Overland Journeys News - August 2020

Greetings to all valued clients, suppliers, supporters and friends.

This is a well overdue communication, but every time I think about putting pen to paper something dramatic in the world changes. It’s a sign of the times and while New Zealand was in a good space, that changed two weeks ago when a resurgence of CV19 raised its ugly head, and the region of Auckland resumed a level 3 lockdown, and the rest of the country went into a not so serious level 2 phase. It was a wake-up call, not to be complacent about this new disruption to our lives. We are due to come out of lockdown here in Auckland at midnight on the 31st August.

A lot of things are happening around us, including just across the ditch in Australia.

Our NZ government and especially the PM was basking in accolades that were being heaped upon her about how well we have done and to be in an unenviable position; however, some questions are currently being raised about what could have been done better and what, if any their hidden agenda may be, considering we have an election this year. Our election, by the way, has been moved to a later date, being the 17th October.

The fact that we are an island nation should make it reasonably easy to control the incoming bugs. The fact that our borders are firmly locked at the moment is helping NZ to achieve this to a degree. I think that all returning NZers that want to return home have done so, causing our population to rise by about 1 million since March. The fact that it will now cost $3k to isolate in an airport hotel for two weeks is surely a good deterrent for anyone else thinking about returning home !! So our population statistics now look pretty good, 5 million inhabitants, 2 million taxpayers and the rest looking for some sort of assistance from our generous government. Come to the election in October; it should be a foregone conclusion as to the winner and who will lead the country to recovery over the next three years…


The fleet is ready to go again

I have been monitoring with interest the ways in which the rest of the world is dealing with our current CV crisis. The way in which the virus swept the world was interesting. The way that it infiltrated various continents and countries slowly but surely and more so who didn’t get clobbered by this unseen enemy and why. Reading the daily virus reports on www.worldometer.com and monitoring the numbers made a fascinating study at the height of the pandemic.

Most of interest were the countries that we regularly travel through or are scheduled to travel through in the near future. Mongolia, close to China, shut down quickly and has only just opened its borders with neighbouring Russia in the last week. This has been a disaster to their thriving tourist industry, but the country boasts a record of no CV deaths. The “Stan” countries have not been so lucky, but again sparse population in wide-open areas in mountains and deserts have minimised the death toll in most of those countries. Russia however, as one of the biggest countries in the world has had big casualties but mostly in the two largest cities. Not wanting to shut down their economy the Russian approach to the pandemic was different, building new hospitals, recruiting new doctors and working frantically on a vaccine which will be ready for their citizens within a few weeks. The Russian airlines are flying to a few specific destinations, including London, but there are specific requirements. Russian tourists are endorsing travel within their own country while the summer weather allows.

As of the 11th of August Russia has registered a CV vaccine and named it Sputnik V. As expected, the fact that the Russians have won the race to produce a vaccine has met with mixed reactions from the rest of the world. The vaccine is being produced now and will be administered to essential and front line workers such as doctors, teachers, government employees etc. with more than 70 million doses being available to the general public and FSO (former Soviet Union) countries by January 2021.

This is all good news for us that this part of the world has a good grasp and forward-thinking plan to tackle the current situation and as usual Overland Journeys will continue to communicate with our agents on the ground in the countries we plan to travel through next year.

Unfortunately, some countries which provide us with clients from time to time, namely the UK and the USA have been dealt a harsh blow losing a large percentage of their populations.

I am pleased to say that I have been in contact with most of the friends, some of whom you may have travelled with on our trips, and all are well, hunkered down and bored due to lack of travel but keen to resume as soon as possible.


Great trips with great people

International travel will never be the same, let’s be honest. Passing through airports will be different. As well as security checks, you can bet that we will have to prove one way or another that we have been vaccinated and carry the required proof. Perhaps someone is working on some sort of device that will check that status of our health as we pass through a booth at the airports? We have to come to the conclusion that viruses as such are now a reality that are not about to go away any time soon.

Those of you that travelled with Overland Journeys, or anyone else for that matter in the past and right up until March 2020 must be patting yourself on the back for getting organised and seizing the moment to do the Silk Road Trip, The BAM expedition, the Dakar Rally tour or whatever else. “Those were the days”, you will be saying in 10 years.

Rather than dwell on the past, we need to look at the future. The immediate future, or at least for 2020 is going to be restricted to NZ for Overland Journeys, and we are working on some interesting short-haul / weekend cross country trips for the meantime and exploring our own beautiful country in the best way we know. We lost the WRC Rally NZ, but we now have the City of Auckland rally in November which will be a mini version of the international event but featuring top local talent instead of the so-called international rock stars. Rally Tours NZ (parent company of Overland Journeys) will be operating a tour for this event.

Details and costs of the “City of Auckland Rally” and the “Battle of Jacks Ridge” are to be released on our website www.rallytours.co.nz later this week. It will be an amazing weekend with NZ’s best cars and drivers keen to make up for a lost time.

We are still confident that we will be venturing back into overseas destinations in early 2021. Based on communication with our people in the countries that we plan to travel, local media reports in those countries and other informed reports that we receive, we believe at this stage we will get the green light for travel in early 2021.

However, be assured that client safety will not be compromised, and we always have a plan B and C in place regarding the itinerary, should we need to use them. Instead of trip apparel which includes a nice dress shirt, a bucket hat etc. this time round we may be having PPE gear with the company name and trip logo embroidered on said equipment. I am, however hoping that this will not be necessary.

Of note is that the shipping of vehicles is no problem as have just received one of the Overland Journey’s Land Cruiser from Vladivostok without any issues.


Spectacular experiences in amazing countries (Aral Sea)

Overland Journeys hopes that everyone that receives our correspondence is fit and well, is enduring any hardships as a result of the current situation and looking forward to life after CV. Keep an eye on our website www.overlandjourneys.co.nz for updates on our NZ and international tours for 2020, 2021 and beyond.


Greg & Anton