News … The 2017 “Dakar Rally” route and dates have been announced and Rally Tours intend to be there again for the fourth year in succession !! Warning!! This may be the last Dakar to be run in South America so rumour has it. If you want to experience this amazing show join us in 2017. The Dakar starts in Asuncion, Paraguay on the 2nd January and finishes in Buenos Aires on the 15th January more …

SOUTH AMERICA

Following the Dakar experience we immediately launched into our inaugural 4×4 self-drive expedition to the far south of South America. Accompanied by just two other NZ teams we zig-zagged down the east side of the Andes crossing back and forth between Argentina and Chile on no less than 6 occasions. On the 8000 km road journey and following the “Ruta d Fin del Mondo” (the road to the end of the world) we traversed the vast vineyards of Mendoza, the Andes mountain passes, the spectacular lake and volcanic regions of Chile and remote areas of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego to arrive at a point on the map where you can drive no further in South America.

That left us with no choice but to turn around in furthermost southern town of Ushuaia and head north to the warmer climates of our final destination Santiago. This journey involved a 4 day, mostly inland sea journey from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt. That was an experience on its own but most enjoyable. Thanks to Ron and Noeline Stewart (Blenheim) and Robin Dicey (Cromwell) and long-time mate Michael Purcell from San Francisco for joining us on this epic adventure.

The South American self-drive tour will be on offer in 2017 starting on the 20th January from Santiago Chile. However we are changing the concept to make this wonderful trip accessible and affordable to this now very popular destination.

In Brief we will run 2 tours. The first is Southbound from Santiago to Ushuaia over 24 days. We will use Chilean rental vehicles (although you can ship your own vehicle if you wish) Rally Tours own experienced expedition leaders will be escorting the tour to all the amazing places that we have discovered on this vast continent. The return to your home destinations will be by flight to Buenos Aires then Santiago. To suit clients that prefer to travel later in February Rally tours will then offer a return North bound tour in the reverse direction using the same rental vehicles. This trip will start in Ushuaia and finish in Santiago. Contact deb@rallytours.co.nz

WRC ARGENTINA

Paddon Rally Argentina

Greg returned to the South American continent again in late April for the WRC Rally Argentina. Rally Tours was hosting a corporate group to this unique WRC event. We were lucky enough to choose this Rally to be at as our own kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon took out his first WRC win with the new Hyundai i20. The atmosphere is electrifying as the victory was taken on the very last stage. Thanks to Dave Neill and the team for choosing to travel with Rally Tours to this memorable event. Also a special thanks to our agents in Cordoba, Mario and Alex for their excellent organisation throughout the week.

MAY 2016 TOURS

Greg is now in Vladivostok and about to start the 2016 edition of the Trans-Siberian self-drive trip. But this year it is different!!

Based on our successful Classic car drives from Shanghai to London in both 2012 and 2014, the 2016 edition departs from Shanghai on the 25th May bound from London. Although the group numbers are small the itinerary and list of excursions and exciting places to visit in China, Mongolia, Russia and Europe just keep being added to the program.

At the same time Greg will leave Vladivostok with a small group and head into the vastness of the Russian Far East toward Mongolia. The two groups will meet in Ulaanbaatar for a night before again splitting. The Vladivostok to London 4×4’s will cross Mongolia from East to west while the classics will head up into Russia and across into remote Siberia. Amalgamation of the two groups will again happen in the Siberian capital of Novosibirsk. From this point the classics and the two 4×4’s will convoy to London as one group. Again thanks to those who have chosen to join us on this wonderful trip and what will be another life changing experience. Keep an eye from Greg’s regular tour reports on the www.overlandjourneys.co.nz ” website and the
Rally Tours NZ Ltd Facebook page

SELF DRIVE OVERLAND JOURNEYS FOR 2017

“Dakar” the 2017 edition . . . Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia
“Ruta del Fin Del Mondo” . . . Journey to the end of the world in South America.
“The Silk Road” . . . The ultimate overland Journey by road
“The Road of Bones” . . . Singapore to Magadan via Myanmar!!

INNOVATIONS FOR 2017

• Seat in vehicle positions are also available.
• Modular tours available. Buy a sector and fly in and fly out.
• Financed payment options are available on most tours.
• Rally Tours Land Cruisers available to hire.
• Early bird payment and Group concessions available by arrangement.

SILK ROAD

In Brief the 2017 bi annual Silk Road Overland adventure will now depart ex Vladivostok on or about the 15th May finishing in London. This 83 day Ultimate overland journey crosses the vast lands of the Russia Far East then across the spectacular desert regions of Mongolia. The real adventure These fascination countries have contrasting and spectacular scenery ranging from high mountains starts when we enter Central Asian territories of the old USSR, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to arid deserts. The ancient culture and history surrounding the Silk Road traders is the main attraction. The proposed route then takes us through the Ukraine and Europe to finish in London. So experience it, smell it, taste it and live it with Overland Journeys in 2017. Please contact deb@rallytours.co.nz to know more about this tour. Expressions of interest on this expedition have been high and there has 3 spaces left so talk to us now as we don’t have plans to run this trip again in the future.

