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What is Overlanding?

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25 Sep 2018 It’s a question I’m used to, especially when Mum introduces me to another of her friends whose idea of a holiday is a two week break to the Spanish coast.  Don’t get me wrong, parts of the Spanish coast are beautiful.  But a limited time at an all inclusive resort is not how I like to travel; and it’s definitely not overlanding.

If you ask Google, the dictionary will tell you that overlanding is to “travel a long distance over land”.  Wikipedia defines it similarly: “Overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal”.

My version is a little bit different.  It still involves travelling long distances; and it definitely places the emphasis on the journey rather than the destination.  It just has the added dimension of people: I overland with a group.

Overlanding in my understanding means group travel in an expedition vehicle, travelling previously driven routes as well as exploring new ones.  It means exploring with a group of people through various countries on different continents, sometimes heading for tourist hotspots, other times just trying to survive the pot-holed roads!  It also means being part of a group; pitching in and helping out with the various jobs necessary to keep the trip going; observing the group dynamics and seeing people develop; and my favourite, developing friendships and relationships that often last a lifetime.

My version of overlanding involves a considerable amount of camping, of sleeping under the stars, of cooking over an open fire, and of reaching remote locations that are otherwise difficult to get to.  It also means sharing your experiences with your truck family; learning to live alongside strangers who become friends, and learning more about yourself and your limitations – generally the result of the many challenges that you definitely wouldn’t face on a two week hotel holiday in Spain.  Overlanding might mean driving through a desert where you have to dig the truck out of the soft sand.  It could be scouring the markets in West Africa and wondering what else you can possibly cook up with tomatoes, green peppers, and onions.  It could be winding your way through the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and slowing to let a herd of sheep slowly troop in front of their horseback shepherds. 

Overland travel also means experiencing 4 seasons in one trip, travelling from the misty Andes Mountains to the Tropics of the Amazon Jungle, onto the snowy glaciers of Patagonia, before ending on a Brazilian Beach at the biggest party in the world, Rio Carnival.

From a travellers’ perspective, one of the best things about overlanding in a group is that the logistics, the itinerary, the visa requirements and the transport is all taken care of.  Some people want to travel independently and thrive off the challenges they’ll face.  Others really do want a holiday, just a different kind of one.

If you were still thinking of booking that all-inclusive package to Spain, why not just check out overland travel?  It might be a very different type of holiday, but you’ll make friends, get a tan, and if you’re lucky still get a cocktail.

Kate Floyer is a Tour Leader for Oasis Overland. Group overlanding is unlike any other type of travel, especially with a trip run by Oasis Overland. The company have been operating for 21 years and run trips all over the world.

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