The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding – Part 4: Where should I go overlanding?First read:
The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding: Introduction
The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding: Part 1: What is overlanding?
The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding: Part 2: What is overlanding like?
The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding: Part 3: Should I go on an overland trip?The next question we are asked is, ‘Where should I go overlanding?’
We generally reply, ‘Anywhere you fancy!’, and while this response may be not be the answer you are looking for, it is true. You can now go on an overland trip just about anywhere in the world.When people ask this question, they are usually asking two things:
‘Where did you enjoy overlanding?’ and‘Where do you think I would enjoy overlanding?’ Where we enjoyed overlanding
Andy & I have worked as overland tour leaders/drivers in Africa, Middle East, Europe, Central & South East Asia, Central & South America and Australia. I think it would be fair to say, we both enjoyed different things about overlanding in different parts of the world. While Andy and I share a lot of interests such as landscapes and wildlife, we also each have different ones as well. Andy is a bit of a history buff and is interested in learning about the political history of a place, whereas I prefer the human aspect of a place – how people go about their everyday lives. Another factor that has made some overlanding trips stand out over others is the people we are travelling with. There are not really good or bad groups, but some stand out like the proverbial – people that were a blast to travel with and really ‘made’ a trip memorable for us.So it is hard to say, but as we don’t like fence sitters, we are going to put it out there: Kirsty’s overlanding highlights – West Africa as a whole, African national parks, Central America and Brazil.
I loved the rawness of West Africa and the challenge of crossing the Sahara Desert. There is nothing quite like being on safari on Africa – trekking to see the mountain gorillas, cruising around the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, watching the elephants play in Chobe River and marvelling at the coming and goings at the Etosha National Park water holes at night. I am also a beach girl so fell in love with Central America with its beautiful beaches and wildlife (just love sloths!). Brazil has everything – Rio Carnival: the biggest party in the world, the mighty Amazon and of course, sublime beaches.Andy’s overlanding highlights – Patagonia, Iran, Northern Brazil & Venezuela
Patagonia is all about the isolated beauty of mountains, lakes, glaciers and wildlife which, even after 14 tours there, never ceases to amaze me. Iran, with the culture, the history and eye opening way of life we are generally unaware of. The beaches, the coastline, the partying and the amazing Amazon are all unique in Northern Brazil as is the stunning remoteness of Cainama National Park where Angel Falls is hidden in Venezuela.Where you would enjoy overlanding? To work this out you really have to ask yourself a number of questions: Where in the world you have always wanted to go?
Are there particular ‘highlights’ that you really want to see?
Are there places that you would prefer not to do independently (either for safety reasons or are logistically more difficult to get to on your own)?
Do you prefer culture, history, people, wildlife, nature, landscapes, cities, deserts, mountains, tropical rain forests, adrenalin/adventure activities, hiking/trekking or a combination of these?
Do you prefer camping or having a roof over your head?
Would you still enjoy camping if it means roughing it – where there are no facilities?
We previously touched on how overlanding can be quite varied in different parts of the world in Part 1: What is overlanding? There are places that lend themselves to an overland style trip more so than others. Regions such as Central America, parts of South America, South-east Asia and Southern Africa are quite easily travelled independently. Whereas, overlanding really comes into its own in areas such as East & West Africa, Alaska, Central Asia and parts of South America such as Patagonia.
Travelling through East & West Africa and Alaska in a purpose built overland vehicle enables you to get off the beaten track where buses don’t/can’t go and to camp and game drive in national parks. Central Asia is made more accessible through an overland trip because of the diversity of languages spoken, the sheer expanse and sparseness of the region and the perceived ‘danger’ factor of travel in certain countries (such as Iran and Pakistan). Similarly, it would be quite difficult to really experience remote places such as Patagonia in South America without travelling in a kitted out overland vehicle.
In short, overlanding is best suited to places that are isolated, inaccessible without your own transport and are best experienced by camping in the area. It is also important to note that overland camping in different parts of the world can vary widely from a luxurious, all singing, all dancing campsite with a pool, a bar and shady trees to camping in a police/military compound with one toilet.
Bush camps can also range from a perfect spot by a river or in a desert to behind a garage or on the side of a road on a mountain pass. However, there are plenty of places you can overland where camping isn’t necessary at all – for example, large parts of Latin America and South-east Asia are more suited to staying in accommodation in towns/cities. Some companies now also offer the best of both worlds if camping is not your thing – fully accommodated overland trips that still get you off the beaten track.
Another factor to consider is the ease of access to various ‘sought after’ permits an overland trip can offer. There are limited permits available for activities such as gorilla trekking in Uganda/Rwanda and the Inca Trail in Peru and these need to be booked well in advance if you plan on doing these independently.So, where should you go overlanding?
The answer again is up to you. But hopefully, this article has given you a few ideas and insights into the places that are best suited to travelling on an overland vehicle and also into yourself, your own interests and where you are most likely to enjoy the most.
The world is your oyster – get out there, see it, experience it and what better way than on an overland trip with like-minded travellers.Next article in ‘The Ultimate Resource for Overlanding’ series, Part 5: Which overland company should I go with?