ROAD OF BONES

Singapore / Bangkok or Vladivostok to Magadan: “The Road of Bones” . . . 4X4 Self Drive July – August

Road of Bones

Rally Tours have been under some pressure for some years to make this trip happen. Or at least the actual drive on the road of bones from the town of Yakutsk to Magadan. This last great adventure, on a road built by Russian Gulag prisoners was made famous by the English motorcycle adventurers and film actors Euan Mc Gregor and Charlie Borman which resulted in their film “the long way round”. Rally Tours have a hard core bunch of mostly past clients that really want to do this trip. Finally with the expert assistance of our local Russian operators and experience gathered in this fascinating region of remote Russia we are ready to tackle the “Road of Bones” It has however morphed into a full blown overland expedition with options.

The Road of Bones essentially the last 3177 km is the must do!! But why not start in either Singapore, Bangkok or even Vladivostok. The choice is yours depending on time and budget. Start in Singapore and spend about 60 days passing through Malaysia, Thailand to Bangkok. From there experience the newest jewel in the road journey crown, Myanmar (Burma) which has only just opened up to road travel and is totally fascinating. Clients may join in Bangkok to do this leg to Magadan. Continue into China traversing this fascinating country and seeing a side of China not often seen by foreigners. Cross the Gobi desert in Mongolia and enter Russia buy a remote border near Chita in the Russian Far East (RFE). From Skovorodino we join up with others travelling from Vladivostok (VVO) to start the unforgettable trip to Magadan on the road of bones. This trip is a one off adventure, It will happen only once and 2017 is it! We have capacity for only 10 vehicles and need expressions of interest as soon as possible. Please contact Greg or Deb to discuss this one off adventure as final details have not been advertised as yet. greg@rallytours.co.nz or deb@rallytours.co.nz

Hire 4×4’s and seat in vehicle fares are available on application.

“The Road of Bones” The last great drive to Magadan, Far north East Russia

“Overland Journeys” a division of Rally Tours NZ Ltd. www.overlandjourneys.co.nz +64-272586614

Trans-Siberian - 2015 Tour Report

Trans Siberian – 2015 Tour Report

Posted from Moscow 2nd September 2015

On arrival in Moscow you can’t help but remind your- self about the experiences left behind in Siberia, Mongolia and the Far East of Russia.

The time has flown by and after 48 days and 12,000km recollections of experiences, memories of characters and people met are still being spoken about at the nightly dinner table. It seems not a day goes by without a moment worth remembering.

Since arriving back in mother Russia the experiences have changed. You can’t portray Siberian Russia to most potential customers and I have almost given up trying, they just have to experience it for themselves, then they understand what a mis-understood part of the world this really is.

Even Western Russian will suggest that Siberia is not a safe place to travel. Its apparent that they to do not know their country or fellow countrymen.

The big revelation all of our travellers over the years has been that Russia and all of its regions are fascinating with their individual charms and its people friendly, kind and helpful. Even the numerous traffic police checks that we have encountered with a couple pending indiscretions have only resulted in friendly encounters. This group still comments on the surprise element of this entire tour and like me will attempt to dispel popular misconceptions on return to their homelands.

 

The weather has been a surprise this trip. Expecting to have a taste of a European summer and hot temperatures in Russia we have experienced cooler weather and lots of rain which has been a welcome relief for travel.

“Talking about relief”. The Russian Ruble has crashed of late. It started its downward slide early in the new-year with an exchange rate of 55 Rubles to the US Dollar. That was compared with the 37 RR we were getting mid last year. This represented amazing value considering commodities had not increased in price by much at all.
During the course of our this return trip via Mongolia the Ruble again slide against the $US to an incredible 68RR to the $US, double last year’s rate. That means that Fuel is just 0.50c per litre, a restaurant meal with a beer or vodka is $15 and everything else associated with spending in Russia is incredibly cheap.

My point is now is that now is the time to do one of our expeditions as it is costing you half as much to enjoy the delights of this amazing country.

Tomorrow we leave for two more amazing destinations before departing Russia. Nizhniy Novgorod is a 10th century gem located 200km south of St Petersburg. It has an amazing city wall and the oldest cathedral in Russia but only because Genghis Khaan and the Mongols failed to reach this city due to swampy ground.

St Petersburg is always a favourite stop and a great way to finish off a marathon 12,000km trip from one side of the Russian continent to the other. Reaching the city of the Russian Tszars is always an achievement but mixed with sadness as we depart Russia and enter the Eastern Bloc countries.

Enjoy the montage of photos of places and characters we have met in the last few weeks on the journey from Tashanta, on the Mongolian border to Moscow.